Kelsea Suarez: On Old Chapters and Looking Forward

Photo by Samantha Soon

Name: Kelsea Suarez

School: CAS '18

Major: Politics

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Often, the phases in our lives are fleeting, even though it never feels that way while we are living them. No matter if they “stick” or not, every chapter of our lives teaches us something that we could have only learned in those exact circumstances, shaping and preparing us for what's to come. Previously an elite ice skater, Suarez has helped redistribute more than 150,000 pounds of food to soup kitchens in NYC, and she is currently interning at the United Nations.

As graduation approaches, NYU senior Kelsea Suarez reminisces on her old chapter as an internationally competitive figure skater, reflects on her college experience, and makes plans for the future.

HC NYU: How and when did you first begin ice skating?

KS: I first started when I was eight years old in Orange County, California at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace Rink. I was taking beginner classes, and one day I met Sasha Cohen, who was a former Olympian - she was really famous at the time. She came to greet all the little ice skaters and I was one of them. From there, I’ve been hooked ever since.

HC NYU: Where did you train?

KS: I trained at the Olympic Training Center World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado for five years. I moved there when I was 12, so skating was pretty much my entire childhood.

HC NYU: Did you think it was something you were going to end up doing your entire life?

KS: Not particularly, I moved to Texas from California when I was 9 years old, and I was in between dancing and skating; I actually liked dancing more, but skating provided more of a challenge, so I got hooked on it. Then, when I started landing more jumps and succeeding...I guess I got addicted in a way.

HC NYU: When did you stop?

KS: I stopped when I was maybe 17 years old. I had just finished my last international competition in Val Gardena, and I really enjoyed the experience, but I was also injured at the time. It felt like a good end to my career. For most skaters, you either stop and go to college, or you just end up skating your whole life, so I took the college route and came to NYU.

HC NYU: Why did you choose to come to NYU?

KS: I had always entertained the idea that New York was the city of dreams. I actually didn't visit the college before I came, but I knew I wanted a change in scenery from the suburbs. My brother went to NYU, too, and he really liked it, so I ended up joining him.

HC NYU: What would you say has been the most significant experience you've had during your time at NYU?

KS: I don't think there's any single significant experience that completely stands out from the rest. In terms of extracurricular activities, though, my internships and outside work with nonprofits were definitely one of the biggest parts of my career here. Some of my favorite moments, though, have been spending time with the people I’ve met here and at the soup kitchens.

HC NYU: How did you first get involved in your work with nonprofits?

KS: I stayed in the city the summer after freshman year. None of my friends were in the city and I was getting bored, so I applied to a Facebook job posting for a nonprofit called 'Transfernation.' They were looking for a coordinator to organize volunteers to pick up extra food from companies and take it down to soup kitchens. That was my first job ever, and since then I dedicated my college career to Transfernation and public service. From these experiences, I got even more interested in helping disenfranchised groups, which is why I ended up deciding to major in politics.

HC NYU: What is your current internship?

KS: Right now I’m interning at the United Nations Global Compact, which is the UN initiative focused on corporate responsibility. I really love it. I've had quite a bit of UN experience. For Transfernation, we would sometimes pick up food from the UN and drop it off to soup kitchens, and that's how I met my mentor, Ambassador Dessima Williams. She was the Special Advisor to the President of the General Assembly and Senior Ambassador for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and she’s helped guide me in learning more about international relations and the UN. From there, I wanted to learn more about the UN system and how it really worked, so I ended up applying to the Global Compact – didn't really have any expectations, but I got it!

HC NYU: Future plans?

KS: My immediate future plans are crashing on my mom’s couch. I've also been looking into law school. I really like the idea of foreign policy or even international relations… ideally I'd go into international law.

Kelsea is the 2018 Stephen J Brady “Stop Hunger” National Winner and 2018 President’s Service Award winner.

Suarez’s story is a wonderful and motivational reminder of the joy that comes from pursuing your passions, and that all chapters of our lives are invaluable.