College outstanding senior overcomes challenges to get to graduation

Chelsea Reynolds is a star student. In spite of having to be on dialysis 13 hours each day because of complete kidney failure, she has continued to be involved in many volunteer and leadership activities while earning a 3.9 GPA.

CHHS Outstanding Senior

Chelsea Reynolds
Chelsea Reynolds, human development and family studies student, received the Outstanding Senior award at the College of Health and Human Sciences Awards Ceremony.

Reynolds, who is double majoring in human development and family studies and Spanish, was selected as the 2017 College of Health and Human Sciences Outstanding Senior award through a nomination process.

“Chelsea is a woman of courageous spirit, significant determination, unflagging motivation, and deep compassion for others,” said Lise Youngblade, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “She is one of the most inspirational students I have had the honor of knowing.”

As the CHHS Outstanding Senior, Reynolds will address the 2017 graduates at the College’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Moby Arena.

Reynolds is from Littleton, Colorado. When she was looking at schools, she knew she wanted to stay in Colorado for college and she loved the town of Fort Collins. “Once I visited, I knew that CSU was the perfect fit for me and I am still so happy with my decision,” said Reynolds.

Facing challenges

During Reynolds’ freshman year of college, she had some complications with the kidney transplant she had received in high school and was hospitalized nearly the entire winter break.

“They ended up having to remove the transplant and I had to begin doing dialysis treatments again. Although devastated and unsure how I would manage everything, I returned to school in the spring,” said Reynolds. “Being sick became my new normal, and this has continued to be a challenge throughout my college experience. I have been waiting for another kidney transplant for over three years and will continue to need dialysis treatments until I receive one.”

Reynolds’ treatments can be done at home in the evening, but take 13 hours to complete each day. “It will continue to be a part of my daily life,” she said. “However, I have not let this define me. I continually remind myself that I am so much more than my illness, and even though it does change my life, it does not have to ruin it, not even close.”

Support from professors

Each semester, Reynolds has approached her professors individually about her circumstances and let them know how it could affect her schooling. She says they have always been nothing but understanding.

“I have been continually amazed and grateful for the support I have received from my professors at CSU,” said Reynolds. “If it were not for the faculty, I would never have been able to stay in school full-time and graduate on time with a double major. I will forever be grateful for their support and the opportunity to work with and learn from them. One of the greatest things they have done for me is to believe in me.”

Involvement at CSU

During her time at CSU, Reynolds has been involved with clubs for her majors including Spanish Club and the HDFS SOUL (Student Outreach and Undergraduate Leadership) club. Last summer, she also held a research assistant position at the Center for Family and Couple Therapy on campus. In addition, she has been very involved with the CSU club for students with chronic illness and served as its vice president last year.

Reynolds also got involved with Young Life College at CSU during her freshman year and continues to mentor high school students as a Young Life leader. In the community, she works as the volunteer coordinator and youth director for Finally Home in addition to being a group leader for Kids at Heart; both are non-profit organizations serving foster, kinship and adoptive families.

Reynolds plans to stay on as a Ram in the fall – she has been accepted into the Applied Developmental Science Ph.D. Program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Commencement details

The Colorado State University College of Health and Human Sciences will confer undergraduate degrees at a commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m., in Moby Arena. To watch the webcast of the ceremony live, click here. Student and guest information is available online here. The webcast will also be archived and posted for viewing a few days after the ceremony. Visit the College’s FlickrFacebook, and Instagram pages for ceremony photos. Follow us and keep in touch!