Adios Cedar Park, Hola Puerto Rico


Avery Deen

Senior Kristen Kelly, president of spanish honor society as well as spanish club, was elected secretary of the state of Texas PASF chapter last year. Continuing her involvement in all things spanish, Kelly is excited to take this big step in furthering her education.

Kerry Madden, Reporter

Many students in their educational career will not study abroad until their junior year of college, however, senior Kristen Kelly is taking on a unique opportunity that makes her an exception to this common convention. Come Nov. 19, Kelly will embark to Puerto Rico as a part of a cultural program sponsored by the Pan American Student Forum. This trip consists of six days of sightseeing, full cultural immersion, and constant communication practice. Not only is this a unique opportunity, but a selective one as well; Kelly is one of only six people from Texas that were accepted to the program. To apply to the program, Kelly had to send transcripts, write four short essays about herself, her interest in Spanish and about two Spanish speaking countries, as well as a letter of recommendation from Sra Campos, her Spanish teacher.  

“Since I am currently serving as secretary for the state of Texas’ chapter of PASF, I heard a lot about different opportunities and learned about all the scholarships and programs that are offered,” said Kelly.

Her high involvement in PASF was sparked with the school’s Spanish club and Spanish Honor Society, both of which Kelly is currently serving as president. When Kelly found this scholarship opportunity in particular, Sra Campos, the sponsor of the school’s Spanish club, supported her in the application process and encouraged her to take advantage of the opportunity.

The Pan American Student Forum scholarship program is focused on providing students a chance to learn through immersion.

“It will be my first time in a Spanish speaking country,” Kelly said. “I will have to speak Spanish nonstop.”

“I am looking forward to being in a Spanish speaking country so I can practice my conversational speaking and get experience with another culture,” Kelly said. “I cannot wait for this opportunity.”

Taking strides into untouched territory, Kelly is the first student from Cedar Park High School as well as Leander ISD to take part in this scholarship trip. Because there’s no precedent source in the district to refer to about the experience, Kelly is paving the way for future students in our district who may be interested in taking on similar opportunities.

This trip provides Kelly and the other five students accepted to the program a unique opportunity to widen their perspectives and gain a fuller understanding of the world. Kelly looks forward to learning alongside students who share her interest in language.

“I’m thrilled to have the chance to study and experience Puerto Rican life, especially with other students who have a passion for Spanish,” Kelly said. “I wanted to do this because I think understanding another language and being familiar with other cultures is one of the most important things for someone to have.”

Upon her return to Cedar Park on Nov. 24, Kelly will write an article on her experiences for the Pan Am Times newsletter as well as hold a panel discussion at the PASF state convention in San Antonio in March.