Kelsea Lane Smart
Company: Accelerant Research
Position: Director of Qualitative Research
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHARLOTTE AREA?
I have lived in the Queen City and its surrounding area my whole life, with the past 4 consecutive years claiming a true Charlotte zip code as my home.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOU.
From a young age I knew I wanted to make a new path for myself, one that diverted from the bleak journey of the oldest child (of 5) from a poor single parent home, that also gave back to others. At 13 I started to work, saving for a car and college. I continued to work multiple jobs while keeping my grade point average high enough to be accepted into early college. While in early college, I took college courses alongside my high school curriculum so when I graduated with my high diploma, I also received an associate degree. After graduating from early college, a semester early, I enrolled in UNCC where I put myself through the remainder of college, receiving my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at 20 years old. I then got my first job post-graduation here in Charlotte at Accelerant Research and have thrived there ever since. In my free time I teach SUP Paddle-board yoga, enjoy the various water sports and music at the White-Water Center, and volunteer wherever I can in the community.
DURING YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING FOR A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY OR PROJECT, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?
After graduating college, I knew that I wanted to help others like so many have helped me. I enrolled into a volunteer program where I spent 3 weeks in an impoverished rural territory of India. While in India I had an eye-opening experience about what true poverty really is and actual gender discrimination. I lived in a house that lack what we consider basic needs such as running water, electricity and a real mattress, all while being stung constantly by ants. Given all of these perceived struggles, it was such a blessing to see the smiling faces of children who were overjoyed by the opportunity just to learn basic what we consider basic knowledge such as English and math. Since my return to Charlotte, I have continued to grow in my professional career, but I have never forgotten the impact that trip had on me and how important is it to be both a local and global citizen.
IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY? PLEASE BE AS DETAILED AS YOU CAN.
• Volunteering for the Carolina BalloonFesti in Statesville, NC for 7 years now in the early hours of the morning. I started off when I was in my late teen years and so the BalloonFest is where I learned how local County Charities benefit from community events. I also gained a sense of community from all the residents who came together and volunteered and saw checks for over $100,000 being given to local non-profits further reinforcing the impact of local volunteering in my mind.
• Taking what I learned from the BalloonFest, I helped start the UNC Charlotte Niner Food Pantry. My involvement with this organization opened my eyes to not only food insecurity among college students but also how a food pantry can impact the local community. This was the moment where I realized I could make a difference in my nearby community and that you don’t have to do something nationally to make a difference.
• Currently, volunteering through the LGBTQ Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Iredell Special Olympics swim team has really opened my eyes to the diversity & varying talents/skillsets we have in the Queen City population. I am honored daily to be an ambassador for these local organizations and the beautiful individuals that I meet through our shared efforts.
PLEASE LET US KNOW ANY AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER:
I was awarded the “Who’s Who Among College Students” honor, in the fall of 2016. Please see the attached reference letters (2) for further notes on my professional career recognitions.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR INTEREST?
I enjoy both teaching (200 hr. AYC Certification) & practicing yoga, travelling to new & unknown destinations, hiking & camping along the Blueridge Parkway, flatwater kayaking & SUP paddle-boarding (anywhere), writing sappy poems & spooky short stories, immersing myself in new cultural experiences and spending quality time with good company on board game night.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil in America is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? 10 YEARS?
In 5 years, I hope to be working in a consumer insights department for a large corporation in uptown Charlotte and to have purchased my first home, also in the Queen City. In 10 years, I hope to be set up for opening my own yoga studio in the community as well as moving back to the supplier side of market research as an independent qualitative consultant for large corporations.
CAN YOUR SHARE ONE THING THAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I have always dreamed of visiting the great pyramids of Egypt, as my great-grandparents safely did in the 80s, and hope to be able to stop by the new Ancient Egyptian Museum that’s been under construction for 30+ years, rumored to be completed in 2020.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED YOUR PASSPORT?
The last time I had my passport stamped was in July of 2018 when I traveled to Northern India.
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS?
When I was younger, I wanted to be an acclaimed Marine Biologist who was paid to advocate for marine life conservation and explore the ocean’s depths, incited by Jacques Cousteau.
WHO IS YOUR HERO?
I consider many figures throughout history to be “heroes” in some form/capacity, all having inspired & motivated me to in different ways to be the best version of myself. However, I’ve narrowed down my role model list to a top 5 tier, and they are as follows: Dr. Kimberly Buch (Professor of Psychology at UNC Charlotte), Dr. Carl Jung, Amelia Earhart, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Rupi Kaur.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
I just re-read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and am currently working on Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich.
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
The last movie I saw in theaters was Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood directed by the cult-classic (Quentin) Tarantino.
WHAT WAS THE LAST CONCERT YOU SAW?
I had the privilege of attending Elton John’s magical “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” performance in Raleigh, NC.