As an incoming freshman, Kelsey Raymer had a goal.
“I saw what schools like Columbia, and University of Chicago, and Yale and all those had to offer, and I was like: ‘I want that. I want to be like the kids accepted there.’ And then I worked my butt off to achieve those goals,” she said. “I just knew that I wanted to do good in school and challenge myself. So I signed up for all the advanced classes. AP classes right out of the gate.”
As a senior set to graduate Nelson County High School this month, that attitude paid off.
Raymer was among the 16% of applicants to Washington University in St. Louis who received an acceptance letter to the research university ranked among the best schools in the world.
She declined the offer to attend because it was too expensive, and she had other options thanks to her academic achievement. But even though she won’t be attending the school, she takes pride in the fact she could.
Instead, Raymer is bound for the University of Louisville where she will attend as a Porter Scholar and on a full scholarship. She plans to eventually graduate law school.
She’s had a sneak peek into the profession through her profession-based experience this year with Hite Law, the firm owned by Nelson County Attorney Matthew Hite.
“I do have a job at the end of the day that I have to get done. But on top of that, they're also educating me on certain things” she said. “I'm constantly learning the things that our state does to help the people around here, like Casey’s Law, which is court ordered rehab, or guardianships and power of attorneys and mental-inquest warrants, all that good stuff,” Kelsey said.
But she has learned about more than legal processes. The experience has also exposed her to communicating with people in a professional setting. At a county attorney’s office, that can often be a delicate or tense situation.
“You have people come to you and sometimes they're in a really sticky situation, and you learn the communication skills to explain what they need to do, or the things that you can do to help them, or you can't,” Kelsey said. “You have to build a rapport with people. Even if people are very disgruntled and angry, you have to keep your cool.”
County Attorney Matthew Hite said Kelsy’s smarts and personality will take her far, and his office was better for having her with them.
“It has been fantastic having Kelsey in the County Attorney’s Office this past year. She has been a tremendous help to our operations and a treat to have around the office,” he said. “ Kelsey is a smart young lady with a very bright future. We consider ourselves lucky and enriched to have had her assistance this past year.”
Kelsey has also grown in her compassion for other people through her work at the firm, and that perspective helped focus her plans for the future. She plans to work as a lawyer with organizations such as the NAACP, the Innocence Project or Her Justice, which provides free legal aid to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kelsey credits her mom with both supporting her as well as driving her to succeed at her studies.
“If I get a B, then my mom’s like, ‘You can do better than this. I've seen you do better than that.’ So then I strive for that A because I know what I can do.”
But she has also drawn support from her school. That encouragement and motivation empowered her to earn a Governor’s Scholars spot last year and National Honors Society alongside leadership roles in several student organizations such as student council and Key Club while also competing in track and field.
“A lot of my influences come from the teachers and then also the kids that graduated before me. Especially from some of the higher achievers of last year's graduates, they were all big influences.”