CLAS Class of 2020: Kelly Flannery

Kelly Flanner, a 2020 MPA graduate, poses in front of her office at the Women's Center.
Kelly Flannery '20 MPA, in front of the Violence Against Women Prevention Program, where she works. (Amanda Song/UConn Photo)

Kelly Flannery ’19 (CLAS), ’20 MPA

Undergraduate degree: BA in geoscience and geography
Graduate degree: MA in Public Administration
Hometown: Putnam Valley, NY
Favorite place to study: The Cavern in Beach Hall


What was your first year at UConn like?

I wanted to have all the answers for everything. But early on, I figured out that I had no idea what was available to me. Although I never switched majors, I really switched my outlook on what I wanted to do with [a geoscience degree]. This is because I got involved in extracurriculars, I met people who had a lot of insight, and I grew my interpersonal skills as well as my technical skills.

Why did you choose to double major in geoscience and geography?

Growing up in a woodsy area of New York, I always loved nature and science. I wanted to find the intersection of those two disciplines. Then, I ended up really gravitating toward map making, plotting out geospatially where people are, where resources are, and how those two interact. I knew that I wanted to help people more than anything else. Having a base knowledge of the environment, what resources are available, and how earth processes shape those resources is great.

But then I decided to pursue the Master of Public Administration … to take what research was saying and implement it in policy work. [I wanted] to advocate for marginalized communities that don’t normally get an equal say in how those resources are distributed, or how they affect the daily life of people who don’t normally get represented in our policies.

How did your work at the Women’s Center impact your experience?

I started with the Women’s Center when I was a sophomore as a participant in GASA (Greeks Against Sexual Assault). That experience inspired me to use my voice more. This past year I have seen the impacts of the programming and advocacy work that we do on the community. We spoke to about 5000 students on the Storrs campus and traveled across all the regional campuses presenting workshops. We talked about disrupting gender-based violence and what we can do to promote more gender equity on campus. Even if we get through to one student per class, that is an enormous change that we can inspire.

How has UConn prepared you for your future career?

Whatever I choose to do, if I approach it with all my passion and effort, then I can make something work. [After graduation] I am going to begin a six-week program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There, I’ll be a resident advisor for pre-college students who want to gain some experience in STEM research.

What was one piece of advice that stuck out to you?

One advisor said, “Try it, and if it doesn’t work, then come back to me and we’ll figure something else out.” A lot of people have a fear of not doing things right the first time. So, something as simple as “try it, and we can go from there” is a great piece of advice.