By Erica Howell

Kelsey Blake’s journey from professional figure skater to honors graduate in the speech-language pathology & audiology program is nothing short of inspiring.

A transfer student at ODU, Blake’s story begins on the glittering ice, where she spent much of her life perfecting her figure skating skills. Starting at age 4, her passion for skating led to a professional career with Disney on Ice, touring North America for three years before finding herself in the middle of her fourth tour in Indonesia when the world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The abrupt end to her career with Disney on Ice left Blake in a challenging position. Despite initial uncertainty, she decided to return to school, first enrolling in classes at Virginia Peninsula Community College before transferring to ODU in January 2022.

“I chose speech pathology because it captures my interest in science, working with people and education,” Blake said.

While excelling in school, she got back to the ice as quickly as she could, coaching skating and performing at Christmastown in Busch Gardens. She even found ways to combine her love of skating with her passion for helping children with special needs, collaborating with ODU’s Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) on a “sensory skating” event at Chilled Ponds, the rink where she works.

“I want to bring the opportunity of skating to a group of kids who might be overwhelmed in the usual circumstances,” she said.

In addition to skating and school, Blake is involved with the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SLHVA).

Her decision to pursue speech-language pathology & audiology stems from her initial interest in physical therapy. A shadowing program in high school introduced her to the world of speech therapy.

Blake said she plans to stay in the area and continue her education at ODU pursuing a master’s degree.