Senior Kayla Klingensmith enjoys introducing others to Roanoke College

Orientation group leader Kayla Klingensmith '12 maintains a busy, but balanced, schedule. The senior from Corning, N.Y., gets around campus: she has been involved in the Honors Program, the Roanoke College Choir, the Lutheran Student Movement organization, the Maroon Corps and the Service Corps. She also is a seasoned veteran of the College's Habitat for Humanity service projects and is active in other chaplain office programs.

The words "fun, friends, faith and family" come up frequently when Klingensmith talks about her experiences at Roanoke College.
One of her Roanoke friends is Rev. Paul Henrickson, dean of the chapel. "He treated me like a lifelong friend the first day I met him," she said, "and now he really is a friend that I will have forever."

Klingensmith has spent the past two years working in Henrickson's office, and she has joined other students on travels with him to three out-of-town Habitat for Humanity builds. "Paul has helped me to grow in my faith and taught me the flexibility to take life where it leads you." she said.

Henrickson used such words as "thoughtful, energetic, dependable and driven" to describe Klingensmith. She is "one of the brightest and best students" that he has worked with at the College, he said.

Klingensmith, a biology major, is current president of the Honors Program Executive Board. She said she has found a home within the program, where she has created many of her best Roanoke memories. She has lived in the honors dorm for the past two years and enjoys hanging out there with her friends.

Other fond Roanoke memories include the President's Ball (an annual fall event), playing in the snow, and her May Term intensive learning course, during which she traveled to 12 national parks in the desert southwest.

The trip "allowed me to meet students that I would not have met on campus and go on adventures I will never forget," she said. "It was amazing that there is such a wealth of exotic places right in this country."

In addition to all of her other interests, Klingensmith is a student researcher. Since the second semester of her freshman year, she has assisted Dr. Darwin Jorgenson, a biology professor, with a complex project. Most recently the two have been studying the immune response of American lobsters to acute bacterial exposure. She presented her ongoing research during the College's Family Weekend and hopes to attend a professional conference this year.

"I absolutely love being a biology major," Klingensmith said. "The department is like one big family. My project is groundbreaking research and I enjoy the excitement of doing something no one has ever done before."

Klingensmith has her sights on entering dental school after graduation and pursuing a career as a dentist. She said the mock interview set up by the College's Health Professions Advisory Group, which assists students who plan to enter a health profession, has helped her hone the skills she will need when applying for graduate school.

Klingensmith credits the welcoming atmosphere at Roanoke College for influencing her decision to leave her native New York and head south for her undergraduate education. "When I visited, I knew it was the only place I wanted to be," she said.

For Klingensmith, an important part of feeling at home is having delicious, nutritious food available in the dining room.

"When I was looking for a college, one thing that I was most wary about was what I was going to eat, because I'm a pescetarian [a vegetarian who also eats fish] and allergic to dairy. In the Commons every night for dinner, the chefs either cook me something special or point me in the direction of what I can eat. I am on first-name basis with most of the dining staff and they love to feed me. It is one less thing that I have to worry about and I get to enjoy great food."

Klingensmith's enthusiasm for the College and appreciation for her own freshman orientation experience are what led her to become involved in the College's R Days orientation program."Coming into college, I was super scared," she said. "But the Roanoke College orientation was so good and wonderful that I felt like I fit right in.... I knew that being an orientation leader was something I would also enjoy. I love meeting new students and finding out their stories."

Klingensmith advises other students to use their time at Roanoke to learn both in and out of the classroom. "Living so far away from home, I have created another family at Roanoke College, which includes honors, biology, choir and chaplain office friends," she said. "These four years are for you to discover who you are. Make sure that you are learning and being the person you want to be. Learn and discover inside of the classroom, but also from your peers and teachers."