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Hitt excels in volleyball, civic leadership and pre-med studies

As a student-athlete pursuing pre-medical studies, Kirtley Hitt helped lead her volleyball team to the Division III national tournament while earning academic all-conference honors three times. On campus, she was also a community service leader, logging hundreds of hours while coordinating Cornell’s Alternative Spring Break trips and volunteering for Relay for Life, Lunch Buddies, and other programs.

Kirtley Hitt '12

Kirtley Hitt ’12 celebrates with her teammates, contributes to disaster relief during Alternative Spring Break, and completes a Cornell Fellowship at a Colorado children’s hospital.

What are your plans after Cornell?
Immediately following graduation, I will travel with Operation Walk to Tanzania where I will have the opportunity to observe joint replacement surgeries and assist with various tasks. I am also currently applying to physician assistant programs.

During my year off, I will be working in a healthcare capacity to garner patient contact hours, which are required by most P.A. programs.

What did you learn about yourself while working at the Children’s Hospital?
Prior to the fellowship, I knew I was interested in the health profession. But it is an incredibly diverse field, and working at the hospital definitely helped me narrow my focus. My work in Colorado in the orthopedic department, as well as my work as an athletic trainer, really inspired an interest in orthopedics, specifically pediatric orthopedics.

What was best about playing volleyball at Cornell?
The best part about playing volleyball was having a family at school. My team formed such a tight-knit group and some of my best friends have played with me for four years. I love every one of my teammates and I love the power we have when we unite. In addition to competing together, we host volleyball camps and clinics, participate in Relay for Life, and run a relay recess event at the elementary school each year.

How did you balance athletics with academics and community service?
My volleyball coach, Jeff Meeker, has been incredibly supportive and has always allowed me to place my academics ahead of everything else, including volleyball. This gave me the courage and freedom to explore all my options and go for every opportunity, even if it meant I might be late to practice on occasion.  Also, the block plan is phenomenal. With the advantage of always having a class end at 3 p.m. and only ever having one subject to worry about, it was easy to commit to different projects outside of class and to balance a hectic schedule.

What have you gotten out of performing so many community service roles?
This year, as an organizer of the Alternative Spring Break trips, I was more proud of the number of students who had a positive trip experience and wanted to lead a trip next year than of the work I actually did on the trip, which was surprising to me. It was so incredible to hear participants speak about their realizations of how much they loved service work, and it felt great to be giving them the opportunity to discover this passion through the trips we support.

Any particularly memorable experiences related to service?
The most memorable experience I have had during service work was during our volleyball trip to Nicaragua. We worked with Mobile Library, which is a program that brings bins of books on the back of a pickup truck to rural villages and schools that would not have access to these materials otherwise. When that truck came rolling down the road the kids poured out of their homes, even if they did not have school that day. It was incredible to see the difference we were making and the excitement that these kids had to get new books to read.