WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 05, 2010, 10:24 AM

Student earns his master's degree despite hurdles of illness

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When NDSU awards Ph. D and Master's Degrees next week, one student will not be there to take part in the long honored tradition, but his family will. Kevin Kelly of Fargo died a few months ago. He had worked for several years on his master's degree, but cancer and other health issues forced him to stop his work just short of that degree.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Kevin Kelly was no stranger to NDSU's campus. He was a dietician and nutritionist at the Wellness center, an area instructor at local schools. He was close to getting his Master's Degree from SU when cancer interrupted that journey. It didn’t stop Kevin from pursuing that masters, despite the hurdles of illness.

“He was very determined that he would get better.”

While his cancer was held at bay, Kevin's kidneys failed and there was nothing Mayo doctors could do. He died in January at the age of 52.

“He was a wonderful person that way. No one was above him. No one was below him.”

Today, NDSU showed us the master's degree Kevin's wife Debbie will receive May 14th.

“Sad to see Kevin is gone, but glad he is getting rewarded for all his efforts because he was almost finished.”

Tons of relatives will be there to honor this man who helped so many.

“To me it means that he mattered. The day of his funeral, we were driving from the church to the cemetery and my nephew was watching the police block traffic. He said what did Uncle Kevin do that was so important and I just looked back and said, he mattered.”

Those NDSU students receiving Masters and PhD's will he honored Friday, May 14th. Undergrads will receive diplomas Saturday the 15th. Both ceremonies are at the FargoDome.