Kelsy Gross '09

It is a special pleasure to share some parental reflections on Kelsey’s quiet path teenage stampede through St. Mary’s. 

Father’s highlight: as just a freshman, Kelsey was asked to captain the varsity soccer team and serve as starting point guard on the varsity basketball team-- responsibilities she would go on to fill all four years.

Father’s lowlight: as just a freshman, Kelsey was asked to be courted like the “Bachelorette” by seniors vying for the coveted title of Mr. St Mary’s for that fund raising contest. 

Mother’s personal highlight: junior and senior year, Kelsey magically tied for first place in the regional math finals with her twin brother, Bay.

Mother’s personal lowlight: Kelsey never took Victorian Literature with Al Hunter; the literary mistake of her academic career. 
Coach Dave Potter of the women’s soccer team describes Kelsey as “the kind of inspirational player you hope to work with once in a career.” Her brother Bay describes her as “the kind of inspirational twin sister you can forgive for being tragically more athletic, more popular and more socially-adjusted”. 

Whether choreographing the boy’s charity dance pageant, playing sports, studying late night calculus, or shepherding her younger classmates through swine-flu quarantine in China (more drama for her parents) while teaching them the infamous YouTube China SMS Quarantine Thriller dance while fully masked,  Kelsey was preparing herself for a life of values-driven leadership and intellectual achievement. We are ever thankful for her time at St. Marys and the foundations that the community provided her. 

Kelsey graduated in 2009 as Salutatorian and recipient of the faculty’s award for Student of the Year. She studied Economics at Claremont McKenna College, and her most recent years have been spent in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What is your present employment?
I’m a Product Manager for a healthcare technology startup called Digital Diagnostics, which provides the first FDA-approved Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, imaging technology for diagnosing diabetic retina scans and is developing a parallel system for cancerous skin lesions. Our mission is to transform the quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare. I serve as a translator between engineering and business teams, prioritizing what we build, and when, so that we stay focused on solving the most critical problems. Product managers are often thought of as the “CEO of their product”, which means I’m responsible for ensuring everything from the initial design to the rollout is on time and on budget.

What do you anticipate (hope) the impact of this work will have?
Our goal is to increase access to critical specialty care for thousands of patients who might otherwise not get it, expanding equity, and reducing healthcare disparities. Lengthy wait times and expensive co-pays prevent many patients from seeking the care they need, not to mention there simply aren’t enough specialists to go around. We’re building our interpretive imaging tools to meet patients where they are and enable specialists to catch disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. 

What skills do you need to do your job?
My job requires constant communication, negotiation, organization, and strategic thinking. There’s no such thing as over-communicating. I’m constantly building advocates, persuading teams, aligning visions, and evaluating priorities. When customers tell us they want something new, I work with my team to measure the added value that spending the time and resources to implement those feature would bring to our business team. Then, I work with designers and developers to translate the request into tasks that our engineers can deliver.  

I rely on analytical reasoning, the scientific method (minus the poster-board presentation), problem-solving, and a bit of computer science on a daily basis.

What impact did St. Mary's School have in preparing you for this career path?
SMS taught me to pause and think critically. In calculus with Mr. St. Onge and science with Ms. Lovett and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, I learned to identify and solve the crux of an issue. In history with Mr. Comerchero and literature with Mrs. Hunter, I learned (and re-learned) to refine my thesis, identify nuance, and speak to a particular audience. Throughout my courses and activities, I was challenged to use my voice confidently, lead with credibility, and think for myself.  Mr. Volk lit a fire within me to challenge myself with new events – i.e., steeplechase and the mud run.

St. M also taught me to prioritize community throughout everything I do. I’m proud to still commit dozens of weekends of community service per year, many of which to the same types of programs I grew to know and love during my time at SMS.

What might you change or emphasize with SMS education to enhance impactful careers?
I’d emphasize how every career path and area of study has an opportunity to expand equity and promote diversity. On the surface, math is crunching numbers and science is making mini-explosions. But how can you apply your skills and your position of power to improve the opportunities for others? If you’re studying to become an accountant, how can you take on clients who will make the world a better place? If you’re a software engineer, have you made sure your applications are compatible with screen-readers and functional on a vast array of devices?

What are your interests outside of work?
I love mountains and don’t sit still very well. You can find me hiking, biking, rafting, camping, paddle-boarding, or playing Spike Ball. I coach skiing, kayaking, and rock climbing for people with disabilities. I (used to) travel and (still) enjoy spending time with friends and family.

(This article was written by Dr. Brian Gross)