When Kristy Kolb receives her degree at Rensselaer’s 202nd Commencement May 17, she will follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, one of Rensselaer’s first two women graduates. But Kolb will also blaze her own path, just as she has throughout her four years at the Institute.
Kolb spent a semester at Charles University in Prague, “because I wanted to study in a place that was rediscovering itself.” She interned as a research assistant at the Alden March Bioethics Institute and, for her senior thesis, wrote about the ethics of cognitive-enhancing drugs. Even Kolb’s dual major science and technology studies and communication is not typical.
“I’m more confident now and have become a better leader,” Kolb says.
“I know my strengths and my interests, I appreciate the experiences I’ve had here,
and I’m proud to graduate from Rensselaer.”
Her ties to Rensselaer are considerable. Kolb’s grandmother, Mary Ellen Rathbun, graduated from Rensselaer in 1946 and married Ed Kolb, Class of 1944. Her aunt, Mary Jane Kolb Stanley, earned her Rensselaer degree in 1969. Her father, John Kolb, is a member of the Rensselaer Class of 1979 and is vice president for Information Services and Technology and chief information officer at the Institute.
In some ways, Kristy Kolb grew up on the Rensselaer campus. She attended Big Red Freakout hockey games and accompanied her dad on Take Your Daughter to Work days. Both before and during her years as an undergraduate, she witnessed the transformation of the Rensselaer campus and its programs.
“EMPAC (the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) was built while I was here,” Kolb says, “and Dr. Jackson took the women’s ice hockey team to Division I. As a female student-athlete, I felt that was an important and exciting step forward for women’s athletics at Rensselaer.”
Kolb had the opportunity to tour EMPAC while showing the facility to local alumni in her capacity as a member of the Red & White. Students in the organization serve as Rensselaer’s ambassadors to alumni and represent the Institute to then community.
“It’s important to the alumni, but it’s beneficial for students, too,” Kolb says. “We meet successful alumni, get to see how much Rensselaer means to them, and share their excitement about what’s happening here. When we see how much they’ve accomplished, we come to appreciate our own potential and what the future can hold.”
In Kolb’s case, most likely the future will include graduate school. First, however, she will travel to Europe with Rensselaer’s Division III women’s soccer team. Then, she will head to a post-graduate internship with the Litigation & Crisis Management team at Edelman, a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.
Kolb was recruited to Rensselaer to play soccer and had an impressive college career: team MVP in 2007, team captain for two years, and Liberty League Fall All-Academic Team member all four years. She made her mark off the soccer field as well, as vice president for recruitment for Red & White, senior writer for The Polytechnic student newspaper, and member of the Phalanx Student Leadership Honor Society. Kolb participated in the Archer Center for Student Leadership Professional Leadership Program. She also raised nearly $6,000 for charity by completing the San Diego Marathon.
She credits Rensselaer with giving her a strong sense of self and of purpose. “I’m more confident now and have become a better leader,” Kolb says. “I know my strengths and my interests, I appreciate the experiences I’ve had here, and I’m proud to graduate from Rensselaer.”