Dr. Donna Kelly will be missed by many

Article published in The Forum Student Newspaper.

Dr. Donna Kelly, a loving and caring professor, passed away at the end of August after a short-term battle with cancer. She was the associate professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and coordinator for the Communication Sciences and Disorders program – a valuable and unforgettable part of UA Little Rock. 

“Dr. Kelly loved teaching and was a strong advocate for her students,” Graduate Clinician student Janet Young, who worked as Dr. Kelly’s GA this past school year, said. “​I suffer from chronic depression and Dr. Kelly was able to help me through some difficult times. She is one of the many reasons I am still here today. With her guidance, I was able to slow down my life and take time for myself. I will always appreciate her concerns [about] my well-being.” 

She was such a role model to those around her. Dr. Kelly’s impact at UA Little Rock is undeniably great. She joined the UA Little Rock faculty in 2003 – 17 years of teaching, leading, and advising to the students in the clinical speech-language and pathology program. 

Dechantria D. Wallace worked with Dr. Kelly for five years. She respected her as a superior and always appreciated everything she did for her to the point of pursuing a doctorate.

“Dr. Kelly was a joy to work with,” she said. “She loved her profession and cared deeply for her students. She would stop at nothing to see them all succeed. She is one of the reasons I chose to pursue my doctorate in higher education. She enjoyed working with students and it showed in everything she did. I strive to be like her every day.”

People that knew Dr. Kelly had the utmost esteem for her. It never failed that she would bring a smile to someone’s face or gave the most insightful advice to a student or colleague in need. 

One of those students, Danny McNeely now a speech pathologist, spoke fondly of her. 

“Dr. Kelly was interested in the well being of others,” she said. “Always working to make sure the needs of her students were met. She was a listener. Always willing to sacrifice time to understand the joy or pain of those that sat in her office.”

Danny expressed what he will always cherish most about Dr. Kelly.

“[I always felt] at ease when approaching her or asking for help,” he said.

Dr. Kelly was an advocate for her students. She went above and beyond for the people she cared about and wanted all her students to succeed. 

Abeer El-Anwar, PhD., an assistant professor of linguistics at UA-Little Rock, admired Dr. Kelly both professionally and personally. 

“Dr. Kelly was brilliant, extraordinarily kind, and a uniquely special presence,” he said. “Her impeccably organized mind kept track of a vast quantity of research. She was unwaveringly supportive of her students, often with the student unaware she was behind the scenes advocating for them. She found joy in the little things in life. Friendships meant the world to her.”

Dr. Donna Kelly as loved and cherished by many. Her outstanding leadership and good character made her one of the greatest professors UA Little Rock’s Speech-Language Pathology program has seen. Even without knowing her, you knew her by the amazing things her colleagues and friends expressed about her. 

“I will miss my professor, but I think I will miss my friend even more,” El-Anwar said.

She will be dearly missed as a professor, colleague, mentor, and friend. 

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