Kelly majored in anthropology and Hawaiian studies during college. She went on to work in cultural resource management at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and other land agencies for 6 years. Kelly enjoyed the work but saw health disparities among her community and felt a call to redirect her efforts. She returned to school and received her degree as a family nurse practitioner and a masters in public health. Being invited to sail on Hikianalia as the medical officer was an honor for her. She realized that she was bridging her training, education, life experience and endless love for the ocean. The voyage inspired her. She has taken her voyaging experience back to her clinic to help people navigate their health collectively, as a family instead of an individual. She encourages healthy lifestyle and cultural practice within the families and open discussion about familial health histories to prevent disease before it starts. Kelly thinks Hōkūle‘a serves as a beacon to the world, encouraging all peoples to look and listen to the past in order to navigate the future with intention and meaning. Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia exemplify what it means to continue on, despite setbacks and to overcome hardships all in order to procure ancient wisdom. She feels the wa’a have shown the world how the ocean connects us not divides us. While on the waʻa, she misses her dog and cold water. When back on land she misses the night sky and the sound as waves as they meet the hull.

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