Where are they now? Tommy Kelley—Looking Back with Gratitude

Dec 20, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Volunteer firefighter since the age of fifteen, EMT, competitor in the Olympic trials for rifle, political campaign manager, and more—Tommy Kelley has packed in a lot of life in his twenty-five years. Now graduated from college, Tommy looks back at his IEW training with gratitude.

Share a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Staunton, Virginia, and was homeschooled from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I have two older siblings, Lee and Meganne, and a sister-in-law named Lauren. I graduated from Blue Ridge Community College with an Associate Degree in Administration of Justice, then transferred to Liberty University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

What do you do now?

I still live in Staunton and am currently working for Congressman Bob Goodlatte as his North Regional Field Director.

When did you start learning with IEW, and which courses did you take?

I was in second grade when I started using IEW. We used IEW’s writing process with whatever we were currently studying, and I used Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons one year. I also memorized classic poems with the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization program.  

What was your favorite part of IEW, and how did it benefit you?

We were in a writing club for years, and IEW gave me a lot of great ideas for paper topics. One of my favorite activities was writing from pictures. All the kids in writing club drew pictures and we exchanged them. The next month we came back and read the stories that we had written from the pictures. That was fun.

One benefit of IEW was that I didn’t have to “make things up.” I liked being told exactly what I needed to write about and how to do it. Memorizing poetry was also fun, and it helped strengthen my ability to memorize.

How did IEW help you in college?

IEW was a big help in college. It helped me structure research assignments so that I had a good idea of where I was going with the project before I even started writing. I learned to break every project down into bite size chunks and work on one part at a time.

I also had to give PowerPoint presentations in some of my classes. I set up the presentation the same way I would set up a paper—and it worked great. I always got high marks on my presentations because they were organized and easy to follow.

Do you see any connection from your IEW training to your ability to communicate beyond writing? Do your plans for the future require communication skills?

My job demands a lot of public speaking. The organizational skills that I’ve learned with IEW have definitely helped me with public speaking presentations. In the future I hope to continue to work on political campaigns, which always calls for good writing and communication skills. I am also hoping to go to law school in a year or two, so IEW will continue to play a big part in my education.

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Study harder in high school, even if you don’t think you’re going to go to college. Write a lot. Almost all jobs expect some writing.

Tommy plans to continue working in areas that require a high level of communication ability. Whether his future ends up being in law, politics, or law enforcement, the skills that were honed by using IEW will serve him well.

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