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New scholarship honors Starling’s spirit

The Pike Liberal Arts Class of 2011 has announced the creation and awarding of the Kelsey Starling Memorial Scholarship in memory of their beloved friend and classmate.

Beginning in 2020, the scholarship will be presented annually to a senior female student at PLAS who exemplifies Kelsey’s exceptional qualities.

“It is with great honor that the scholarship selection committee, in conjunction with the PLAS Class of 2020, is awarding the inaugural Kelsey Starling Memorial Scholarship to Starling’s sister, Megan Starling,” said Christy Pittman, class/committee member. “Megan is the salutatorian of the PLAS Class of 2020 and will be attending Auburn University in the fall where she will major in Animal Science/Pre-Vet.”

Starling died on July 4, 2019 in a boating accident on Smith Lake in North Alabama.

“Kelsey was valedictorian of her PLAS class. She was a cheerleader, a member of the Student Government Association and a leader at her church, First Baptist of Troy,” Pittman said. “She was one of the best people that you would ever know. She was an all-around, all-American kind of girl.”

And there was something extra special about Kelsey Nicole Starling.

Pittman said when Starling walked into a room, she would immediately light it up.

“Kelsey had this contagious laugh,” her friend said. “She was so joyful, always. She loved to celebrate and she found so many things to celebrate and reasons to celebrate. She loved every little thing and everyone loved being around her. She is missed so much by so many.”

Pittman said Starling set lofty goals for herself “and she met every one of them.”

Starling graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama and earned a master’s degree in speech therapy at the University of Montevallo. She was working as a speech therapist in Birmingham when the accident happened. She was 26 years old.

Pittman said the recipients of the Kelsey Nicole Starling Scholarship must display, not only her academic and athletic excellence, but also her overall joy and zest for life.

“Kelsey was an outstanding young woman with so much to offer,” Pittman said. “We will never forget her. Kelsey will live forever in our hearts and through those who receive the scholarships in her name.”

Tax deductible donations to the scholarship fund may be made at Troy Bank & Trust to Kelsey Starling Memorial Scholarship Fund and dropped off at the PLAS office or via Venmo @kelseystaringscholarship.