“CCO people, when they care about you, sometimes ask you those very hard questions that you don’t want to answer,” says Kelly Vrooman, a 2004 graduate of Malone College, now Malone University. Kelly says that those hard questions asked by CCO staff members Celia King, Marcia Everett, and Tanya Hershberger inevitably caused her to learn more about herself.
As a student majoring in Communication Arts, Kelly found people through the CCO who showed excitement and interest in what she did. “To want to perform was celebrated,” says Kelly, and she felt freedom to pursue her passion.
Through participation in the Jubilee conference, Kelly was challenged to think about her role as an artist. She remembers one of the speakers telling a story about a janitor who uncovered a scandal simply by looking around, taking copious notes, and reflecting what he had seen. Kelly says that illustration helped her understand her role as an actor—to take notice of what she sees and experiences and reflect those things, hopefully with the goal of improving the world.
Personal relationships and conversations formed an important part of Kelly’s CCO experience at Malone. Being part of a discipleship group with Celia was very important to her, and she enjoyed many dinners at Marcia’s house. Through her CCO staff members, Kelly learned how to integrate what she was learning into her life. She saw integrating faith with her education as her responsibility, not expecting teachers simply to teach her but assuming an active role in the learning process. Through her discipleship group Kelly learned to look for God’s truth in every area of life, not merely in traditional Christian circles. Kelly says that she cares about the environment because of Tonya Hershberger’s influence and now thinks deeply abut what she eats, wears, and buys.
Kelly currently works as an actor for a number of theatre and production companies including ComedySportz, an improv comedy troupe in Philadelphia. She says that she wouldn’t be as comfortable living and working in such an insecure industry if she hadn’t learned to have worth in deeper things. Through Celia’s influence, Kelly learned how to make other people around her feel loved and cared for. Having attended a funeral with Celia, Kelly noticed her demonstrating care for the family through the simple act of providing water. That example helped her to love and serve her own family in similar detailed ways at a recent family funeral.
Noticing what is going on in the lives of people around her and assessing their needs is a consistent theme in Kelly’s life. She has intentionally chosen to live in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia in order to have the opportunity to learn about all different sorts of people. One morning, she says, she woke up to dancing in the streets. Living with roommates is important to Kelly in maintaining a sense of community, something she learned to appreciate through the CCO’s ministry at Malone. She attends and is active at Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Broomall, PA which she describes as being small and very community-oriented.
In her work as an actor, Kelly says that it is really easy to get caught up in the game of the acting world. She is thankful that she has been able to maintain what she describes as the “CCO mentality—the idea of stepping back and being mindful of what is it I’ve experienced today—what can I learn from that for tomorrow? The CCO,” says Kelly “stays a part of your life.”