“I have been skating since I was six years old, being involved in individual skating and synchronized skating. This is my passion because I love to express myself on the ice. It serves as an escape for me from the outside world,” said senior Kiersten Keating, creator of “Skate with Heart.”
Sacred Heart University marketing student Kiersten Keating, Class of ’21, created a scholarship at Sacred Heart called “Skate with Heart,” raising money in partnership with the Diversify Ice Foundation in Maryland to help low-income families and underserved children across the country afford ice skating lessons.
“Hearing that Keating isn’t just a student athlete but also takes other time out of her life to help people who need it warms my heart,” said sophomore Gabriella Alonso. “I know first-hand being a student athlete is very vigorous.”
The scholarship Keating has created, which was her Welch Scholar project, set a goal of raising $2,000, which, according to a Sacred Heart press release, is “enough to help five skaters afford lessons, skates, clothing, helmets and a transportation pass, if needed. So far, she has raised $1,070 of her goal.”
“This semester, I was awarded the opportunity to become a Welch Scholar, which is a scholarship opportunity to create a year-long project of your choice,” said Keating. “I decided to create a scholarship because I knew that I wanted this project to make a difference in the community where Sacred Heart has given so much to me; I wanted to push that forward.”
According to the Sacred Heart press release, “Michael Frechette, assistant professor of marketing, said he has been one of Keating’s instructors and knows her level of work. ‘So, I was happy to be her faculty advisor for her Welch Scholar project. Skating is something that she is passionate about, which makes this a fit all around. She is a good example of what makes a Pioneer: a self-starter who has a passion and gives back to the community.’”
Originally, Keating was hoping to create her own nonprofit to bring ice skating to more children. Yet, the timing and costs that were associated with establishing a foundation altered the original plan, and she turned toward the Diversify Ice Foundation.
Although she does not want this program to end when she leaves the university, Keating is planning to work with the foundation for another year, with the hope that Sacred Heart’s ice skating team can make “Skate with Heart” an annual effort, being that the goal is to help more children nationwide experience the happiness of skating.
“I hope to one day hand this off to the Sacred Heart club figure skating team, where I will still be involved in this project,” said Keating. “This project has impacted my life in more ways than I thought. I hit a lot of obstacles along the way, but I am so happy where it has turned out today.”
Keating has been dedicated to this project, and she worked extremely hard on promoting “Skate with Heart”: reaching out to the community via social media and on her own personal media accounts and putting up flyers at Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport, Conn., the current home of Sacred Heart’s club figure skating team.
“I have actually gone to the Instagram page, being that I needed to do my project soon,” said junior Naseim Brantley. “Seeing the dedication and detail put in has pushed me to want to create a project that has just as much impact on other lives.”
“This project has also let me be my own Pioneer, creating something bigger than themselves with the resources that they are provided,” said Keating. “As I leave SHU in a couple of weeks, this project will be the highlight of my college career.”
For more information on Kiersten Keating and “Skate with Heart,” visit the GoFundMe “Skate with Heart Scholarship” and the “Skate with Heart” Instagram @skatewithheart21.