Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

A tribute to Kelley Lash from Student Media alumni

Photo courtesy Christina Tan

2/22/22 11:27pm

Student media advisor Kelley Lash passed away Monday Feb. 21. She will be dearly missed by many, including current students and alumni.

Many people see student media and think the students are running the show – the reality is, none of it would have been possible without Kelley. Kelley remembered things that other people didn’t. She was never afraid to tell it exactly how it is, to both students and administrators alike. Kelley would deliver a blisteringly honest critique with a smile and some freshly baked cupcakes, because she cared so, so, so much. And she never stopped caring, even as students graduated and budgets got squeezed and years passed. It’s incredible to see the number of people she impacted. I will miss her dearly. 

– Christina Tan, Duncan ’20, Thresher EIC 2019-2020

Kelley's office always had an open door; full of comic book figurines and bobbleheads, her office was a safe haven I'd stop by almost every day for three years. There, she laughed, listened, and shared her love for journalism and her students. Kelley inspired me and empowered me, and believed in me when I didn't. She's the reason I joined the Thresher and became editor-in-chief. She truly changed my life. The memory of her advice, her hugs, her motivation and her friendship will always comfort me. 

– Juan Saldaña, Will Rice ’18, Thresher EIC 2017-2018

Kelley was a friend and a mentor, not only when I was working at the paper but even years later when I returned to Houston. She never told us directly to do something, but we were always better off following her advice. Even when we screwed something up, she never lost her sense of humor and perspective; I hope that's just one of the things I've learned from her. Every time I stopped by her office, she was happy to catch up and check how I'd been. I wish I could stop by one more time. 

– Seth Brown, Jones ’13, Thresher EIC 2012-2013

Kelley was outstanding at running student media. But what made her so special was her love for the students she supported. Like the best teachers, she was honest when she knew we could do better and overcome with pride when we achieved something great. And like a best friend, she could make us laugh even on our worst days. I’ll never forget her relentless support for me through all my successes and failures at Rice, not just as a mentor, but as a friend. 

– Andrew Grottkau, McMurtry ’19, Thresher EIC 2018-2019

Kelley was always telling us how proud of us she was. The power of that support buoyed me through my years at Rice and as I began a career in journalism. I felt so much braver because I knew I had Kelley on my side, because she pushed me when I was being complacent and went easy on me when I needed a break. Having someone like Kelley in our lives, someone who was proud of you, fiercely protective of you, who believed in you before you even felt you deserved that belief - clearly shaped so many young lives. 

– Anna Ta, Will Rice ’20, Thresher Managing Editor 2019-2020

Kelley was KTRU’s biggest fan and advocate because she deeply valued how the station was run and cared for by DJs for years. She shared in our laughter, anger, excitement and fears. Far beyond what a club advisor is expected to do, Kelley took on the responsibility of cultivating a space where we could feel safe, respected and supported. It was so meaningful to have someone believe in me, us and the station. I miss her and she had a huge impact on my life. 

– Kaarthika Thakker, Lovett ’20, KTRU SM 2019-2020

Kelley was one of the first Rice faculty members to hug me when I arrived on campus as a bewildered freshman, and she was most definitely the last to hug me when I departed campus as an edging-on-adult-status graduate. There were about a thousand hugs in between — she was the best support during some of my hardest moments at Rice, and the biggest champion of my triumphs. She taught her students about so much: the balance of truth and morality in our complicated world, the importance of standing up for yourself and your skills, the value of kindness and empathy. She didn't just teach me about media and journalism; she helped me realize the person I wanted to be. 

– Rachel Marcus, McMurtry ’14, Thresher EIC 2013-2014

Kelley was a staunch advocate for a free press and helped that principle come to life in the student newspaper. She allowed staff the resources to do great work, and even ensured the lowly Backpage had its place on the paper’s rear end. Other students may not know Kelley’s name because she didn’t have a weekly byline, but her fingerprints cover every issue of the paper that was published under her watch. The entire student body is indebted to her work as much as the Thresher staff. 

– Isaac Schultz, Duncan ’18, Thresher Backpage Editor 2017-2018

Kelley made an immeasurable impact on my life. When I received an offer for my dream job in journalism, she was my first call — mostly because I knew it never would have been possible without her guidance and encouragement years earlier. Kelley taught me to trust my instincts as an inexperienced sophomore who had just been handed the keys to the Thresher. She always seemed to have the perfect words of advice. Her support never wavered, and her abundant kindness helped me through many difficult periods. The most remarkable thing about Kelley: My experience was hardly unique. Kelley impacted the lives of so many student journalists at Rice, and we are all richer for it. 

– Miles Kruppa, Hanszen ’16, Thresher EIC 2014-2015

Journalists are superheroes, and Kelley was the prime example. Always seeking "truth, justice and the American way," Kelley was a fierce advocate for her students and others.  Even when my paths led away from journalism, Kelley stayed by my side, always lending a supportive ear and a tight hug—a true mentor and a wonderful friend. Thank you for making Rice Student Media a family for all of us; you will be dearly missed. 

– Anastasia “Anya” Bolshakov, Duncan ’15, Campanile EIC 2013-2015

Kelley shaped so many lives on campus. To say she was passionate about student media and her students is an understatement. She was dedicated, kind, encouraging and knew how to give tough love when needed. As the director of student media and a McMurtry resident associate, she always made time to connect with students, whether they were in student media or not. My favorite memories with Kelley are all of the conversations we’d have about life, journalism, J.J. Watt, and so many other topics when I’d pop into her office at the RMC. Kelley was one of the people who most shaped me into the writer and person I am today. I carry her career and life advice with me every day — and so many other Rice students and alumni can say the same. 

– Tina Nazerian, McMurtry ’16, Thresher Asst News Editor August-December 2014

Kelley’s calming presence made problems, no matter how big, feel manageable. Her office was a safe haven where her students could escape the stresses of life and confide in an advisor who supported them with her whole heart. Kelley made me feel my dreams are possible, and I hope to live life like she did, full of love, passion and joy. 

– Emily Abdow, Jones ’19, Thresher EIC 2018-2019

During my time at KTRU, the leadership team faced many intense challenges. When times were at their most stressful, we could depend on Kelley to be a clear-headed and caring guide. In every interaction with Kelley we could feel that she cared deeply for the station and for us, our well-being, and our learning. We felt seen. She helped us to grow into more thoughtful and deliberate leaders by advice and by example. We will carry those lessons always. 

– George Barrow, Sid Richardson ’18, KTRU SM 2017-2018

Without a formal journalism program at Rice, we all turned to Kelley — for guidance, for support, for laughter, for fresh baked goods. We sat day in and day out in the Thresher office knowing that Kelley was always nearby to offer advice. She made all of us feel seen in our endeavors, pushed us to pursue hard truths, empowered us to know the impact we had as a collective, fought fiercely to ensure we all had a voice and celebrated us any chance she had. Her presence uplifted all of us, and her impact will not be forgotten. 

– Tina Liu, Sid Richardson ’20, Thresher Art Director 2019-2020

When asked about college, I always discussed the Thresher and its incredible advisor. Kelley was the highlight of my time at Rice. At her office atop the stairs, she'd always invite me in, share a fresh cupcake and genuinely listen. She taught me patience, persistence and the value of journalism. One could not ask for a better mentor. Her guidance frequently comes to mind years after graduation, and her memory will forever be an inspiration. 

– Andrew Ta, Jones ’16, Thresher EIC 2015-2016

When I think of Kelley, I think of warmth — a sunny office, a genuine smile and quick laugh, a ready hug. It was impossible to interact with Kelley and not be struck by her deep care for her family and her students. Kelley’s discerning critiques greatly bettered the Thresher as a publication; her compassion and love bettered the lives of all of us involved with it. 

– Drew Keller, Brown ’18, Thresher EIC 2017-2018

Like most Thresher alumni, the defining experience of my college career wasn’t the hours I spent in class — it was the time I spent hunkered down in the Thresher office, surrounded by friends, working toward a common goal. It’s hard to imagine any of that getting done without Kelley. One of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve ever met, Kelley was the central figure of the Thresher, and I truly can’t imagine it without her. Even though it’s hard not to feel the immense loss of her presence, it’s a wonderful tribute to see how many students and alumni will always value the role she has played in our lives. 

– Ivanka Perez, Brown ’21, Thresher EIC 2020-2021

Kelley was the momma bear the Thresher always needed, lending a guiding hand to a pretty rag-tag group of underfunded college kids. She would distribute weekly critiques of our paper, and I would always go through her words with a fine-tooth comb — if she was proud of something you did, that was next level. Kelley was always there for me, and I’ve cried in her office more than once. She was a kind soul, and she had the most comforting hugs. I’m really going to miss having her around. 

– Sydney Garrett, McMurtry ’19, Thresher Art Director 2018-2019

Kelley was the spirit of the Thresher in so many ways. She was full of warmth and welcome to every new face who joined the staff, always ready to offer advice or listen to you rant. She encouraged us, supported us, and told it to us straight — she was more than we could have ever asked for. 

– Biz Rasich, Lovett ’20, Thresher Features Editor 2017-2019

Kelley truly was the rock of the Thresher. She was our biggest cheerleader and our most incisive critic, always challenging us to produce the highest level of journalism we could. She cared deeply about each and every person in student media and was always ready with a hug, a funny story, or a word of support. I remember returning to the practically empty office for the first production night for almost a year since COVID, wary of the eerie quiet and the strange new spread-out workspaces. Then I saw Kelley waving from her office and was pointed to a freshly baked batch of cupcakes in the student lounge; all of a sudden, the Thresher office felt like home again. In so many ways, she was the soul of student media, and we will all miss her dearly. 

– Amy Qin, Baker ’21, Thresher Managing Editor 2020-2021

Kelley always had the brightest smile on her face when I saw her. Even though I wasn’t a constant presence in the Thresher or Campanile offices, she always made me feel welcome. She was also one of my O-Week associates and helped smooth the transition into college. Kelley allowed me to grow as a photographer and gave me the push I needed to pursue new opportunities. I will always remember the trips to New Orleans and New York for the Student Media Conventions and how she encouraged me to come despite the fact that I was just a photographer. I will miss her dearly but will keep all of the good memories in my heart. 

– Sean Chu, McMurtry ’17, Thresher Head Sports Photographer 2016-2017

Kelley was the best of what Rice has to offer. She made her students feel confident, empowered, and loved. She fought for us and protected us, and she pushed us to do better. When I felt lost after graduating, I showed up to her office for mentorship and comfort as I had so many times before. She changed my life, and the lives of so many others. She will be missed dearly. 

– Anita Alem, Martel ’17, Thresher Managing Editor 2016-2017

Kelley was the heart and soul of the Thresher.  As eager student-journalists who were navigating complex circumstances, we made mistakes. But Kelley always had our back. She turned those occurrences into opportunities for growth and leadership. She brought out the best in me when I was tested as a new editor, and was someone who I could call a friend and trusted mentor. From her famous cupcakes and warm hugs to her selfless service well beyond work hours, Kelley taught us what kindness and compassion looked like. I will dearly miss her, but the love and light that Kelley exuded will continue to fill all those she touched. 

– Rishab Ramapriyan, Will Rice ’21, Thresher EIC 2020-2021

Kelley was my first true mentor at Rice. I first came to her office for advice as an inexperienced sophomore editor, unsure if she even knew my name. I left the same way I felt after every subsequent meeting with Kelley: supported, heard and deeply grateful. We valued her insights, and she took us seriously, whether we felt like we deserved it or not. Every interaction with Kelley made us better — as writers, as colleagues and as people. 

– Andrew Ligeralde, Jones ’18, Thresher Asst News Editor 2015-2016

I’ll never forget Kelley’s wisdom and unwavering kindness. She always had the best advice and treated us students journalists with respect in a way that encouraged us to learn and grow. She taught us to ask tough questions, handle sensitive stories with kindness and stand up for what we believed in. Her office was always a welcoming space where I’d plop myself on the chair across from her and bombard her with questions, or just come to chat and enjoy her delicious cupcakes. There wasn’t a single time when she didn’t greet me with a warm smile. Kelley was my first and most important mentor in journalism, and I can confidently say that without her I wouldn’t have ended up in this field. I’m heartbroken that the Thresher and Rice University have lost such an important advocate for student press. 

– Yasna Haghdoost, Will Rice ’17, Thresher EIC 2016-2017

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