University of Nebraska Medical Center

Shining a Spotlight on Dr. Nancy Kelley

Nancy Kelly headshot

Affiliate Member Since 2020
Professor, UNO, Grace Abbott School of Social Work

What do you do at UNO?
I am a Professor in the Grace Abbott School of Social Work. My primary area of research, policy, and service interests are in gerontology. More specifically, I focus on quality of care/quality of life of older and/or disabled adults; family and non-family caregiving; grandparents raising grandchildren; community-based and institutional long-term care; aging parents of adult children with disabilities; intergenerational programming; and mental/behavioral health across the lifespan.

Tell us about your educational research interests and teaching role.
With regard to teaching, I primarily teach human behavior in the social environment, social work practice with older adults, and more macro/administrative courses such as Advanced Community Practice and Planning for Social Change. With regard to research, current projects focus on the impact of volunteers on CMS quality measures scores for nursing home residents and the impact of race/ethnicity/culture on caregiving relationships between older adults and caregivers of different backgrounds--both in home care arrangements and in long-term care settings.

What is one of your favorite/memorable teaching moments?
I remember working with a student who was really struggling in her classes and practicum. I really mentored her and advocated for her throughout the program. She did eventually graduate, but was not perceived by other faculty as a "star student" or anything. About 8 years after she graduated, she emailed me with a profound and genuine thank you message and attachments of articles and pictures and information about an award she had recently received. She told me how significant my support for her was and wanted me to know it wasn't all for naught--she had "made something of herself" and shared all about her work and the program she was involved in developing and how far she had come in her career. It was very satisfying to know that someone remembered me and that I made a difference--someone learned something from me and appreciated it. Sometimes people need someone to have faith in them even when they may not have faith in themselves.

What do you see as the biggest benefit to being a member of the IAE?
I think the biggest benefit of being a member of the IAE is the opportunity to network and build relationships with colleagues across disciplines and across campuses. I am also looking forward to learning from others any tips and tricks they may have for teaching or research.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
I actually wanted to officially be an astrobiologist when I was a kid--LOL! I wanted to look for life on other planets! I have always been fascinated with astronomy and anything space-related. I just didn't have a knack for the physics-side of things. A very different dream than becoming a gerontological social worker!

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