Kelly Peaks image

Kelly Peaks

Image of Kelly Peaks

Kelly Peaks

Clinton, MD

Academic School



New York

Kelly Peaks ’18 has been making music her entire life, and it has brought her farther than she ever imagined.  Growing up in Clinton, Maryland, she was a cantor at her church and was involved in both band and theatre in high school.  In fact, her great talent as a singer made her Marist education possible.  While attending Open House for Accepted Students in 2014, Peaks auditioned for a music scholarship and got it, which allowed her to pursue her dream of studying environmental science at the College.  She’s been fortunate to find fulfillment in both of her passions.

As an undergraduate at Marist, Peaks worked closely with Director of Choral Activities Sarah Williams to develop her unique voice as an artist.  She had never taken lessons or learned to read music, but through her music minor, she studied music theory and proper breathing and began to feel connected to the music in a way she never had before.  Said Peaks, “I always felt a bit detached from what I was singing, and now, I sound totally different as a singer.  Sarah is an inspiration, and I’ll always have a special connection with her.  She’s like a second mom to me.” 

In 2016, Peaks had the unforgettable opportunity of performing the national anthem when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held an event on the Marist campus; she even got to meet him.  Studying abroad in Australia, she took music classes and continued to grow as a singer.  In summer 2018, she was one of 30 Marist students and recent alumni who traveled to Austria to perform in the land of Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert.  The group gave several public concerts at historic venues in Vienna, Mondsee, Hallstatt, and Eisenstadt before heading to Salzburg to participate in the World Choral Fest, which culminated in a dramatic performance of both classic and new choral works inside the elegant Salzburg Cathedral.  Added Peaks, “I felt so honored to have sung in these places where the masters wrote music and where it’s so widely appreciated.  Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself doing this!”

The unique part about the Music Program at Marist is that there are no music majors, just students majoring in other fields who are passionate about singing and/or playing an instrument.  In Peaks’ case, she majored in environmental science with a concentration in policy.  She learned Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and environmental planning, and thinks of her role as that of a mediator between scientists and public policymakers to help them make informed decisions.  She gives particular credit to her advisor, Associate Professor of Environmental Science Richard Feldman.  “Professor Feldman did a great job giving me advice and getting me in contact with people in my field.  He was also very supportive of my music and went to quite a few Marist Singers concerts!” 

Peaks believes Marist prepared her exceptionally well for life after college.  After completing an internship at the American Meteorological Society, she recently started a position as a program assistant at the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center (EFC).  EFC provides communities with the tools and information necessary to manage change for a healthy environment and an enhanced quality of life.  Peaks works for the Sustainable Maryland Certified project, which supports Maryland’s 157 municipalities as they look for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities.  So far, she has been developing a new tier of action items to expand Sustainable Maryland.  She has also been working with the Municipal Online Stormwater Training Center to develop a stormwater action plan workshop for Maryland Black Mayors, Inc.

So what’s next for Peaks?  After her one-year assignment at EFC, she’ll most likely pursue a graduate degree in environmental policy.  “I’d eventually like to work internationally with the United Nations or the State Department or the United States Agency for International Development to help build resilient communities around the world.”  Particularly in the developing world, climate change contributes to other ills such as migration and political instability.  Peaks’ ultimate goal is to help island nations currently imperiled by climate change.  With the global perspective and strong grounding in science she gained at Marist, Peaks is well on her way to doing her part to advance the social good.

Kelly is now in graduate school at the University of Maryland.