Michael Kelly

6 years in Foster Care

24 years old


Michael Kelly is a medical student at the University of Minnesota, and dreams of one day becoming a rural family practice doctor. To achieve this goal, Michael plans to find a residency position in family medicine or primary care when he finishes medical school, and then find an attending doctor position where he can be deeply involved in his community. Michael’s personal motto is that the most successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others, and so he wants to use his degree to help people live happy and healthy lives.

Inspired by his own experiences in foster care, Michael founded an organization called The MD Link, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Medical School. MD Link provides early intervention for local, vulnerable youth through a mentorship program, educational workshops, and presentations. The goal is to expose medical students to the harsh realities that these young people face so that they can become more empathetic physicians, and to empower the young people to become advocates for themselves through building meaningful mentor relationships. Michael has also applied insights from his lived experience in foster care as a board member with both the Minnesota Department of Human Resources’ ETV Program and with Foster Advocates. Additionally, he volunteers at Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, a free clinic in an underserved area of Minneapolis.

Michael was in foster care for about six years, and by the time he started college he had moved sixteen times. This instability motivated Michael to become independent and to develop a strong work ethic. His experience in foster care also helped him to develop a strong sense of empathy, and he chooses to live his life centered around kindness, care, and love.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2022 Outstanding Young Leaders