KOKOMO, Ind. – Fourth grade made a crucial impact on Lorelei Porter’s life.
A biomedical science unit at school convinced her that she wanted to be a doctor, while playing on a recreational league volleyball team introduced her to the sport that would pave the way to her goals.
In May, she graduates from Indiana University Kokomo with a degree in biological and physical sciences, earned in three years. Porter also played on the volleyball team and completed the campus’s rigorous Honors Program. She’s been admitted to the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Her athletic career, paired with her strong academic background, gave her an edge when applying to schools.
“They like seeing that you were a student athlete, because it means you have a strong work ethic,” Porter said.
Volleyball Coach Heather Hayes said Porter’s accomplishments — she’s earned dean’s list honors every semester, worked part-time, and been recognized as all-conference every year — have been “absolutely remarkable,” especially since she graduated in three years.
“Lorelei has demonstrated a great deal of resiliency and grit in her life, while always maintaining a glass-is-half-full attitude,” Hayes said. “Positivity simply flows from her, and she makes the most of whatever opportunities come her way. The word ‘can’t’ simply is not in her vocabulary. I am so impressed by her ambition and her strong will. She has a fearlessness to stand on her own and advocate for herself unlike many others her age.”
Porter’s interest in both volleyball and medicine started at around the same time, when she was attending one of the Hamilton Southeastern elementary schools. Her fourth-grade teacher taught a unit in which students learned and took tests to progress through the medical field. She was one of three in her class to achieve the doctor level.
“Since then, I know that’s what I wanted to do,” she said, adding that biomedical classes at her high school sealed the deal for her.
She had played sports for as long as she could remember, but found the one she loved in fourth grade.
“Volleyball is the one I fell in love with,” she said. “With soccer, I was out picking flowers and not paying attention to the game. Volleyball, I was passionate about.”
The game brought her to IU Kokomo, and she says it’s what she will miss the most after graduating.
“I’ll miss being with these girls, and playing with this team,” she said. “It was so much fun, and we competed so well with each other. Winning feels good, too.”
They did a lot of winning, with River States Conference (RSC) championships and NAIA national tournament appearances all three seasons she played. Porter noted that winning the RSC tournament meant the most during her last season, the only one she played that did not earn them the regular season title.
“We really had to show up at the tournament to get the national bid,” she said. “I’ve only cried after a few games in my entire career. We were all bawling after that game. It meant so much because of how hard we had to work for it.”
Porter said as the oldest of eight children, she’s worked to set a good example for her two sisters and five brothers.
“I love them all so much, I really want the best for them,” she said. “I want them to succeed. I want to set the bar high so they know what’s possible. They know they can do what I did.”