Kelly Hogarth

2015 Scholarship Recipient

“I realize that by bringing my art form into people’s lives, I can turn a house into a home. That’s huge. Having a beautiful home is one of life’s big dreams. To be part of someone’s dream through design is amazing.”–Kelly Hogarth

As a child, Kelly Hogarth spent most of her free time drawing and reading. She remembers being more fragile and sickly than her classmates, so these quieter activities were perfect for her.

“I was always getting a cold or the flu,” Kelly says. “In the winter, I had to spend recess and lunchtime inside, while the other kids were playing outside. That was alright, I could draw or read. I was okay with that. I understood why I had to stay inside.”

Kelly knew that a weakened immune system was one of many side effects that could come from 28 rounds of chemotherapy, which she received as a child for Ewing’s sarcoma. A rare cancer that forms in the bone or soft tissue, Ewing’s sarcoma normally appears in teenage boys. Discovering the cancer in a five-year girl was surprising for everyone.

“My mom was on a business trip and my dad and I were visiting my grandma,” says Kelly. “I was playing on her kitchen floor, when grandma noticed that my jaw looked swollen. At first they just assumed I had the mumps.” 

Because the tumour was growing in Kelly’s jawbone, there was a severe risk that the cancer would spread to her brain, which is why her treatment called for 14 rounds of chemotherapy both before and after a 16-hour surgery to remove the cancerous bone. During surgery, the doctor took the fibula from Kelly’s right calf, broke it and re-fashioned it into a jawbone, which is secured by screws and bolts.

Kelly bears the scars of her battle to this day. She still has no bottom teeth on that side of her mouth and she recently underwent advanced surgery to build up her jawline.  

“Cancer really shaped who I am today,” says Kelly. “I’ve always been hugely into art—sculpting, drawing, painting—whatever the medium, I loved it.”

She means this quite literally and figuratively.

It was during the many inside-times that young Kelly honed her skills as an artist. In grade 11, she realized that career in art may not be feasible, so she began exploring other avenues to express herself while making a living. That’s when Kelly decided to pursue a career in interior design.

Thanks to you, Kelly studied interior design at Lethbridge College with the help of a Kids Cancer Care Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship. With your help, Kelly was able off-set some of the significant expenses related to studying interior design.

“That $2,500 went straight to my text books and art supplies,” says Kelly, who also used her scholarship for laptop and residence fees. “Without those things I don’t think I would have found the deeply routed passion I have for this design stuff.”

But the scholarship represents more than a monetary award for Kelly. “It wasn’t until I started filling out my scholarship forms that I got my first true taste and rush of excitement for my college experience,” says Kelly. “This scholarship is far more than a dollar amount inscribed on an incredibly crafted sheet of paper. It is my excitement, a smile, a butterfly ready to break free from my stomach. It is a physical piece of my future.”

During her time at Lethbridge College, Kelly fell in love with the city and knew she had to stick around. She now works at a local décor store, a place that surrounds her with the things that people use to make their homes beautiful.

The store has a little bit of everything for everyone, so she gets to meet tons of people and use her design knowledge to help them transform their houses into homes.