WorldStrides is celebrating 50 years as the leader in student travel by sharing the stories that have shaped our company’s past and will propel us into the future. Throughout the year, we will highlight stories from our history, many of the people who have made us what we are today, and some of the special ways travelers have been impacted by their experiences in our blog series, 50 Years of WorldStrides Stories.
Kelsey Costello’s musical passion was forever cemented in the sixth grade, when a teacher, Victoria Ligon, heard her sing and asked her to join the choir. Like many teachers, Mrs. Ligon played a very large role in Kelsey’s life.
“From the moment I met Kelsey, we just “knew” each other! She was my student and teacher; she is my friend; she is my musical colleague; she is my mentee and mentor. As I look back on my 38 years of teaching, Kelsey stands out far above the rest in my memory,” says Ligon.
Kelsey was grateful to have a teacher that was so invested in her, and quickly realized that choir satisfied more than just her love of singing. She found that choir was a place where she could create lifelong friendships, express her talent, and develop herself as a leader. Kelsey became the president of her middle school choir, and was also selected as president for her high school choir a few years later.
While in high school, Kelsey had the opportunity to attend both the San Diego Heritage Festival and the San Francisco Heritage Festival. Her choir won gold ratings at both festivals, and even won first place in their division. What Kelsey remembers most is the excitement of traveling and competing together as a choir. Kelsey describes the experience as “bonding moments nothing compares to… from practicing and preparing for the festival to the 12+ hour bus ride to performing. These experiences helped shape my life and I have maintained many of those friendships. Some of the girls I was in choir with during that time are still my best friends.”
With Kelsey’s enthusiasm, experience, and strong voice, it was a no-brainer for her to join choir at Brigham Young University. She was elected choir president and during her term, Kelsey took on a lot of responsibilities ranging from developing the choir’s advertising campaign, to providing input on music selection. This leadership role propelled Kelsey into a realization that her love for music could transform to a career. “When I found out WorldStrides was hiring, I realized it was the perfect blend of what I love- events and music,” says Costello.
Throughout her choir journey, Kelsey never lost touch with her teacher and mentor, Victoria Ligon. Coincidentally, Kelsey called her beloved teacher after applying for the position with WorldStrides.
“Kelsey called me and said she was applying to be a Destinations Specialist with WorldStrides. I about jumped out of my skin with excitement, not only for her but also for this wonderful organization! I called my contact at WorldStrides immediately to highly recommend Kelsey for this position! Her leadership, organizational skills, humor, zaniness, care, personality, intellect, just everything about her qualified her for this new employment! I am a huge fan of Heritage festivals; my kids have always loved traveling, singing, and performing with this organization!”
Kelsey’s hard work paid off. She was hired quickly after applying, and has been a destination specialist for Seattle and Dallas.
It is truly an understatement to say that Victoria Ligon is a teacher who has forever shaped Kelsey’s life. They remain lifelong friends. A song from the Broadway hit Wicked has special meaning to both Kelsey and Victoria Ligon, especially the lyric: “”Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you. I have been changed for good.”
Learn more about our Heritage Festivals and OnStage programs.