Even cancer couldn’t stop this #BaylorGrad from earning her degree
Being 20 years old, away from home at college, and faced with the challenges of a pandemic is hard enough. Now imagine learning that you have cancer and must undergo chemo in the middle of it all.
That’s the situation Baylor senior Ellie Kronlokken faced 18 months ago — and yet, this weekend, the Minnesota native will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA as a Baylor Business Fellow with majors in mathematics, accounting and finance, and a minor in religion!
Kronlokken’s incredible Baylor journey actually began with her sister, Anne, who graduated from Baylor in 2018. “It was kind of a leap of faith to honestly even come down here, being from Minnesota, and not knowing anybody in Texas,” says Ellie. “But it has truly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
An active college student, Ellie was a part of the Baylor Angel Network (BAN) and an active member in the Chi Omega sorority. In November 2020, she was just feeling back in the swing of things, adjusting to college life in a pandemic, when she noticed a lump above her clavicle while sitting in class.
Several doctor appointments later, her phone rang on the last day of the semester. “The doctor called me, and he’s like, I need to get you in for a biopsy right now,” she remembers. Her parents flew to Waco, and she had surgery the next day. A week later, Ellie received another call, “and I heard those scary words no one ever hopes to hear: ‘You have cancer.’ I just remember the world kind of stopped right there at that moment.”
Diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, “I was just like, okay, I guess this is my new reality. But I knew from the beginning that the Lord had me in His hand, and I felt a lot of peace.”
She started chemotherapy in December and was faced with whether to continue her classes at Baylor remotely or postpone her education. With the support and encouragement of her professors, Ellie decided to continue her coursework for her junior year while doing chemo treatments from her family home in Minnesota.
“I owe [my professors] so much, because they were so gracious with me needing extra help here and there or accommodations for different things,” she says. “It was a tough decision to still do school, and looking back on it now, I may have pushed myself a little too hard, but that’s kind of my personality. I’m so thankful for it because it gave me a distraction and something to work towards and make me feel normal, even though I was going through this really tough experience.”
Kronlokken finished chemo in April 2021, and she has been cancer-free ever since. She returned to Baylor last fall to complete her senior year, and this weekend, will walk the Ferrell Center stage. After graduation, she will be begin work in her new job with Main Street Capital in Houston.
“I never expected that I would have experienced [this] in my life, and definitely not in college… but I’ve just seen so much fruit come out of it. The way the Lord has used that time to bring me closer to Him. I’ve learned so many different things from that experience. The fact that I still get to graduate in four years is so wonderful. And I just feel lucky to be here and lucky to still experience Baylor and get to finish out my degree and move on to the next thing.”
Sic ’em, Ellie!