At the 2015 MVC Indoor Championship, Bell shattered the indoor school record in the triple jump with a leap of 40-9.75. Just a few weeks later, she opened the outdoor season with a jump of 40-7.75 to shatter the outdoor record as well. She also ranks third all-time in Drake history in the long jump at 19-8.25 In previous years, Bell focused on hitting as many big marks as possible early in the season and struggled to maintain that level of performance as the length of the season and the demands of making 12 competitive jumps every week took its toll. “I had that goal for so long and once you finally get the record, you realize that’s not what you wanted all along,” Bell said. “It was the process of getting there and looking back at how far I had come. Personally, that’s one of the most emotional things about graduation, how far I’ve come in this program and at Drake.” Bell was pulled aside by a teacher whose words struck a chord with her about the struggles many victims of bullies endure. The empathy for those internal struggles was solidified when a classmate committed suicide as a freshman. “My biggest achievements have been through academics,” Bell said. “It’s great to graduate at the top of my class and be able to do something in my field. I feel like I’m set for life because of my academics at Drake. I love my major and how it has allowed me to apply myself and the way the professors help you love what you do.” Bell will pursue a graduate degree in counseling while serving as a full-time behavioral intervention specialist at Integrative Counseling Solutions, Inc., an area in which she has become incredibly passionate about as a result of her own personal experience and her educational exposure at Drake. “It felt so wrong, that someone could struggle everyday and no one knew anything was wrong,” Bell said. “I felt like I didn’t do my job as a human being for someone to feel that they weren’t loved and valuable.” Everything finally lining up has been a long process for Bell from being an unsure high schooler with a background in basketball that was hesitant to join the track & field team at Bolingbrook. “I looked at the academics – I was into psychology and research and I saw their student–to–professor ratio,” Bell said. “I’m a big hands on learner and I love to have an impact. I didn’t want to be a number. As I looked at it more and more, I realized I felt drawn to the community at Drake.” Despite her athletic success, Bell walked on to the track and field team at Drake and it was academics that brought Bell to the University. One of her high school teammates was looking at attending Drake and the teammate, along with Bell’s high school coach, helped open her eyes to the opportunities at Drake. The success of Drake graduates made enrolling an easy decision for Bell. As she nears graduation, she’s honored to continue that tradition and be among the 98 percent of Drake graduates that have secured a full-time job in their field or admission to a graduate program upon graduation. Drake University senior Kayla Bell begins her last few weeks as a Bulldog in search of one of the few honors that has eluded her to date, a Missouri Valley Conference championship. Through her training and education at Drake, Bell has learned the skills to empower others to change the way they assess blame, see and react to various situations that may trigger emotional stress. In her work as a behavioral interventionist, she will develop multiple interventions for children that have self-esteem, coping, interpersonal or aggression issues. “I’m very proud of those jumps, but I hope Taryn [Rolle] breaks those records and they continue to get broken. Those records should fall and it means that our program is heading in the right direction if they do.” Bell has already started creating those programs through her capstone project at Drake and was recently honored as the psychology department’s Anthony C. Westerhof Award recipient, given annually to the top senior in the psychology department. In 2015, she was honored as the program’s top junior. Print Friendly Version “Since then, my path has been to ensure that and going through my field I want to deal with those issues because so many people internalize what they feel as problem to themselves.” Bell, a triple and long jumper, will have the opportunity to cross that goal off of her list this week at the MVC Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. “It’s a learning experience that I realized the body doesn’t work that way and it’s best to have these minor successes and keep your body fresh,” Bell said. “I’ve had these small performances showing me that everything is really coming together. I feel like it’s all going to come together at that moment during my last conference meet.”Bell owns the school record in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump at Drake. For Bell, both of those honors, along with her 3.93 grade point average, top any that she has achieved in athletic competition.Bell received the MVC Elite 18 Award In 2016 for having the highest GPA in a final at the MVC Indoor Championship Unlike her academic and future professional accomplishments, Bell hopes her name is quickly erased from the record book. “I’m getting really excited and feel I’m in a really good place in both events,” Bell said. “Usually around this time, I’ve already had a peak performance and I feel I haven’t had that yet this season.” But it took very little time for Bell to realize that she was a natural at jumping and that track and field was her path forward athletically. Her sophomore year, she jumped 35-1 in the triple jump – just five inches off her high school’s record. That mark helped set the first of Bell’s goals in the event and pales in comparison to the jumps she’d eventually record on her road to Drake and on the Bulldogs’ iconic Blue Oval. “My friend had to beg me to join because I was scared,” Bell said. “I was nervous and didn’t join the team until February. I never really ran before, but I learned that my body became my sport, and that was different.” Getting those records to fall for the first time was an arduous three-year journey that Bell realized was about more than one big jump. Bell, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., ranks second in the MVC in both the triple and long jumps with a season best mark of 40-4 in the triple jump and 19-8.25 in the long jump. She will begin competition at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the long jump, followed by the triple jump at noon on Sunday. “I had my own issues and was struggling to fit in,” Bell said of her experience in sixth grade. “I was bullied myself and was lost. I started navigating toward this group that when I look back on it, it wasn’t right. They would pick on others and I wouldn’t say anything.” While academics have been Bell’s primary drive at Drake, she had her eye on one other thing when she made the decision to attend – the school record in the triple jump. Despite jumping well short of that mark in high school, she was confident she would eventually break the mark.