Kelsey Brooke De Santis was born in Burbank, CA on August 30, 1988. She grew up in Lancaster, CA with her mother, Kat, and brother, Kyle.
Kelsey grew up taking part in any and every activity from volleyball and surfing to snowboarding and motocross.
While attending school and working at Johnny Rockets in Santa Clarita at the age of 16, Kelsey started Muay Thai training and loved it right away.
Even though college scouts had been following Kelsey’s high school volleyball team, she knew she wanted to join the military and continue fighting.
Following in the footsteps of Kelsey’s Uncle Rocco and brother Kyle, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in January 2007 at the age of 18.
Though she had originally planned on signing up for the Navy Corpsman program since she had never met a female Marine, a USMC recruiter let her know that while only around 6% of the Corps is made up of females, Kelsey could join and pursue martial arts.
The Marine Corps was the first time Kelsey gained any experience with ground fighting or anything other than Muay Thai. Thinking that an MOS as a Military Police (MP) Officer would be the closest to doing martial arts, Kelsey served as a K-9 MP at Marine Corps Base Quantico as part of the Presidential Helicopter Squadron (HMX-1).
As an MP, Kelsey continued to hone her martial arts skills both during work and in her spare time at Lloyd Irvin’s gym in Maryland. Around this time she met George “Loaded” Lockhart, a fellow Marine and fighter who invited Kelsey to the Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE), the hub of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). A year later, Kelsey went through the MACE course to become a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer.
Becoming a member of the MACE was a dream come true for Kelsey. She couldn’t have been happier to serve under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Shusko and train every day with some of the most inspiring and sound minded Marines. It just so happens that Kelsey invited Justin Timberlake to the Marine Corps Ball via YouTube because she was compelled to do so because of his response to Mila Kunis being invited (Link to interview is under videos & full story about the ball is under Blog page). Kelsey ended her active duty while serving at the MACE in January of 2012.
Leaving the military Kelsey moved back home to Southern California and decided to use her Post 911 GI Bill and pursue her undergraduate degree. While attending Pasadena City College (PCC) she was apart of their unique veteran cohort classes, veteran organization, and most importantly, a participant of the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) which was centrally located aboard campus. While experiencing a helpful transition guided by the specialized and considerate PCC VRC staff (Carol & Patty), she worked alongside other women veterans on a project that encouraged the participation of other female veterans alike. After six months had pasted Kelsey had an opportunity to move to South Florida to continue her education and also follow her dream to become a professional MMA fighter.
Soon after relocating and enrolling in the private non for profit institution Nova Southeastern University (NSU), Kelsey realized the importance of having an active VRC and the positive community that follows. Kelsey and Jake Milkovich, also a United States Marine veteran, created NSU’s first all encompassing student veterans organization, Nova Student Veterans Association (NSVA). Kelsey and Jake became advocates for the 900 plus student veterans on campus. NSU at the time had a student representative for everything but student veterans. For over a year they worked on gaining support, awareness, and the understanding of need for a VRC. Even with much support from both the student body and many faculty members, surprisingly this group of veterans was met with resistance and slowness.
Knowing that more needed to be done Kelsey and another fellow Marine veteran Fred Roger created a non profit called Heroes Entering Life’s Opportunities (H.E.L.O.). The purpose of H.E.L.O. Foundation was to find ways to establish these VRC in colleges and universities that did not have such a thing. H.E.L.O. kicked off a very successful event called Freedom Fest aboard NSU that was in honor and celebration of the men and women who serve our country, along with the grand opening opening of NSU’s very own VRC. Almost simultaneously after realizing that establishing these VRC would take much more resources and collaboration, Kelsey and Fred made an alliance with an organization by the name of Veterans Trust. With the original mission of H.E.L.O. at the forefront, Kelsey now has the pleasure of working alongside a diverse group of hand selected veterans to create a model that includes access, completion, and placement all in the favor of our returning veterans.
While attending NSU Kelsey decided to focus her studies on business while minoring in entrepreneurship at the H. Wayne Huizenga program. Initially she created a YouTube video submission to Dr. Pepper for a chance to be awarded scholarship funds and put them toward progressing her campuses VRC. After hearing no response she continued on to Dr. Pepper’s Next One Of A Kind competition to become a top ten finalist and then shortly after was announced Dr. Peppers very own One Of A Kind. Kelsey was featured in Dr. Peppers commercial titled, “The Americans” (Link is under videos).
Early 2014 Kelsey was suggested to compete in the Ms. Veteran America (MVA) competition by a dear friend. She was selected as one of the 25 finalist and was the awarded the Iron Princess Award in October that year.
Kelsey having created De Santis K. Consulting looks forward to making a dramatic impact with future contracts. Additionally she is looking forward to having the ability to hire on other disabled veterans to help sustain growth, development, and positive health in the veterans sector.