Student Spotlight: Kelly Idella Benford

Frederick L. Brown


Kelly Idella Benford. Photo by Braxton Maclean.

Kelly Idella Benford. Photo by Braxton Maclean.

Kelly Idella Benford, a sophomore communication major and theatre minor, is from Greenville, Miss. Benford is a 2014 graduate of Greenville Weston High School. Benford is a very talented dancer and serves as the vice-president of the Audacity Dance Team on campus. Benford is also dealing with a rare skin disorder called "ichythyosis."

Ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, scaling skin that may be thickened or very thin. Ichthyosis affects people of all ages, races and gender, and there is currently no cure for the disorder. While a cure is being sought, researchers and physicians have been working to develop effective ways to help manage the disorder. For more information, visit

Q: How do you deal with your skin condition?

A: "It's hard to deal with. It is a comparison to alligator or fish skin, because it's rough and breaks off a lot, and when the seasons change, it becomes hectic. I have grown accustomed to it, so I can maintain it well."

Q: How do you feel around people?

A: "When I first ventured to The W, it was hard dealing with my condition around students. Nowadays, my confidence level and faith is stronger than ever, as I understand why I'm going through this. I am beyond blessed to have my condition and still be able to do things I love to do, such as dancing."

Q: Is there an organization for your skin condition?

A: "First Skin Foundation is the foundation for ichthyosis and other related skin types."

Q: Would you like to do an outreach program on campus?

A: "It would be great to get other organizations involved. I want an event featuring dancing and people who are dealing with this disorder speaking on their experiences. I would love for all proceeds and donations to be given to the First Skin Foundation."