Learning to Serve

Nov. 4, 2019

Kelly Dorney learned an unexpected lesson while studying in Guatemala this summer. "When I'm an advocate, I need to be very careful about what I assume people want."

Dorney, a senior in the PPEL program, plans to become an attorney specializing in immigration or environmental law. She was surprised by some of what she heard from Guatemalans, such as positive views of the United States and reason for distrusting their country's elections processes and leaders. "They continually said their government needs to create a place the people don't want to leave," she says.

Dorney also has learned about advocacy on campus by volunteering with the University of Arizona Refugee Project and serving as a senator in Associated Students of the University of Arizona. Her ASUA position put her in the middle of some heated controversies. "The senate was directly involved in Border Patrol coming on campus and students being upset and trying to facilitate those conversations," she says.

Dorney's role made her a target of harsh criticism at times, but also taught her a lot about her fellow students.

"Working with all the diversity centers on campus was amazing and reminded me how cool it is that we have such a big campus, because there are so many different organizations."

The UA's size had been a hesitation for Dorney when she was choosing a college, because she worried about finding community. Now, a senior, she ended up doing so through ASUA, the Honors College and Chi Omega sorority.

"It's obvious to me that I made the right decision," she says.