Kelly Saybe ‘22 is a member of the Dougherty Family College’s inaugural class of 2019 and a transition scholarship recipient at the University of St. Thomas. A junior at the University of St. Thomas, Saybe is a public health major with several minors and a passion for journalism. She is a ThreeSixty Journalism alumna and is currently part of the St. Thomas Newsroom team writing stories on the Dougherty Family College experience.

We caught up with Saybe as she began her first week writing for the Newsroom.

How did you come across Dougherty Family College and make the decision to be part of its inaugural class?

I went to Roseville Area High School and was part of a college preparatory class called AVID, which prepares and challenges students to do their best work with all the support necessary in an effort to attend college. I want to say that AVID really propelled me to think broadly about my opportunities. I felt I wasn’t able to afford a lot of the colleges I had gained acceptance from, so naturally, when my mentor told me about DFC, I took a chance to apply. I am really proud of myself for taking that opportunity and making it out to be an opportunity to gain all the skills necessary for my academics today.

What was your favorite or memorable moments from your experiences as a Dougherty student?

I remember being so excited and anxious to be part of a brand new college because with this comes much learning-as-you-go experiences. One memorable moment is acknowledging I was the first accepted student and being the person that allowed other students to see that they can have a chance to achieve their college education. Additionally, I gained a lot of confidence in speaking up for what I believed in and enough to be selected as the student commencement speaker for my graduating class.

Tell me a bit about your journalism background, how did that start for you?

I really wanted to be a journalist in high school, I loved to read and write, but I wanted to tell stories that were important. I didn’t know how to start until I joined ThreeSixty Journalism. It is a program at St. Thomas that allows high school students to develop journalism skills and work on curating local stories. I had a lot of fun and challenging times, but I was able to gain important skills I find have helped me gain every opportunity from working at Best Buy corporate to where I am today, writing stories about DFC for the Newsroom. Because I am such a nerd who loves to learn about every single subject, I wanted to do more than journalism and that’s where I align myself with Public Health and my minors.

What are you studying at the University of St. Thomas? What connects you to your academics in that field?

I am currently studying Public Health, with minors in Justice and Peace, Women and Gender Studies, and Sustainability. I am really passionate about understanding health injustices especially as a woman of color, and the ways that disease and the environment have disproportionately impacted communities of color. Because I see these inequities in health and have experienced this, I feel that my scholarship intersects with all the ways health encompasses justice and science. From policymaking to research and activism, I want to be able to use my education to advocate for health care and work in nonprofit organizations that address aspects of health and justice.

What are some interesting or fun things you have done over the course of the pandemic?

Despite how hard it is to navigate uncertain circumstances as we fight this pandemic together, it has really encouraged me to stay home, value my time as a student and be with my family. I am also an essential worker at a coffee shop, and this has been difficult having to face the risk of contracting COVID whilst keeping others safe. Despite this, I have picked up a few hobbies, like learning how to play guitar and doing book exchanges with my friends! Since March, I have read a total of 42 books from all genres and have taken up the skill of having Socratic-seminar styled conversations with my friends over FaceTime or Zoom. As a public health major, it has been rewarding to see the course of this pandemic be controlled through epidemiological efforts and having meaningful discussions in my classes this semester.

Apart from your studies at St. Thomas, what else are you doing that you are excited about?

I am currently working with the communications team at St. Thomas as an intern writing stories to highlight DFC. I think this is a very important thing to do and represent because when I was a DFC student, I wished there were more representation of the students and the conversations in the classroom so that we were seen and heard across campus. It was hard because a lot of students felt that the focus was on the donors and their merits and not the students’ voices due to how brand new the college was. I think the students have really demonstrated how important their academics are and how their identity has shaped the hardships of navigating a predominately white institution. DFC brings together students from all different backgrounds and unique identities that intersect with the fabric of diversity–and I believe that requires writing stories on those students and their moments. This is why I am so eager and proud to work toward highlighting DFC events, students, and the work they do.

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