Tommie Award Finalist: Abby Kielty ’24

Whether you find her in Dowling Hall building community for her residents, working on research with faculty or leading the political science honors society, Tommie Award finalist Abby Kielty ’24 exemplifies dedication to the common good. Kielty, a residence hall adviser, has also engaged in Ready to Run Minnesota, an organization that encourages women to run for political office. 

“Throughout my time knowing Abby, she has consistently demonstrated her natural leadership abilities, commitment to DEI work, and displayed her exceptional organization and community building skills,” said Dr. Jessica Reagan, who has been Kielty’s direct RA supervisor for two years. “Her attention to detail and dedication to this role led to some of the highest rates of satisfaction based on student feedback across the department.” 

With the final Tommie Award vote taking place Feb. 6-8, here are highlights from Kielty’s conversation with the Newsroom. 

How do you feel about being a finalist for the Tommie Award? 

It’s been a lovely honor. Becoming a finalist was incredible; I know how much that means, especially since there were such amazing people nominated. Lucky Phan and Annabel Schueneman are both incredible, it’s awesome to be a finalist with them.  

Abby Kielty ’24 (Brandon Woller ’17/University of St. Thomas)

Why did you major in political science, and what are your plans for the future? 

I jumped into being a chemistry major when I started. Then I quickly realized college chemistry was not as fun as high school; It was not for me.  

The second semester of my freshman year, I got off the waitlist for a political science class. I fell in love with the course! I knew that was the direction for me. I cannot say enough about the political science department. The courses, research, faculty and classmates – I feel like I have found my home.

You are pre-law and have completed research on pre-law advising with Dr. Caleb Goltz from the Political Science Department. What was that experience like? 

Dr. Goltz is the pre-law adviser here, so when I decided that law school was what I wanted to do, I got in touch with him. He's great, had a lot of good advice. He contacted me and said he was looking for a research assistant. I was only taking 14 credits, had some free time and thought it sounded great! 

Essentially, I was creating a literature review for him regarding an article that he's writing about pre-law advising and maybe implementing some of those strategies at St. Thomas. 

It was helpful, not only to contribute scholarship to the university, but to learn about things very relevant to my life at the time. It was such a great opportunity! 

Reflecting on your years at St. Thomas, what is an experience that has impacted you? 

It definitely was becoming an RA. Freshman year was really difficult for everyone in my class, because we came in during the pandemic. 

Being able to help freshmen integrate to the school, after having such a challenging freshman year myself, has been meaningful.  

I have so much of a different perspective now that I’m a senior. I try to go into the mindset of: Where was I when I was a freshman? What are the things that I can relate to them about? What do they need to know that I know now that might help them? 

My residents have been amazing. It’s just like been such a great opportunity to meet a lot of cool people, be kind of a force for good and helping people get adjusted to the university. 

Joining Residence Life was a kind of turning point where I felt like wow, I love it here. This is my home; these are my people. It has been awesome! 

You have been engaged with Ready to Run Minnesota. What makes you passionate about their cause? 

Ready to Run is a program that tries to get more women involved in politics. I was in a Women and Politics class in the spring, and our whole class worked to put that event on. That was our final project and what we were building up to the entire semester. 

Women and Politics is by far the best class I’ve taken here. It was so interesting. I learned so much. I cannot recommend it enough. It was awesome to take what we had learned throughout the year in that class and apply it to actionable change.  

What advice would you give to students looking to make an impact? 

Make a difference on campus. Try to connect with people and be interested in the people around you and what their experiences are. 

Be interested in making broader change in the local community and beyond as well. St. Thomas does a really good job of making that accessible, like the Center for the Common Good and all the volunteer opportunities they have there. There are a lot of incredible things going on campus, and it’s not hard to seek those out.  

In general, making the people around you feel seen something that’s really important and something that’s really easy to do.