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Campus Celeb: Kelly Viernes

Meet Kelly Viernes, junior at University of Oregon and majoring in Planning, Public Policy and Management with a focus in community development. Kelly comes from Honolulu, Hawa’ii, choosing UO after recommendations from a friend for its liberal atmosphere. While she describes the weather as being a drastic change for her, she loves it here: “I fell for our campus right away; there’s green everywhere and many different majors to choose from. I feel like there are so many opportunities that this school has to offer!”

She mentions that she could never see herself staying home or going to a small school. “I’m not a walking distance from the beach,” Kelly says, “but I do have several forest trails to choose from for morning runs and hikes.” She stresses her love for the outdoor activities around Eugene, and describes the communities in Hawa’ii and Eugene as very similar: “everyone is friendly, or maybe I’m just running into the right people!”

Kelly brings her slice of Hawa’ii to Oregon through her involvement with the campus’s Hawa’ii Club, which she was introduced to during her freshman introducktion for Hawa’ii residents. Each year, the club performs a lū’au event showcasing several types of traditional hula dances choreographed by peer instructors, and an accompanying Hawaiian feast. The event is titled the Hui ‘O Hawa’ii Lū’au: Pi’i Mai Ka Nalu. This year, Kelly is choreographing a hula number with ancient Hawaiian instruments. The event is held at the EMU Ballroom, June 1st. Doors open at 4:30 and dinner is served at 5:30, followed by the show at 7 pm. Tickets are available now for $12 at the EMU ticket office and last year, tickets sold out, so be sure to be tickets early!

Kelly hangs out at Koko Head, back in her hometown of Honolulu

Kelly had the amazing opportunity last Fall to study in Gaborone, Botswana for five months. After the experience, she sees herself working internationally rather than within the US. “I love being immersed in foreign cultures and taking chances outside of my comfort zone,” Kelly says. She recently started her application to the Peace Corps, and speaking some French, she hopes to be placed in a francophone country in Africa as soon as she graduates next June.

During her abroad experience, she was able to travel though Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa; “the dynamic of their urban areas were fascinating because they shadowed cities that look similar to cities in America,” says Kelly. She states that her experience abroad has completely matured her mindset. “Life there is so different from here,” she says. “I guess I was expecting to appreciate more of what I have here—the convenience of our technology, the close proximity to family and friends, the familiarity of my surroundings—but it was kind of the opposite for me. I found sanity in the simple things that we Americans take for granted.”

Kelly hangs off the edge of Victoria Falls, Zambia

After her experience, Kelly aspires to be a city planner for progressive cities in the South African region, creating urban designs that portray the local culture rather than that of the Western world. You can be sure that Kelly will be one UO grad making a huge difference in the world of tomorrow! Catch her while you can as she performs at the lū’au event next month.

Heather is a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in advertising. An aspiring copywriter, her dream job would be screenwriting for TV, but for the meantime she works as an office assistant, ad director for Envision magazine, freelance graphic designer, and her favorite, campus correspondent at Her Campus Oregon. She hails from Lake Oswego, Oregon, and loves the quirky side of Oregon: its unique people, unpredictable weather, and amazing music scene. She's a cat lover, avid black coffee drinker, and TV and movie addict.
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