Sara Kelly '18

One of the most down to earth, caring, involved, wise people I’ve ever met, which is fitting because her spirit animal is Mr. Owl from Winnie the Pooh. She truly embodies what it means to be a Bronco and trying to make the world a better place for your neighbor.

Hailing originally from Maryland, Sara spent eleven years of her childhood growing up in Asia, five years in Bangladesh and six years in Thailand. She said that being able to live abroad gave her a very diverse perspective. “I’ve learned so much about the places I’ve lived and the people I lived with in a way that I wouldn’t have living in the States,” she added.

However, the US is her home and she always knew she wanted to come back for school. Sara said, “I identify as American and I’m proud of my country. It’s really easy to feel disconnected when you’re abroad and I wanted to come back to where I’m from.”

When Sara was a senior in high school, she and her class went to Bhutan for a school trip. She and her classmate fell ill and had to go to the local hospital where they had free healthcare. She elaborated, “It was like you walked in, got treatment and walked out. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to look at the accessibility of health care of different countries and why some people have access and others don’t.”

Because of this experience and other experiences she’s had living in communities abroad, Sara is a public health science major with biology and environmental studies minors. She said she has always been interested in community development and the idea of “aid versus infrastructure paradigm which essentially boils down to give a man fish instead of teaching him to fish.”

“I love working with local leaders to discuss what they want and what they need so their communities can be self-sufficient. I really like working with schools and nutrition programs to see what kids have access to,” Sara said.

Not only does Sara express her love for helping communities in her major, but also in the activities she’s involved in on campus. She is a Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP) program coordinator, an EMT, and works in the Office of Student Life.

Sara joined SCCAP the spring quarter of her freshman year. This year as a junior, she is now a program coordinator for HomeSafe. HomeSafe is a permanent housing facility for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. “We get to work with the kids, play with them, help them with their homework and mentor them,” Sara said.

 As the program coordinator, Sara recruits new volunteers, plan the events, and does all the work to make sure everything goes smoothly. She said, “My favorite part of the program is when kids create a piece of art they love and are so proud of, or when they want to play classroom and want to be teacher and you to be student. You just see their imagination soar and get to facilitate.”

Sara also loves being an EMT because she likes being able to work and serve her peers. “It feels like I can give back to the community that I am a part of,” she added.

As if being a program coordinator and an EMT weren’t enough to be involved in, Sara also works for the Office of Student Life where she does anything from answer phones to create programming for different activities. “I worked to create SCU BLU which is an ongoing project that aims to provide a succinct pamphlet on emergency resources. This includes anything from emotion distress to academic issues to medical concerns,” she explained.

She said that she feels really passionate about this project because she loves working with all of the resources on campus and hopes that someone else will find help from it, too.

Fun fact: because she spent eleven years living abroad, Sara has never had a US History course. “My freshman year I was in a class and sat next to my friend and had to ask who Thomas Jefferson was and he thought it was a joke,” Sara said laughing.

If Sara could leave any two pieces of advice for someone it would be these. “For academics, if you’re a social studier, take your challenging classes with your friends. I really owe it to the people and my friends I took those hard classes with who got me through. “

Her second piece of advice is, “For life, do the thing you know. Submit the application, attend the club meeting, and put a finger in all of the pies. You’re never going to have these opportunities in such a welcoming community. If you fall down, pick yourself up, check your ego, and try again for what you want.”