49 Voices: Lyndea Kelleher of Anchorage

Lyndea Kelleher of Anchorage. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Lyndea Kelleher in Anchorage. Kelleher is graduating from the University of Alaska Anchorage on Sunday and will be the student speaker at the commencement ceremony.

Listen now

KELLEHER: So, my mom is not from the United States; she’s from the Philippines. And so for her, she really pushed her children to get an education because after that, you can do whatever you want. Basically, she was very, very encouraging and supportive of whatever we wanted. For me, she was like, “Yeah. You can go become the president, and a doctor, and a lawyer.” But yeah, my thing was always like, “I’ll be Doctor, Lawyer Kelleher, future president.” So there was never one thing where, “my sights were set on this.” It was always, “just get your education and then anything you want to do, the door is open.”

When I left for San Francisco, I was so heartbroken. I was like, “This is not Alaska. The trees are all wrong. Where do I go hiking? What do I do?” And I had such a great childhood growing up here. I went to a very diverse school. The academics were great, I had a lot of opportunities. And so, I would one hundred percent want that for my own family. You’re crazy to leave Alaska.

I think coming to UAA, it was really great because it gave me so many opportunities. And I never knew that I would end up interning for the mayor.

At the time, I was really interested in the economic empowerment of women, and so that’s kinda what I pitched them with. And so they were like, “You know, we’re not doing anything specifically on that, but we have some programs that we’re working on right now that have to do with empowerment of youth and immigrants and minorities.” And definitely the work that can be done for empowering women can be applied to all these other communities.

And so I’m kinda like, if there was a way that I could join urban planning and policy together and then do all that work at once, that would be my dream job.

I always joke about saying I wanna be mayor, but it’s like, I kinda do wanna be mayor. But I think I would hate running for office, just because it’s so much work being in the public eye. But I feel like it’s a definite possibility that you’ll see my face somewhere being like, “Vote for Lyndea.”