Spring commencement speaker says: ‘You get out what you put in’

The spring 2018 commencement speaker is Lyndea Kelleher. Kelleher has been involved with the community and the university during her time at UAA. From being president of the Economics club to being part of USUAA, to interning for Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and his staff, she has always kept herself busy.

Photo credit: Joseph Longuevan

Although she was born and raised in Anchorage, UAA was not her first choice for college. She went to the University of San Francisco for about two years in hopes of being a history major and minoring in biology and chemistry, but decided to come back home.

“I really loved Anchorage. While I was gone, I was like, ‘I miss it so much, all my friends are there,'” Kelleher said. “And the school just wasn’t that good of a fit.”

She ended up giving UAA a chance after her friends who went out of state for school also decided to return to Alaska. People were telling her that they’d had a great experience in Anchorage for college.

Since then, she’s discovered many things that she cares about both in and outside of UAA.

Her work with the Mayor’s office involved the creative economy and working with providing the Anchorage youth more opportunities.

“It was all the things that I cared about,” Kelleher said.

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Kelleher is working as an intern in the Tax Division Economic Research Group at the Department of Revenue and will be there until August. Her brain is “engaged a lot,” and the experience has been eye-opening, she said.

Kelleher is also working with John Weddleton in the Anchorage Assembly, who represents south Anchorage. She said that her projects with him involve improving transportation and bike lanes throughout the city.

“There’s a lot of smart people coming out of the university and it’s good to have them connected to projects like this,” Weddleton said.

Now that Kelleher is graduating, she’s applying for jobs. Her plan is to stay in Anchorage before getting a master’s degree, though she’s unsure what program she is interested in.

“I think if I work a little bit, that’ll kind of help me find a focus,” she said.

Kelleher’s interests include public policy, urban planning and even law. She said that if she does go out of state, she would probably come back. For now, a break is much needed.

“Maybe I’ll go on a trip or something. I don’t know,” Kelleher said. “It’d be nice to have a break after these hectic three years that I’ve been here. I really just want to enjoy the summer.”

Kelleher’s advice for other students is to put effort into opportunities. She said that leadership experiences are valuable and she hopes that what she has done during her time at UAA brings visibility and awareness to what the school has to offer.

She joined Alpha Sigma Alpha, one of UAA’s sororities, shortly after starting her education here, and took on a motto: You get out what you put in.

“I think it’s so applicable to UAA. Opportunities will come to you, but if you’re sitting around, just waiting for them to show up, it’s probably not going to happen,” Kelleher said. “I hope that what I’ve done through clubs and in classes and within my department shows people that there are so many great opportunities here.”

Weddleton said he thinks Kelleher will be great.

“She’s smart, humble, very thoughtful. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.”

Kelleher will speak at the commencement for the class of 2018 on May 6 at the Alaska Airlines Center.