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Kasey Umland

When KASEY UMLAND (BA ’05) accepted a program staff position at the University YMCA twelve years ago, she was returning to a place she had called home for the duration of her undergraduate degree.

Umland started as many of young political science students do, wanting to run the World Bank or change the world on a macro scale. She started taking political science courses and became involved with various program centers on campus, such as the YMCA and the Leadership Center. Her time as a student activist with the Amnesty International chapter at the University YMCA, in addition to her other various roles, helped her find value in helping other people. Her strength and passions were “less [about] being a person who writes policy briefs about the IMF, and more about helping other people find what they were excited about and facilitating their ability to do that.” She says her experience in the Political Science program at the University of Illinois helped her truly hone in on her interests.

Umland has a couple of pieces of advice for political science students, namely – only enter a graduate program if that is what you want to do, not because you don’t know what to do with your life. After leaving graduate school because the program did not fit her goals, Umland landed the job at the University YMCA that was a perfect combination of her strengths and skills. As Associate Director, she is now able to assist activist student groups with their goals and run a scholarship program that focuses on helping civically engaged students deepen their passion and ability to make change in their communities. One final piece of wisdom from Umland – life takes you on a path; though it might not be the path you thought it was going to be, it still gets you to where you need to be. And for Kasey Umland, that was home.

Kasey Umland can be reached at


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