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Dobson working in Uganda through Krochet Kids

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By Brian Connors Manke/UK College of Arts and Sciences

 As an all-star cheerleader for eight years, Sydney Dobson applied to the University of Kentucky because it was her dream to make the nation’s best cheerleading team. It was the only school she applied to.

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Dobson, a 2011 LaRue County High school graduate, didn’t make the team, but that’s where her perseverance and attitude took over. One of her first moves was to join the Student Activities Board. It was also through SAB that the next chapter of her story unfolded.

Dobson was the director of engaging issues on SAB and looking for interesting events to bring to campus, when her friend brought the non-profit organization Krochet Kids to her attention. The group assists women in poverty-stricken areas of Uganda and Peru. 

“It’s about empowerment and education, because these women don’t want money or aid, they want to be able to help themselves,” Dobson said.

In the fall of 2012 Dobson programmed an event that brought Krochet Kids to campus, and it gave her the opportunity to meet co-founder Kohl Crecelius. At that point Dobson realized she wanted to intern for them one day.

That day came this past fall when Dobson’s friend noticed the deadline to apply for a spring semester internship was only three short days away. Dobson thought that clearly wasn’t enough time to get her application ready and submitted. Plus, she was already planning on what classes she would be taking in spring, not about travelling to Africa.

But her friend encouraged and assisted her – and a few weeks later she was going through the interview process that would eventually lead to the news that she would be heading to Uganda at the start of the new year for six months.

“There is the piece of it where you learn the business side of things and learn about how non-profits function,” which Dobson said she is looking forward to because of the fact that she would like to be a part of, if not run her own non-profit someday.

“But my biggest thing for me is to see the new place – see the geography of it, not just the land, I want to see how the people interact, the economy, I want to get the true geographical sense of the place,” she said. “I want to connect with the women personally, and get immersed in the culture and learn about the people.”

Which makes all the more sense once you learn that Dobson is majoring in geography and minoring in gender and women’s studies at UK.

That combo was a direct result of her UK Core experience. She started out pre-med, but once she took Geography 160 – Lands and People of the Non-Western World, the light bulb went off – her interest in people and places, that’s something that she had always loved, but hadn’t fully connected to geography.

Throw in another UK Core course, GWS 201 – Gender and Popular Culture, and Dobson felt she was truly starting to hit her stride academically.

Dobson said that class had plenty of interesting and intense discussions. “It’s great to see how feminists have completely different views of everything – you claim the same title, but not always the same beliefs.”

So, if she ever does start her own non-profit, does Dobson have a vision for what that might look like? 

“I want to do something that would combine my two passions, because if I didn’t go to college I was going to go to culinary school. If I can combine something that I’ve loved my entire life with something that I’ve discovered in college – that would be it,” she said.

“Because if you don’t have the heart for it, it’s not going to survive.”

Dobson arrived in Uganda several weeks ago.

Learn more about Krochet Kids by reading their story at https://www.krochetkids.org/about-us/our-story/.

Brian Connors Manke is a student at University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences. The original article can be read on the school’s website at http://geography.as.uky.edu/all-right-ingredients-sydney-dobson.

Editor Linda Ireland contributed to this story.