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Aspiring lawyer connects passion for social justice with community-building

Arielle Kallan shares her aspirations in civil rights law

Student Arielle Kallan
Arielle Kallan is a founding member of the DePaul Women of Color Pre-Law Association. (Keeton Holder/DePaul Unviersity)
Arielle Kallan, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences  ​
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science 
Hometown: Plano, Illinois  

What inspired you to pursue law and start the Women of Color Pre-Law Association? ​

​​​Growing up in a town with low diversity is what inspired me and my friends to start the Women of Color Pre-Law Association. Our main goal is to empower women and non-binary people of color, choosing to connect over our struggles instead of seeing each other as competition in school.  

My long-term goal is to be a civil rights lawyer. I want to end up in the sphere of humanitarian law, whether that be civil rights law or immigration law, or something along those lines. My passion lies with the people who aren’t being represented and don’t have the money to be represented. My desire to help others is what drives me to become a lawyer.  ​​​​

What classes most resonated with you during your time at DePaul? ​

​Alberto R. Coll is one of the earliest professors that inspired me. His class was about thinking like a lawyer and American foreign policy. The passion that he brought to the class with his background as an immigrant really inspired me to use my experience similarly.  ​

Katy Arnold, who does a lot of good work in terms of migration and refugee studies, also did a really good job of not only outlining what the system is like for immigrants now, but the problems within it. The passion that those professors brought with their background and the content they were teaching inspired me to work harder.  ​

How do you connect with the DePaul community outside of law?  ​

Though I am a political science major, I am also a creature of the arts. I grew up dancing for 12 years, and I make mixed media art that intersects with social justice. I was fortunate enough to be a hip hop choreographer on the newly founded DePaul Bollywood team. I studied an Indian classical dance form known as Bharatanatyam as well as hip-hop and ballet, and the dance team does a really good job of bridging those two dance forms. I found community not only in the political science field, but in the arts. 

What advice would you give incoming students?  ​

I think a big part of coming to DePaul is having the room to figure out what you want to do. A lot of people feel pressured to have everything figured out during their freshman year and say, “This is my major, this is my concentration, I’m going to pursue this as a minor and join these clubs.” I believe students who allow themselves the room and patience to figure out what they’re doing as they move forward can be successful.  ​

What is your favorite memory at DePaul? ​

I get emotional every time I talk about it. For context, all the founding members of WOCA are seniors. With this background, we at WOCA have had underclassmen tell us that we are making a very difficult experience a little bit easier for them. Being a space where girls can feel safe and comfortable, asking questions and connecting with others and not feeling competitiveness in the classroom is my favorite memory and I will treasure it for life.  

What are your plans after graduation? 

I’m taking a gap year to continue working at the law firm I'm currently at. I’m planning on applying to Chicago law schools because I want to work within the city. ​

Meet more of the class of 2024 here.​​