A testimony at the California State Capitol

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Unexpected opportunities can alter the best-laid plans. For Lawrence Steven Dorsey III, known as Steve, a chance to speak at the California State Capitol last fall opened up previously unimaginable possibilities and challenged his charted life path.

Dorsey, a 22-year-old, is pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in religious studies and is president of the La Sierra University Student Association (SALSU). The offspring of prominent Southern California Conference pastors of the same name—his father and grandfather—leadership and service are inscribed in his DNA. Dorsey’s aspirations to defend his fellow students emerged while he was a freshman SALSU senator and materialized with his election as head of the student union in his senior year. From this platform, he unexpectedly found himself able to speak on behalf of students across the state of California.

Lawrence Steven Dorsey III poses for photos at La Sierra University for his role as student union president. [Photos Natan Vigna]

Following an invitation from University President Joy Fehr, Dorsey testified before the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education on November 3, 2021. He delivered his testimony, centered on the current equity gap in higher education, during a briefing hearing on the post-pandemic future of colleges and universities in the state. La Sierra University is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of California (AICCU), and Dorsey appeared with AICCU’s vice president for government relations, who served on a committee to discuss the impact of the pandemic. Dorsey’s testimony required extensive preparation, and he thanks La Sierra’s Title V project coordinator, Amy Wolf, for her help in writing his thesis. He calmed any nervousness by reminding himself “that the testimony was not about me,” he said.

“When President Fehr offered me this opportunity, I didn’t understand the scope of what I was going to do,” Dorsey noted. “Testifying at the State Capitol has been one of the most formative experiences of my life. Testifying on behalf of La Sierra and the students of California has shown me the importance of using your voice, but more importantly , to be ready to walk when God opens a door.

opportunity knocks

Following the hearing, several assembly members encouraged Dorsey to apply for the California State Fellows program, which involves a range of opportunities, including potentially serving full-time as a legislative staffer for 11 months. . Dorsey has applied and is expected to be interviewed in February. A decision is expected in March. In the meantime, he also applied to graduate programs in clinical psychology, the career path he had previously charted.

“Basically, this scholarship could represent a monumental step in a potential political career, which I never expected but am ready to embrace,” Dorsey said. “During my freshman year I had a 10 year plan of where I imagined myself, whereas now I’ve been content to excel in what I can and let God guide the way to my next step…. It will be exciting to see what door God opens.

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Lawrence Steven Dorsey poses November 3, 2021 at the State Capitol with a model of the California state grizzly bear. [Photo: courtesy of Alex Graves, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities]

While waiting for God’s direction, Dorsey continues to lead his student union team and advocate for students on college committees and in meetings. This has proven to be a particularly important role as the university returned to in-person learning for the fall 2021-22 term after more than a year and a half of virtual operation.

“The most vital goal I had going into this year was to harness the excitement of returning to campus to create a tangible school spirit that would manifest in a myriad of ways,” he said. he declares. “Furthermore, I wanted to change the perception of SALSU and help cultivate a new generation of leaders who will inevitably rise to the occasion. Those goals are ongoing. We had a fantastic IGNITE [new student orientation] experience, record attendance with our events, but above all, new leaders are emerging every day. When asked for his perspective on the top three ways the university can better support students, Dorsey cited student accessibility, creativity in additional funding for departments that deal with a large number of students and increased support for the athletics program as a way to strengthen the school. spirit and inscription.

Faith Foundation

Dorsey is the third member of his immediate family and the second of three brothers to pursue an education at La Sierra University – “I’m the middle child, which might explain my diplomatic tendencies,” he joked . His younger brother, Nicholas, studied music at La Sierra, and his father, Lawrence Steven Dorsey II, pursued graduate studies in theology at La Sierra University. Her older sister Salena graduated this year from Oakwood University in Alabama.

Dorsey’s previous leadership experiences on campus include serving as customer service representative for the Sierra Towers men’s dormitory, resident assistant, and then student dean, all of which provided important lessons as he progressed. that he was progressing. And through it all, his parents served as primary mentors and influences.

“From an early age, my mother instilled in me the importance of mental health and the need for representation in psychology. Although she will never take credit for it, Nichole Dorsey is a huge factor in why I have come to love psychology and why I am willing to make it my lifelong answer to God’s call for me. said Dorsey. “On the other hand, every Saturday my father was a tangible reminder of the importance of serving something greater than oneself. Having a pastor as a father has illuminated the many joys of ministry and the challenges of leading a congregation. Pastor Dorsey II is my spiritual mentor, trusted confidant, and most importantly, my father. … [My parents] are two people I will be forever grateful to have in my life.

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Lawrence Steven Dorsey (right) poses November 3, 2021 with California State Assemblyman Jose Medina, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education. [Photo: courtesy of Alex Graves, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities]

He also noted the example and impact of President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 as the nation’s first African-American president and later re-elected in 2012.

“He was an icon who embodied the importance of representation in government to me as a young black man,” Dorsey said. “The class and eloquence he displayed as President of the United States was something I tried to emulate in any leadership position I held. President Obama learned the importance of grace and dignity in how you present yourself to a world that is always looking for a reason to take it away.

The basis of all this is his faith in God. “Faith is what revolves around all my professional aspirations [around]“, Dorsey said. “Nothing I have done or will do would be possible without the flowing grace that is offered to me daily. Faith is what kept me grounded throughout my life.

the original version of this story was published by La Sierra University.

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