SE: Education, Soccer Bring Gallo to K-State

Dora Gallo, a freshman midfielder on the K-State women’s soccer team, spent four days this summer in Washington D.C., before K-State’s first training camp started in early August. She toured the nation’s capital and visited the expected historic sites, but this was not just any trip for Gallo.  

Gallo (pronounced – GUY-oh) was chosen from a program called TRIO, an academic service offered by Wichita State, to attend First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher “Beating the Odds Summit,” a motivational and advice-filled conference held at the White House for 140 college-bound students from across the country. 

The selected students, a White House’s press release stated, “overcame great odds to go to college, and many are even the first in their family to pursue education after high school.”

Speakers included the First Lady, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Google’s Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casap, musical artist Wale and co-founder of 1vyG, a first-generation college students network, Manuel Contreras. 

Gallo, a serious student before the trip, left Washington D.C. with an increased appreciation for education and the opportunities available to her. 

“America gives us the opportunity to attend schools and they give us an education. I feel like we need to appreciate that opportunity that we all get,” Gallo said, “and follow our dreams.”

For as long as she can remember, Gallo has followed two dreams: becoming an architect and playing collegiate soccer. 

Gallo attended engineering summer camps growing up and always “really enjoyed going to them,” she said. Gallo also was heavily involved in soccer, becoming so skilled that she started playing with girls three or four years older than her by the seventh grade. 

During that time, the Wichita native developed an idea. She wanted to go to college, but didn’t initially think soccer would help her get there. 

“I never thought I was good, but everyone told me I was,” said Gallo, who tallied 59 goals and 29 assists at Wichita North High School. “I just wanted to go to college.” 

Gallo not only set her sights on attending college, she also decided on a major well in advance. She wanted to study architecture, a goal influenced by her abundance of time spent around construction sites, where her father Jose Gallo worked. 

“I was always around construction sites and a lot of his friends are architects,” she said. “So I was always looking at blueprints and models.”

It soon became obvious Gallo, a three-time First Team All-Greater Wichita Athletic League selection, was as talented with a soccer ball as she was driven with a textbook. 

Gallo’s goal for every hour spent studying or improving her soccer skills goes beyond her own gains, too. 

“I’m trying to set a good example for my younger siblings. I’m trying to do the best I can so they can look up to me. I just try to be the role model of the family,” said Gallo, a first-generation college student with two younger siblings in Nayeli and Emiliano. “I was the first person to play soccer in my family. I started teaching my sister and my brother, and now they’re following my footsteps. They both play club soccer and high school soccer, so I hope they continue to work hard so they could also play soccer in college if they want.”

Gallo has undoubtedly left a solid example for her siblings to follow. 

At Wichita North, she excelled in the classroom, taking AP Calculus, and on the soccer field, earning Second Team All-State honors in her final season.

School was always first, however, and attending somewhere with a highly regarded architecture program was a priority. Enter K-State, considered one of the top universities for architecture students in the country.

The only problem? K-State didn’t have a soccer program when Gallo began her college search process. 

“The soccer program wasn’t out when I was first looking into architecture,” Gallo said. “So I was, like, ‘Man, that sucks. That really sucks.’” 

In June of 2015, Gallo caught wind of some exciting news on social media. K-State was adding women’s soccer. So, she thought: “This could be an opportunity.”

With the help of her club coach, Gallo was seen by K-State in her club team’s final state playoff game. She made enough of an impression to receive a scholarship offer, which she intends to take full advantage of while at K-State.  

“I’ve always taken school really seriously. I’ve always tried to take the best grades to my parents to make them proud and also to make myself proud and push me harder,” said Gallo, on the travel roster for K-State, which is 0-1-1 and travels to Michigan to play Oakland this Friday and Central Michigan on Sunday. “I’m trying to accomplish something and do more than what my parents did because they didn’t really get a lot of educational opportunities, so I’m trying to get the most I can out of it.”