Kaelie Bodily: Singing a Different Tune at CCS

By Hank McIntire

Kaelie Bodily

        Kaelie Bodily, Quill Project lead at UVU's Center for Constitutional Studies.

Kaelie Bodily is a Quill Project lead at the Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS) at Utah Valley University. As a senior at UVU, she majors in Political Science with a minor in Constitutional Studies.

Two years ago, while serving as a legislative intern for Sen. Jake Anderegg, R–Lehi, Kaelie heard about CCS and applied when the session concluded in 2022. She has been with the Center for 18 months.

“When I was working at the legislature, I tracked a lot of bills to see if they were in committee or to be heard on the floor,” said Kaelie. “I learned how legislation goes from place to place and how Robert's Rules of Order work, which gave me a background to understand Quill better."

The Quill Project is a research effort based at Pembroke College, Oxford University. CCS has partnered with Quill since 2015 and documents the processes that have created constitutions, treaties, or legislation by offering visualizations of the negotiations that led to the founding documents as we know them today.

While Kaelie has achieved success in her studies and in her work at CCS, she came to UVU looking to do something completely different. She grew up wanting to be a singer and musician like her mother, who went to the University of Utah on a music scholarship. Kaelie was on the same trajectory in high school, representing Olympus High School as the Sterling Scholar in vocal performance, and she had aspirations to make her mark in the music world.

“Coming to UVU, I thought I would do something with music and voice,” Kaelie recalled. “I was in high-school choirs, did all the musicals, and was the Sterling Scholar in that field.”

“But in college I discovered there were other things I wanted to learn about,” she continued. “I grew to want to learn something new and broaden my horizons. History, political science, and exploring how government works became fascinating to me.”

Kaelie is immersing herself in that space, not only as a student but also in her daily work as she supervises team leads in the many state-constitution projects being completed by the Wood research assistants employed by the Center.

“What we are digitizing happened between 50 and 200 years ago,” she explained. “The work we do here has a long-lasting impact outside of campus and will be used for years and years by judges, lawyers, and teachers. It helps people understand government structure and what their role is. As we make it more accessible, more people can understand it.”

Much of Kaelie’s research at the Center has focused on the constitutional conventions of Utah (1894) and Illinois (1970). In both cases she has been struck by the similarities between the two and the struggle for women to play a more meaningful role.

“If I could go back in time, it would be cool to talk to women whose stories were told and who fought in favor of suffrage—they blazed a trail,” she said. “And I would love to meet the women who were involved in the Illinois convention. There weren’t many.”

Kaelie’s future plans include taking the LSAT in November, applying to law school next spring, and ultimately working in business law.

“My dad is a financial advisor,” she said. “It would be interesting to do the legal side of that. My dream shot would be to go to Harvard or Yale Law, but I’ll be thrilled to be accepted elsewhere.”

Kaelie learned to be flexible with her long-term goals from her mother. Her mom’s scholarship in vocal performance in college ultimately turned into working as an accountant.

“I think it’s funny that history repeated itself, as both my mom and me changed directions in our career plans but still retained a passion for music,” said Kaelie. “I still play the piano and sing with my mom and sister. Music will always be something I have in my life. I’m not leaving it out.”

“And I love working here at CCS,” she concluded. “It’s been great to work with such incredible people. I’m learning so many things about constitutional law and other things from experts in different fields. And because of the donors who make possible the chance to work at the Center, I feel more motivated to do a good job.”