Growing up in Dallas, TX, Corey Dooley BA ’20 dreamed of becoming an elite college football player and aspired to play in the NFL. Those dreams were dashed at the age of 15 when he was hit by gunfire while in the car in his Dallas garage, forever changing his life. But that ended up being just the start of his story.

“My dream was to be an All-American, go to the University of Texas and eventually get drafted into the NFL,” says Dooley. “But I was shot four times and my mother twice, all while my brother witnessed from the backseat. Doctors gave me less than a 1% chance to live.” Thanks to the care of dedicated medical providers, he and his mother survived the unthinkable incident. But beyond survival, Dooley faced a particularly long and challenging road to recovery. After healing from his injuries enough to return to football, he graduated from South Grand Prairie High School and joined the CUC Cougars football team as a wide receiver.

In his time at CUC, Dooley excelled and helped the team to many victories. During his collegiate career, he amassed 1,209 all-purpose yards, 83 receptions and four touchdowns. His largest single-game high came in 2018 against Aurora University, when he completed 123 reception yards.

Corey Dooley (left) speaks with neighbors during his aldermanic campaign

“I was taught to work collectively in a team setting; it kept me in excellent physical shape. I built long-term relationships and I learned to balance my life—school, work, social life and other obligations.” After college sports, Dooley began to refocus his energy on lifelong learning and service.

Whether creating jobs within his west side Chicago neighborhood or developing youth programs, Dooley is dedicated to making strides in his community and the city. He also aspires to be a role model that younger generations look up to as a leader, which is partly what led to his run for alderman of Chicago’s 29th Ward earlier this year. Ultimately he didn’t win the election, but finished a respectable third out of five candidates—an exceptional outcome for one of the youngest candidates ever to run for Chicago City Council. The loss, however, hasn’t slowed his work to find ways to make Chicago a better place for all residents.

When asked about his advice to young student-athletes looking to become leaders, Dooley advises, “Create a diverse network by building and keeping relationships with the people around you and the people you meet each day. In life, it is not about what you know, but who you know.” He adds that the sayings, “Show me your network and I will show you your net worth,” and “You are an average of the five people you hang around the most” are words of wisdom that brought him from student-athlete to political candidate.

The above is just an excerpt—for the full story, check out the Summer 2023 edition of the Forester magazine.