Stephanie Aguilar, a master’s degree student in public administration, has taken advantage of the many opportunities UGA offers in her quest to pursue a career in higher education.
Gwinnett County, Ga.
Mill Creek High School and Lakeside High School
Master’s in public administration with a dual concentration in higher education administration and policy
I graduated summa cum laude from UGA and completed a B.A. in international affairs, a B.A. in journalism (public relations) and a minor in Spanish from the Honor’s Program in May 2012. My undergraduate coursework focused primarily on international community issues, with my preferred coursework revolving around post-conflict societies, human rights and genocide.
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
While at the graduate level the university offers ample possibilities for both personal and professional advancement, particularly through extracurricular activities, my department (public administration) only has one student group, Georgia Students for Public Administration. Last May, my peers elected me as president, and in this capacity, I along with the executive board develop, coordinate and execute professional, social and service opportunities for those within our program and other interested persons. Of greatest satisfaction to me is our dedication to outreach to local nonprofits and other public organizations, such as Books for Keeps, which is program to combat summer-slide by providing books to students, and Butterfly Dreams, a therapeutic horse-riding program.
During the last year of my undergraduate studies, I received an internship at a local consulting firm, specializing in customer service development for medical professionals. After graduation, I assumed a full-time position as the firm’s multimedia coordinator, while also pursuing my graduate studies full time. Through this experience, I supervised a full-service contact center, designed and launched a website and membership purchasing site, produced the company’s marketing materials and created its employee training manual, among other professional accomplishments.
During my undergraduate experience, I was nominated by UGA faculty for competitive admission into Leadership UGA, sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Service. Throughout the semester-long experience, I developed a researched-based presentation focused on the political, social and economic impact of the passage of the DREAM Act.
Also during that time, my peers elected me as executive board member of the Hispanic Student Association, where I served for two years. In this capacity, I along with the board oversaw a $10,000 budget and specifically managed an approximate $1,000 program supplies budget.
As an extension to my commitment to the Latino population, I regularly volunteer as a translator for the Athens-Clarke County School System. Related to that, I was also the recipient of a Hispanic Scholarship Fund-University Alliance grant, called Sueños Grandes (Big Dreams), which afforded me the opportunity to work in a local Athens middle school and promote leadership development for Hispanic youths as well as serve as a liaison for the university.
Through my continued involvement with the Leadership ¡Sin Limites! Program, hosted by the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, I was selected to be the lead mentor for LSL, assisting with the other mentors’ training and the program’s execution. Also, through this connection, I was chosen to serve as an ambassador for Padres e Hijos Fin de Semana, a special orientation weekend for academically prepared high school seniors and their parents interested in UGA.
Each year, I have maintained a high academic standing, earning both the dean’s list and EXCEL Award.
I serve as a graduate assistant in UGA’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Specifically, this year I coordinate the Foundation Fellowship and Bernard Ramsey Honors Scholarship application process, the university’s premier, merit-based scholarship. In addition, I participate in the development of the admissions office’s marketing materials and assist in both the office’s recruitment and enrollment efforts.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first of my family to graduate from the University of Georgia, and the first generation of my family to complete studies in the United States.
I chose to attend UGA because…
The summer prior to my senior year of high school I participated in Leadership ¡Sin Limites! Program, a six-day residential program hosted by the Fanning Institute that develops youth leadership and educates them on issues facing Latino communities. This experience highlighted to me the limitless opportunities and resources available to me at a large, public institution and highly influenced me in applying and ultimately enrolling.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
1. Tate dollar movies.
2. International coffee hour at Memorial Hall.
3. Gym Dawgs meets!
When I have free time, I like…
In the midst of graduate school and its accompanying reading, little free time remains. However, inspired by the posts on Pinterest, in my sparse, free time I attempt to re-create the site’s photographed beauties; really, I devote my leisure time to D.I.Y. project failures.
The craziest thing I've done is…
I somersaulted out of a plane 10,000 feet above the ground near the Alabama border, right behind my best friend.
My favorite place to study is…
Strangely enough, if I can hijack a table, I enjoy studying at Jittery Joe’s in the MLC. I always feel so connected with my peers amid all the noise and confusion that it transforms my hundreds of pages of reading or additional 15 pages of writing from a painful annoyance into both a scholastic achievement as well as a social adventure.
My favorite professor is…
Within my master’s studies, my professor for Foundations of Policy Analysis, Jeffrey Wenger, challenged me to learn more about the economic implications of policy decisions, while also considering the sometimes conflicting managerial, political and legal values facing public administrators. As I embark on a career within the public sector, this foundation will guide my understanding on how my decisions and recommendations affect the public good.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
While perhaps an odd choice, if I could share the afternoon with anyone I would enjoy a meal with Anthony Bourdain, an American chef and my food-connoisseur demigod. Though for some his tastes and flavor remain unsavory, his life incorporates my two most preferred activities—traveling and eating. I have confidence we would share the yummiest meal—probably an exotic local specialty or suspect street food, consisting of a raw seal eyeball or a living reptilian.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
Since childhood, I have always “geeked out” about learning. As I have grown older, I have realized others lack my privileged position, where educational access was an unthought-of given. Subscribing to the belief that a diverse classroom benefits the undergraduate student and the overall campus environment, I would create an initiative that would result in the increased representation of minority students in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, etc., in institutions of higher education.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
I’d travel the world with my four-legged companion, Benjamin Jose, in a hot air balloon—the whole, wide world!
After graduation, I plan to…
I intend to pursue a career in higher education, specifically in admissions or student affairs. Ultimately, I plan on earning a Ph.D. in higher education, with the end goal of developing policy to increase student access and diversity recruitment and retention, particularly in the South.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
I will always remember “painting up” for the UGA versus Auburn football game my senior year of college with my two best friends, Melissa Cardoso and Mandy Guillermo. A couple months following our victory, I departed for the UGA GLOBIS Program in Verona, Italy, and upon arriving home graduating. So, that day between the hedges with my two best friends, in many ways, was my greatest goodbye to my undergraduate years and the fondest farewell to my girls, who have since gone abroad to realize their professional and personal dreams.