Amazing Students

Sarah Caesar

It was UGA’s diversity that drew Sarah Caesar to campus, and the future physician assistant is “super thrilled to be able to tie my passion for the sciences and people in hopes of making an impact in my community.”

Hometown:

Kennesaw, GA

High School:

North Cobb High School

Degree objective:

Biology, B.S.
Psychology, B.S.

Expected graduation:

Summer 2017

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

As a first-generation migrant to the U.S, I understand my parents had to sacrifice a lot when making the decision to venture out into this new world, where they envisioned opportunities abound and a bright future for their children. Ever since I first moved to the U.S. at the ripe age of 9, my parents had made it very clear that, no matter what it cost, they would ensure that both my sister and I received an excellent education. To them, nothing was more important than fostering learning and curiosity in their children, because they understood that people, especially women, couldn’t be truly empowered when deprived of a solid education. So, when it came time to decide what college I wanted to attend, the decision was not a difficult one—UGA was instantly appealing to me due its vast resources and extremely friendly environment.
Prior to the start of college, I, like many incoming freshmen, was apprehensive about many things. I pondered hard about how long it would take me to acclimate to this new environment. One of the first things that struck me when I first learned about and visited UGA was its diversity, something I believe is a crucial factor that shows how inclusive and accepting a particular setting is. The university offers a plethora of opportunities, in terms of majors, extracurricular activities and employment options, to students; hence, making it even more welcoming to students, like me, who were still undecided about what path to pursue in college.

Having attended a Magnet Program for International Affairs in high school, I was somewhat of an anomaly for ultimately choosing to study the sciences in college. However, I found the transition less daunting than expected due to the immense faculty support I received at UGA. I was fortunate to enter college with a scholarship from the Indian American Scholarship Fund, which helped pay part of my tuition during my first year of college. Ever since the summer before my freshman year of college, I’ve been a writer and editor for UGA Pre-Med Magazine, the university’s premier magazine catering for pre-medical students. As an active member of the organization, I have gained invaluable skills that were incredibly useful throughout my four years of college. I have no doubt that these skills will be extremely beneficial in the future as well.
During my time at UGA, I was also fortunate to be a member of the Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment Lab, where I studied how certain nutritional factors can be used to modulate age-related cognitive decline in older adults. I have also been a member of the UGA Red Cross and have volunteered at numerous blood drives hosted by the organization. I partook in numerous mentoring programs, including Thomas Lay After School Program and LISTO Mentor/Mentee Program, in college. Much to my surprise, mentoring other students enabled me to learn and grow a lot as a person, and I hope I can continue mentoring younger students in the future. In addition to spending time with youngsters, I absolutely enjoy volunteering at a local senior living home and hospice called Kennesaw Place, and have done so ever since I was a sophomore in high school. Visiting older adults at the home gives me so much joy! I will cherish forever the invaluable advice I have received from my dear friends at the nursing home.
During my final year at UGA, I was fortunate to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious honor society that aims to foster lifelong learning. When talking about college experiences, I would be remiss not to mention my family and closest friends who have stood by me through my best and worst times and have inspired me to work hard and continue fighting for my dreams. These same people have also wholeheartedly accepted me for who I am and have taught me the importance of self-acceptance as well. Hi fam — I love you all so much! Thanks for teaching me so many wonderful lessons, the most important of which can be best summarized in this quote: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.” (Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)

Current Employment:

I’m currently not working, but I worked at Tate Cafe, a food court located on campus, for two years.

Family Ties to UGA:

None. Ironically, my sister and brother-in-law both went to Georgia Tech (Boo!!), so we have a house divided.

I chose to attend UGA because…

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of America as a nation is E pluribus unum, the 13-letter Latin motto of the country that loosely translates to “out of many, one.” In many ways, I believe this same phrase symbolizes UGA as well. UGA, I believe, is quite representative of the U.S. population, a melting pot of different races, genders, religions, sects and languages. This was definitely one of the key aspects that made me fall in love with the campus almost immediately!
Having completed four years at the university now, I can say that interacting with people from all over the world has taught me to be a more empathetic person and to understand that everyone has their own story. Hence, it was only during my time at UGA that I realized how crucial it is to accept and welcome others from diverse backgrounds, instead of using barriers and walls to block them out of your life. This inclusive nature of the Athens community made me feel at home at once. One of the first things my mom said after our first visit to UGA was, “Wow, everyone’s so friendly here!” Having lived on campus for the past four years, I couldn’t agree more with her sentiment!
Another aspect of the campus that instantly attracted me was the fact that it has so many libraries! Having been an avid reader ever since I was little, I was quite mind-blown when I heard this and was enthralled by the idea of being able to borrow books from such an incredibly vast collection.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I absolutely love going to the Niche, the dining hall located on the Health Sciences Campus, with my friends (a.k.a. my Bulldawg fam). The food at the Niche is amazing! I also enjoy going for a morning jog or run with a friend or grabbing my favorite burrito from Cali N Tito’s after a long day of classes/studying. In addition, sometimes I enjoy sitting outside Reed or Myers Quad on a serene day to read a book or discuss various topics pertaining to politics, religion, feminism, music or the like with my beloved friends.

When I have free time, I like…

… reading books and sharing interesting portions from my readings with friends and family. In addition, I like cracking jokes with my friends and family members, running at Ramsey or the local park, taking yoga/Pilates classes, visiting my favorite professors to gain some words of wisdom, listening to music (particularly the Beatles!), dancing (quite terribly, I must say) to Bollywood music, and watching TV shows/movies. 
Also, ever since I first heard about the Facebook page “Humans of New York,” I’ve been slightly obsessed with reading the stories Brandon Stanton, founder of the page, uploads onto the site on an almost-daily basis. Stanton, who happens to be a UGA alum as well (woohoo, go Dawgs!), has inspired countless others to create similar pages to showcase people and their lives in numerous cities around the world. Stanton’s “Humans of New York” and these other pages aim to capture humanity and, in a way, unify the world through people’s stories. As of 2017, a page for almost every major city, such as Paris, Delhi, Beirut, exists. Almost immediately after discovering these pages, I proceeded to follow all of the “Humans of …” pages I could find (yes, ALL) on Facebook and, right now, rejoice in being able to read these stories whenever I take a study break.
By reading these stories, I feel like, in a way, I’ve been able to connect with people from different parts of the world. I know it’s practically impossible to travel to all these major cities in my lifetime, but knowing that I can at least get a glimpse of the different people, cultures and lifestyles through social media sites like these puts me at ease. It’s always exciting to read different people’s stories and compare and contrast the lifestyles of people from different parts of the world. In fact, having read thousands of people’s stories from all over the world, I have now come to the realization that human beings, despite differences in race, religion and/or color, are more alike than different.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… visit 18 U.S. states in about two weeks with my wonderfully adventurous family. The summer before starting eighth grade, my family and I took a road trip and visited numerous landmarks and national parks in the country. A few of my favorite sites included Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge.

My favorite place to study is…

… the Digital Media Lab on the third floor of the MLC. The lab has super fancy Mac computers and you can also check out headphones if you want to listen to music or your lecture recordings. While it is located in a rather secluded area of the floor, it’s great for people like me who prefer quiet places to get work done.

My favorite professor is…

During my time here at UGA, I have been so fortunate to have had so many wonderful professors and mentors who have encouraged me to push the boundaries and strive for more than mediocrity. Dr. Karl Espelie, for instance, is one of those people who has tremendously helped me over the last four years. He has selflessly skipped breakfast and lunch on numerous occasions to advise students like me regarding college and post-baccalaureate plans. Most of his mentees, including me of course, walk away from his office feeling very confident and more reassured about their future. Dr. Stephen Miller, my research professor, is another person who gave me a lot of guidance during my final year of college. Senior year of college, I must say, was the toughest year for me due to personal struggles and slight worries regarding future plans. However, with the help of mentors like Dr. Espelie and Dr. Miller, close friends and my family, I was able to complete the year in a relaxed and fully contented state of mind.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, wife of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. My closest friends and family members all know that I’ve looked up to Jackie as a role model ever since I first learned about her in middle school. As an itty bitty middle-schooler, I didn’t know too much about her life and was merely enamored by her grace, elegance and ability to make even the simplest of outfits look extravagant. Numerous history and political science courses and Wikipedia searches later, I’ve learned so much more about Jackie’s life and now realize that behind the jaw-dropping external beauty lay a soft, gentle and equally beautiful heart. The one aspect about Jackie that most inspired me from my readings of the first lady was that she was genuinely interested in vastly eclectic areas of the arts, history, and most importantly, understanding human emotion in hopes of becoming a more empathetic person. 
Despite being the third-youngest first lady of the U.S., Jackie played a central role in shaping the political arena during her husband’s term in office. Having graduated at the top of her liberal arts class at George Washington University, Jackie was as intelligent as she was beautiful. Hence, as an informal adviser to her husband, she was able to influence American politics for several years. Long after becoming first lady at the young at of 31, she continued to influence numerous women, particularly women of power like herself. For instance, Hillary Rodham Clinton (another woman I greatly look up to for inspiration!) has stated on numerous occasions in her autobiography how Jackie’s words of wisdom always inspired her and helped her persevere as a female politician in a male-dominated world.
Considering all of this, I’m sure I’ve convinced you all that Jackie Kennedy was truly a complete package — beauty and brains! Therefore, I would absolutely love to have a long conversation with her about fashion, women’s rights, balancing family and work life, and books. I’d also love to ask her what she thinks of the current political climate and whether she’s proud that more and more women are furiously fighting for equality and making their voices heard in numerous male-dominated venues.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… become a professional biographer! Ever since I was little, I have always loved listening to other people’s stories. Being a biographer would allow me to tie my two favorite hobbies — writing and listening to people’s life stories — and enable me to share their stories with the world.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… travel the world to gain a better understanding of how best I can serve those in need!

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

My closest friends and family members will tell you that I have, on numerous occasions, randomly blurted out, “Ah, I just love people!” This is a genuine sentiment I have felt since I was a child — an extreme fondness of people and their lives. It breaks my heart to turn on the news to see the suffering endured by many, particularly children and other vulnerable people, around the world. I am truly blessed to live in a country that provides so many opportunities to hardworking people who want to make a positive impact on society. I hope to avail of the resources provided to me and, through hard work and dedication, aim to serve underprivileged people in my community.

After graduation, I plan to…

… spend a few months working as a medical assistant in a local clinic and, eventually, attend physician assistant school to become a PA. I’m super thrilled to be able to tie my passion for the sciences and people in hopes of making an impact in my community.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

My Commencement ceremony which took place in the beginning of May. What made this day most memorable was being able to celebrate four years worth of accomplishments with my sweet friends and family. My family drove all the way from Atlanta just to support me and I was so happy to be able to celebrate this special occasion with them. Throughout all four years of college, I was incredibly blessed to have a solid support system, without whom none of my accomplishments would’ve been possible.

Ralph Waldo Emerson describes friendship as something with the capacity to mutually increase people’s “intellectual and active powers.” He goes on to state that, in deep, true friendships, one “must feel pride in [his or her] friend’s accomplishments as if they were [one’s own], and a property in [his or her] virtues.” Emerson perfectly describes the relationship I had with my closest friends, who took so much pride in my accomplishments as I did theirs. If I hadn’t come to UGA, I wouldn’t have met my Bulldawg fam, a group of people who I hope to continue irritating for the rest of my life. Despite numerous hardships endured during my college years, I look back at my time at UGA with so much happiness, because I don’t think any other school could’ve prepared me better to face the challenges I’ll encounter in the real world!

Published Sunday,