From being a member of the Redcoat Marching Band to serving on University Council to immersing herself in research, Megan Gallagher, a senior in social work, says her time at UGA “has been an incredible experience in every way.”
Sandy Springs, Ga.
North Springs Charter High School
Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in Spanish
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Three years ago, I was thrilled to come to the University of Georgia, but I never could have imagined the opportunities that awaited me here. One of the most notable experiences I’ve had at UGA is being a member of the Honors Program. This program has enriched my college education through more personalized learning, closer relationships with professors, opportunities to take graduate-level coursework and access to extracurricular lectures and events that I would not have otherwise had.
I serve as the appointed Student Government Association senator for the School of Social Work. This position allows me to give a voice to the students of my school and to affect university policy in order to benefit the entire student body. I am also a member of the University Council, which is the governing legislative body of the University of Georgia. Having the ability to affect UGA policy and to be a representative of the students is an incredible honor.
Within the School of Social Work, I serve as the chair of the Bachelor of Social Work Club, a student-led service organization. We strive to make positive social change in Athens, while allowing BSW students to network and transition into the role of professional social workers. We also partner with related student organizations to help promote social justice in a variety of areas. I am also part of a group initiating a student task force in the School of Social Work, which intends to increase collaboration between the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral social work students.
I am conducting research under Carol Britton Laws from the Institute on Human Development and Disability. My research compares the factors related to the turnover intention of support staff who primarily work with aging adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to that of those who support primarily younger adults.
Of the many places in which I have become involved within the University of Georgia, the Redcoat Marching Band is probably the most spirited. I am proud to have played trumpet with this amazing performance group since my freshman year and to have served on Redcoat leadership as a rank leader since my sophomore year.
Throughout college, I have also remained involved with the Wesley Foundation and various local churches to further my spiritual growth and understanding. I have also remained an active volunteer each year through programs such as the Thomas Lay After-School Mentoring Program, the Athens First UMC Youth Group, the Athens Community Council on Aging and the Christ Community Church Youth Group.
I am a social services intern at University Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Our mission is to help the residents achieve their highest level of functioning through rehabilitative, restorative and medical services.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am a first-generation Dawg!
I chose to attend UGA because…
The University of Georgia is renowned as an incredible public university that offers so many different academic programs, extracurricular activities and research opportunities. While UGA has all of the benefits of a large university, it was apparent during my visits that I also would have the ability to make the university feel smaller. The Honors Program specifically offered the benefits of smaller classes, the strongest professors and amazingly dedicated peers. After researching UGA, speaking with students and visiting the campus, I quickly fell in love with this school. And now, in my fourth year, I would never change my decision to come here. It has been an incredible experience in every way.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
1. Going to the football games and seeing all of the spirited Georgia fans. From 1 to 100, so many people have such a deep-rooted love for our university! It always makes me even more grateful to be here.
2. Walking around the magnificent North Campus. Nothing will make you feel more collegiate than reading on a bench on North Campus. Throw in a cup of coffee and you have sheer perfection.
3. Visiting the vibrant Trial Gardens at UGA. They’re hidden between Snelling and the rest of South Campus, and they are always a burst of beauty.
When I have free time, I like…
… to talk with family and friends, watch movies, read, listen to music, play piano and trumpet, or take a jog. I don’t often have a lot of free time, so when I do I try to make it worthwhile. I’ll watch movies that I’ve wanted to see for a long time, or try to find the best music I can. I love to catch up with my friends and know what’s really going on in their lives. I often spend time on NPR’s website, catching up on the news.
The craziest thing I've done is…
… study abroad. I was very fortunate the summer of my sophomore year to live in Cádiz, Spain, for six weeks through UGA en España. This was easily one of the most influential experiences I’ve had in college. Not only did I take courses from local professors and grow significantly in my fluency in Spanish, but I also was fully immersed in another culture, befriended people from another part of the world, reached a new level of independence and learned a new extent of my capability. Before going on the trip, however, I was terrified of all the unfamiliarity. I didn’t know anyone else going on the trip, and I was about to live in a country that had a different native language than mine. Despite my fears, I worked hard and made the most of every moment abroad. In the end, it was the things I feared most about the trip that made it such a fulfilling experience.
My favorite place to study is…
… a tie between the two coffee shops in Five Points: Two Story and Jittery Joe’s. Both of these specific locations feel like home to me. They are both constructed in mixtures of brick and wood and have a cozy atmosphere with softly lit lamps, comfortable chairs and peaceful music always playing in the background. Plus there is always good company to be had at these study spots.
My favorite professor is…
… Shari Miller in the School of Social Work. One of the best aspects of Dr. Miller’s teaching style is that she interacts with students in the same way that we are expected to communicate with people in the field. She listens very carefully and reflects what she heard to ensure that she understands us correctly. She takes the strengths-based perspective with us, and encourages and respects our individual opinions. It is apparent through her instruction and advisement that she is invested in her students’ success, which makes it so natural for students to stay invested in her classes.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… Martin Luther King Jr. His perspective on advocacy and large-scale change is one that I hold so much respect for and want to implement in my own social justice advocacy in the future. His emphasis on nonviolence was such an integral aspect of the civil rights movement, and his deeply rooted respect for humankind was essential for the nation to see and experience. To spend even a short amount of time with someone with such presence, eloquence, wisdom and strength would certainly be an experience that would affect my entire outlook on life.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… become president of the United States. The essential part of that phrase is its idealistic ensured success. I would be absolutely delighted and eager to affect large-scale policy that would benefit American citizens. The ability to manage our relations with other countries would also be a challenge that I would excitedly accept, especially if I could not fail. However, while I am still living in reality, the pressure and amount at stake would be more than I wish to take on.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… first go to the very best school out there for my master’s degree. I would practice social work until I became ready for a new adventure. Then I would take a break from working and travel to all seven continents, even Antarctica, getting to see different environments and cultures while befriending people all over the world. Upon my return, I would buy a cabin in the mountains and spend my time reading, painting, learning photography and traveling around the United States.
After graduation, I plan to…
… get my Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees simultaneously. This mixture of degrees will fully prepare me for clinical social work practice while also providing me with an understanding of health policy and larger-scale, population-level health issues. I would also like to have a concentration in gerontology. After graduating with my master’s, I hope to come back to Georgia to enter the field. My ideal job would be doing gerontological clinical social work in a setting that also allowed me to assess and affect policy. If I cannot find a job that allows such broad emphases, I would be equally happy practicing clinical social work in a health-related setting.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… the first time I stepped foot onto the field of Sanford Stadium. I was new to UGA football and was very nervous to march my first pregame show as a Redcoat. When we stepped into the sun from underneath the stands, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the surrounding stadium and vast amount of people who so clearly loved UGA. I couldn’t stop looking at the crowd’s excited expressions. I got chills as we played the “Battle Hymn,” “Alma Mater” and “Krypton.” It was in that moment that I fell in love with the University of Georgia and the Bulldog Nation. Once a Dawg, always a Dawg. How sweet it is!