February 5, 2012
A passion for serving others defines Elena Gomez of Kennesaw. Double-majoring in international affairs and Spanish, Elena claims her participation in the Washington Semester Program as one of her most influential UGA experiences.
A.B. in International Affairs and an A.B. in Spanish
University highlights, achievements and awards:
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” –Cesar Chavez
As a senior at UGA, I have learned through coursework, service projects and internship experiences that my true passion is to use my talents to give back to my community. Attending UGA has opened my eyes to the wide spectrum of opportunities that are available to positively impact those who need it most.
One of the most rewarding and exciting times in my life was this past fall. I interned for a congressional representative in Washington D.C. for a full semester. It was love at first sight; DC is a beautiful city, and I honestly enjoyed every moment that I spent there. As a congressional intern, I had the opportunity to conduct extensive legislative research, monitor day-to-day hearings, manage constituent communications and assist with general policy matters. Through UGA’s Washington Semester Program, I was able to receive 14 hours of course credit through interning and taking two great UGA political science classes while I was in DC.
Additionally, I was one out of 16 students chosen nationally to be a part of the CHCI (Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute ) Internship Program that same semester. Through this terrific program, whose motto is “developing the next generation of Latino leaders,” I gained leadership training and was blessed to have all expenses covered with housing, transportation in D.C., domestic airfare, and an additional bi-monthly stipend. I had the amazing opportunity to hear the First Lady, cabinet members, congressmen, and senators speak at CHCI’s Public Policy Conference about policy issues that I am really passionate about such as immigration, education, and health. The highlight of my time in D.C. would definitely be CHCI’s 33rd Annual Awards Gala in which I got to see Eva Longoria (one of my favorite celebrities) receive a philanthropic award, dance to live music from Elvis Crespo (one of my absolute favorite merengue singers) and get a picture with him, and watch President Obama speak and shake his hand afterwards!
In Athens and on campus, I have had great opportunities to immerse myself in the community. This is my third year being a mentor with the Athens-Clarke County Mentor program where I visit my mentee once a week at her elementary school and facilitate positive discussions about her future goals. A great volunteer opportunity that still needs several tutors is the Oasis tutors program in the Pinewoods neighborhood; this is a wonderful way to make a radical impact on a child’s life. I have been volunteering twice a week tutoring pre-k students; investing time in these kids brings about satisfaction and motivation to help out more in the community. On campus, I have volunteered three years at the !Si Se Puede! Annual Youth Conference which boosts confidence and motivates minority middle and high school students to pursue their future goals to attend college. Additionally, I have volunteered at Sigueme and Movimiento Latino, other programs that encourage diversity on our campus. I serve as the President of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar Chapter at UGA, and I am also a member of the 2011-2012 Leadership UGA Cohort. I am an active member of both the Spanish honor society (Sigma Delta Pi) and honor society for International Studies (Sigma Iota Rho). I am a recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholar, and a UGA Excel Award Excellence in Education and Leadership Recipient.
My time so far at UGA has gone above and beyond my expectations for a college experience. Through academics, leadership, and service opportunities, UGA has given me the tools necessary to succeed in all of my future goals. I am looking forward to a great senior year, and I will always cherish every memory of being a Georgia Bulldog!
Kennesaw Mountain High School
Family Ties to UGA:
My older cousin, Karina, attended UGA, and she absolutely loved it. She motivated me to apply, and it was the best decision I could have made!
I chose to attend UGA because...
…it is by far the best place to attend college! After applying to eight different universities (yes this meant writing a lot of essays), I decided that UGA was the best choice for me. I wanted to attend a large school where I could meet a variety of different people, show my school pride at football games and have endless opportunities to join student organizations. UGA has all of that and more!
My favorite things to do on campus are...
COMEDY SHOWS! I absolutely love attending them, and I always convince as many of my friends to come with me. I always laugh so much and have a great time; university union does a fantastic job of bringing in some of the best talent.
DINING HALLS! I never get tired of UGA dining hall food; I am not the best at taking the time to cook my own meals which makes going to ECV and eating delicious philly cheese steaks and drinking strawberry landslides heaven to me.
FOUNDERS GARDEN! My friends and I call it the “secret garden,” because not many people are familiar with this magical place, and it reminds us of the movie. It is such a peaceful area to go to whenever you just need to relax, and it is breathtaking in the springtime when all the roses bloom.
When I have free time, I like...
…to have picnics with my friends in north campus, chill out by the fountain near Herty field, eat at Cali ‘n Titos, watch movies at the Georgia Square Value Cinemas, and explore the boutiques and everything downtown Athens has to offer!
The craziest thing I've done is...
…zip-line and hike in the Panama rain forest and take a 36-hour road trip to my Dad’s hometown in Degollado, Mexico.
My favorite place to study is...
…the fourth floor of the MIller Learning Center in a back corner. I need complete silence when I am studying and that is usually where I can be the most productive!
My favorite professor is...
It is difficult to only choose one professor! I really enjoyed taking INTL 4360: East Asian Political Systems with Professor Kwon. He is a very passionate teacher, and he made learning the material exciting and easy to comprehend. I also loved taking SPAN 2550: Latino Literature, Language and Culture with Dr. Julia Barnes. I learned so much about the history of Latinos in the U.S. and how the evolution of various Hispanic ethnicities are growing and shaping our country’s future.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
...it would most definitely be with OPRAH WINFREY! I think she is such a wise and inspirational person who continues to positively impact countless people around the world! She’s my hero.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
..end injustice, hunger and oppression around the world.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
…travel to every country around the world and make a positive impact!
After graduation, I plan to...
..do a variety of things, including: move to Spain for a year and teach English, apply to Teach for America, go to graduate school, and move to Washington D.C. and find a job where I can apply my talents and passions. As of right now, I am leaving my future up to God’s will for my life.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
…is living in Creswell freshman year and having the ultimate Snow Day! I had so much fun being surrounded by all of my best friends and having snowball fights! It was hilarious watching thousands of students convert kayaks, mattresses, dining hall trays and pretty much anything they could get their hands on to make sleds! We got to play all day in the snow and not have class the next day! Freshman year = good times.