Amazing Students

Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Anne Jones has found a wide array of enriching opportunities at UGA that allow her to pursue diverse interests from public policy to community service to international travel. A fourth year Foundation Fellow, she is pursuing joint Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees through the Honors Program. She is on the leadership board of Roosevelt @ UGA, a student-run think tank that helps students develop, write, and publish public policy. Her interest in health policy has led her to pursue the Honors Programs’ public health internship with UGA alumna Susan Waltman this past summer, where she worked extensively on issues such as health reform and H1N1 preparedness. She now acts as a teaching assistant twice over, leading both an Introduction to Honors seminar as well as the Roosevelt Scholars course. She hopes to use these skills to serve as a Fulbright Scholarship English Teaching Assistant in Turkey next year.

Hometown:

Atlanta, Ga.

High School:

Pace Academy

Degree objective:

A.B. in International Affairs and Master of Public Administration with a minor in Spanish

Expected graduation:

Spring 2010

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In the time I’ve been at UGA, one of my favorite activities has been participating in the Roosevelt Institute, a student-run think tank where we develop policy and reach out to the local community. This organization first stimulated my interest in public policy and health policy, leading me to research and write a paper about obesity and the lack of access to point-of-purchase nutrition information in restaurants. I later presented this research at the 2008 CURO Symposium and was chosen to publish it in the 2008 edition of JURO. I am currently on the Board of the Roosevelt @ UGA Chapter, where I help students write policy papers, create presentations for symposia and polish their papers for publication. Through Roosevelt, I also took on an active role in the One Athens Initiative to generate dialogue between policymakers and the local impoverished community they serve. I am the co-founder of UGA’s Open Policy Symposium, an organization that hosts videoconferences and conference calls with professionals at national think tanks to generate policy dialogue and better understand the policy process. Last fall, I was overjoyed to be accepted as full-time student to Master of Public Administration program. This will allow me to pursue a joint-degree (with an A.B. in International Affairs) through the Honors Program. I also mentor a six-year-old girl from the local Athens community, and I have served on the student selection committee for the Delta Prize for Global Understanding. As a Foundation Fellow, I have had the opportunity to travel, study and volunteer around the world in such places as New Zealand, Australia, Spain, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Ghana. I look forward to checking a sixth continent off of my list as I travel to Ecuador this upcoming spring. Finally, I am a member of the Palladia Women’s Honors Society and the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. I traveled to South Korea to study Buddhism last spring and spent my summer in New York interning at the Greater New York Hospital Association.

Family Ties to UGA:

My dad went to UGA, so I was raised wearing red and black and cheering on the Dawgs every Saturday in the fall. My aunt and uncle also attended Georgia. While we have a lot of SEC rivalry within the extended family, the barking from the loyal Bulldogs always drowns out any other cheers you might hear.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the remarkable opportunities UGA had to offer me. While I had originally been looking at much smaller schools, the Honors Program at Georgia gave me the intimate community feeling I desired while the large size of the university presented me with access to expansive research opportunities and a wide array of remarkable professors. On top of that, the pride the students take in the school and the energy you feel in the air every time you go to a UGA sporting event is so exhilarating! When I received the Foundation Fellowship and realized that I would be able to travel throughout much of the world before I graduated as well as meet some of the most intelligent, philanthropic and down-to-earth people during the process, I knew that it couldn’t get any better than UGA.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…spending time on the various green spaces around campus. Whether it’s Herty Field or the Myers Quad, there’s nothing more relaxing than being in the grass reading a good book and watching the world of UGA go by. Some of my best memories are of throwing a Frisbee or a football on the quads, and I love running around outside with the little girl whom I mentor. Plus, hearing the victory bell peal after someone has completed a test or classes have ended for the week reminds you of how lucky you are to be at such a wonderful school.

When I have free time, I like…

…to sleep. Anytime my body realizes I don’t have somewhere to be or something to do, I sleep. When I’m not sleeping, though, I love to explore the different food venues Athens has to offer. Whether scoping out coffee shops to find a new study nook, testing ethnic cuisines dotted throughout the town or grabbing my favorite treat of all—ice cream—with friends, I’m always open to discovering new places to eat.

The craziest thing I've done is…

…learn to fly upside down on a trapeze at Canopy Studios in Athens. I had the opportunity to participate in a group trapeze lesson during my freshman year, and learning how to maneuver on a dangling bar like that is one of the strangest things I’ve ever done. However, I’ve also been able to do some pretty crazy things while traveling. One weekend in Ghana stands out in particular, during which I explored an old slave trade castle, crossed ten suspended walkways (more like wooden planks tied to ropes) above a rainforest canopy, fed an alligator and then got caught in an insane political rally on the way home. Overall, that was the most heart-pounding experience of my life. On the other hand, possibly the most unique and amazing thing I’ve ever done is hike on an enormous glacier during my Maymester in New Zealand. We attached crampons to our hiking boots and literally walked up the face of this huge ice sheet. I was able to drink fresh water out of pockets in the glacier and climb through a natural tunnel in the ice where you had to lower yourself down then wiggle through a thin turn to come out further down on the glacier. Topping it off with sea kayaking, hiking in a glacier valley and swimming with hundreds of wild dolphins was incredible. The entire experience was pretty fantastic.

My favorite place to study is…

…Moore College, when I’m on campus. I love studying in its large comfy chairs and using its big tables to spread out all of my work when I’ve got a big test coming up. Also, there’s always a good chance that one of my friends will pass by, providing a study break. When I’m off campus, though, I love taking a picnic blanket and going to Memorial Park. During the spring, all the flowers are blooming and it’s a really peaceful place to think and study. Sometimes I’ll go there to study with friends and we’ll end up feeding the geese and having the best conversations. Even though the park offers a lot of distractions, when I sit down to focus I’m really able to absorb what I’m reading and think through what I’m learning.

My favorite professor is…

…Vicky Wilkins in SPIA’s Department of Public Administration and Policy. I have taken two classes with Dr. Wilkins, and she never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge of the material and her passion for students’ learning. The first time you walk into her class, she promises that she will never forget your name and she never does. She is excited about the subject matter she teaches—even the most boring material—and she always finds a way to challenge and engage the students. Some of the most interesting debates I have ever witnessed have taken place during her classes, and she commits every day to encouraging students to open their eyes to new perspectives and ideas.

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

… I would share it with Queen Elizabeth I of England. I used to love learning about Tudor England and the richness and complexity of Europe during her reign. Her life and achievements as queen—whether political, religious, economic, or social—were expansive and far-reaching, and they continue to have an impact on the world today. She is one of the first really strong, independent women in modern history, and she fought hard for her right to lead. I would be intrigued to hear her account of her rise to power and to better understand her strategy behind becoming one of the most remarkable intellectual, expansionist and religious revolutionaries in Western history. From the way history portrays her, she was quite manipulative and knew how to use her power to get what she wanted. Listening to the story of her life would be like reading a good book that you wouldn’t want to put down.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…learn a lot of languages. I’m pretty proficient in Spanish, and I can understand a good bit of French if I hear it, but not much else. I am fascinated by languages and their ability to connect people around the globe. The way a language develops and is used reflects the unique culture and history of a group of people and such a complex linguistic history is a distinctly human attribute. I would love to be able to travel to almost any country in the world and more or less fit in with the people there, to communicate clearly with them and really be able to grasp how they live, think and feel.

After graduation, I plan to…

…spend a year teaching English and researching health policy in Turkey on a Fulbright Scholarship (at least, I hope so)! I also really want to travel the world more. There is a lot of Africa and Eastern Europe I haven’t seen, and I’d like to backpack through South and Central America at some point in my life. I am also dying to travel around the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, so hopefully some of those sites will be on the agenda. I then want to spend some time working in D.C., probably at a think tank or in a federal agency. After getting some much needed “field experience,” I’ll most likely go back to school and get a law degree. I’m so proud to live in the nation that produces some of the best judicial practitioners in the world, and I’d like to be a part of that legacy.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…sitting outside in the town of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, listening to a man tell us about the genocide in Bosnia and the way ethnic warfare ravaged his country. There is a beautiful old bridge that represents Mostar and it is the icon that appears on every postcard. It symbolizes the bridge between the different ethnicities and cultures that make up Bosnian society, as it crosses over a major river that separated Bosniak and Croat forces during the civil war of the 1990s. While most of the war was propagated by Serbian forces, Croats destroyed the bridge and attempted to force Bosniaks out to claim the town for themselves. The destruction of the bridge, a symbol of peace and unity among the diverse groups that make up Bosnian society, reflected the hatred and bitterness that tore the country apart during the war. On a freezing afternoon, our group of students huddled in the bitter cold, clutching tea or coffee under a tin roof that protected us from the rain to listen to one witness’ story. We could hear the afternoon call to prayer from the local mosque as the man, framed in the background by the bridge itself, recounted the story of the Mostar Bridge and the local history of the conflict. Listening to an individual who had lived through civil warfare, experienced genocide in his country, and had family and friends killed by the strife was an experience I will never forget. It was intensely sad, frustrating, and unsettling to hear. However, there was also great peace, hope, and beauty in the experience, as the man told us about the rebuilding of the bridge and reconciliation efforts currently in place. We could feel the religious and cultural life of the town going on around us, surviving after the war (although not necessarily the ethnic conflict) was over. That unforgettable afternoon was incredibly moving and surreal.

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