Amazing Students

Dyci Manns

Dyci Manns says it best. “College isn’t about picking a major; it’s about doing a bunch of crazy, seemingly unrelated things that show you what life is all about.”

Hometown:

Atlanta, Georgia

High School:

Henry W. Grady High School

Degree objective:

Bachelor of Arts in Spanish

Expected graduation:

Spring 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I came to the University of Georgia a semester ahead because of my accumulated AP credit hours with the intention of getting in and getting out in three years. I never thought I would fall in love with this school and with Athens, so I put off graduation until this semester. One thing I have learned during my four years at UGA is declaring a major is almost pointless, at least for people like me. I’ve had six of them: history to broadcast news to telecommunications to Spanish to music business to foreign language education to “HOPE isn’t paying for anything else so pick a major,” which ended up being Spanish.

However, my major and degree only expose a very small portion of my interests and passions. My first year at UGA, I got involved with Habitat for Humanity and did some volunteer work on campus, but it wasn’t until the summer when I received the Franklin Study-Abroad Scholarship to study marine science and anthropology in Belize that I really got a taste of what I wanted to do. While in Belize, I lived with a Mayan woman and her husband in a small village and visited the local school. Having someone ask me how I was able to afford so many pairs of underwear (I think I had five pair with me at the time), and watch children play with scarred feet because their families couldn’t afford shoes really showed me what was important in life. I spent the rest of the summer interning in Atlanta for Comcast’s Southern Division Office as an Emma Bowen intern. I didn’t like it, but it was a good summer job, and Comcast matched what I made as an intern during the summer with scholarship money during the school year. I’d spent the previous summer as an intern for Comcast as well, and by the time my sophomore year started, I knew I had no interest in going into communications.

I intended to spend the first semester of my sophomore year in Costa Rica, but I turned down a Gilman Scholarship because I wasn’t ready to go that far for that long. Instead, I spent my sophomore year really learning about poverty as a volunteer at local schools and as an education major. As a teaching assistant in an ESOL classroom at Clarke Middle School and a volunteer at the Classic City High School, I noticed the flaws in our education system. The following summer, I received the Franklin College Study-Abroad Scholarship to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I took Spanish linguistics and interned at a literacy foundation in the city. The next fall, I studied at New Mexico State University through the National Student Exchange, and that spring I taught English classes to Hispanic immigrants at Campus View Church of Christ and volunteered with Oasis tutors two days a week in Athens. I spent the summer before my senior year in Naantali, Finland, as a CISV village leader. I took four children with me to Finland, where I met up with 11 other leaders and their four children from 11 different countries. We spent a month planning activities about conflict resolution, human rights, sustainability and diversity for the children and building genuine friendships. I can’t describe what a fulfilling experience it was.

The fall of my senior year, I interned at the Center for American Progress as an ethnic media intern through the Washington Semester Program. In addition to conducting outreach to Spanish-language news outlets, I ran social media for the department, and I had the opportunity to write and publish three articles about education and students of color and the millennial generation.

In addition to the things I’ve already mentioned, I was a two-time recipient of the Franklin College Undergraduate Scholarship, the Vanguard Scholarship, and the Pillars of Excellence Scholarship offered by Golden Key International Honor Society. I am a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Women’s Fraternity, Golden Key and Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society, where I was inducted into the Literary Circle of Honor. Most recently, I was named to the 2011 Young Futurists list by The Root, which is a list of 25 African Americans under 21 who will change the world. It’s weird being selected as an Amazing Student at UGA because I always read the profiles of other students and think, “These people are awesome!” And now I’m one of them. It is very humbling and a little surreal.

It may seem like my experiences are all over the place and I haven’t focused one thing in the last four years. It seems that way because it’s true. College isn’t about picking a major, it’s about doing a bunch of crazy, seemingly unrelated things that show you what life is all about. It’s about meeting new people and not being scared. It’s about getting out there and doing something, or going somewhere that will make you uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. My undergraduate career has been filled with ups and downs, disappointments and joy.

Above all, the one thing I’ll never forget is finding my faith my sophomore year. My trust in God has gotten me through so many things and has brought me to where I am today. I am so blessed to have met the people that I have and to have done everything that I’ve done. I recently made a list of things I want to do, including being a Peace Corps country director, a U.S. senator, U.N. ambassador and many other things. But I didn’t know where to start. The Franklin Ambassadors advisor told me that I didn’t have to make the right decision right now. She told me that life is like Ben and Jerry’s: There are a ton of flavors, I just have to decide which one to try first. I think I’ll try them all.

Current Employment:

School and MODEL26 take up all of my time! One day I hope to get paid for doing the latter.

Family Ties to UGA:

None to UGA. I’m a first-generation Georgia Dawg. I come from a line of Auburn and Alabama fans who can’t stand Georgia red. Football season is always fun…well not when Georgia loses to Auburn or Alabama, and especially not when we lose to Auburn AND Alabama.

I chose to attend UGA because…

...I really wanted to go to a school that had a good football team. We were really good my freshman year! UGA was the only in-state school I applied to because I really wanted to get away from home, but the HOPE Scholarship coupled with outside scholarships made UGA the best value financially. I felt like a tiny tadpole in a huge pond my first semester, but after I took the time to explore campus and everything that UGA had to offer I fell in love with this school. I bleed red and black now!

My favorite things to do on campus are…

a) Walk through North Campus on a sunny day;
b) Study on North Campus on a sunny day, specifically on Herty Field near the fountain;
c) Sleep on North Campus on a sunny day, specifically by the Chapel;
d) Get free food on North Campus on a sunny day. No, I’m kidding. I like to get free food anywhere!; and
e) Sit at the Tate bus stop and catch up with friends. It seems to be the only place I see my friends these days.

The craziest thing I've done is…

... make an impromptu jump off a 70-foot cliff at Rick’s Café in Jamaica, fully clothed. I don’t recommend it unless you are completely sure you will land in the water feet first. Otherwise. it is the worst pain you will ever feel in your life! I took a photo with Gabrielle Union right after I jumped, bruised legs and all. A close second (and I hope this doesn’t get me into too much “post-partum” trouble) is sneaking into the Auburn game my freshman year with two friends. Freshmen rarely get tickets for good games, and it was the Blackout game. We had to be there! It was such an adrenaline rush. I never did it again after that. Promise.

My favorite place to study is…

... the second floor of the Law Library. I sit at the same table in the same chair every time I study there. There’s something about worker bee 1Ls that motivates me to really get work done there.

My favorite professor is…

... my public administration and democracy professor, Beth-Anne Leech. The first week of class she told us, “You are an elite part of society because you are college educated. The problems this world will face in the next 50 years will be phenomenal. What are you going to do about it?” It was such a powerful thing to hear! The class wasn’t easy, and I wrote a lot, but she challenged me and made me think, especially about my role in society as an active participant in a democracy. It also helped that she genuinely cares about her students. She always made sure we felt like we were learning something useful.

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

... Susan Rice! I read one of her speeches a few years ago and researched her. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She’s such an inspiration as an African- American woman.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

...do two things. First, I would be on America’s Next Top Model. I always wanted to do it, but talked myself out of it, because of my height and because of school. If I knew I would win I would do it in a heartbeat. I would also revamp our education system. I’ve spent a lot of time researching education policies in other countries and a lot of the things that make other countries successful are really simple. If I knew the states wouldn’t throw the 10th Amendment in my face, I’d change some things here and get us back on top.

After graduation, I plan to…

... get to work on my bucket list! I’ll start by moving to South Korea in the fall to teach English for a year. I really want to teach through the Peace Corps in West Africa, but you need a year’s worth of full-time teaching experience if you don’t have a teaching degree. I’ll also keep working on MODEL26. Eventually I’ll go back to school to do a master’s in public administration and, later, a Ph.D. in international peace and conflict resolution.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

...going to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans my freshman year with some of my closest friends and spending New Year’s Eve on Bourbon Street. My mom won free tickets, so I got to sit on the 11th row at the game!

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