The University of Georgia
Rooks, William

UGA's Amazing Students

William Rooks

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December 13, 2010

The experiences graduate student William Rooks has had on campus, in the nation’s capital and in China are preparing him for tomorrow’s increasingly connected and globalized world. His goal is to attend law school so that he can serve as an attorney advocating for human and civil rights.

As an undergraduate, he participated in the inaugural Washington Semester Program in Washington, D.C. and later taught English in China. Through his assistantship with the International Center at the university’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, he has helped facilitate exchanges with delegations from several countries. He has served as Graduate Student Association president, but stepped down from that position to study with the UGA School of Law at Oxford University this semester. When in Athens, he also participates in student organizations such as UGA HERO for Children, which helps raise money for children infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2010

Degree objective:

Master of Arts in Public Administration

University highlights, achievements and awards:

During the spring of my senior year, I participated in the inaugural Washington Semester Program in Washington, D.C. While in the District, I interned with Congressman Jack Kingston's office. This experience was incredible: I was able to study political science in Susan Haire's amazing course in the evenings while seeing the practical application of my studies during the day. I cannot say enough about the fabulous program that Don DeMaria and Professor Jere Morehead have put together. After my semester in D.C., I taught English in China during the summer of 2008. I had no idea what I intended to gain from the experience, but I was certain that exposure to such an ancient and complex culture as China’s would be nothing short of amazing. I returned from China and enrolled in the master’s in public administration program and landed an assistantship with the International Center at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. 

At the International Center, I was fortunate to employ my public administration courses, my experience in D.C., and my exposure to Chinese culture while assisting with delegations of foreign government officials, many of whom were from China.  I helped facilitate exchanges with delegations from Kenya, Liberia and China, and assisted with grant writing for legislative training in Kosovo and local council education in Iraq. Director Mike Beck and IC faculty Rusty Brooks, Jianfeng Wang and Njeri Marekia-Cleaveland have contributed enormously to the mission of outreach and service at the university. 

Additionally, I served as the Graduate Student Association president. I stepped down from that position to study with the UGA School of Law at Oxford University this semester.  At Oxford, I am studying administrative and labor law with Oxford University Faculty.  I am also taking a comparative politics course with former Georgia Senator Wyche Fowler. 

I am eternally indebted to the university for these and other incredible opportunities that I have enjoyed as a student here at UGA. If I am an amazing student, it is only because I stand on the shoulders of giants, meaning the wonderful faculty, staff, and administrators that have made these opportunities possible.

Hometown:

Atlanta, Ga

High School:

Grady High School

Family Ties to UGA:

My grandmother attended UGA.  I would be completely lost without her constant support.

I chose to attend UGA because...

... of its reputation as a first-rate institution. It has always been my dream to attend law school, and I felt that UGA offered the best preparation for the daunting prospect of a legal education. After my master’s in public administration, I intend to pursue this life-long goal. I am looking forward to the challenge!

My favorite things to do on campus are...

.... to participate in student organizations and activities. HERO for Children is a great organization that helps raise money for children infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS. I have been involved with HERO for a number of years and had the privilege of serving on the planning board for HERO for a Day in Atlanta this summer. HERO was started by a couple of UGA alums and is a great way to get involved in the community!

When I have free time, I like...

... to grill out on my front porch and shoot the breeze with my friends. I also love road- and mountain biking as well as hiking.

The craziest thing I've done is...

... hike over 60 miles in three days through the French Alps with my best friend Mike Comer. He met me in Paris after I studied abroad in the UGA à Paris program.  We started in Chamonix, France and ended in Coeur Mayer, Italy.  We traversed treacherous snowy slopes with ice axes and crampons and nearly ended up in the wrong country once by taking an errant spur off of the true trail.

My favorite place to study is...

... the nooks in the fifth floor of the Main Library are the best!  The main library is very quiet and perfect for studying.

My favorite professor is...

I almost hate to answer this question because so many professors here at UGA have left indelible impression on the way I perceive the world. Andy Herod is undoubtedly among the best professors with whom I have studied. He has been a phenomenal mentor and friend. I had the wonderful privilege of watching the 2008 presidential election from his home. I was assisting with an International Center delegation from Liberia at the time. Just imagine it: I was a graduate student in public administration, surrounded by a group of Liberian officials, three county commissioners and the mayor. Among people from all over the world (Andy is from England) who had gathered to watch an incredible moment in history, I felt like I was part of something, well, momentous.

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

.... Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill. I would ask them how they had the gumption to govern in such tumultuous times.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

... become a human rights and civil liberties attorney. I hope to pursue public interest work after graduation from law school.

After graduation, I plan to...

... study with professor Vicky Wilkins and four other students in Seoul, South Korea. Upon my return, I hope to attend law school.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

... when Sydney Jones, a legislative aid for Speaker Pelosi and an alum of UGA, held a reception for all of the students in the Washington Semester Program on the Speaker’s Balcony. It was absolutely amazing for all of us to look across the Mall at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and reflect on our experiences and friendships that we had built in our nation’s capitol.