Jim Thompson, a senior majoring in psychology and public relations, has taken full advantage of the many opportunities he has encountered at UGA, from studying abroad in Greece and China to being elected vice president of the Student Government Association.
Druid Hills High School
B.S. in psychology, A.B.J. in public relations; minor in political science
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I am a wholly different person from the anxious first-year student who entered this university four years ago. Every academic and extracurricular experience I have had, planned or not, has shaped me into a better version of my former self. Thus, the greatest takeaway from my time in the Classic City will not be a tangible achievement, but rather, a less tangible sense of self and purpose that I did not have before attending the University of Georgia.
Throughout my time here, I have involved myself in a variety of student organizations. Each organization has bettered my college experience. However, my participation in two student organizations in particular has proven to be the most influential aspect of my college career—Dawg Camp and the Student Government Association.
Dawg Camp is an extended-orientation program for first-year students. Though I did not attend Dawg Camp as an incoming student, I had the good fortune of serving on staff for two years, first as a counselor and then on the executive board as the director of recruitment.
I have been involved with the Student Government Association in a variety of roles over the years, and I am honored to serve as the student body vice president in my final year. My main goal is to help lay the groundwork for an inclusive post-secondary education program that will allow students with cognitive disabilities the opportunity to obtain a specialized degree from the university.
Yet despite what my mother thinks, my student experience has not been solely rooted in campus organizations. I have been greatly impacted by the unique academic opportunities the university has afforded me, both in Athens and abroad.
I studied abroad in Greece and China the summers after my first and third years. Additionally, during my first and second years, I conducted research in the field of social psychology through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. More specifically, I examined the relationship between life satisfaction, future orientation and political orientation.
Other highlights of my college career have included membership in the Dean William Tate Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa, serving as a member on UGA Miracle’s Morale Committee and mentoring first-year Honors students as an Honors teaching assistant. I am also a grateful recipient of the Crane Leadership and Charter scholarships.
Family Ties to UGA:
In 2013, my sister graduated from the university with a degree in landscape architecture. Though my mom did not attend UGA, she has fully embraced the Bulldog spirit after sending both of her children to UGA. My father, however, still elects to cheer for that North Avenue trade school.
I chose to attend UGA because…
I always knew I wanted to attend a university in a quintessential college town. The financial accessibility of UGA was unparalleled, and the opportunities presented by the Honors Program were unmatched. It didn’t hurt that my high school’s colors were red and black, too, so I wouldn’t have to completely change my wardrobe.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
When not spilling coffee on myself at the Jittery Joe’s in the MLC, I can frequently be found watching YouTube videos (most likely of corgis running) in the Center for Student Organizations. When the weather is nice, I enjoy climbing to the top of the North Campus parking deck and just looking over the campus/downtown scenery.
When I have free time, I like…
… running at the intramural fields, eating at Panera (preferably with friends, but sometimes I can’t hold off my craving long enough to find a friend to go with me), documenting the awkward events of my daily existence via SnapChat, and most of all, calling my parents for much-needed parental advice.
The craziest thing I've done is…
In Greece, I bungee-jumped 300 feet into the Corinth Canal. I have a video that I will never be able to show to my mom, children or employers because the words I screamed are not quite as spirited as a simple “Go Dawgs!” (which is what most other students yelled when they jumped).
My favorite place to study is…
I have a secret study spot in the Tate Student Center that I found by chance when studying for my first college exam. Only a few friends know where this spot is, so I retreat there every time I need to be productive without distraction. I maintain its secrecy so no one steals it, but mostly so no one will see my wretched appearance before exams.
My favorite professor is…
I have had many incredible professors at the university. When you change your major five times, you benefit from sampling across many different departments. However, the professor whose class I have enjoyed the most is Michael Lynch. When I decided to adopt a political science minor last spring, I was not thrilled about having to take an introductory course during the latter half of my junior year. However, Dr. Lynch’s Honors “Introduction to Political Science” was an enjoyable departure from the typical fact-based nature of most introductory courses. His method of teaching was engaging and interesting. His assignments were thought provoking and meaningful. And he made an introductory course one of the most rewarding courses I have taken in college.
Additionally, Anne Shaffer’s “Developmental Psychology” course opened my eyes to the ability of psychology research to influence education and social justice policy. Beyond the classroom, she is always willing to help her students, whether it is providing extra academic assistance or advice about post-graduation opportunities.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… President John F. Kennedy. Many may not agree with his political or personal decisions, but he was an undeniable force for social progress. He was assassinated before he had the chance to enact long-term change, and I would be interested to hear his thoughts on how the country has evolved in the 50 years since his death.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… train to be an Olympic gymnast. My gymnastics career ended unexpectedly when I did not progress from “Beginner” to “Level 1” at the local YMCA’s after-school program. I did not have the drive to successfully train at the age of 4, but now I would. Thus, if I could not fail, I would train for the 2016 Rio Olympics and (hopefully) walk away with a gold medal.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… see all of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient and Natural Worlds.
After graduation, I plan to…
Eventually, I plan to obtain a dual Ph.D./M.P.P. in psychology and public policy. But I think I may take a few years off from being a student before pursuing that path. For now, I would like to travel and potentially spend some time volunteering or working abroad. For a career, I hope to work in a Washington-based think tank centered on advancing social justice or education policy initiatives.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… winning the student government election last March. I have always been the leader who is more comfortable serving in the background. The move to the foreground may not seem like a big step, but it can be an unnerving one. At least it was for me. Thus, hearing our names announced was an unexpected and surreal experience. Sharing that experience with two of my best friends (Drew Jacoby and Brittany Arnold) made the moment all the more special.