As a UGA student, Jacqueline Van De Velde has been able to pursue her “wildest dreams,” taking her around the globe and putting her on the right track to become a public interest lawyer.
Saint Simons Island, Ga.
A.B. in international affairs, B.A./M.A. in English
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I have been involved with the Roosevelt Institute and the Roosevelt Scholars course since my sophomore year at UGA. I have served on the organization’s executive board as the center director for defense, diplomacy and economic development policy and the teaching assistant of the Roosevelt Scholars course, through which I have helped students research and craft policy proposals to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Participating in the Washington Semester Program has been one of my most meaningful experiences at UGA. Through WSP, I was able to intern at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; to network and form connections with other “D.C. Dawgs”; and to make some of the best friendships of my life. Through the support of the UGA Foundation, I have since been able to pursue several other internships in international affairs, including working at INTERPOL in Lyon, France; participating in the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta; and working with refugees at the Human Rights League in Bratislava, Slovakia.
I have been involved with several other programs and organizations at UGA. I have been a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society since my freshman year and was one of the first staff members of the Georgia Political Review. As a Richard B. Russell Scholar at the Center for International Trade and Security, I studied strategic trade controls and assisted center researchers in training events and research projects. I also served as an International Fellow in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. I am enrolled in UGA’s B.A./M.A. program in English literature and am honored to be the recipient of the Foundation Fellowship, a member of the Blue Key Honor Society, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and a member of the Palladian Honor Society.
Finally, the support of the Foundation Fellowship has enabled me to travel extensively throughout my undergraduate career. From studying Tudor historiography at Oxford University to sharing in the indigenous cultures in Costa Rica to examining the longstanding impacts of apartheid in South Africa, I have been able to meet and learn from people and cultures around the world.
I currently work as a Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, the country’s oldest and largest student-run think tank. In this position, I am able to serve as a thought leader for the Roosevelt Institute, connect with other like-minded students and help coordinate policy ideas and momentum among the more than 8,000 students involved with Roosevelt across the country.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first Bulldog in the Van De Velde family! Being a first generation Bulldog has been an adventure, and I have loved the process of discovering the amazing traditions and incredible loyalty that this institution inspires. I know that I will carry them with me for the rest of my life. I also have a brilliant sister in high school, so I’m hoping that there might be another Van De Velde at UGA in the future.
I chose to attend UGA because…
Attending UGA gave me the best of both worlds: the breadth of experiences and opportunities that a large university can offer as well as the close-knit community and individualized support that the UGA Honors Program and the Foundation Fellowship provide. Coming to UGA was the best decision I have ever made. This institution has supported me as I pursued my wildest dreams—from working with INTERPOL to interning at the U.S. Department of State to volunteering with refugees in Slovakia—and it has given me a “Fellows family” of best friends that have supported me through every single adventure.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
1. Honestly, I love going to class! UGA offers a diverse selection of classes from incredible faculty. My courses have ranged from discussing weapons of mass destruction to reading Jane Austen to learning to code, and I have been continually challenged by my coursework.
2. Spending time on North Campus. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than by stringing up a hammock in a majestic magnolia tree, admiring the gorgeous architecture and basking in the gorgeous weather that Athens has to offer.
3. Conversing with the Foundation Fellows in Moore College, the Demosthenians in Demosthenian Hall and my wonderful roommates. These individuals never fail to challenge my convictions, give great advice and make me laugh.
4. Attending football games alongside the entire Bulldog Nation. Surrounded by a sea of red and black, I feel immense pride in my institution. There is so much loyalty here and for such great reasons.
When I have free time, I like…
I love to spend lazy afternoons talking with friends over cups of coffee, reading for pleasure and reading the news. My friends know that I’m always up for a debate over exciting developments in international affairs and foreign policy. I also have a travel bug and am always looking forward to my next trip: to a conference, to visit friends or to experience a new place. I also love to try new recipes and lift weights at Ramsey.
The craziest thing I've done is…
It might be running the Athens Half Marathon, known as the AthHalf, last fall! I had an adrenaline rush that lasted for days and couldn’t believe I had actually finished the race. However, I think my craziest moment was traveling after my freshman year to volunteer as a third-grade teacher in Kakumdo Village, Ghana. The village had no running water or electricity and getting to the school required crossing an open landfill. I had no idea what I was getting myself into—and I loved it. I learned so much from my students and from their families and experienced unbelievable generosity from them. I was honored to share in their lives, to be introduced to their country and to experience their culture.
My favorite place to study is…
… on the second floor of the Two Story Coffeehouse in Five Points. I love curling up in the oversized armchairs with my week’s reading, listening to the faint and cheerful music wafting up the stairs and sipping their amazing hazelnut chai (I affectionately call it “Christmas in a cup”). I almost always run into a friend there so I can count on a conversation or two to provide motivation to get all of my studying done.
My favorite professor is…
I cannot pick one favorite professor. Truly amazing faculty mentors have supported me over the past four years and I could not be more grateful for their instruction, influence and encouragement. In the English department, Esra Santesso has served as an incredible major professor, research mentor and friend. From Skyping me while I worked in Washington, D.C., to watching me present research at the CURO Symposium to supporting me through my pursuit of a dual B.A./M.A. degree in English, she has offered unwavering support of my academic and professional goals. In the School of Public and International Affairs, Andy Owsiak has greatly influenced my desire to work in foreign policy through his “Peace Studies” course and his support of my internship at the Carter Center. I also am grateful to Don DeMaria, the director of the Washington Semester Program; Chris Tucker in the Center for International Trade & Security; David Williams and Jessica Hunt in the Honors Program; and John Knox, the faculty adviser for the Demosthenian Literary Society. These individuals have truly shaped my life and I am so grateful to each of them for their time and their genuine investment in my happiness.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… my family. My mom, dad and sister have been my greatest supporters through my entire life. Through their hard work, they have taught me to work hard. Their unwavering belief in me has inspired me to pursue my dreams and the depth of the love that my parents have for my sister and me has taught me how to truly love others. I hope that I leave a sliver of the impact on the world that they have left on me.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… work through diplomacy to remove all government restrictions against religious freedom around the world. Removing government restrictions on individuals’ abilities to explore their own beliefs leads to increasing levels of democracy, more business opportunities, more political stability and less income inequality. The right to explore one’s deepest beliefs is necessary for fundamental human dignity, but is all too often limited by state-imposed restrictions.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… go on a backpacking trip across Southeast Asia with some of my closest friends. I have a guidebook for Southeast Asia that I’ve kept on my bookshelf for the past few years, hoping that I might get the chance to go on an adventure there. I hope that some day I get to make that dream a reality!
After graduation, I plan to…
I will attend law school in the hopes of working in public interest law for the federal government. Ideally, I hope to work at the crossroads of international law and foreign policy to influence and protect the rights of individuals around the world. While I have currently been accepted to Harvard, Yale and many other incredible schools, I haven’t decided yet where I will be attending.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
At the beginning of spring semester of my freshman year, it began to snow in Athens. My entire dorm rushed outside, beginning a huge snowball fight. School was quickly canceled, and I spent the next several days sledding down whatever hill I could find on whatever sled I could make, building snowmen and snow forts and sharing hot cocoa with my roommate. Surrounded by my best friends, standing on Myers quadrangle and looking up into the swirling snow, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.