An Interview On
University of Georgia

Background

Interview Date:January 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Asian-American
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual with a preference for males
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Fayetteville, GA with a graduating class of about 300 students. It was a Title 1 school, but my friends and I were tracked in the AP and Gifted classes.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Women’s Studies, but I am in the process of changing it to Education
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m most heavily involved in IMPACT-UGA, which is a service learning program that is very similar to an alternative break program. We’re student-run and lead service trips throughout the Southeast during breaks. I’m also a member of the Multiracial Student Organization that works with Multicultural Services and Programming. The last group I’m a part of is TRIO Student Support Services. As a mentor, I mentor a first-generation student and they have lots of events and activities that we can take part in.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
All three of them shaped my first year of college very positively. Coming from a small high school, they all helped me find a community because coming to a school as big as Georgia was a huge shock to me. They also helped me grow as a person.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The Women’s Studies major is more liberal arts-based, so there is a lot of reading and writing. I also decided to take some STEM courses for fun and to challenge myself, so I still had problem sets and exams.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
Women’s Studies really pushes you to think outside of the norm that you’ve been raised in. I learned to challenge the status quo and think critically, which I think is the most important thing I’ve learned so far.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
For Women’s Studies, it’s very collaborative. We encourage each other to speak up because in the major the professors tend to step back so the students can learn from each other. We will do presentations and present research to the class, so it’s very peer-oriented.

Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Even though my major is very interdisciplinary, it can be kind of one-sided in the classroom. There’s a lot of groupthink that happens because everyone identifies as liberal, but even on that political spectrum, there’s a variety. People can feel pushed to the ultra-liberal side, and if you proposed something a little bit more conservative you’d feel some sort of backlash.

How accessible are your professors?
They’ve been extremely accessible. I have one professor who has office hours outside of traditional work hours because she understands that her students have work and other classes. With other professors, if they don’t have work that day or they don’t have to be in their office, they would go wherever to meet the student.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation student? Were there any systems in place to help you adjust?
It was easier for me than other people because I took AP classes in high school. Also, the TRIO Support Services program had an orientation for first-generation students, and the professor taught us academic skills for how to do well in a college environment, like how to speak up in class and how to reach out to professors.

Why did you pick your major?
I really connected with the materials I learned in my intro class. I still think that Women’s Studies is very applicable to any career field that I want to go into. The main reason I’m changing is that I want to add a second major, which you’re encouraged to do at UGA if you’re a Women’s Studies major, so I’m switching because I want to save on credit hours.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: In Rooker Hall in an apartment style dorm. I had my own bedroom. It’s in East Campus Village, which is about a mile off campus. There’s a story behind that, but, basically, I didn’t choose it and the school placed me there.

Sophomore: Myers Hall in a traditional double.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
On campus I feel quite safe, especially since the campus is usually very well lit. Other students sometimes feel differently. I walk everywhere, even at night, so I feel very safe. Off campus I feel slightly less safe just because downtown Athens isn’t the best place for females to go, especially if they’re alone.

How was transitioning from Fayetteville to Athens, GA?
It’s a two-hour drive for me, and I didn’t think the transition was that bad. The only thing that got in the way was when I had to go home for medical appointments or something and I didn’t have a car.

Pros and cons of being located in Athens, GA?
The biggest pro and con is one of the poorest counties per capita in the United States. Seeing that huge divide from the UGA campus versus about a mile into Athens-Clarke County is truly disheartening. [The poverty rate of Athens is 25.9% and the median income is $40,955.] Because the city is so poor, students on campus who are aware of the disparity have taken action to create a lot of service organizations to build that connection between the school and the community. Taking part in that has helped me grow as a person because I got to see the difference of where you are born in front of my eyes instead of just hearing about or reading about it in a textbook. [See UGA community service opportunities here.]

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Throughout the week, especially on weekdays, I’m very busy with work, class, and meetings. I like to spend my weekends just relaxing by doing laundry, which I like to do, reading, or listening to music, and spending quiet time by myself or with my friends.

What kind of stuff do your friends and you like to do together?
If we’re on campus, we’d probably go to the dining hall to eat and then probably a student event that’s free, or just sit and talk. If we’re going off campus, we’d go to a nice, quiet restaurant to eat or just take a walk around and go to the Botanical Garden or some other good spots, like stargazing at Iron Horse.

What are some of your favorite events to go to on campus?
I like to go to the events hosted by Multicultural Services and Programs and I like to go to improv night on Friday nights when Improv Athens, a group based in Athens, comes and performs for free.

How is being a quieter student in Athens? Does the large bar and music scene affect you?
It hasn’t impacted me negatively because of the people I hang out with share the same interests as me. From time to time my friends who like to go out will invite me, but I’ll just explain to them how I feel and it’s all good.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Georgia?
I’m pretty happy. The campus is huge and, even if there’s not a huge event going on, students can come and soak in the view of the campus and see how beautiful the campus is. If somebody likes photography, UGA’s campus is perfect for that.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through my clubs, IMPACT – UGA, the Multicultural Student Organization, and TRIO. They all had very similar experiences and similar values as me. Especially with IMPACT on the trips, I’ve met over 50 new people who share similar goals and vision, so that’s been very helpful in finding people who I like to spend time with.

How would you describe the social scene?
There’s something for everyone and people are generally very nice. But, I would say there is a huge divide between Greek life and non-Greek life. If you’re in Greek life, then you’re in your own little bubble, I don’t even know what goes on in there. If you’re not in Greek life, there’s still a lot of variety for you. I think not being in Greek life has helped me meet more people who are like-minded and also different from me.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Overall, they don’t mix very often. That was a very huge cultural shock for me because my high school was very diverse and we all meshed together. At UGA, if you’re White you hang out with White people, if you’re Black you hang out with Black people, etc. It’s the same for sexual orientations, the LGBTQ Center is a hub for people who identify as LGBTQ+. Outside of that, there are only a few organizations that are outliers because they’re diverse, like IMPACT.

How strong are the Asian and People of Color communities on campus?
The People of Color community, in general, is pretty strong. Especially if racial or social justice issues come up, people will band together regardless of what race they are. The Asian community is very tight-knit for people within the same ethnic group, for example, Chinese with other Chinese people. Because we have such a huge international Asian population, people tend to branch off on their own. So, we’re connected but also divided.

How do you like the size of Georgia in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with about [29,000] students?
At first, it was overwhelming because I wasn’t used to seeing that many people, but it’s actually turned out to be a blessing because there are so many people collaborate and learn from and so many different ideas that I can come across.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
My first year I spent a lot of time with the career center. They have workshops, like finding your career interests workshops, how to choose your major workshops, and personality workshops. They also have one-on-one counseling. I’ve been to a lot of those events. They also have a clothing event with JCPenney where you can get discounted business clothes. I think the career center is pretty helpful.

Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’m pretty liberal arts-based, so I haven’t learned much about that.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Georgia before entering as a freshman?
It’s okay to explore new things but remember your core values.

What is something a prospective first-generation student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
I would encourage them to seek out programs like TRIO Student Support Services, the career center, and to reach out to your advisors and professors very early on. It’s important to build that strong foundation of mentors and a support group.

What is something a prospective student of color may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
You may experience prejudice from your peers, but you will always have a home with Multicultural Services and Programming.

What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Visit the Trial Gardens.

Reasons to attend Georgia:
1) There are so many resources and opportunities for students. You just have to seek them out and work for them. If the door is closed you can keep knocking.
2) There is something for everyone, whether it’s a major, minor, certificate, pathway, or organization.
3) The campus is beautiful. I’m a very nature-oriented person, so having a school with good scenery has been important for mental health.

Reasons to not attend Georgia:
1) The mental health care program’s budget is really limited. There is a limited number of sessions you can go to. If you have a lot of mental health conditions, UGA may not be the place for you unless you have a really good lead on who to speak to for counseling.

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