By: Anjali Patel
Being a SPIA Ambassador definitely has its perks such as attending lectures with some of the most globally phenomenal speakers and sharing our love for SPIA as we make our own legacy on the UGA campus. I introduced this blog by sharing my adoration for being chosen to proudly represent my college on campus due to the lessons I have extracted from merely this year alone. Recently, I have been touring around admitted students who have been accepted to study at the University of Georgia under a scholarship and who intended to pursue a SPIA degree (or two) which allows me to give them a tour, take them to our classes throughout the day, and show them what being a Bulldawg is all about. Normally, these tours are comprised of 3-4 students who are intended SPIA majors if they decide to attend the University of Georgia and my role is to show them SPIA’s niche on campus. I also expose them to my experiences, inform them about some of my favorite professors, preferred places to crack open a textbook or two, and favorite restaurants in Athens for their families to visit. For this blog I will be focusing on showing them SPIA’s little niche on campus. I feel like UGA students and more specifically, SPIA students, take for granted the institution we attend and the opportunities we receive as students of this great college and institution. Showing these young high school seniors around reminds me of why I decided to major in SPIA- it is because of my drive to change the status quo and be a part of organizations both on- and off-campus that are bigger than just myself. Looking at the faces of the high school seniors when I inform them about the amazing speakers we have, the fun traditions we have on campus like ringing the Chapel Bell, or informing them that people actually jump in the Herty Fountain is probably my favorite part of the whole tour.
In my tours, I always try to have time near the middle of the tour just before my 10:10 class begins to sit at Tate and just talk. I recall being a senior in high school and just being admitted into the Class of 2022 and being puzzled with innumerable questions floating around in my head. Some of these questions related to financial aid and some were related to what kind of organizations were on campus and whether or not I would feel welcome. Would I have a community? Could I have mentors to go to on campus in times of confusion or the typical stressful week? SPIA solved many of these questions for me. I found a community within the SPIA Ambassador program as well as SPIA classes themselves as they are small and interactive which leads to the formation of peers that become your friends and classmates that become your study partners beyond that specific class.
Answering the questions that these high schoolers have makes me feel like I am alleviating their curiosity about the college experience itself outside of SPIA and that should be the goal. College is unquestionably more than just being stuck in a textbook 24/7, and SPIA gives its students the opportunity to indulge in opportunities that may be outside of our comfort zones or allow us to expand our narrow vision of aspirations for ourselves and our future ahead. Advisors inform us that there are innumerable paths to success and not only a few. This is what I would like to spread to incoming SPIA students…there are a multitude of paths and do not think that choosing the less traveled one is going to end up nowhere as even if it does not, you have your expansive SPIA alumni network to lean on!