Education and Experiences: How SPIA Taught Me to Become a Student of the World

By: Katie Morris

As a senior beginning my final semester at the University of Georgia, I can’t help but look back in deep appreciation at the many opportunities the School of Public and International Affairs has afforded me. I am an International Affairs major with a Spanish minor and I have grown passionate about global issues and foreign policy. Moreover, I was able to study abroad at the University of Cadiz in Spain with the University of Georgia. I was able to fully immerse myself in the Spanish culture and language, while living with a host family and taking courses only taught in Spanish.

Leaving Spain, I became more confident in my reading, writing, and speaking skills and was able to complete a Spanish minor. I also became more acquainted with the economics and politics of Spain and I gained a greater awareness of their governing style. The trip further stimulated my passion to research the various governmental systems in the world as well as it gave me a greater desire to learn about international policy and use my Spanish in a future job or internship.

The School of Public and International Affairs also encouraged me to apply for various internships last summer, and I worked as a campaign intern for Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia’s 6th congressional district. While working for my congresswoman, I learned what it takes to organize a political campaign and all of the minute details that go into the process. Not only did I assist with research and communications projects, but I also attended events with and for the congresswoman. Throughout my internship, I furthered my interest in policy and particular areas of research. After last summer, I can now potentially see myself working on more campaigns in the future for candidates who, like Congresswoman McBath, inspire me.

Secondly, I worked as a communications intern at HOI, or Honduras Outreach. HOI is a missions organization that works alongside the people of Honduras and Nicaragua to implement sustainable development partnerships. Their vision is to create life-changing relationships between the people of developing countries and North Americans, while promoting community. The organization does so through directed and integrated spiritual, physical, educational and economic development of men, women and children as well as they promote dignity, mutual cooperation and self-sufficiency. My time with HOI taught me about the inner workings of a functioning non-profit and it gave me valuable communications, research, and finance experience. My work included reading and translating annual reports from English to Spanish, as well as designing graphics and emails for media campaigns, researching possible donors, working with excel, writing blog posts, planning a fundraising gala, and sitting in at marketing meetings. My internship with HOI was an incredibly rewarding experience and furthered my interest in the Spanish language and development in Latin America.

Overall, SPIA has served a positive role in my University of Georgia experience. This semester I will be working as a legislative fellow for Representative Spencer Frye at the Capitol as well as job searching. I hope to continue to encourage other students that are interested in public service, scholarship, international governance, or in solving the largest issues facing our nation today, to pursue a degree in SPIA. I became an ambassador in hopes to improve the undergraduate experience, as well as strengthen the school’s prestige with alumni, donors, and citizens of the local community. I hope to eventually give back to the school that has brought me so much joy and purpose.