By Alexa Kaemmerling

Moving 10 hours away from home all by myself was not an easy transition. The first few months at UGA were filled with trials and tribulations, and I spent a lot of time feeling lost. I had previously attended a small private school, so I felt lost without the strong support system I had previously had. My SPIA advisor guided me towards the Public Affairs Communication and Applied Politics programs. These programs combined my interests and I never would have found these programs without the encouragement of my SPIA advisor.

This program also introduced me to one of my biggest support systems that I have found at UGA, Dr. Haynes. Dr. Haynes has offered nothing but love and support since the day we met. When I was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the beginning of the school year, Dr. Haynes constantly reached out to ensure that I was feeling my best and offered to help me in any way that she could. At the beginning of the year, I was beyond overwhelmed with my course load. However, Dr. Haynes guided me through her course every step of the way and alleviated my anxiety. She is a professor that genuinely cares about her students and pushes them to succeed, and SPIA is what introduced me to her course.

Dr. Haynes’ course, Introduction to Applied Politics, has already given me vital hands-on experience and opened my eyes to many new career paths. Before her course, I did not have a single clue what career path I wanted to pursue. Now, I have concrete ideas on what to pursue after graduation, and I have the tools to succeed. The tools that I have gained through this course will set me apart from my peers and have truly provided me with “real world” experience.

Through this course, I have learned how to construct press releases, one-pagers, and bill memos. We are just approaching midterm, and I have already acquired many skills that will advance my professional career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, times can seem uncertain. The transition to online schooling is not easy; and many students, including myself, have struggled with this huge adjustment. Dr. Haynes has made the transition to online schoolwork as painless as possible. Even though the course is mainly online, I have learned more than I could have imagined. Every week, I look forward to learning the information and gaining new skills.

The SPIA staff has supported their students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This year looks different than previous years, but SPIA aims to uplift their students and offer guidance. Dr. Haynes has provided me with a support system I did not think I would find again in college. The genuine care and love she has for her students amazes me. I entered college feeling lost, but now I have found guidance that reassures me for the future. I had no clue what I wanted to do post-graduation, but now, I have found a world of endless opportunities.