by Jere Pearson

As the summer drew to a close, I remember greatly anticipating the start of my sophomore year at UGA for many reasons.  So many opportunities were being opened before me as campus steadily settled in with the “new normal” that we are all more than familiar with, and I was particularly excited to become more involved with the school I had come to love after a great introductory class from the year before – the School of Public and International Affairs.  This year, not only would I be delving deeper into the world of International Affairs in studying the supplementary fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, but I would also be undertaking a new endeavor – serving as a representative for SPIA. In my role, I serve both my peers as well as those outside of the university interested in learning about who we are, what we learn, and our mission to empower students to make a true difference around the world in their future careers.  Little did I know just how impactful this first semester serving in that role would be, as my role in service would lead me to wonderful and exciting experiences with my fellow students.

Specifically, I would like to discuss my experience in my Comparative Politics lecture taught by Dr. Markus M. L. Crepaz, whose tangible passion for the subject and enlightening discussion topics and examples have greatly inspired me and will remain with me for some time.  His class was one that I always looked forward to attending, as his excitement for the subjects he spoke about was contagious. It was not long before I too began to look forward to any opportunity to look at international phenomena through the lens of a comparativist, identifying and connecting topics from class with current-event situations in real-time!  I found analyzing international events and policies with the strategies and tools I had learned in Dr. Crepaz’s class to be invigorating. I was surprised at how much I learned not only within the field but about myself and my own beliefs as well.  I will never forget the simple game we played using only crumpled-up paper balls and a trash can to illustrate the nature of equality, such a broad and yet incredibly divisive subject in politics. This concept is something that sticks with me today as it made me re-evaluate my own thoughts on the issue. With professors like Dr. Crepaz a part of SPIA’s vast team of wonderful and dedicated faculty, it is no wonder why so many students like me have found a home at UGA within this department, as I am confident in saying that the empowerment, support, and instruction we receive here is unparalleled!