By Kimberlee John-Williams

Everyone gets nostalgic in the months preceding graduation, and I am certainly not immune to feeling increasingly sentimental as my time in Athens comes to a close. The days seem shorter, the weather even more glorious and the people and places evoke a mixed bag of memories, some fond and some I would rather forget. In my time at the University of Georgia, I have been classified as a student- athlete. The student portion was always supposed to take precedence, but undoubtedly the choices my fellow varsity athletes and I made were driven by our dedication to becoming the best athletes we could be. At times this limited our involvement in other parts of student life and that by far, is my biggest regret when I walk through the arches on May 5th.

I am in no way belittling my time as a member of the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team. It has been an honor and privilege to be a part or such a decorated and respected program. Every member of the Athletic Department has our best interests at heart and provides us with the resources necessary to succeed. However, in many cases, we are so wrapped up in the demands of athletics, that we are blind to all the opportunities and organizations available to us outside of the athletic sphere.

The School of Public and International Affairs, of which I am a proud student (and soon to be alum) boasts some of the most brilliant, talented and versatile students on the University’s campus. The majority of them are not athletes and so enter their undergraduate years with no prior obligations and so are free to join as many student organizations as they please. The longer that was matriculated at UGA, the more I was exposed to the various organizations available and joined a few in my last two years as a student, but I wished that I had known and gotten involved sooner. Being an Ambassador, joining the inaugural Applied Politics cohort and interning at TradeSecure has allowed me to meet intelligent, driven and accomplished students with diverse backgrounds who are genuinely passionate about an infinite number of topics and issues. Meeting and befriending such amazing people is, in my opinion, one of the best things about college. You want to have conversation with people that force you to think and to step out of your paradigm. Additionally, joining multiple organizations allows you to figure out where your skills lie. You can develop a passion for policy at the Roosevelt Organization or you may become well versed in nonproliferation by joining CITS.

I think it would be helpful if the executive of such organizations went to speak to different varsity teams on campus, or even went into the Student Athlete Advisory Committee to recruit athletes to join their organizations, because I believe that student athletes can bring a unique perspective to such groups, while allowing athletes to step out of their comfort zones and develop skills outside if the classroom and playing field.