By: Alyssa Mora

My time in SPIA has been considerably short compared to other students. When I came into college I was an Exercise Science Major attempting to go down the Physical Therapy track, but I soon discovered that the STEM track was not for me. So, during the second semester of my Freshman year I, like many of my peers, decided to switch my major. To be honest I was unsure about what I wanted to do, however through research and through a mentor I had that is now a graduate of SPIA, my passions led me to switch to Political Science. I would soon discover that my new major also happens to also be in the best college at UGA, the School of Public and International Affairs. Once I had switched, I began to explore, through programs like the SPIA Mentorship Program, all that SPIA has to offer. I now have a Double Major in Political Science and International Affairs, and more recently I have added a Criminal Justice Minor, one could say that I am officially all-in with SPIA.

The reason why I have been able to invest so much of myself in this college is the fact that I have had professors that have invested in me. Professors like Dr. Bullock (yes, the legend himself), Dr. Gallagher, Dr. Newton, and Dr. Thaler, just to name a few. The common thread between all of these professors is that they are not only obviously extremely passionate about the subject that they are teaching, from Criminal Law and International Relations to Southern Politics, and Environmental Politics, but they are also passionate about getting to know each and every student in their classes. This is noticeable as they walk throughout the classroom before class begins asking you about your career goals and later emailing you about internship opportunities that might interest you based on your 60-second conversation. The interest in their students is also apparent by them already knowing every single student’s name in the 50 person class by the second day because they want to be able to call you by name and bring you into the thought-provoking conversation. These are things I never thought I would see at a school like the University of Georgia. The misconception at such a large institution is that you are just a number within the 28,000 other undergrads, however, the reality is that you are not only a prized student in their eyes but also a contributing member of society as a whole, a person that they see they have the ability to leave a mark on the rest of their lives. To say the least, these professors have left a mark on my life. I leave my classes this semester wanting to go back in, wanting the hour and ten minutes to last just a bit longer. These thoughts are something that I would have never imagined would be going through my mind during my 4 years in college. Thanks to SPIA and thanks to these professors, they are.