by Zoe Booth

While most people may view any regular listserv or mass email as just another message to dump into the trash folder of their school email, if you take a closer look at the SPIA listserv you may be surprised to discover that there is more than the useless information you probably thought the email contained. I was one of these people the entirety of my freshmen year. I would receive the SPIA listserv mass message and immediately delete it while thinking to myself “Who even reads that stuff anyway?”.

This year, after talking to a few older SPIA students about how they became so involved in SPIA, they told me to look at the listserv for opportunities. I was doubtful at first, but when the next mass message arrived in my inbox, I decided to take a closer look. There were clubs to get involved in, networking events to attend, guest speakers coming to campus, and a whole section of internships and fellowships to apply for! I really could not believe on how much information that email contained, but what struck me the most was the amount of internship opportunities it possessed.

After a couple weeks of browsing through these opportunities, I found one that looked interesting and that I could easily fit into my schedule if I got selected. It was an internship for a city council campaign. I checked out the candidate’s website and felt very compelled to apply, so I did, and I was later selected to help her with her campaign.

Through this experience I not only gained campaign experience and knowledge of the local politics of a small town in Georgia, but I also gained a great new mentor in the process. She really gave me a glimpse into the importance of civic engagement and community involvement. She demonstrated what a good person running for local office should look like. She cared so deeply about the community, and I got to witness that with the campaign she ran for the city council spot. She is determined to bring all voices of the community to the table, especially those that have been historically excluded, and I think that speaks volumes for how leaders should be. I was very grateful to have been able to help her with her successful campaign, even in the little bit that I contributed.

The moral of the story is that I would not have gained this experience without SPIA (and the previously thought to be unimportant listserv email). The opportunities this college at UGA offers are very helpful in gaining experience and learning more about the fields that we could potentially enter. Not only do they offer experiences in internships and fellowships, but they also provide for many opportunities to participate in research with different professors through the school.

With all of this being said, I am so thankful for SPIA and all the opportunities it has already and will offer me, and don’t forget to check the listserv!