Alexandra Case, a journalism major from Cumming, Ga., says, “service has always been important to me, so when I saw the effects of poverty, food insecurity, illiteracy, domestic violence, and homelessness right here in Athens, I swore that I wouldn’t get trapped in the college “bubble.” It is true that college is a time to be independent and invested in your own future, but investing in the futures of others is extremely rewarding and empowering. Service to others, especially in college, is essential to develop a well-rounded view of the world. Athens also has a very unique relationship with UGA, and I want to ensure that it is sustainable and that we give back to the community that has given us so much.”
As a Student Scholar, what have you learned about how and why the university engages in service?
Wow, I have learned so much about UGA’s involvement in service throughout this program. My friends have learned to be careful in asking me that question—what starts as a quick chat can very easily turn into an outpouring of acclaim of our Public Service and Outreach Program. I am just so proud to attend a university that places such a high value on service and has been ever since we became a land grant university in 1864. With eight different Public Service and Outreach units, UGA is a powerhouse of new technology, resources, and expertise throughout the state, and we are constantly working to solve problems related to economic development through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Georgia prairie restoration through the Botanical Gardens, cross-cultural conflict resolution and leadership development through the J.W. Fanning Institute, community development through the Archway Partnership, and even rehabilitation of injured sea life through the Marine Extension. And those aren’t even all of the units! The success of these units could not happen without the dedicated public service faculty that proudly represent this positive presence of UGA, and their commitment to service has inspired and empowered me. Through Public Service and Outreach, UGA does an incredible job of making connections in our state, nation, and world—connections between research inside and its practical implications in the world outside, between communities and the resources they need, and between people with the desire to help others. I love it!
Why do you serve?
I serve because I am no better than anyone else. Despite our individual circumstances, we are all human beings with desires and dreams. I want to use the position and privilege I was born into to help others achieve their goals and have a more fulfilling, healthier, and happier life.
What made you want to get involved with service at UGA?
Service has always been important to me, so when I saw the effects of poverty, food insecurity, illiteracy, domestic violence, and homelessness right here in Athens, I swore that I wouldn’t get trapped in the college “bubble.” It is true that college is a time to be independent and invested in your own future, but investing in the futures of others is extremely rewarding and empowering (see the below question on service-learning!). Service to others, especially in college, is essential to develop a well-rounded view of the world. Athens also has a very unique relationship with UGA, and I want to ensure that it is sustainable and that we give back to the community that has given us so much.
What service and leadership activities are you involved with at UGA?
I am fortunate to be quite involved with both service and leadership at UGA. After being a general Service Ambassador for a year, I am now on the Executive Board as the Director of Campus Outreach. Service Ambassadors help bridge the gap between campus and community by providing service opportunities for students, and in my role on the Executive Board I work on the advertising and outreach to various student groups across campus. I am also the Co-President of First Book UGA, a club dedicated to raising the children’s literacy level here in Athens by providing kids with free, brand new books. Last year I was able to participate in an IMPACT trip focused on homelessness and poverty, and this year I attended the Ignite Social Justice Retreat. I recently became a Fellow in the Institute for Leadership Advancement, and I am also a member of the Dean William Tate Society. I will be working through the Center for Leadership and Service this summer, and I will also be in a service-learning class and starting research on the motivations of volunteers in the fall.
How has service-learning helped you grow as a student or in your personal life?
Through service-learning experiences in my classes and extracurriculars, I have been able to positively impact my community and learn along the way. Service-learning is extremely effective as it allows students to actually apply concepts and theories learned in class to real world problems, and it creates memorable experiences where lessons are actually learned. Service-learning keeps you quick on your feet and engaged with the community, and in a study by one of the Public Service and Outreach faculty (shout out to Paul Matthews), it was actually linked to a higher salary after graduation! Service-learning is extremely valuable to me because it creates connections, strengthens learning outcomes, and helps the community all at once. I highly encourage all students to engage in some form of service learning.
Why do you feel it is important for students to participate in public service and outreach? How does it benefit the community?
I believe that all students at UGA should participate in some aspect of public service before they graduate because it is one of the three missions of our university. And they will be blown away, like I was, at UGA’s global impact. Just recently it was announced that the annual impact of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach program on Georgia is about $410 million! It is clear that our university cares about communities in Athens, across Georgia, and around the world. Being involved in public service and outreach makes me so proud to be a Georgia Bulldawg.
What are your plans following graduation?
I am not sure of my plans for after graduation yet. I am only a sophomore (at least for a few more days!), so I like to think that I still have some time! I would love to participate in a gap year program such as City Year and then work with a nonprofit.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of school?
I absolutely love learning and being involved with the university, so “outside of school” is a weird concept for me. Outside of academics, I love to dance and am currently dancing with a group at UGA called Counterpoint Dance Company. I also love to sing and read!
Please list any outside-UGA community service activities you are involved in.
As I am unfortunately car-less and limited to activities on campus or accessible by Athens Transit, I have not been able to engage in any outside-UGA service activities. I’m hoping to change that situation when I move off campus next year, so get back to me on that one!
What is your favorite spot in Athens, at UGA or in Georgia? Why?
My favorite spot at UGA is less of a spot and more of an atmosphere. It occurs in the middle of the night at Snelling Dining Commons around 3:00am. Open all night, Snelling is a haven for night owls like me, and when the “snellebraters” leave around 2:00am and the silence seeps in next to the soft sounds of classic rock that my parents listened to, time seems to stop. I swear you can see smoke rising from the students still standing, frantic to finish their assignments before the sun comes up and life goes on. There is a great sense of camaraderie and accomplishment (and the smell of cinnamon rolls) as the students in Snelling work through the night. I am inspired by their energy and persistence, and I always leave Snelling ready to take on the day.
What motivates you or inspires you in life?
I am constantly motivated and inspired by other people in my life. I am lucky to be surrounded by extremely hardworking and supportive friends who don’t take no for an answer, pour their hearts into their passions, and constantly set the bar higher when they achieve their goals and set new ones. I am also blessed to be surrounded by very supportive and loving family members that are only ever a phone call away; the unconditional love they show to me empowers me to spread that love to others. I am also very lucky to attend a university that is filled to the brim with opportunities and inspiring teachers, faculty, and students.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is probably the saying, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” I love this saying because it is absolutely so true; even on the darkest of days where nothing seems to be going right, I truly believe that you can still find at least one thing to be grateful for. And it has been scientifically proven that expressing daily gratitude leads to a happier and healthier life! So go thank someone today, and thank you for reading!