Rosanna Cruz is a doctoral student studying mass communication and public relations at UGA’s Grady College. Rosanna serves out of a sense of purpose and is committed to improving the lives of others. Through her extensive volunteer work with nonprofit groups and dedication to learning both inside and outside the classroom, she is intent on making the most of her time.

What is your major/minor?
I am a first-year doctoral student studying mass communication with a concentration in public relations. I earned my bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and public relations and my master’s degree in public administration. I have been lucky enough to attend UGA for all of my degrees, so I knew getting my Ph.D. here was the natural choice. Go Dawgs!

I was born in Doylestown, Pa., and lived there until I was 12 years old. Since then, my family has called Hoschton, Ga., home.

What does service mean to you?
Service is an action, a feeling and a commitment. It means being willing to help others without being asked and doing the right thing even when it’s hard.

Why do you serve?
I think that life should have purpose and that we should be striving toward some goal or ideal that can improve our lives and the lives of others. I try to live a life of service because I believe in the notion of a global community—each action we take affects the lives of others for good or bad. We therefore have the unique privilege and responsibility to take care of one another and love one another in the hope that if we all work together, we can make the world a better place for everyone.

What made you want to get involved in service at UGA?
I have been involved in the Athens community for many years and even served as the associate director of a local nonprofit for two years. I have always been drawn to service opportunities, so when I found out about the Archway Partnership, it became the perfect outlet for me to work in the community while utilizing my skills as a public relations practitioner. UGA has many amazing service opportunities to get involved with, and Archway is just one of them.

What service and leadership opportunities are you involved with at UGA?
I have worked with the Archway Partnership for the past two years as a graduate assistant. I am still settling into the doctoral program, but I hope to expand my public service efforts in the near future.

What do you feel has been the greatest benefit of your service at UGA, within the community and in your personal life?
Archway has provided me the opportunity to see the real world application of things I had previously only learned about in class. I have been able to practice my skills in a supportive environment where I can see how policies affect real-life operations. Archway provides an invaluable practical component to my education that has made me appreciate the importance of service even more.

Why do you feel it is important for students to participate in public service and outreach? How do you benefit from it?
Getting an education is about so much more than learning facts from books. If we limit our inquiries to scholarly research, we miss the broader picture of a multifaceted world of interconnected disciplines and relationships. I have been privileged to learn in an environment where the possibilities and opportunities limitless, but many others have not been as fortunate. Therefore, any knowledge we gain comes with the deep responsibility to give back to our communities. We learn valuable lessons in classes, but the experience we gain by interacting with the communities can be just as valuable, if not more so, to building a meaningful and service-driven life.

What are your plans after graduation?
Though I am still in the early stages of the doctoral program, I am interested in health communication research, particularly as it relates to women and low-income individuals. In the future, I see myself as a health communicator, professor and/or researcher.

What are your interests and hobbies outside school?
I love being outdoors, so a day spent walking my dogs, traveling, or even reading a book outside is a good day.

Please list any outside-UGA community service you are involved in.
Until this semester, I was a mentor for Lindsay’s Legacy in Jackson County for more than four years. I formed a friendship with an elementary-aged student and visited her weekly to talk about problems, catch up on events and be a positive, supportive influence in her life. Though my current work and school responsibilities have forced me to cut back on my volunteer hours, I still keep in contact with this child and hope to return to Lindsay’s Legacy in the near future. I am also a caretaker for my 95-year-old grandfather.

What is your favorite spot in Athens, at UGA or in Georgia? Why?
On a cool day, there is nothing more beautiful than North Campus. Historic buildings with stories to tell, pungent green grass, sun filtering through crisp leaves and the sense of peace and quiet there is unmatched anywhere else.

What motivates or inspires you in life?
Responsibility, strength of character, compassion, faith—all of these things inspire me to be a better person and treat all those I meet with kindness.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
After one of my siblings passed away at an early age, I observed my parents’ strength and unfailing conviction that while life can be short, it can also be indescribably beautiful. I have learned from them that opportunities should be seized, chances taken and kindness shown to all around us.