Allison Johnson, an entomology major from Carrolton, Ga., says service-learning has truly taken away the focus from herself and put it toward the benefit of others. She has a new spark of compassion to help others anyway she can.

As a Student Scholar, what have you learned about how and why the university engages in service?

The University engages in public service through all formats and functions; eight main units reach across the state through political, educational or service based mantras. It is amazing the breadth UGA can reach with it’s knowledge and material, and that is why I believe this university chooses to immerse itself in the community.

Why do you serve?

I serve because of the difference Service-Learning can make in someone’s day. It fulfills me to see a positive change in an area solely based on uplifting the community.

What made you want to get involved with service at UGA?

Coming to college, I knew what I wanted to study, but I didn’t know how I wanted to use what I learned to better the people around me. I thought about teaching, research, extension, and it finally cleared this past year. I want to use what the university has given me, and relay my knowledge to someone who needs it.

What service and leadership activities are you involved with at UGA?

I pursue service through entomological outreach with the UGA Insect Zoo, and the UGA Bug Dawgs. Using my abundant love for insects and the community, I work closely with others to enlighten Athens on the benefits of insects and how we can learn from them.

How has service-learning helped you grow as a student or in your personal life?

Service-Learning has truly taken the focus from myself and put it into the benefit of others. I have a new spark of compassion to help others anyway I can. I am amazed everyday by the initiatives the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Service Learning has implemented that I looked past in my earlier time at UGA. This includes Campus Kitchen, urban composting, rain gardens, native habitat conservation—all the things that I have found speak to me, passion-wise.

Why do you feel it is important for students to participate in public service and outreach? How does it benefit the community?

I could list how public service and outreach benefits the community for as long as this post would let me, but the biggest thing I have seen around me is how it has strengthened the sense of community around me. It feeds children physically and mentally, brings families together, and increases the aesthetic of this town. Students should participate in public service because of the emotional impact it creates. It forms a family of students who are passionate about being genuinely helpful to others around them, instead of creating a friend group based on your interests. It gives you the chance to see students doing amazing things in a major you wouldn’t otherwise be introduced to.

What are your plans following graduation?

After I graduate, I am going to pursue a career in service-learning with the greatest ability I can. This form of employment is very new, and when I ask others how they found themselves in a fantastic career of outreach the most common response is, “I just fell into it.” Well, I am planning to run into it! I know what makes me happy, and it just happens to be reaching out to others about conservation and entomology.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of school?

School is a huge interest for me, as I love bugs and what I do with the UGA Insect Zoo, but I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and walking the trails at the State Botanical Gardens.

Please list any outside-UGA community service activities you are involved in.

UGA has become my starting point for community service, and I plan to venture out from this into the Athens community.

What is your favorite spot in Athens, at UGA or in Georgia? Why?

My favorite spot in Athens is off of the White Trail at the State Botanical Gardens. There is a tree that fell over into the Middle Oconee, and I like to sit there and stick my feet in the water.

What motivates you or inspires you in life?

The largest motivations in my life have been people, including Cynthia Beers, who inspired me to delve into the world of science, my mother and my father, Ann Marie and David, for my strong work ethic, and Marianne Shockley the Wonder-Woman of the Entomology Department at UGA. These people have influenced my mindset in one way or another to become the woman I am proud to be.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The best piece of advice I have ever received is that success is 90% mindset. And also, do what makes you happy. Once I started following that mantra, I have only noticed vast improvements in my life. Go Service-Learning!