Ashley Wilson, a biology major from Snellville, Ga., has always been involved in service, but says gathering with her fellow student scholars each week reminds her that service can be as small as offering a smile to those that walk by. After meeting with UGA Marine Extension, she says she connected the dots between her career goals and service: conducting research that can help communities and provide answers for pushing progress forward is now her dream job.

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

UGA engages in service because it’s our duty as a land grant and sea grant institution to assist communities around the state, especially those that wouldn’t have help otherwise. For example, UGA provides leadership assistance in communities around Georgia and provides resources like agricultural research to farming communities.

Why do you serve?

I serve because there is no better feeling than seeing people smile. Knowing that I made them happy, even in the slightest of ways, is worth any sacrifice.

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

There’s magic happening at UGA, and I wanted to be part of it. The University is providing me with so many opportunities, so it’s my turn to pay it forward!

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

I am a member of the UGA HEROs WOW Events Committee! My committee helps to plan really great events like our upcoming HEROs Olympics December 6th! Our events are centered on our HEROs kids, and raising money so that we can improve their quality of life!

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

I’ve always loved helping others, but gathering with my fellow student scholars every week reminds me that service can be as small as offering a smile to those that walk by! After hearing from my PSO Unit, Marine Extension, I connected the dots between my career goals and service: conducting research that can help communities and provide answers for pushing progress forward is now my new dream job.

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

It’s important for students to participate in public service and outreach because it is incredibly humbling to talk to those that need help or even those who have dedicated their life to service. Communities benefit immensely from outside leaders that don’t take over the situation. Those individuals who dive in and work with the present community heads to construct the best plan make the largest impact because now the leaders in the community understand how they can work as a team to get things done!

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I hope to immediately jump into my career in marine or stream research. I’d like to stay in the southeast, preferably Georgia (because who really wants to leave home?). I want to work on research that directly affects communities, but I’m excited to simply get out and work with a team on solving problems around Georgia.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of school?

I enjoy exercising, particularly running. It’s a good way to wear out my dog, which is definitely a bonus. I also enjoy cleaning and organizing, which is strange, but they are both very satisfying and I feel great doing it! Probably one of the best ways for me to spend my time is doing a jigsaw puzzle while watching Netflix, or reading a good book!

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

My favorite spot? That’s such a hard question! At UGA, I love going to the Science library to study. It has a bright atmosphere that keeps me from feeling trapped in a dark study room! But I always love a good walk through North Campus!

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

My mom told me once to never let other people make you grow hard. There’s something unique about someone who never lets their smile falter, and always puts their trust in others. If I let my negative experiences affect who I am, then it’d be easier to see the bad in people and things that happen; thanks to my mom, I’ve learned that keeping a smile on makes my world a brighter place, and sometimes I brighten others’ too.