David Harshbarger, a mathematics and human geography major from Milledgeville, Ga., serves because he says, “I realized that the world I live in consists of more than what I can see from where I’m standing, and that UGA has given me the tools to be a positive influence on it. When I came to UGA I searched for ways to surround myself with motivated, thoughtful peers. UGA also has a strong culture of service within the student body, and joining some of these organizations gave me exactly what I was looking for.”
As a Student Scholar, what have you learned about how and why the university engages in service? The majority of UGA students attend and graduate from the University with little idea that UGA is a land-grant and sea-grant institution or what that entails. We hear the motto, “To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things” but focus only on our experience as students. Exposure to the University’s Public Service and Outreach mission as a PSO Student Scholar has opened my eyes to the incredible positive influence that UGA has in small businesses, nonprofits, local governments, and so much more around Georgia.
What service and leadership activities are you involved with at UGA? I volunteer with the UGA Mathcounts Outreach, a tutoring program that matches UGA students with middle school children in the Athens-Clarke County area. I also work with UGA’s alternative spring break program called Impact, as a participant my freshman year and as a site leader for three different service-learning trips since then.
How has service-learning helped you grow as a student or in your personal life? Service-learning opens your eyes to what’s really going on around you, and has helped me escape the bubble of university life and my comfort zone.
Why do you feel it is important for students to participate in public service and outreach? How does it benefit the community? UGA’s public service and outreach mission provides unique opportunities to learn things that a traditional classroom generally doesn’t provide. Understanding the university’s role in the state and my role within that effort has been extremely rewarding.
What are your plans following graduation? After graduation I’ll work at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and then plan to enter the public sector before moving on to graduate school. I’d like to put my Math and Geography interests to use together solving problems within cities, in order to help them operate more efficiently.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of school? Part of the reason I was so excited to attend UGA was for the Redcoat Band. Drumming is and has been an important part of my life for many years, whether during my four years on the UGA Drumline or on my own. I’m also an avid traveler and aim to spend time on every continent. When I have free time I enjoy biking and running, spending time with my friends, hanging out and exploring all the unique experiences Athens has to offer.
Please list any outside-UGA community service activities you are involved in. Through Mathcounts and Impact I’ve had the opportunity to leave campus and even the state to engage in community service, and hope to use these experiences to branch out further into the community.
What is your favorite spot in Athens, at UGA or in Georgia? Why? There’s an old bench tucked away behind Dawson Hall on Ag Hill that’s right in the middle of campus, but it goes unnoticed. I like to sit there between classes and work on math homework sometimes.
What motivates you or inspires you in life? I’m motivated by the knowledge that I’ll never have seen it all. No matter how much I learn or travel, there’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done. My inspiration comes from my family: my parents and my two sisters. They are a constant source of enthusiasm and support, and have never doubted that I could reach my potential. I’m thankful for them every day.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye