Katie Sanders, a biological sciences major from Watkinsville, Ga., has learned through the Student Scholars program that the university engages in public service because it is the best way to impact communities and connect the university to those that need its support and help. The university is able to provide services in a variety of areas including extension-like work through environmental sectors, city planning and local government assistance through leadership training and aid, and in providing resources to the communities through student projects and involvement.

Why do you serve?

I serve the public because I find it incredibly rewarding as you get to witness the effect of your service first hand. I like how it allows me to have an active role in helping communities be better places to live.

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

I wanted to get involved with service at UGA because I am interested in a career in public service and I wanted to see the avenues of public service that the university offers. I also wanted to see if I would be able to make a career out of reaching out to communities and aiding in their environmental health impacts.

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

I am involved with Project FOCUS, a service-learning group that has worked to provide more science learning activities for students in Athens-Clarke County. I have also been an UGArden intern where I was able to learn the ins and outs of organic gardening and see the impacts they have on the community as well. I am also a student worker for Southern Regional Forestry Extension where we work to provide extension services to the public in the Southeast regarding climate resiliency and forest adaptations.

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

In my personal life, service-learning has allowed me to realize my genuine interest in public outreach and my want to pursue this area as a career. I am now constantly looking into more and more areas of public service to expand my reach and see what areas I could make a career out of in the future. I am more aware of how the university impacts the communities all throughout the state of Georgia as well.

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

It is incredibly important for students to participate in public service because it takes them out into the real world and allows them to see firsthand issues that communities today are experiencing. For the communities this brings in new ideas and possibly new areas of help that can help to fix their issues and raise awareness to the problems they face.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I plan to work at an internship/job for a year or two before applying to a Master’s or Ph.D. program in Conservation Ecology or Environmental Conservation. I would love to work in an area where I could continue to work with public service in terms of conservation or environmental impacts.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of school?

Outside of school I am a very outdoorsy person and I love exploring in the woods and going on nature hikes. As a foodie, I look to bake and cook and I especially love trying new food places in and around Athens.

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

My favorite spot at UGA is under a large magnolia tree on north campus. This is the spot where I used to go during my freshman year to escape the stress of my new college life in my hammock. It is also where I used to go as a little girl with my grandfather and mother (both UGA alumni’s) to have picnics.

What motivates you or inspires you in life?

My family is my true inspiration in life. My parents have always allowed me to be myself and have encouraged me to pursue any of my passions, even the random ones.

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

The best piece of advice I ever received was from a close friend, Mrs. Cindy Haygood, who said to me that you need to focus on 4 main areas in life to maintain balance: physical health, emotional/mental health, spiritual health, and social health. She said that one should always be working on these four main areas and that you can achieve happiness and fulfillment if you work at each component equally. Ever since she has said that I have strived to keep myself balanced between all four areas and it has allowed me to make lasting relationships and achieve my personal and collegiate goals.