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Student spotlight: Parker Bray

Parker Bray, a geography and journalism major from Columbus, Ga., says service involves practicing humility and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. It means engaging people and communities in real ways to establish symbiotic relationships.

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

As a great aggregator of resources, the University serves to take this aggregation of resources and reinvigorate communities across the state for the betterment of real people. It is the responsibility of institutions of higher learning to not be confined to engagement just within the confines of campus, but to disseminate knowledge and solutions outside of our institution.

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

People. As a geographer, I’m deeply interested in observing people and places. The university offers an array of places/environments for students and faculty to serve both within the university and outside the university. I became frustrated with the often self-serving nature of academic competitiveness within a classroom or even a major, making the opportunity to serve others a breath of fresh air.

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

Captain and Vice President for the Men’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team, Jojah; member of the Club Sports Student Executive Committee; and Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar.

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

Through the program I’ve formed many friendships and been inspired by the multitude of people who are service oriented. It’s been bewildering to learn about the breadth and scope of service performed by members of the university to impact the state. I believe that I’m now more equipped than ever through the skills learned and the connections made to make a positive impact on people and communities.

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

Getting undergraduates physically out of classrooms, their dorm, Greek house, dining hall, sport field, you name it and into spaces that challenge their world-view and engage them in critical-thinking while being out of their comfort zone is so imperative to holistic learning. This experience inherently involves forming new connections and building relationships that will affect all parties in a positive way. We have so much to learn from one another.

What are your plans following graduation? 

There was once talk of the Peace Corps, but I’m not sure of that likelihood. I can only definitively say that I’ll continue to be intimately involved in public service. Whether that be starting community/urban gardens or using my GIS skills to facilitate community development, I’m not quite sure.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of school?

If I’m not in the classroom, studying, or something of the like, you’ll find me playing ultimate frisbee. Corralling a bunch of college-aged dudes to actively pursue a common goal is truly special.

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

Most of my service is done through UGA. I guess you could say I’m an advocate for being a steward of the earth on a daily basis.

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

The Oconee Forest behind Lake Herrick near the intramural fields. The forest is beautiful, with something new to be seen at each visit. Going on walks with my brother and letting the dog tag along to watch a sunset is relaxing and beautiful.

What motivates you or inspires you in life?

Genuine enthusiasm. To observe a person, in whatever discipline or setting, being enthusiastic and genuine in the work they do to create agency that positively impacts others is more than motivating; it is essential. My parents, brothers, girlfriend, and teammates all inspire me to serve something greater than myself.


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