Through all of her experiences at UGA, Jayla Blakemore, a senior financial planning major, has become “committed to giving what has been given to me and then some so that we as a human nature can continue to progress.”
Powder Springs, Georgia
McEachern High School
University of Georgia Visitors Center and Ramsey Student Center
Family ties to UGA:
I am the first person in my family to attend UGA. My parents went to school in Kentucky and my sister is a different type of bulldog as a graduate of Mississippi State University.
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I can credit the opportunities that UGA provides as a large reason why my experience at UGA has been as remarkable as it has. In the least cliche way, the way to make this big school feel like home is to get involved and get connected to the other members of this community. As with many things, my college experience has been about the buy-in; I have done my best to lean in and give back to the school and community that has grown and shaped me in ways I would have never imagined when I saw the famous fireworks my senior year of high school.
During my freshman year, I got involved with organizations that had familiar structures and objectives to things that I had been involved with in high school. I lived in Brumby Hall and joined the Community Council through RHA and served as the second floor representative. I was a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra where I continued my love for the violin, and was also involved in Pamoja Dance Company. One of my favorite involvement highlights of my freshman year was my involvement as a host for Georgia DAZE minority recruitment. This opportunity allowed me to host a minority student for a weekend in February and a weekend in April and not only sparked my interest in being an ambassador for the university, but also the importance of mentorship in general.
My sophomore year, I had the privilege of being on the first executive board ever for a brand new organization called Brown SUGA. Brown SUGA is an organization founded by two friends of mine that aims to create a safe space and mentorship program for women of color on campus. For two years, I served as the member relations chair in which it was my responsibility to create mentor and mentee matches for the year and to plan programs to facilitate these relationships and others. It was truly an honor to create lifelong bonds for people and to be able to watch them grow firsthand during our time on campus.
This same year, I was also able to join the executive board for B.E.S.T., also known as the Black Educational Support Team. My freshman year, I had the ability to receive a mentor through this organization and knew that I wanted to be involved with it on a larger scale. My sophomore year, I served as the public relations chair handling all of the social media for the organization. During my junior year, I stepped up as the internal membership chair handling the mentor and mentee matching for this organization as well. This position in both organizations helped me realize that I love people; wherever I end up in life, I will be happy as long as it is people-centric.
BeYou UGA, now an entity of BeWell UGA, is an organization centered around body positivity and positive thinking surrounding positive thinking around ourselves as humans. The experience of serving as a peer mentor since my sophomore year has grown me immensely and allowed me to broaden my spectrum of how people think, feel and process. Life can be cyclical if you allow it to be, but a lot of it is how you approach it and your mindset within yourself; it has been amazing to be a part of something that isn’t just an organization on campus, but a movement for a lifestyle change in how we think about ourselves and our bodies.
Sophomore year was one where I really stepped into who I was as a person and who I wanted to be as a student and potential influencer on this campus. The fall of my sophomore year, I made one of the top 10 best decisions of my life when I applied to be a tour leader at the Visitors Center. When I applied, I had no idea the way that this experience and community of leaders would shape me. The University of Georgia is easily the best school on this planet, and I have the privilege to show it off to prospective students and their families as well as other guests at the happiest place on this campus. If anyone ever asks, I am, and will forever be, Mrs. Terri’s favorite, but in all seriousness, we have the best bosses on this earth in Natalie, EJ and Terri and they create an environment for our authentic selves to attract other people to us and to this school.
This same fall, I applied to work at the Ramsey Student Center. Some people just see us as the people who let them in when their eyes won’t scan or who open their lockers when they can’t get them unlocked, but we are family, RAMFAM to be exact. I have been able to work up to the facility manager position. That 440,000-square-foot facility holds a lot of my professional growth and triumphs and many memories that I will continue to cherish long after I live.
When it comes down to it, I have made attempts at being active in many facets on campus. I have much love for my organizations like First Book UGA and the Student Financial Planning Association. I am the number one fan of the College and Family and Consumer Sciences, affectionately known as FACS. This college, its advisors and professors have been a whirlwind in my life, and I am so grateful to have changed my major into a college like this one. I was fortunate enough to receive the Lois Dowdle Cobb scholarship from the school — this program is truly like none other. Honestly, shout out to my advisor Christie Sanders because she is the G.O.A.T. and truly does not get enough credit for all that she does.
This past summer, my last summer of undergrad, I had the opportunity to intern with UPS Capital at the headquarters in Atlanta. I worked in the Customer Relationship Group working with the company’s other corporate companies and their needs from UPS Capital as an insurer. This internship was unmatched and an opportunity that I found after attending a career fair. It is just one of many examples of how this school works to make sure that its students have the tools to be as successful as possible.
Senior year has been focused on me taking the most advantage of my last year of undergrad. I am spending the majority of my free time planning and doing things at the school that I volunteer with and the Girl Scout troop that I lead. Outside of campus, a lot of my joy has come from my involvement with Downtown Academy. I was blessed to get involved with this school my freshman year and I have been there ever since. It has been thrilling to watch the kids grow and learn, and to be able to be active as their step team leader. Being active here is how I realized my strong passion for education. I am also a very proud troop leader of a multi-level troop that meets on the eastside of Athens. Girl Scouts is where I made several lifelong memories and had unique experiences; I love being able to pass that on to someone else in hopes that they will go on to do the same in the future.
I chose to attend UGA because …
I wanted a school that had it all. I wanted the academics, athletics, student life, the town, everything. I applied and considered several other schools, but once I received my acceptance to UGA, it was a no-brainer that this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to be close enough to home that I could travel back with ease to see my family and friends, but if it came down to it and UGA somehow ended up across the country, I would make this decision all over again.
My favorite things to do on campus are …
… trolling around campus just to see who I see. I find myself planting myself in Tate or at the Visitors Center or in Dawson just to see who I will see in the time that I am there. This is also how I commonly procrastinate homework and things of that nature.
When I have free time, I like …
… trying new restaurants (and frequenting old ones). During my time in Athens and at UGA, I have probably eaten some of the best foods of my life. Food is one of my favorite forms of expression, especially when I get to eat it.
The craziest thing I’ve done is …
… I suppose skydiving. This past March, some of my co-workers and I decided that we were going to jump out of a plane together. I enjoyed it so much that my tandem partner almost convinced me to sign up to train to dive alone. I, for whatever reason, really love adrenaline, so hopefully I can top that soon when I go bungee jumping.
My favorite place to study is …
… the Science Library! I love this space because there are so many different things going on all the time. I am also really appreciative for the beanbags in the back corner. I’ve had some of my best naps back there. If I am at SciLi, it’s an honest 50/50 on whether I am studying or napping.
My favorite professor is …
I really can’t pick just one. I’ve had so many great professors that are amazing at what they do. Honorable mentions to Cara Simmons, Joseph Goetz and Diann Moorman. They each have made their classrooms an honor and a wonderful experience to be a part of.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
It would have to be whoever was the first person of my lineage to enter America. Not only would I like to pick their brains about their lives and experiences, but I would love to know a definitive culture and country in which my family derived from.
If I knew I could not fail, I would …
… be a singer! It wouldn’t be for fame or anything, but I really love singing. I’m just not very good at it. Music is easily one of my favorite pastimes, and I would be unstoppable if I knew that I could make it as a singer.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to …
… facilitate field trips for children and youth in under-served areas. I know that a lot of who we are as people comes from the experiences that we did or did not have and I think that it would be so beneficial to provide trips for those and all kids. I want people to be aware of the things outside of their cities and states and have the desire to explore and learn going forward.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
My passion in general is the transfer of knowledge in all capacities. We have all gotten to where we are today because many people along the way were willing to share what they know with us so that we could learn, grow and create new ideas. I am committed to making waves in financial education and literacy through my career and grade school education through my service. I am committed to giving what has been given to me and then some so that we as a human nature can continue to progress.
After graduation, I plan to …
… find a job and move to Charlotte, North Carolina. I don’t know exactly what I want to pursue after graduation. I really enjoyed working in the corporate environment, so I am applying for jobs all over the board, and the one that I am meant for will find me, I am sure. I just want to try new things and travel to new places regardless of where I end up.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
… freshman year as a whole. If I could go back and relive that year in Brumby Hall, Room 230, I would do it over and over again. There were so many laughs and cries and deep talks and it was an intense time of being in a new place with new people, but trying to make the best out of everything that was thrown your way. I met a lot of my forever friends in this place and I will never forget all of the highs and lows that we left in that place. It will forever be the birthplace of Jayla and Kayla, Sunday dinners made by us, brownies, and many nights of someone busting in saying, “I know y’all aren’t asleep.”