Amazing Students

Sarah Kathryn Lasseigne

Sarah Kathryn Lasseigne (UGA photo taken in January 2019)

(Editor’s note: This profile was completed in March 2020, before the campus moved to online instruction.)

Along with introducing hundreds of new students to campus, Sarah Kathryn Lasseigne has studied in Russia and England, served with student organizations and will graduate with three majors.

Roswell, Georgia

High school:
Blessed Trinity Catholic High School

Current employment:
I served as a tour leader at the UGA Visitors Center, which is aptly nicknamed “the happiest place on campus.”

Family ties to UGA:
I am the first in my family to attend UGA! The majority of my family claims allegiances to other rival schools — my dad graduated from LSU, my stepfather graduated from Texas A&M, I have a cousin and uncle who are both fierce Clemson fans, my stepsister currently attends Georgia Tech, and my younger sister is finishing out her first year at a school that shall not be named in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. However, despite all of the family rivalries that make each football season extra fun, many of my relatives now secretly rep the Georgia “G” as much as their respective schools.

Expected graduation:
Spring 2020

Degree objective:
International Affairs, Religion, and History

Other degrees:
Certificates in Personal and Organizational Leadership and Global Studies

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
*Disclaimer: The last four years would not have been possible without incredible friends, family, mentors and a lot of caffeine.

My time spent as a tour leader at the UGA Visitors Center has not only been one of the most formative experiences of college, but has also given me lifelong best friends, mentors, and incredible “bosses” that feel more like family. When I first decided to attend UGA, I was unexcited and apprehensive at the thought of attending a university only 1.5 hours from my house, but the financial incentives offered by the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships proved too generous to turn down. Through the Visitors Center, I have loved having the opportunity to reach out to prospective students, especially those who also hold initial hesitations about UGA, and illustrate just how incredible the opportunities here are. I never expected 75-minute tours to ignite so many connections and friendships, but one of the coolest parts of giving tours has been watching visitors become fellow students! Additionally, I never imagined I could have a “job” that left me smiling every time I finished a shift — the VC truly is the happiest place on campus.

This love for connecting with prospective students led me to UGA Orientation, where I served as a 2019 Orientation leader alongside 15 of the craziest, most heartfelt and deeply supportive teammates I could have ever asked for. Welcoming over 5,000 new students from May to August, Orientation proved a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some of the highlights included singing and dancing to UGA renditions of popular songs, becoming best friends with the Tate Starbucks staff, and begging my team to go eat Taqueria del Sol with me every free evening before heading to Creswell, where we often stayed up too late hanging out, playing pranks and having deep conversations. However, some of my most treasured moments stem from connections with incoming students, especially those intimidated, uncertain and less eager to begin their time at UGA. Drawing upon my own initial apprehension, I worked to illustrate how UGA is a place where they could thrive too.

Through the Student Government Association, I have continued working with new students through First-Year Programs. During the 2018-2019 school year, I had the opportunity to work as a peer advisor in First-Year Forum, where I had an incredible small group (shoutout to my Purple Piping Peppers!). This year, I serve as a director of First Year Programs, working alongside fellow program directors to continue making Monday nights the best for our first-years.

Additionally, I serve as the president of the Dean Tate Honor Society, a community I never expected to become such an integral part of my college experience. My fellow “Taters” have become some of my closest friends, and the wisdom, guidance and conversations that have come from other members have helped shape my college experience. I am especially grateful for this year’s awesome executive board, who have focused on revamping our inclusivity and recruitment efforts to make Tate as great as possible.

I have also had the opportunity to take part in two phenomenal academic programs, the Institute for Leadership Advancement and the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program. As a 2018 Leadership Fellow with ILA, I spent the fall completing the Personal Development Leadership Portfolio, a 50-plus-page personal reflection document that culminated from a semester’s worth of class discussions, speaker series and personal evaluations. I also served as the Fellows communications intern, which allowed me to spend extra time in the ILA office with incredible faculty and staff members including Dr. Little, Dr. Addison, Courtney Aldrich, and Hayley Major — #LeadOn!

During the same year, I was able to further my passion for security studies through the Security Leadership Program alongside an intelligent and tightknit cohort of 13 other students. Here, we got to explore and create policy solutions to relevant international problems, analyze past and present issues, and even play a foreign policy rendition of Dungeon and Dragons under our fearless leader, Josh Darnell. During the spring semester, Josh guided me through an independent research study focused on the threat of a resurgent Russia, teaching me how to develop relevant and engaging materials applicable to a broader audience past just the classroom.

I was able to further develop my appreciation and passion for foreign affairs through study abroad trips to Russia and Oxford University. Through UGA in Russia, I spent the summer following my freshman year exploring cities including St. Petersburg, Suzdal and Moscow. In addition to working on our Russian language skills at local universities, we visited the Kremlin, attended opera and ballet performances (as a former dancer, this was a true highlight!), and even ran into Putin’s motorcade in the Red Square one evening! While in England the following summer, I had the opportunity to study International Conflict and English Common Law under two amazing Oxford faculty members while also exploring the United Kingdom and France. Both experiences are true highlights of my time in college, and have further motivated me to pursue a career within the realm of foreign policy.

On campus, I am a member of Alpha Chi Omega, where I served as the 2019 vice president of ritual alongside an amazing executive board that gave me many of my closest friends. Additionally, I am part of the Palladia Women’s Honor Society, Order of the Omega Honor Society and Blue Key Honor Society. I am continuously appreciative and blown away by the amount of support the UGA community has provided, and I am so thankful for the mentors, supervisors, professors, friends and family members who have constantly encouraged and guided me throughout the last four years. Without you all, nothing would have been possible!

I chose to attend UGA because …
Initially, the financial incentives offered through in-state tuition and scholarships were the primary reasons I chose to attend UGA. During high school, I was a bit overzealous and applied to 12 colleges, most outside the state of Georgia. However, when it ultimately came time to make the decision, it was hard to beat the combination of high-caliber academics and low tuition cost. Additionally, I knew I wanted to study international affairs, and the School of Public and International Affairs offered the perfect opportunity to do so.

My favorite things to do on campus are …
1. Take a walk around North Campus. I love taking a study break or using the time in between classes or meetings to walk around Herty Field, the main quad in front of the library and Founders Garden. You never know who you’ll run into, and walking always helps me clear my head and destress after a test or big assignment. You also just can’t beat the beauty of North Campus, especially in the fall or spring!

2. Dropping by a professor or supervisor’s office. I feel fortunate to have so many incredible mentors on campus, and I love spending a free hour or two just dropping in and catching up (while most definitely disrupting their productivity). Shoutout to Alton Standifer, Tori Tanner, Josh Darnell and the entire VC staff for always making my day brighter with these impromptu hangs!

When I have free time, I like …
1. Go to Avid Bookshop! I have been a big reader ever since I was little, and I remember the excitement and joy I got as a first-year when I first stepped foot into Avid, a local bookstore situated in Five Points. I love spending long periods of time there browsing books and picking out a new read, and the staff always offers really interesting recommendations on books I would have never discovered myself.

2. Hang on my porch with my friends. I live in a house with five other girls, and our house has a big and open porch complete with string lights and a big table where we often do homework, read or just hang out. I love using evenings and weekends to catch up with friends out there!

The craziest thing I’ve done is …
… studying abroad in Russia! Even before coming to UGA, I knew I wanted to study abroad while in college, but I had never anticipated traveling nearly 5,000 miles away to a country whose language I barely (and badly) spoke. However, the UGA in Russia program’s credits would complete my four-credit foreign language requirement in about seven weeks, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and apply during January of my freshman year. I had only traveled outside of the country to Jamaica before, so completing the nearly 13-hour flight across the Atlantic and Europe while alone was already a feat. Once in Russia, I had an absolute blast. I was challenged academically and linguistically, and rapidly improved upon my language skills. Additionally, as a longtime ballet dancer, I was in awe of Russia’s cultural and artistic traditions, especially while we spent time in St. Petersburg, which is often viewed as the country’s artistic capital. During this time, the political relationship between the U.S. and Russia was also thrust further into the media’s spotlight, and the matter led to many interesting and informative conversations both within our program and with local students and residents. Overall, the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, bolstered my independence, and proved one of the most educational experiences I’ve had in college.

My favorite place to study is …
1. On campus, I can always be found holed up in the Main Library, specifically on the first floor at a large table toward the left back corner.

2. Off campus, I am usually studying at Condor, a local coffee and chocolate (!!) shop. I usually grab a spot at the bar and spend my study breaks watching the employees craft, decorate and package beautiful chocolate creations across from me!

Sarah Kathryn Lasseigne (UGA photo taken in August 2019)

My favorite professor is …
There are genuinely too many to count. My academic experience here at UGA has been so phenomenal largely because of the professors who have gone above and beyond to care for me not only as a student, but as a person too. I have been so fortunate to have so many amazing role models! Josh Darnell, who worked within the Center for International Trade and Security and led SLP, has served all the roles of professor, therapist and mentor. Whether it be over chats in his office or conversations at Walker’s, Josh has been instrumental in bolstering my love for international affairs and security. He has also been the voice of reason throughout my ongoing senior-year panic of “what’s next.”

Another incredible professor is Dr. Lyon of the religion department. After taking a “Theology and Culture” class with her in fall 2018, I realized I never wanted to have a semester without Dr. Lyon, and I have subsequently spent every Tuesday/Thursday from 12:30-1:45 with her. Whether we are examining Martin Luther’s writings or exploring Christian feminist theology, Dr. Lyon asks difficult questions and challenges her students to explore issues beyond their own perspective while maintaining a lighthearted and inviting classroom atmosphere. Additionally, fulfilling a college-long dream to take Dr. Maryann Gallagher’s “American Foreign Policy” class was one of the highlights of my academics. Dr. Gallagher brings her passion, engaging personality and sheer intelligence to the classroom while always inspiring her students to contribute their most sincere effort. Whenever people ask me who I want to be when I grow up, I always reply “Dr. Gallagher.”

Additionally, my life would be incomplete without the wonderful relationships from my former supervisors: Alton Standifer and Tori Tanner of Orientation, and EJ, Natmann and Ms. Terri at the Visitors Center. Whether it is grabbing Taq with Alton, enjoying EJ’s annual book club discussion and dinner, or talking my day over with Natalie and Ms. Terri, these people have been my rocks, role models and closest mentors throughout the past few years.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
… my grandmother, Kathryn Perez, who my family affectionately calls “Mimi.” My namesake and one of the people most special to me, Mimi passed away this spring at the age of 92 after complications from a stroke. Mimi spent most of her life in New Orleans, where our family is from, and only moved to Roswell after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Even once she (reluctantly) resettled in Georgia, she was perpetually homesick for Louisiana, its delicious food and vibrant culture. If we had an afternoon together, it would be spent at Cafe Du Monde, inevitably spilling powdered sugar all over the place while we enjoyed some beignets in her favorite city.

If I knew I could not fail, I would …
… audition to be in Broadway musicals because that is the only way I would make it! I grew up dancing and performing, and I love listening to musicals like Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” “Les Miserables” and “Annie” (a childhood favorite). However, I was not blessed with any singing genes, which has pretty much ruled out anything beyond dance (for everyone’s sake)!

If money was not a consideration, I would love to …
… fund the liberal arts. I am so thankful to have received such a phenomenal liberal arts education here at UGA. My majors — international affairs, history and religion — have each brought unique and varying perspectives to issues both within academia and outside. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the ability to pursue an education that doesn’t just teach me job-specific material, but cultivates analytic thinking, information synthesization and problem solving, all skills that can be applied to a variety of personal and professional outlets. Despite the plethora of benefits that liberal arts studies provide both students and society, this field is often cast aside in favor of disciplines like business or the hard sciences. However, if I had unlimited funds, I would create more scholarships for students within the liberal arts, support the maintenance and construction of academic buildings housing liberal arts studies, and overall work to further publicize, highlight and support the importance this discipline holds!

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
I am passionate about people and policy, and hope to pursue a career that brings about positive and meaningful change, specifically within the national security and foreign policy sectors. My experiences at UGA sometimes appear disparate on paper, but it is the non-academic opportunities, such as working with UGA Orientation and the Visitors Center, that have helped me understand the value in connection, mentorship and open discussion. I hope to merge these “people skills” with a research-based approach to policymaking, which can sometimes fail due to a lack of real-world application.

After graduation, I plan to …
… move to Washington, D.C., and work within the national security sector! This semester has been characterized by my ever-growing and always-open “Job Applications” spreadsheet, but I am thankful to finally be in (what I hope is!) the home stretch of job interviews and decisions.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
… the UGA Rose Bowl victory that occurred in double overtime on the night of Jan. 1, 2018. While I was not in Pasadena, California, I was in the second-best place one could be: Athens, Georgia. After watching the nail-biting game end around 12:30 am in such a sweet victory, I piled into the back of a truck with a mix of close friends, neighbors and people I had just met that night and drove up to North Campus to ring the Chapel Bell. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the largest and most enthusiastic crowd of Georgia fans I have ever seen. After waiting in line for about an hour (and calling the Dawgs every other minute during this time), we all rang the bell together! Though it sounds a little cheesy, this night is one of my sweetest college memories, and really sums of the strong sense of Georgia pride and undying love embodied by the UGA community. Go Dawgs forever!