Almost since she first came to campus, senior economics major Julia Allen has been involved in service and outreach and is now committed to pursuing that passion by finding ways to engage in public service wherever her career takes her.
Columbus High School
Minor in Sociology, Certificate in Leadership and Service
Family ties to UGA?
My late Uncle Hank is a fellow Terry Dawg who majored in marketing in the ’80s and his cousin Wendy attended in the late ’70s. My other uncle Richard attended UGA for his master’s in 2007. My family has many ties to other USG schools — my mom earned her master’s at Georgia State, my dad graduated from Georgia College, my brother graduated from Columbus State — but I am the first among them to attend UGA!
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
My experiences at the University of Georgia have far exceeded what I ever imagined college would be like. I would not change anything about my college experience because each success and failure along the way provided perfect timing for me to be where I am now. Thank you to my parents, family and friends, and various mentors along the way for endless encouragement, love, and a lot of patience as I finish my time at UGA.
In my first year, I got involved with the Georgia Museum of Art Student Association with a friend from high school. I was not an art-related major, but I enjoy art history and joined the club at the Org Fair outside Tate. By the next semester, I was vice president of the GMOA Student Association for two years, where we built the membership of the group from less than 10 to over 25 students. We hosted Student Nights revolving around the traveling or permanent exhibits of the museum, sponsored evening study hours at the museum during finals, and began the annual Pop-Up Market for local artists to sell their works! It was one of my favorite organizations to be a part of, knowing you can be a member and have no relation to art in your academic courses and still appreciate art.
One of the biggest highlights of my freshman year was when I began to earn my Certificate in Leadership and Service. I worked as a Federal Work Study student in the College of Ag where I met Dennis Duncan. He encouraged me to begin the certificate program and I was able to take one of the required courses under Dr. Duncan. His teaching style and leadership was personable and thoughtful, and while he is now a director at Tennessee Tech, he is still one of my favorite professors.
The summer of my freshman year, I interned with Mercy Med of Columbus under Dr. Grant Scarborough (UGA alum) and Billy Holbrook learning about outreach and programs in the medical field of my own hometown. I performed intake on patients — checking blood pressure, verifying medication they are currently taking, testing blood sugar — which I probably will never get to do again in my life (not being in the medical field!). We moved them into a new add-on to their current building, so being a part of their first expansion to now seeing their facilities and the impact they make is so rewarding. It was my first taste of enacting the servant leadership mentality I learned in Dr. Duncan’s class. It was even more special being able to serve the community I grew up in.
At the end of my freshman year, I applied to the Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar program. I was honored to be accepted into the cohort as a rising sophomore in an upperclassman program. I spent the following semester learning about the eight different Public Service and Outreach units, even taking a weekend trip down to Savannah to visit the Marine Extension. We participated in service events and learned about the offices that we would complete the 150-hour internship with in the upcoming semester. I would also complete this internship as a credit for my Certificate in Leadership and Service so I completed 200 hours total that semester; I also still worked a 20 hour a week job at the Georgia Center and maintained full-time student status.
I interned with the Office of Service-Learning in its Experience UGA program the spring of my sophomore year and fall of my junior year. Experience UGA aims to bring each student, pre-k through 12th grade, to UGA’s campus on an educational field trip. I learned how to execute a current trip, assisted in coordinating new trips, and coordinated dozens of field trips. I also supported the new ambassador program of 10 students, varying in major and year in school. As the intern, I was the president of the ambassadors and acted as the liaison between the Experience UGA coordinator and the Experience UGA ambassadors. Having the responsibility allowed me to develop my problem-solving skills, delegating and supervising tasks, and overall public speaking. We planned social media content to increase awareness about the programs and delivered orientations to new volunteers on a weekly basis. We coordinated a huge end-of-the-year fundraiser where I created a video looking back on our year of trips. I was not super familiar with video editing prior to this internship, but with the help of another ambassador, Andrew Smith, and some trial and error, I started knocking out a video a week. That was one of my biggest takeaways from that internship: even you feel like you aren’t the best suited for a task, there are resources available or people willing to teach you to help make it happen.
The summer after my sophomore year, I interned with Synovus in the Learning and Development department where I supported orientations for the incoming internship program, their Accelerated Banker program, and upper level management as well. I prepared, researched and delivered multiple business cases based on competencies, efficiency and new initiatives for leadership, which gave me a look into what kind of career I want to pursue.
The highlight of my senior year was my internship with the Office of Admissions. As I continue into my second year in this internship, I know I am gaining skills that will last me beyond my time at UGA. I have and continue to develop in my communication skills, management style and overall professional development. The staff is so diverse in background and life experiences, but they all have a passion for higher education and serving students. I have been able to speak as a current student to prospective students about why I love UGA. But I also am involved in working with enrollment management data, coordinating events for high school counselors and presenting information sessions. Each day is different but overall, I have utilized my skills from data analysis to communication to project management, proving to be a great example of experiential learning. Even if I don’t find myself in admissions, counseling or higher education in general, I know the skills I have gained in this internship will serve me well for years to come.
Lastly, one of the highlights of my time at UGA was the alternative spring break tour across Georgia. I was chosen to be part of the inaugural cohort of students on the Great Commitments Student Tour of Georgia. A primary goal of the tour was to help students better understand the land-grant and sea-grant missions of the university and how the University of Georgia fulfills those missions by helping to create stronger, healthier and more secure communities. We did make over 15 stops at industry, historic, recreation and civic sites across Georgia. This wasn’t just an educational tour but an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the impact service has on a state or in a community. It was a non-stop trip that was exciting but tiring, but overall, I couldn’t think of a better way to round out my experience with Public Service and Outreach.
I chose to attend UGA because …
… it encompassed everything I wanted in a college. I imagined myself at a larger university, close to home but not too far, with my traditional perception of college life: football games, student activities, diverse majors and programs. I actually unofficially toured the University of Illinois where my mom attended undergrad; she showed me their Quad, student center and residence halls, etc. The more we walked around, the more it felt like a big school like UGA. The biggest difference is that it gets really cold in Illinois and it is a plane ride away. I think that is when I realized I wanted to be at UGA — it had everything other large schools had but it was close to home, had incredible opportunities right in my own backyard, and was more affordable with the Zell B. Miller Scholarship. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else now!
My favorite things to do on campus are …
… to be a student! On any given day, at least a dozen events are happening around campus! I like to participate in campus activities like Thank a Donor Day or Homecoming Week, or attend weekly meetings for organizations, or hear alumni guest speakers like sideline reporter Maria Taylor or groundbreaking educator Mary Frances Early. I have seen exhibits at the Special Collections Library, attended conferences in between classes, and hosted events myself with student orgs that I never would have done had I not been a student at UGA. I love the activities we have every day on campus for students. I love watching the newly released movies at Tate, getting free T-shirts and pizza at Ramsey. Being a student gives you the freedom to create your own schedule and plan your day around work and class.
When I have free time, I like …
… to stay active! Some of my favorite nights in college have been during IM sports. I’ve played co-ed flag football, all girls Frisbee, co-ed Frisbee and co-ed basketball in my time at UGA. Ramsey Student Center was my nightly routine especially living on campus for two years. I really enjoyed having diverse ways to stay active on campus from participating in IM sports to exploring Lake Herrick trails to running the hills around campus. I have even been to the UGA golf course and played a round with my dad!
The craziest thing I’ve done is …
… visit Dubai! My dad has lived in Dubai since 2008 working as an air traffic controller, but the first time my brother and I visited was 2016. We did the ultimate tourist trip — visiting the Burj Khalifa (used to be the world’s tallest building), riding on a camel, and taking a 4×4 through the Pink Rock desert. We even took a road trip to the beautiful Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. We bundled up and went skiing indoors, and on the same day, we sat on a sandy beach watching the sun set over the Arabian Sea. We almost went sky-diving but we ran out of time — maybe next trip! It was an incredible, eye-opening experience where for the first time, most looked like me, but I didn’t feel like I fit in with them. I had privileges and expectations that were not the same as back home. At the same time, I heard beautiful prayers, saw miraculous historic monuments, and saw the place my dad has called home for the past 13 years. I can’t wait for my dad to finally be in the same hemisphere as me, but I hope to travel with him as he lives on that side of world for a few more years.
My favorite place to study is …
… the Georgia Center! Even after working there as a banquet server and trainer for two years, I found myself going upstairs and tucking away at a table in quieter areas of the hotel. It soon became my go-to place during busy school times when I knew the MLC or Tate would be packed. One time, the Georgia Center was serving its famous strawberry pie and students from the School of Music were performing as an afternoon concert series! We happen to be at the right place at the right time (for pie) during our studying.
My favorite professor is …
It’s hard to pick just one but Erin Winter and Tricia Hackleman come to mind. I took Dr. Winter’s “Sociology of Culture” course where she pushed us to not only fully understand theories like Marx and Weber to where we could apply it to modern-day concepts, but she also encouraged us to use these various lenses with current events published in the news. It definitely will be one of my favorite classes I have taken at UGA. I also wrote a seven-page analysis of the sociology of culture in the Masters so that was a neat project as a culmination of the class!
Professor Tricia Hackleman is one of the best examples of a professor who cares about her students and wants them to succeed, during and after her course. I took “Legal Regulatory Environment of Business” in spring 2018. Her class was knowledge that would serve you well in any professional environment. But even after class, she opened her office hours to former students so every semester I try to visit and catch up with her. Recently, I stopped by to say hi and she mentioned how she loved being a lecturer because of her ability to connect with her students. I think that is something she does an incredible job of because of her investment in former students and relationship past earning a grade in a class.
Professors are influential for their skillset to teach material and how to apply content outside the classroom but my supervisors in my internship programs have also been some of the most influential parts of my college experience. I have been lucky enough to work and learn under driven, hard-working women who are and continue to be successful in their field. In my internship with the Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar’s program, I had the privilege to work under Shannon Walker. She was completing her master’s degree so her insight to graduate programs, career fields and balance between life and a job after college was invaluable. Even after my time as her intern, we met for tea or lunch every semester and she always was an encouraging voice in times of stress or uncertainty.
In my time here in the Office of Admissions, Melinda DeMaria and Kelly Bird have been instrumental in my success as a fifth-year senior intern and a student here at UGA. Their dedication and willingness to create an impact in the world of higher education here at UGA is incredible. Kelly is a driven, strong leader who guides the internship program successfully as well as her own projects and recruitment territory. She is supportive in our personal and professional lives and focuses on our development as well as her own. I have seen her overcome obstacles and grow in her own management skills. She is a role model to me as a younger professional, making an impact in her field more and more every year.
Last but certainly not least, Melinda DeMaria has supported and encouraged me through every moment in my time in this internship. Melinda shows her strength and poise through teachable moments in her leadership and management style. She cares about her team and takes ownership to instill a welcoming, yet focused work environment. She has shown me how difficult situations or conversations can be uncomfortable but should be embraced and learned from. I cannot imagine my time here in Admissions would be the same without Melinda or Kelly.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
… my family! I have a large family spread out around the country from Seattle to New York City to Chicago to Oklahoma City! I would love to have all my extended family together, especially with the addition of new babies and spouses that grow our large family even larger!
If I knew I could not fail, I would …
… help others bridge a connection between what they are passionate for and what they excel at, whether it is a career, a hobby or in a relationship. I would do this with the hopes it fulfills people as they find their meaning or learn to be happy where they are. Not everyone can pursue their dream job because they might be on a stepping stone to getting there; not everyone will be happy all the time because sometimes things just aren’t great; not everyone has the luxury with time, finances or responsibilities to do whatever they want, but I think it’s all about how you approach a situation. If I could not fail, I would help mend those broken connections where people find discourse in their life. Understanding how your mind and emotions work is important but I think it is also important to know how the minds and emotions of those around you function as well. I think my academic programs of economics and sociology really shaped my way of thinking to marry reasoning and patterns for choices but also influences surrounding the individual.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to …
… travel! Generic answer but there is something about experiencing other cultures that helps open your eyes to a world beyond your own backyard. I didn’t study abroad in college other than my alternative spring break trip, but my friends who did a study away program always raved about the experience. In my own family, I have watched my dad travel the world for the past 15 years or so and admire the beauty and traditions of different cultures. I have heard my mom talk about her former career working in human resources and management all along the East Coast. I have listened to hours of memorable family excursions as both my grandparents traveled because of their affiliation with the military. The thing I love about traveling is when you immerse yourself in another language or take a step back in time to historic landmarks, you gain a new perspective you might not have otherwise had. I would love to visit every continent or at least all 50 states — I have been to over 30 so far! If it is experiencing other cultures across the sea or appreciating the beauty in my own backyard, traveling would be something I would love to continue to do.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
Public service has become a major passion of mine in my time here at UGA. I didn’t know what it was when I began my career here as a first-year student, but through the mentorship of Dennis Duncan, Paul Brooks, Paul Matthews and Shannon Walker, I learned what public service is. I am committed to pursuing my passion of public service by continuing to spread the word of what PSO is and finding ways to engage in public service wherever my career takes me. I saw firsthand the impact service has in a community and as a PSO Student Scholar, I was a small part of the motto of the university: to teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things.
After graduation, I plan to …
… find a job! I have applied for a handful of full-time positions or programs, but I still plan to network and keep my eyes open for opportunities. I am open to anything and hope to build my skills in consultation and leadership and development in whatever field or industry I pursue.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
… Saturdays in Athens. Before college, I wasn’t the biggest football fan, but I was a sports fan in general! I soon came to love waking up on a Saturday and feeling the electricity of excitement in the air. Every time I am in Sanford Stadium, I look around and feel the community of UGA students, faculty and fans alike. It is an escape for a day from homework and studying to enjoy the game. Four football seasons later, I know more about the players and the rules of the game (partly thanks to my knowledgeable sports-fanatic boyfriend). But it also has shown me my favorite spine-chilling, adrenaline-rushing traditions and allows me to be a part of something bigger than myself as one of hundreds of thousands in the Bulldog Nation.