Uzma Chowdhury plans to earn two bachelor’s degrees, one master’s degree and three minors when she graduates from UGA in spring 2014. In the meantime, she’s making a difference working in the university’s Fanning Institute on migrant education youth programs, foster care youth education programs and youth leadership development.
Brookwood High School
B.A. in political science, B.A. in English, and an M.A. in English (dual B.A./M.A. program in English) with minors in French, Spanish and Arabic.
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I have been involved in the Fanning Institute as of this semester, my fourth semester at UGA. After I was chosen as Public Service and Outreach Scholar in May 2011, I went on to become an intern at the Fanning Institute in spring 2012. At Fanning, I have worked on a variety of projects—from a Chamber of Commerce assessment in Americus, to youth leadership training of high school juniors and seniors from Thomasville. Fanning has overwhelmingly extended my scope and appreciation for the plethora of projects UGA lends its expertise to in terms of helping various communities in our state.
Through Fanning, I began extensive work on helping create and facilitate Athens’ first peer court. Athens Peer Court is a training program for high school students to learn and practice law by serving as the lawyers, judge and jury for arrested youths. The program promotes restorative justice and accountability, but also promotes leadership in youths. In summer and fall 2012, I will continue work with Fanning in informing a strategic plan to make the program sustainable so that it may grow as successfully as the first cohort.
This summer, I will continue to work with youths through Fanning, especially youth education. I will work with migrant education youth programs, foster care youth education programs and leadership development in youths. The primary focus of these programs will be to expose youths to the college experience and promote leadership.
I am currently an intern in the Fanning Institute, which extends the university’s mission of public service and outreach.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am actually the first of my family to attend UGA. My mother went to Georgia State and my father went to Ball State in Indiana. However, all of my cousins, my aunts, uncles, and many other family members all attended Georgia Tech. Family reunions can get touchy, especially during football season, because the rivalry runs strong. One of my uncles, a huge Tech fan, has even trained his young son to recognize UGA and Tech logos and mascots so that he can start the good, clean, old-fashioned rivalry from a young age As the only member of my family at UGA, it’s up to me to proudly don my red and black and show my overwhelming support for “Grand Old Georgia.”
I chose to attend UGA because…
the overwhelming variety of opportunities provided by UGA. In addition to my double majors in English and Political Science, I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in English, while also learning three different languages, French, Spanish and Arabic. Where else could I embrace such a fantastic variety of academic pursuits? In addition to the academic flexibility offered, I have been able to participate extensively in the service-learning programs at the university. In addition to the university itself, Athens, is one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever experienced. It’s gorgeous, full of good food, good music, art and there’s always something going on. All of these aspects really made my decision to attend UGA very easy.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
lying around on North Campus under the gorgeous, ancient trees and reading or doing homework. It’s just so gorgeous and historical, and it’s overwhelming to think about who has walked on this land, from William Tecumseh Sherman to Wayne Knight—and then there I am, on the grass, sitting on years and years of history, just reading my book.
When I have free time, I like…
spending low-key nights with my best friends. We have a little “tradition” in which we try to have themed dinner and a movie nights and the theme of the movie sets the tone for the dinner. So far, my favorite has been “Breakfast for Dinner and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’” but I’m really looking forward to “Grilling Out and ‘American Beauty!’” I live for these nights—good food, good friends, good conversation and good movies. What more do you need?
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
not as crazy as much as it is completely nerdy, but one of the best days of my life and best things I’ve ever done was organize and create a “Harry Potter” day at my high school during my senior year. I somehow managed to get about 100 of my fellow seniors to dress up as various Harry Potter characters during “Character Day” of Spirit Week. My friends and I changed all the bathrooms from “Boys” and “Girls” to “Wizards” and “Witches,” and all of our classes (for example, “chemistry” became “potions”), we created a scavenger hunt for the boy who was playing Harry Potter to find the “horcruxes,” we staged a battle on the campus courtyard, played Quidditch, and stayed in character all day. It was so much fun to put together, but even more fun to see it actually become a huge success—we made the first page of our yearbook. Everyone’s love for Harry Potter really bonded a lot of us together, I noticed people from different cliques laughing together, people talking to people who they never knew existed, and it was all just so inspiring to see so many different individuals come together, bonded by a common interest.
My favorite place to study is…
Walker’s Coffee and Pub. I just love to spread out all of my books and papers in one of their high, wood booths, usually with a friend or two sitting across from me, and sip on a latte with the low murmur of chatter and music in the background. It’s my favorite coffee shop in Athens, and I have a secret dream that if I visit enough, the baristas will start recognizing me and start making my drink without asking. (Double latte, if any of you are reading this.)
My favorite professor is…
Dr. Roxanne Eberle of the English department and Dr. Jamie Carson of the political science department. Dr. Eberle’s amazing knowledge and passion is so prevalent in her teaching that I often forget that I’m in class at all. She truly loves what she is teaching and it shows. Dr. Carson also has a huge passion for his field. I admire how well he knows his curriculum, but most of all I admire his respect for his students’ minds and thoughts. His curriculum is grounded in discussion rather than lecture, and the manner in which he extends a feeling of equality to his students is truly empowering. He’s also a great baker, and he makes some of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
Maya Rudolph, Albrecht Dürer, Severus Snape, Hillary Clinton, Oscar Wilde, George Harrison, Margot Tenenbaum and Buster Bluth. I imagine we’d all just go out to lunch at The Grit downtown, my favorite casual restaurant, where we’d have what I imagine would be the greatest conversation of my (or anyone’s) life. After that, we’d walk around downtown, look at all the cool stuff in Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother, then Snape would tell me I’m a witch, and I’d leave UGA for Hogwarts.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
ensure that every child on this planet would be able to pursue a full education. As it stands, I believe schools in the U.S. are criminally underfunded. I would increase K-12 teacher salaries, eliminate high secondary education tuition costs and return funding to the arts. On a global scale, education in developing countries doesn’t even exist. It breaks my heart to know there may exist thousands of children who could be far more brilliant than I ever could be, who could change the world, but because they don’t have my opportunities, they can never fulfill their potential. I’d love to live in a world where every child had the chance the means, and the necessary education to achieve his or her aspirations.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
travel. I would love to travel all over the world because there is so much to see and I’m always restless when I remember how little time I have to see it all. The world is so beautiful and life is so short. After I’d seen the whole world, I’d go to the moon because after the millions of sunrises I’ve seen, I’d love so much to see an earth rise.
After graduation, I plan to…
work in policy and legislation, especially concerning youth and child welfare, education and children’s rights, both in the U.S. and globally. I’m interested in education reform in the U.S. and also child exploitation, children’s rights and children’s literacy on an international scale, especially in developing nations. I’d like to spend some time informing the creation of education reform legislation in the U.S. as well as some time with the Non-Government Organization in developing nations to address children’s issues in at risk areas. I’d like also someday to be a teacher. Teachers have been some of the most influential people in my life, from Mrs. Burkhart, my third grade teacher, to my own mother, to my professors at UGA. They’ve all made me want to inspire others like they’ve so overwhelmingly inspired me.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
this past spring break. It was the best spring break of my life. I went on the 2012 Environmental Awareness Impact trip to the Everglades, and I cannot express how much I loved it. After a hectic week of removing invasive species, working at a recycling plant, flat tires, outdoor showers, sudden rainstorms and learning about the environment, my group got to spend a day at Miami Beach. I will always remember sitting on that beautiful beach, with the sun shining bright, looking at the bluest ocean I’ve ever seen, and realizing that I was surrounded by people I would love forever, people who had, over the course of six days, become so close to each other. It just blew my mind at that moment to know that the 20 or so people around me, hysterically laughing or playing in the sand and ocean together, had become so close in such a short period of time. I will never forget that moment of just being so completely happy, surrounded by so many people I loved, on a beautiful, beautiful beach, that I couldn’t stop smiling even if I tried.