Emily Ancinec is a self-proclaimed nerd and avid reader, and she’s always looking to soak up new experiences.
The Michigan native, who also lived in Ohio and Texas, never thought she would find herself in the Deep South—much less loving it—but the coordinator of student organizations at UGA says Athens and the university are easy to love.
- Division of Student Affairs
- M.S., Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education, Texas A&M University, 2014
- B.A., Political Science, Bowling Green State University, 2012
- At UGA: 1.5 years
It was UGA’s reputation that brought her here a year and a half ago, but students’ passion and creativity kept her here, she said.
“The work that our student organizations do is fascinating to me, and I’m always surprised in a good way by what they are doing,” Ancinec said.
Work done by UGA student organizations like Karma Coffee, a group that offers cups of coffee in exchange for people agreeing to do good deeds, and I Am Enough, which empowers local teenage girls to meet their potential, inspires Ancinec on a daily basis.
Helping students think critically about their ambitions humbles Ancinec.
“I hope I’m helping students by just getting them to think and to have conversations,” she said.
Ancinec’s official duty is to ensure students have access to the resources they need to make their organizations thrive. She oversees organization registration and policy compliance. She also plans and executes the annual Georgia Collegiate Leadership Conference and Student Organization Achievement and Recognition Awards.
Ancinec sees student organizations as an important aspect of college because students voluntarily choose to get involved.
“It’s self-identification with an added investment,” she said.
Ancinec describes her role within the Division of Student Affairs as a multifaceted balance of administrative management and customer service for more than 770 student organizations.
“There are a lot of plates spinning up in the air at the same time, so I make sure they’re moving in the right direction and that we’re doing what’s best for the students,” Ancinec said.
Ancinec’s passion for access and engagement extends past her career. Both her love of literature and education are vital components to a big part of what drives her—volunteerism.
Ancinec volunteers every Wednesday at the Athens branch of Learning Ally, a national nonprofit that records audiobooks for students who are blind, dyslexic or visually impaired. One of many positions within the organization, Ancinec is a reader. She reads aloud and records audio versions of anything from a fourth-grade-level geography book to a college science textbook.
“I think we tend to forget what it truly means to not have access, especially if we can be blinded by our own privilege,” she said. “Learning Ally is important because the more engaged and educated we are as a society and the more readers we have, the better off we are.”
Learning Ally relies on readers across the nation to remove the barrier that learning disabilities can have on students. The organization works with parents and educators to provide student access to versions of required textbooks that work best for the way they learn.
Those without a learning disability often forget that they get to choose whether to engage with learning materials, she said.
“There are students for whom that’s not an option because they simply can’t comprehend or aren’t able to access the resources that are there,” Ancinec said. “So it’s nice to be able to say I’m helping even in a small way.”
Learning Ally is currently in the midst of its annual fundraiser, and each volunteer leads an individual campaign. Ancinec said it costs the organization about $750 to record one audiobook. She is hoping that instead of giving gifts for her upcoming birthday, people donate to the cause for which she cares so deeply.
For Ancinec, volunteerism comes naturally and derives from the same part of her that drives her to help students discover their own passions. Providing access to others is just as much a part of her as her favorite novels and fiery red curls.
“I enjoy working with the students because I think college is a very important time for people to figure out who they are and create a good foundation for the rest of their careers and lives,” she said.