Amazing Students Profiles

Melanie Harper

Melanie Harper

Melanie Harper, a philosophy graduate student with an eye for art, credits UGA for helping her find her purpose in life.


Ellenwood, Ga.

High School:

Martin Luther King Jr. High School

Degree objective:

M.A. in philosophy

Other degrees:

B.A. in philosophy from Spelman College

Expected graduation:

Fall 2013

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I curated the spring 2013 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art. It was an eye-opening experience since I was given the responsibility of making some important decisions while in the process of learning the protocol, function and culture of a museum. As the C.L. Morehead Jr. Center for the Study of American Art intern, curating the show was one of the many outstanding opportunities I was granted. I am overwhelmingly pleased with the outcome of the show, and the gallery opening was a huge success, attracting more than 800 people in a single night.

Current Employment:

C.L. Morehead Jr. Center for the Study of American Art intern

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the very first in my family to attend UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because…

Growing up in Atlanta, I was introduced to the incredible network of UGA alumni. I thought it would be a great opportunity if I could be a part of that. Also, many of my high school friends decided to attend UGA for undergraduate work and they all speak highly of their experiences here. My undergraduate institution, Spelman College, has a close relationship with UGA, and I was given a scholarship through the Graduate Feeder program to come here for graduate school. I’ve been offered both support and guidance in my journey from the Office of Outreach & Diversity, which administers the scholarship.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I enjoy attending the wide range of activities offered by the museum. There is always something to do that’s fun and free. It’s a great break from academics to let loose, mix and mingle with people in the Athens art community.

When I have free time, I like…

… to go to concerts. Athens is such a great music city. There’s live music at a local venue almost every day of the week.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

I didn’t take a break between undergraduate and graduate school. I graduated in the spring, interned in Los Angeles in the summer and started graduate school in the fall. At this time I wasn’t particularly hip to the culture of apartment hunting in Athens, so I figured I could find an apartment when I returned, move my furniture from Atlanta to Athens, buy books and get prepared for classes in a matter of a few days. This was indeed a horrible idea. Needless to say, I had about two or three days after flying back to Atlanta and the first day of class to get everything done. By some stroke of luck, I managed to cram all of those things into that short period of time, but I was definitely sleep deprived the first week of classes.

My favorite place to study is…

… in my apartment on my couch since snacks are always readily available there.

My favorite professor is…

… Chris Cuomo. Her students’ postures straighten when she walks in the room for no other reason than her presence commands it. She stands firm on her ideas on issues ranging from feminism to environmental ethics. Dr. Cuomo is unapologetically sharp, committed to social justice and activism, outspoken, assertive and still very approachable. She’s encouraged me in moments when I struggled with believing in myself and for that reason among many, I will always be grateful. I aspire to be like her both as a professor and a person.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… my ancestors. I’ve always been curious about my heritage and my place in the African diaspora. I find family history intriguing and it is always interesting to see the ways in which your profession, personality and interests are related to your family tradition even when you’re unaware. I believe there is a connection between the trends in my living family and those who came before us. I would love to add some credibility to those thoughts.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… learn a host of different languages. I’ve always felt a bit displeased with the large number of people I’ll never get to know and the conversations that are impossible to have simply because I’m not proficient in other languages. If I knew more languages, I could talk to and learn from more people. With the knowledge of more languages, my opportunities to learn would be endless.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… travel the world for a few years, learn to cook some new dishes, talk to some really cool people, live in some really awesome places, and document it all on a camera. My dream and goal in life is to soak up as much culture as possible.

After graduation, I plan to…

… get a curatorial internship, travel, pursue a Ph.D. and then start a family.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

I don’t necessarily have one particular experience in mind, but my entire time here at UGA has been nothing short of life changing. I always like to say Spelman College, my undergraduate institution, is where I became a woman, and UGA is where I found my purpose. UGA will always have a fond place in my heart because of the direction I’ve gained, the epiphanies I’ve had and the clarity I’ve been rendered on this campus in the past two years.