Amazing Students

Kaylee Jerman

Kaylee Jerman. (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Kaylee Jerman’s passion is to help others in any way she possibly can. She’s done that through her study abroad trips, volunteering with UGA Miracle and showing off the campus to visitors. She’ll continue to pursue that passion in the Peace Corps.

Granby, CT

High school: 
Granby Memorial High School

Current employment: 
UGA tour guide

Family ties to UGA: 
My mom and her entire family grew up in Athens and my aunt actually attended UGA back in the Herschel Walker days and my grandpa got his undergraduate degree at UGA before going on to be a general surgeon in the Athens area for decades!

Expected graduation:
Spring 2019

Degree objective: 
History and Political Science

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships: 
I would just like to preface this by saying I would never be able to have done these amazing things and have been a part of these organizations if it weren’t for the love and support of my family. Thank you so much for supporting me through everything, I truly can never thank you enough.

The first organization that I joined on campus was UGA Miracle. I was fortunate enough to spend four years on the Family Relations Committee, which is devoted to spending quality time with our Miracle families. I have had the honor of championing the Ruark family and then the Thomas family in my time on the committee, and each of these families has taught me so much about unconditional love and what can happen when you persevere through remarkably difficult times. I’ll forever be thankful for the people I met through UGA Miracle and know that John and Julia will take great care of the Thomas family when I leave!

Greek Life has also been a major aspect of my college career. I joined Delta Zeta as a freshman and found myself surrounded by strong women who encouraged me to go after my goals even when they scared me. I would not have had the courage to do half of the things I’ve done in college without the endless support of these amazing ladies. On top of that I was selected be a recruitment counselor for the past two summers, helping potential new members find the place where they felt at home. While it had its ups and downs, being a Gamma Chi is what taught me what it was like to truly put others first and that is extremely humbling and has definitely been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in college.

Many of my highlights here at UGA have been spent overseas. The summer after my freshman year I went on a trip with the Warnell School of Forestry to Botswana and South Africa. I spent that month learning how to be a safari guide, waking up early and hiking miles through the bush. I met my best friend Tory on that trip and so many others that have been foundational in my love of traveling. My sophomore year I spent a semester at Oxford University, surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever met. Late nights spent at Keble Library with Doenya, watching Troy with Mallory and Kal, and constantly pestering Dr. Archer are just a few of my favorite memories from that semester. Oxford was truly an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to Jamie and Stuart for taking a chance on me!

My junior year I decided to go out on a limb and apply to be a tour guide. For some crazy reason Natalie and EJ decided to welcome me into the Visitors Center family and it has truly been the highlight of my college career. Not only do I get to spend time talking to prospective students about how much this incredible university has to offer, I am surrounded by co-workers who are remarkable in every sense of the word. Watching each of them fearlessly pursue their dreams is amazing, and they are also the best group of cheerleaders you could ever ask for. Every day I walk into the VC I leave happier than when I came in and that is entirely due to the people that work there and the culture Natalie, EJ and Mrs. Terri have created.

This past summer I finally got to go back to Botswana, but instead of going to the bush I went into the city of Gaborone and worked at the U.S. Embassy. I got to see firsthand the good that comes from effective diplomacy by working in the Public Affairs section of the embassy. My amazing boss Ineke put so much faith in me from the beginning, giving me tasks I wasn’t sure I could complete, but I did! I helped organize a cultural envoy that brought inspiring musicians to Botswana, wrote speeches for the ambassador, and even got my Setswana name, Lorato, from my friend Godfrey. Not only did I figure out what I wanted to do, I met some amazing mentors that took a chance on me and I’ll forever be thankful for it!

Last but certainly not least are the amazing football memories, the victories and the losses. Beating South Carolina in the fall of 2015 was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. That entire day spent with my friends Langston and Kerry was my favorite day of my freshman year, and was the first time I felt like a real Bulldawg. Junior year my friend Mia and I took the trip of a lifetime out to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl, and I truly think I peaked in that moment. It wasn’t just the great memories that meant the most though. This past SEC Championship game spent with new friends at my aunt and uncle’s house will always be one of my favorite memories involving UGA football, even though it might not have turned out the way I wanted it. UGA football has been such a pivotal part of my college career not just because I love football, but because it has been the cornerstone of so many of my friendships. So thanks UGA football for being a part of so many of my highlights.

I chose to attend UGA because … 
… I wanted a school with tradition and school pride. I actually was recruited to play volleyball in college and was really unsure where I wanted to go. The night before deposits were due I made a pros and cons list between a school where I would play volleyball and UGA. The more I wrote down the more I realized I was trying to like the other school as much as I already loved UGA. UGA had the school pride, traditions and community I wanted to be a part of, so here I am!

My favorite things to do on campus are … 
… sit and read on Herty Field. North Campus is absolutely gorgeous and some of my favorite conversations are the ones spent sitting on one of the benches on Herty Field. There’s just something relaxing about sitting on one of those benches and reading a book with the sound of the fountain in the background.

When I have free time, I like … 
… to do whatever kick I’m on that week. Recently it’s been baking. The Great British Bake Off has gotten me really into baking bread so that has been what I’ve been up to recently. Besides that it’s probably driving around in my car. I love picking people up and driving around campus at all hours talking about life. There’s something cathartic about turning up the music and belting Hamilton with your best friend while you drive though campus.

The craziest thing I’ve done is … 
… go cage diving with great white sharks. When I went to South Africa back in 2016 I organized an excursion for some of my friends and me to go cage diving. We went out to Shark Alley on this big boat and next thing I knew we were face to face with these giant great white sharks! The captain and I became good friends in the time the other groups were in the water so he let us go in twice for a really long time, bringing the bait closer to the cage so the sharks were inches from our face! When I returned from South Africa it happened to be Shark Week and I saw the boat and our captain on one of the shows which was really cool too!

My favorite place to study is … 
… the Main Library. I’ve spent many late nights there with my friends Ally and Jackson studying for our favorite teacher Dr. Willis’ exams. It honestly feels like a second home.

My favorite professor is … 
… all of them? Throughout my time here at UGA I have had so many professors that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me a better student and person. There’s no way I could possibly name them all and give them their dues for the help they’ve offered me, but here are a few of them.

Who could make Canadian history, the cholera epidemic and railroad expansions seem like the most captivating subject in the world? Kirk Willis. A true gem of the history department, I have had the pleasure to take four of Dr. Willis’ classes. His incredible wit and niche humor are something I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He probably has no idea how much I enjoy his class, but he has made my history major so much fun. People ask what my emphasis in history is and I simply reply, Willis, because if he teaches it, I’ve probably taken it.

The man, the myth, the legend Charles Bullock has been my favorite political science professor here at UGA. His dedication to every single student in his class is the epitome of what it means to invest in others. Not only have I learned so much from him about politics, but he has taught me so much about what it looks like to be a great person. He spends so much of his class encouraging all of his students to intern, study abroad and pursue their goals no matter how lofty they might seem. UGA is beyond lucky to have him and I am beyond lucky to have him in my corner cheering me on through everything I do.

Leah Carmichael is another professor who my life would be completely different without. I literally want to be her when I grow up. She showed me the realm of international affairs and all that it offers. She helped me discover what I wanted to do by sharing her own inspiring story of traveling after school and taking the Foreign Service Exam. She cares so much about each and every one of her students and I don’t think she understands how much she impacts every single one of them. She somehow has found a way to teach contentious subjects in international affairs in a way that makes every voice feel heard.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with … 
… my grandpa. He passed away when I was in sixth grade and I never got the chance to pick his brain about the things I think about now. He grew up in rural Georgia as an only child and attended UGA before going on to MCG and later Emory. He had such an incredible life and met so many incredible people I’d just love to hear him tell me about it.

If I knew I could not fail, I would … 
… try out for a professional sports team. I absolutely love sports and the way they unite people from all different backgrounds and give cities and people a point of pride! I’m a huge hockey fan so probably a hockey team, but honestly would love to play any sport at such a high level where everyone has the same competitive mindset!

If money was not a consideration, I would love to … 
… start an organization that helps young people get involved with sports. As someone who has played sports my entire life, I think sports teach you so much about what it is to be a good person. Teamwork, perseverance, belief in yourself, and countless other lessons can come from sports. So much of my growth as a person has come through my participation in athletics and I would love to make sure that every person has that opportunity regardless of their background.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it? 
Wow … big question there.

All things considered my passion is to help others in any way I possibly can. Sometimes this manifests in bringing a friend Smoothie King after a long day or being willing to make a fool of myself in order to make people laugh. Sometimes this means staying after with the kids I tutor at CLASE to make sure they have as long as possible to show me their new paper airplane design. I plan to pursue this passion in my professional career by devoting myself to organizations that are trying to bring about meaningful change from the bottom up.

I know it might sound cheesy to say that my passion is helping others, but I am a firm believer that the way to be remembered in life is not by holding positions of power, but by showing kindness in your every day actions. Think about it, do you know who the prime minister of Britain was in 1783 (I mean I do because I took Willis but imagine if I didn’t)? That man once held a position of massive power, but is long forgotten by pretty much everybody. But you don’t forget the person who helped give you directions to class your first day of school or the professor who stayed after with you to talk about your career options. You might forget their name but you never forget what they did. I want to be the person that is remembered for the kindness they displayed on a daily basis, not the titles the held, and I think the best way to do that is place commitment to others at the top of my priority list.

After graduation, I plan to … 
… join the Peace Corps! I have been accepted to serve in Colombia as a secondary education teacher trainer and leave for that in September. Happy to get in a few more football games before I leave for my dream job!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be … 
… the Rose Bowl. My best friend Mia and I flew across the country to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl and it was an incredible time. We ended up having an issue with renting the car and had to sleep at the car rental agency and wake up early in the morning to find some alternative transportation. We stayed with her aunt and spent the time before the game hiking, reading and just spending time exploring Los Angeles. When it came to the game we ended up being in the same end zone overtime was in so we got to see Sony’s run up close. I’ll never forget that feeling of standing on the bleachers with confetti raining down and Bulldawg fans chanting all around the stadium.