Amazing Students

Liana Mosley

Liana Mosley
Liana Mosley conducts research, performs with the Hodgson Singers and leads campus tours for the Visitors Center. (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Future physician Liana Mosley’s passion focuses on preventive care and community health issues, and she has been afforded the opportunity at UGA to experience it firsthand around the world. She’s also been able to explore her love for music — a perfect blend of arts and sciences.


Savannah, GA

High school:

Savannah Arts Academy

Current employment:

Tour leader at the UGA Visitors Center

Family ties to UGA:

I am the first in my family to attend UGA, but we definitely have a lot of Dawg fans now! Given the year we had, it’s hard not to be.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2018

Degree objective:

Bachelor of Family and Consumer Sciences in nutrition science

Other degrees:

Minor in music

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

As a graduating senior looking back on my time at UGA, I am both humbled and grateful to have had many incredible opportunities here. It all began during orientation. I knew I found my home on campus while walking into Dawson Hall, home to the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Four years later, I now represent FACS as a student ambassador, which allows me to promote the college and connect with distinguished alumni, faculty and staff, as well as current and potential students at various events. True to its name, those in FACS have become my family, and the college has done everything everything to support me in my growth as a student and a person.

For example, FACS has provided me numerous study abroad scholarships, which I first utilized to learn about nutrition policy in Australia and New Zealand. I enjoyed learning outside the classroom so much that I wanted to study abroad again. Thanks to FACS and the Honors International Scholars Program, I had the privilege of participating in the Ghana Service Learning Program, led by Dr. Alex Anderson of the nutrition department. Eleven amazing women and I traveled to Africa to perform basic medical examinations in nutrition clinics throughout the country and shadow local physicians in area hospitals. Living and learning in a culture entirely different than mine was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, experiences I have had in college. My time in Ghana also reaffirmed my goal to become a physician; by directly interacting with patients, I saw the beneficial role prevention education and treatment can play in individual and community well-being.

Preventive care and community health are issues I am tremendously passionate about and through IMPACT Service Breaks, I was able to lead alternative break trips focused on these issues. After attending two trips as a participant, I became a site leader and helped to plan and manage trips focusing on food justice and community health and well-being. Attending and leading IMPACT trips has allowed me to serve the community in an intentional way, grow as an active citizen, and meet wonderful people along the way.

Leading tours though the UGA Visitors Center has also given me the opportunity to meet some remarkable people, whether that be my supervisors, co-workers or future Dawgs. Eric Johnson, the director of the Visitors Center, introduced me to a concept that influenced not just the way I lead tours, but the way I approach any leadership opportunity: “The only reason to lead a tour is to change the world.” Everything we do, no matter how inconsequential it seems, can benefit someone else and be an opportunity to grow in the meantime.

This sense of contribution can be fulfilled in many ways. For example, research builds upon on an existing body of knowledge to benefit the lives of others. I have spent the past two years as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. John Burke’s plant biology lab, where I work with graduate student Rishi Masalia to investigate the role of environmental stress on the cultivated sunflower. Through the Burke lab, I have implemented and analyzed a drought experiment of my own design, created and presented scientific posters at conferences and symposiums funded through awards by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and the UGA Plant Center, and have even written a few science communication pieces with the Athens Science Observer. Currently, I am collaborating on a joint project with Drs. John Burke and Brian Kvitko, surveying pathogen resistance in cultivated sunflower.

Although science has been at the forefront of my academic career, I have also learned about music as a member of the UGA Hodgson Singers, the most active choral ensemble at the University of Georgia. I joined the Hodgson Singers my sophomore year and since then, we have learned several major pieces, recorded an audio CD and performed across the Southeast. Under the direction of our conductor, Dr. Bara, we strive to communicate important topics in our performances. Music is our tool to raise awareness, inspire connection, and draw appreciation for the world around us.

Getting involved in these organizations, including others like Omicron Delta Kappa and the Filipino Student Association, has made my college experience that much more enriching. To me, UGA is not just where I’m going to earn my degree, it’s a community of friends and mentors that have nurtured and challenged me to be the best version of myself.

I chose to attend UGA because …

UGA was a natural choice for me. Although I was initially intimidated by the size of the university, I was excited by the chance to meet a diverse group of people and experience the amazing opportunities a large research institution has to offer. A school of this size comes with an array of academic programs, allowing me to study both science and music with esteemed faculty. I also heard Athens was the best college town to live in and after four years, I couldn’t agree more.

My favorite things to do on campus are …

Coming from the flatlands of Savannah, I thought the hills here would be the death of me. Walking around campus, however, has turned into one of my favorite pastimes. I’m happiest when I’m outside, whether that’s walking through the Trial Gardens, giving campus tours, or playing sports at the IM fields.

I also find great refuge in singing and performing, whether individually or in a choir. There is nothing more fulfilling than sharing beautiful music and meaningful messages with an audience.

When I have free time, I like …

When I’m not outdoors walking or running around, I spend a lot of my free time learning and practicing new music. I’m also very passionate about food, so much so that I majored in nutrition, and I enjoy cooking and baking new recipes. More than anything, I love spending time with the people who mean most to me: my family and friends.

The craziest thing I’ve done is …

I participated in the Miss UGA Pageant this past January and it was by far one of the craziest things I’ve ever done! This was “crazy” for me as it was my first time competing in a pageant and I really had to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone. While it was absolutely nerve-wracking to strut around on stage (especially in a swimsuit), I’m so glad to have had this opportunity. I really enjoyed getting to know the other contestants, who constantly helped me navigate the pageantry nuance by teaching me how to walk and pose, practicing the dances with me, and cheering me on along the way. With their guidance and the grace of God, I placed fourth runner-up! Honestly though, the best part of the pageant was having my family and friends there to support me (close second: meeting one of the judges, James Taylor from “The Bachelorette”).

My favorite place to study is …

The music library is definitely my favorite place to study. The library is small and tucked away so I can focus, but there’s also a constant presence of music being played outside that keeps me energized. Moreover, Dr. Kelly, the head librarian, was my music theory professor and it’s always a joy to see him.

My favorite professor is …

Nothing I’ve done at UGA would have been possible without the mentorship of our exceptional faculty and staff. I’m lucky to have had many professors, like Dr. Alex Anderson, Dr. Kristi Schaller, Dr. Paula Lemons and Dr. Oliver Li, who are as passionate about their students as they are about their respective disciplines.

I’d be remiss not to distinguish the following professors for going above and beyond in supporting my growth throughout college. Dr. John Burke and Rishi Masalia of the plant biology department have taught me not just how to plant sunflowers and use Excel correctly, but how to be a well-rounded scientist who thinks critically and communicates effectively. I’ve also learned so much from Dr. Daniel Bara, chair of the choral department, conductor of the UGA Hodgson Singers, and the most talented yet most humble director I’ve ever gotten to sing for. I’m especially grateful to make such high-caliber music under his intuitive and thoughtful direction. Though she wasn’t my professor, Cara Winston Simmons of the Student Success and Advising Center in FACS has been my rock for these past four years and I look up to her in every way. Finally, EJ, Natalie and Terri of the Visitors Center are the most outstanding bosses I’m sure I will ever have, thank you for taking a chance on me.

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

… my family abroad. I’m fortunate to have a lot of extended family, but most of them live far away in places such as the Philippines, Hawaii and New Jersey. We’ve never all gathered under the same roof, so sharing an afternoon with everyone (preferably while sharing some authentic Filipino food) would really be memorable.

If I knew I could not fail, I would …

My secret dream, which I guess is not so secret anymore, is to create an album. Whether it be a singer/songwriter, jazz or classical album, I would love to write thought-provoking lyrics and compose compelling music to accompany them. I’ve always had ideas run through my head but have never put pen to paper. Hopefully that changes soon, so keep an eye out for when I drop my mixtape.

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

I believe that consistent access to healthy food and balanced nutrition is a right rather than the privilege we’ve come to expect. Thus with unlimited funds, I would create an after-school program that focuses on healthy eating and exercising for children at risk of food insecurity. Childhood is an influential time, both physically and mentally, and quality nutrition is extremely important during this developmental stage. Supplemental nutrition programs such as school lunches are important in ensuring food access, but sometimes these may be the only meals a child could have per day. Having an after-school program that provided snacks or meals would further increase food access while also reinforcing healthy behaviors through nutrition and physical education. After-school child care can also be expensive, so I believe this kind of program would help take pressure off working parents or caretakers.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

While I could list all the things I am passionate about, I think the one commonality that ties them all together is people. No matter what I am doing in my professional career or my personal life, I want my actions to be a reflection of the respect and genuine concern I have for others. Whether that’s by providing health care, singing or even smiling at strangers (yes, I am that girl), my ultimate goal is to treat others with compassion and make their day a little brighter.

After graduation, I plan to …

As bittersweet as the idea of graduation is, I’m excited for what’s to come next! First, my mom and I are going to spend some quality time together traveling in Germany, where she lived when she was my age. Then, in August I’ll be attending medical school to pursue my goal of being a physician!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …

… when the Hodgson Singers performed “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a tremendous work which set to music the life and death of young Matthew Shepard, a college student murdered for his sexuality in 1998. The composition’s subject matter was difficult to practice and perform, but I believe it made a positive impact on both our choir and our audience. After the work goes through several movements outlining Matthew’s tragic story, it ends with a gospel piece entitled “All of Us.” To share that final song of love and unity with the audience and watch the tears streaming down their faces was the purest example of hope I could ever imagine.