Amazing Students Profiles

Bryn Murphy

Bryn Murphy

Bryn Murphy has a passion for the great outdoors. The Suwanee native, who has participated in study abroad programs in Botswana, Peru and Indonesia, will graduate in spring, 2012 with triple degrees in International Affairs, Spanish and Environmental Studies.



High School:

South Forsyth High School

Degree objective:

BA in International Affairs, BA in Spanish, Honors Interdisciplinary Studies BA in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation:

Spring 2012

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

My time at UGA has been shaped by unbelievable study abroad, research, and extracurricular opportunities, most of them supported and funded by the Honors Program and the Foundation Fellowship.

With respect to study abroad, I spent a summer working as the first international intern for the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law.  Through my internship, I traveled across Peru (from the Pacific coast, to Incan ruins in the Andes, to the Amazon rainforest), translated publications on Latin American environmental law, helped facilitate a conference for Amazonian indigenous groups on climate change and deforestation, and shadowed my coworkers as they gave legal advice to local landowners.  I also researched the impact of immigration on urban sustainability in the southern Peruvian Amazon, and the resulting paper won the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities’ “Best Paper with an International Focus” award and the UGA Libraries’ research award.

Last summer, I spent a month camping, hiking, and studying wildlife ecology and conservation policy in Botswana through the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources’ southern Africa study abroad program.  Afterwards, I traveled to Indonesia to research community natural resource management and customary environmental law under Victoria Ramenzoni, a Ph.D. candidate in UGA’s Department of Anthropology.

On campus, I have been involved with research projects on urban environmental law, urban sustainability, and international environmental security and natural resource management.  I also help edit and publish my peers’ research through UGA’s Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, and serve as an instructor and peer mentor for first-year students as an Honors Teaching Assistant.

My most exciting extracurricular involvement is with UGA’s Prelude Dance Ensemble, where I am an officer, choreographer and dancer.  My fellow company members and I perform original, student-choreographed dances every semester.  Through Prelude, I also teach dance classes for elementary school kids in a local Latino community through the Oasis Católico Santa Rafeala afterschool program.

Family Ties to UGA:

My younger sister, Kayla (a junior studying English and Psychology), and I are the first in our family to come to UGA, but we certainly won’t be the last!  Our younger sisters are already proud Bulldawgs fans.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… of the Honors Program and the Foundation Fellowship.  I had always had my heart set on an out-of-state university, but when I visited Athens for the Foundation Fellowship Interview weekend, spent time with truly inspiring upperclassmen, and heard their stories about study abroad trips, internships, and day-to-day life in Athens, I was sold.  The older kids in the Honors Program and the Foundation Fellowship represented everything I had hoped to be in college: they were excited about their courses of study, fully engaged with their campus and community, and open to being changed by all of their adventures.  I knew that an out-of-state university offered the security of a prestigious name, but I found that UGA offered so much more than that—a supportive, inspiring community of friends, staff, and faculty, and the opportunity to shape my own experience.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… eat lunch under the trees on North Campus, catch up with friends in Moore College, and rehearse with my dance company, Prelude Dance Ensemble, in the Tate dance studio!  And, of course, going to home football games in the fall!

When I have free time, I like…

… to spend time outside.  Athens is such a gorgeous city, and I want to spend every moment I can enjoying it!  I love to take walks through the neighborhoods around Five Points, jog or bike with a friend to the farmers’ market, or have a coffee at the tables outside Two Story or Walker’s.  I also love to try out the new restaurants downtown whenever I can afford it!

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

… get charged by a lion in the Botswanan wilderness!  Last summer, I spent a month camping under the stars, hiking from sunrise to sunset, and studying wildlife ecology, conservation policy, and wilderness survival skills in southeastern Botswana through the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources’ southern Africa study abroad program.  It’s this type of once-in-a-lifetime experience that makes me feel immeasurably grateful to be at UGA.  (And don’t worry, everyone escaped from the lion unharmed!)

A close runner-up would be learning to drive a motorcycle in Indonesia later that same summer— Indonesians’ carefree disregard for traffic laws might have been as scary as the lion!

My favorite place to study is…

… at Two Story Coffeehouse in Five Points.  I like to wake up early, find a table on the porch, and have an iced coffee while I get an early start on the day’s work.  Plus, it’s dog-friendly!

My favorite professor is…

… Dr. Pete Brosius, professor of ecological and environmental anthropology and director of UGA’s Center for Integrative Conservation Research.  Dr. Brosius has been the best mentor I can imagine during my four years here.  His commitment to balancing environmental conservation with human needs is inspiring to me—environmental politics can be especially polarizing, so I admire Dr. Brosius’ balanced approach.  Dr. Brosius genuinely values the people he works with as friends rather than just professional contacts, and he invests so much into each of his colleagues and students.  Dr. Brosius has connected me with several of his colleagues—with the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law for an internship two summers ago and with his PhD student Victoria Ramenzoni for research in Indonesia last summer—and it’s clear from working with these people how deeply they value their relationship with Dr. Brosius.  Beyond everything I’ve learned from Dr. Brosius about environmental conservation and social justice, I’ve learned even more about the kind of person and colleague I want to be in the future.

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

… the editors of “This I Believe”.  It’s an NPR project that collects and publishes everyday Americans’ essays on the values that guide their lives.  I think that project is so valuable, both as a public dialogue today and as a record for future Americans.  I would love to meet the editors—I imagine that they must have accumulated some special insight about life from reading all those essays.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… be a full-time dancer and choreographer for a couple years.  Dancing, choreographing, and working with fellow company members is so energizing!

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

… open a bakery!  Last year, I took a class on urban food systems, and learned so much about policy, activism, and other public-sector approaches to improving them.  Even though our focus was on public-sector approaches, it pushed me to consider how private businesses could embrace local, sustainable food practices and how much of a difference that would make.  I love dessert, and I imagine opening a bakery that uses local, sustainably grown ingredients and is an engaged part of the community, like so many small businesses in Athens are.  Unfortunately, it turns out that bakeries are near the top of almost every “Most Failed Businesses” list….

After graduation, I plan to…

Between scholarships, study abroad opportunities, internships, and generous professors, I’ve been given a lot over the past four years, and I hope to give back through Teach for America during the two years following graduation.  Afterwards, I plan to pursue either a law degree (focusing on environmental law) or a master’s degree in urban planning, landscape architecture, or historic preservation.  Through advocacy and design, I plan to help make our cities greener, healthier, more beautiful places to live, especially for low-income populations.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… every time we win a home football game, when the players run over to the sidelines near the student section or climb up on the cheerleaders’ platform and dance!  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more proud to be a Bulldawg than dancing along with the whole student section and all the football players to our fight song after we beat Georgia Tech last year!