Amazing Students Profiles

Jayanthi Narain

Jayanthi Narain

Studying and working abroad is not new for Jayanthi Narain. Through her Foundation Fellowship, UGA’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship, she has traveled to New Zealand, South Korea and the Galapagos Islands. In the summer of 2006, she was involved in an HIV/AIDS education program set up in primary and secondary schools in Malawi, a country in southeastern Africa. Last December, Narain visited Cambodia as an intern for Heritage Watch, a non-profit organization devoted to preserving Cambodia’s cultural legacy. In Cairo, she taught English to refugees and worked closely with a Sudanese refugee family whose children could not attend school. Additionally, Narain has been busy in campus organizations that reflect her interests in women’s issues. She is the founder of STOP (Sexual violence Targeted Outreach and Prevention), a group focused on sexual violence awareness, and she has helped organize activities such as “Take Back the Night,” an annual community-wide event. As a member of Amnesty International, Narain has encouraged discussion about genocide and women’s rights. In addition to her double major, Narain has minors in French and Arabic. Her career aspirations include working in economic development, particularly on sustainable community-based solutions to poverty and giving special attention to women in the Middle East or South Asia.


Macon, Ga.

High School:

Central High School

Degree objective:

A.B. in International Affairs and economics with minors in French and Arabic

Expected graduation:

Spring 2007

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I was recently awarded the Marshall Scholarship to pursue graduate study in the United Kingdom for two years. I have had some priceless opportunities to travel and study abroad through the Foundation Fellowship scholarship. I have been able to volunteer in Malawi, intern in Cambodia, and even spend a spring break meditating in a Korean Buddhist nunnery. As a recipient of the National Security and Education Program David Boren scholarship, I spent six months in Cairo, Egypt studying Arabic, Middle Eastern politics and economics. On campus, I am involved with the UGA Model UN team and Amnesty International. I also have participated in planning events like Take Back the Night in past years.

Family Ties to UGA:

My younger brother, Balaji, is a third-year student at UGA. He is also an economics major, and we’ve ended up registering for the same classes once or twice without the other knowing. It’s always amusing to see professors and other students try to figure out whether we’re related or not.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…it was too perfect a fit to turn down, and it is close to home. With the establishment of SPIA and the international affairs major, UGA offered the course of study I sought, plus plenty of opportunities to explore other academic and extracurricular interests. Athens really represented balance to me, an environment where I would get all the benefits of a large research university in a friendly, interesting college town.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…find a patch of grass and nap on sunny, warm days. In my waking hours, I like catching movie screenings presented by different groups on campus. There are always some really fascinating documentaries and foreign films I wouldn’t have a chance to see otherwise. I also love walking down Sanford Drive or catching a bus on the orbit route and recognizing half the people I see. Even at such a large university, one of the best aspects of UGA is that it is nearly impossible to spend time on campus without bumping into friends.

When I have free time, I like…

…to curl up and read, pore over cookbooks, and spend time with my wonderful roommates and other friends. Plus there are so many concerts and other events around town that it really takes effort to be bored!

My favorite place to study is…

…the Jittery Joe’s at Five Points. I think the dim lighting, cozy seating and, of course, a constant supply of peppermint mochas makes for a great no-pressure study environment. Otherwise, I study at the Athens Public Library or the UGA library, unless an all-nighter during finals drives me to the SLC.

My favorite professor is…

…Maurits van der Veen in the international affairs department. His classes are challenging, and his selection of books and readings is always really interesting. Another professor who really shaped my experience at UGA is Eve Troutt Powell. Though she is no longer at UGA, her class on the history of the modern Middle East really made an impact on my career plans. She had a rare ability to make the most complex of situations and regions accessible and understandable. Every day, I would read the news and realize how crucial historical context is when analyzing issues in the Middle East.

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

…my extended family. Since most of my family lives in India, and the family I do have in America is scattered all over, occasions where we all get together are very rare. I’d love to have a noisy family get-together with cousins running around and aunts and uncles reminiscing about my grandparents and their childhoods in India.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…become a travel photographer and wander the world. I love taking pictures wherever I go, but it takes real commitment and time to either wait for the perfect shot or grab an opportunity if it arises spontaneously. I think photography is such a versatile art form; it is structured, intimate, and mutable depending on the light and circumstances.

After graduation, I plan to…

…attend graduate school in the United Kingdom. I will spend next year pursuing an M.Sc. in Development Studies at the London School of Economics. The year after that, I will study for a master of arts degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…the first time I attended Take Back the Night my sophomore year. I had the privilege of working with other students and members of the Athens community to plan the event. The evening ended with a march through downtown and a speakout near the Arch. It a powerfully emotional and unforgettable experience, as complete strangers from UGA and the Athens community opened up to each other about the most personal events in their lives.