BJ Ard has a passion for social justice. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Women’s Studies Student Organization, and he has also been influential in beginning a new organization, Triota, which will be UGA’s first women’s studies honor society. For the past two years, he coordinated the Athens Clarke County Take Back the Night Rally. He is a member of the Honors Program and is simultaneously pursuing a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and a master’s degree in non-profit organizations, as well as minoring in sociology. He has a 4.0 GPA and has received numerous recognitions for his academic excellence, such as a national merit scholarship and membership in Golden Key and Phi Beta Kappa. He has received UGA’s Foundation Fellowship and used the scholarship to study abroad in New Zealand and South Korea. Last summer, he also was selected for a 10-week internship program in India by the Foundation for Sustainable Development. While he was there, he worked with Seva Mandir, an organization devoted to women’s and children’s development. Additionally, Ard is active as a mentor in the Athens Clarke County Mentoring Program, he has volunteered in the Lambda Alliance, and he worked with the Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to locate displaced families. He also acted as a deputy registrar during the 2004 election in order to help increase turnout in under-represented populations.
Warner Robins, Georgia
Warner Robins High School
A.B. in Women’s Studies and M.A. in Nonprofit Organizations
University highlights, achievements and awards:
The UGA Foundation Fellowship has given me the awesome opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand, South Korea and India, where I worked for more than two months with a local nongovernmental organization where I engaged in self-directed empowerment research. My task was to develop pictorial journals which local women's groups are now using to build group solidarity and problem solving skills to create profound changes in their lives, homes and communities.
On campus, I have served as co-chair of the Women's Studies Student Organization for the 2005-2006 school year and helped mobilize the campus and local community for progressive, feminist activism while simultaneously working towards my bachelor of women's studies and master of nonprofit organizations degrees. I have also helped coordinate Take Back the Night, a community-empowering event to end sexual and domestic violence, proofread for Patrick Williams' sociology text, Gaming as Culture, mentored at the Athens-Clarke County alternative school through TEACH, and volunteered with Students Against Apathy and Lambda Alliance.
For the past three semesters, I have worked as a Campus Campaign Manager with Teach For America. My job is to make sure everyone on campus knows that Teach For America offers seniors the amazing opportunity to make an impact directly out of college by teaching for two years in a low-income community and helping kids across the country find more opportunities in life by becoming high-achievers.
I chose to attend UGA because...
...the campus is such a large community, spanning so many different interests, that I knew it would give me the chance to explore different majors, extracurricular activities and social groups. I expected to find the best fit for what I really wanted to do during my undergraduate years and prepare myself for whatever direction I chose for the rest of my life.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
...checking out the events that student groups are planning. Whether there’s a dance party with WUOG, a refugee panel with Amnesty International, or a cultural event with ICE, there’s always a new horizon to explore on campus.
When I have free time, I like...
...to spend time with my friends. I love cooking, so potlucks are my favorite kind of get-together. I’m also a part-time gamer, and you may be able to find me around the table with my gaming buddies if you catch me on a free weekend.
The craziest thing I've done is...
...trapeze. This semester I’ve started taking lessons at Canopy Studio, a local performing arts nonprofit on Tracy Street. I used to be terrified of heights, but now I feel a rush of excitement every time I grab the bar. My whole body feels great afterwards.
My favorite place to study is...
...Herty Field in the spring. The weather is great, the sound from the fountain helps me concentrate, and the traffic is just right so I can see a few of my friends and get some work done too.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
...Starhawk, a feminist activist whose vision of social justice for all people and conservation of the natural environment has inspired me since I first read The Spiral Dance in high school. I would love to hear her insights after more than thirty years of working for social change to help guide me as I begin my own career in the field.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
...start a nonprofit organization whose mission was to coordinate action towards ending all forms of oppression, eliminating poverty and protecting the natural environment. There are plenty of existing organizations who are working hard on each of these issues, but now is the time for everyone to realize the connections between these issues and to bring our time and resources together to achieve lasting solutions.
After graduation, I plan to...
...spend two years as a Teach For America Corps member, helping kids realize their potential so that they have every possible opportunity in life. After that, I want to gain experience directing a social justice nonprofit before returning to school for a law degree.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
...the March for Women’s Lives. In April of my freshman year, members of UGAChoices invited me to the life-altering experience of joining a million other activists in Washington, D.C., where I ultimately decided to align my studies with my passion for social justice by becoming a women’s studies and nonprofit organizations major.