The University of Georgia
Jones, Shelby

UGA's Amazing Students

Shelby Jones

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December 13, 2010

Shelby Jones found her passion for literature and the written word at UGA and has put it to work through the CURO program, where she studied the validity of the English major. She participated in the Oxford study abroad program and was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s life and work. After graduation, she will pursue a master’s degree in English teaching and hopes to travel and teach abroad.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2010

Degree objective:

AB in English and a minor in Women’s Studies

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I was chosen to be a part of UGA Leadership, which is focusing on leadership in times of crisis this year. My cohort and I are working on a mentoring program for Clarke Central High School sophomores who are in danger of dropping out of school. I am a member of the Triota Women’s Studies Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Golden Key Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta International Collegiate Honors, and I am the community service vice president of Sigma Alpha Lambda Honors Fraternity and Active Minds, Inc., through which I have worked with various local non-profit organizations such as the Athens Boys and Girls Club and the Food Bank. In spring 2009, I was nominated for the Virginia Walter and Joshua Brown Scholarship for Best Essay in English 3000. I have been a member of the English Advisory Council since my freshman year, and I run the peer mentoring program, which matches upper-level students with first- and second-year students to provide the opportunity for more advice for future English majors and hopefully allow for a more cohesive department.

I chose to attend UGA because...

…growing up in Monroe, which is only about thirty minutes away and lacks a movie theater or a large book store, I was very familiar with Athens. My friends and I would often drive here looking for a great slice of pizza at Little Italy or a concert at 40 Watt. I worked with the Alcove Youth Shelter in Monroe for four years, and many of the volunteers there were students in the UGA School of Social Work. They were always telling me about how wonderful the campus was and how challenging and helpful the professors were. I decided to take a tour of the university, and when I first walked around the dark halls of Park Hall and climbed its worn marble steps, I realized that there might be a place for me here. I was a little wary about attending a large university whose reputation was football and Greek-oriented, which aren’t among my interests, but I have discovered an amazingly supportive community within the English department.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

…to walk around campus and explore its nooks and crannies. Sometimes I am quite surprised by what I find. One of my favorite places is the Founder’s Garden. I often go there to read or write. I also love the rare books section in the library. I always feel as though I am being let in on an incredible secret when I walk into that room and look into the display cases.

The craziest thing I've done is...

…take a trip with a few friends to Monte Verde and San Jose, Costa Rica, for AP biology in high school. We went on a canopy tour and then on zip-lines through the rain forest. I can actually say that I have flown through a cloud. We also rode on horseback through coffee plantations and up to one of the inactive volcanoes. I consider it the craziest thing I have done because it was the first time I let myself out of my normal environment.

My favorite place to study is...

… the somewhat shaded, apartment porch. I can watch the seasons change, people walking up and down the street, and the birds. It has the perfect amount of background noise and fresh air.

My favorite professor is...

… changes everyday. Over my career as an English major, however, there is really one professor who stands out. Dr. Sujata Iyengar has been the most challenging professor of both my writing and way I approach literature. I participated in CURO with her in Spring 2009 discussing the validity of the English major, and we studied the critics who have challenged the humanities all the way back to Plato. I first met her, however, in English 3000. I remember listening to her lectures and being blown away by her range of knowledge. She inspired me to study more than just literature and expand my skills of reading, writing, interpreting and discussing into all areas of my life. She has been very interested in developing my writing and is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. Dr. Iyengar is incredibly welcoming and she is very supportive of any ideas that students bring to her. She is also extremely flexible with her syllabus, and changes it according to the students’ interests. She is passionate about her own work in Elizabethan literature, but she, more than any professor I have ever encountered, expands this into so many other areas such as science or theater. She has helped me learn to make difficult decisions involving my future without overwhelming myself with stress, and I feel as though she has taken a personal interest in my studies. She has become a real mentor to me.

I also would like to mention my women’s studies 4010 professor, Dr. Cecilia Herles, who creates a classroom environment that thrives on discussion and complete respect and who has been the mentor to me for my minor. I admire how she handles the incredibly sensitive material that we discuss. She is so open to allowing students to bring their own experiences and interests into their writing so that it really forms an intimate bond with the texts and theories. I hope to one day run a classroom as she does.

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

… my father’s mother, Juanita Jones. I never had the chance to meet her because she passed away before I was born. From the way my family describes her, she seems like an incredibly giving and challenging woman. I am very close with my father, and it would be really poignant to meet the woman who shaped his courage and incredible generosity. I would love to learn more about her life and maybe get her to teach me a little Creole.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

… open up Project Safe programs and more schools all over the world. I think the work like that of Eve Ensler, who began The Vagina Monologues, is really incredible. I have spoken with so many kids in various communities who are afraid to speak to people and feel completely ignored and as though they have no real futures. I can only imagine what it is like in other countries. I think that they need a voice. I also think that voice can be found in poetry and literature. Women, in my opinion, are the heart of oppression throughout this world and I think that once they are given the power of speech and access to proper health care and education, people will really begin to see the development of a global community committed to preventing horrific conditions such as famine, sex trafficking and the spread of AIDS.

After graduation, I plan to...

… open up Project Safe programs and more schools all over the world. I think the work like that of Eve Ensler, who began The Vagina Monologues, is really incredible. I have spoken with so many kids in various communities who are afraid to speak to people and feel completely ignored and as though they have no real futures. I can only imagine what it is like in other countries. I think that they need a voice. I also think that voice can be found in poetry and literature. Women, in my opinion, are the heart of oppression throughout this world and I think that once they are given the power of speech and access to proper health care and education, people will really begin to see the development of a global community committed to preventing horrific conditions such as famine, sex trafficking and the spread of AIDS.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

…my study abroad trip to Oxford. It was the most intellectually and spiritually stimulating experience that I have ever had. I had a ton of fun just walking around the amazing Trinity campus and meeting new people. The tutorial-style courses were so refreshing and I feel like I flourished. My favorite part of the trip, however, was visiting Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Monk House. Walking among the lush and fragrant gardens and seeing the dappled desk where Virginia Woolf wrote inspired me to continue to travel and never stop challenging myself as a student. The Virginia Woolf course, taught by David Bradshaw, made me pay so much more attention to words and the powerful beauty that they possess.