As a Ramsey Scholar and Foundation Fellow, junior Allison Koch has found the perfect academic community to pursue her goals, and she even finds time to keep working toward her dream of competing in a triathlon.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
John F. Kennedy Senior High
A.B. in anthropology, A.B. in Latin American and Caribbean studies, minor in ecology
University highlights, achievements and awards:
When I was a junior in high school, I started my college search with 75 potential colleges. I slowly embarked on the great task of narrowing that selection. By senior year, I had four Southern schools on my list—Alabama, LSU, UGA, and Texas A&M. All offered me great scholarship awards. When I was invited to the University of Georgia as a Bernard Ramsey Scholar, I realized what a great program UGA has to offer its scholars. I was in. And I am so happy with my decision. The scholarship has been so much more than funding; it is a community of motivated students and truly caring faculty that have helped me grow in so many ways.
Freshman year, I pursued interests in archeology, interning for a semester in the archeology lab under Jared Wood. I worked on digitizing data for a Native American mound site in Southwest Georgia. The following summer, I interned in Malang, Indonesia, teaching English at a kindergarten and living with a host family for nearly two months. This was a challenging experience, but it was invaluable in directing my future academic and career path.
Sophomore year, I decided to focus my anthropology interests in Latin America, specifically on cultural interactions with the neotropical forests. During that next summer, I lived on an island in Bocas del Toro, Panama, studying at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation. It was an incredible four weeks, solidifying my love for the rain forest environment and cultures of Latin America.
UGA further enhanced my university experience when I was honored with the Mid-Term Foundation Fellowship. The community of Fellows and Ramseys encourages me to pursue so many of my aspirations, abroad and at home. The past two spring breaks I have enjoyed with my Ramsey friends. We first went to Charleston to volunteer at an elementary school, a local food bank and SCORE, an oyster restoration program. Last year, we went to Miami, where we aided in beach cleanup, national park maintenance and another food bank.
Community service activities have always been important to me, wherever I may be. Before coming to UGA, I organized a campaign for the American Heart Association, in which I bicycled from Canada to Mexico promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising funds. Since coming to Athens, I have volunteered at numerous athletic events and river cleanups. I am also race director and cycling instructor for the UGA Triathlon Club and help promote our local triathlon in the spring.
This past semester, I studied abroad at UGA Costa Rica. There I delved further into tropical ecology and was able to strengthen my skills speaking Spanish. It was one of the greatest experiences I have had at UGA. The people in my program were incredible; we were able to develop great relationships with each other and with the professors.
Lifeguard at UGA’s Ramsey Student Center
Family Ties to UGA:
I have no family ties here. I didn’t know a single person in the entire state of Georgia before deciding to move.
I chose to attend UGA because...
… I was offered the Bernard Ramsey Scholarship. When I came here to visit, I was thoroughly impressed with the attention that this program devotes to each student. No other scholarships I had been offered compare. I wanted to go out-of-state (Iowa winters are much too cold), and this scholarship made that possible for me. The campus is also gorgeous and situated in a great town. There are so many unique places within walking distance—great restaurants, music venues, a pottery studio.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
I love running. The campus is beautiful, and the hills make it a great workout. And yes, I even really like going to class.
When I have free time, I like...
… swimming, biking, running … triathlons. I also enjoy cooking and baking, games, puzzles and learning languages.
The craziest thing I've done is...
Biking across the country was pretty crazy. It was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and mentally. Once, I was on the road for 13 hours—I had 137 miles scheduled for that day and was fighting a 30 mph headwind.
My favorite place to study is...
… anywhere outside. I like to find a new place each time I want to sit somewhere and study. The ecology pond, the Founders Memorial Garden, the Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden and outside of the Georgia Center (once they bring out the tropical plants in the spring) are some of my favorites.
My favorite professor is...
… Scott Connelly. So many of my professors have been so great, and I have learned so much from each one of them. But Scott was my professor and mentor in Costa Rica. He taught me so much about tropical ecology and research methods. He also made the whole experience incredibly enjoyable. From talking about the many ways frogs raise their young, to countless games of intense Bananagrams, Scott would always squeeze a little fun between already interesting lectures.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
I would love to share it with Chrissie Wellington, a four-time Ironman Triathlon world champion. It has always been a dream of mine to do an Ironman (2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running) and eventually qualify for the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. I’m sure Chrissie could give me some great advice and encouragement.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
… climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on every continent. I would be most worried about losing all of my fingers from the cold.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
Aside from climbing mountains and doing triathlons around the world, I would love to start sustainable orphanage/boarding schools in needy areas. These facilities would be safe homes for children and education centers, and set with enough property to grow food for the children and employees.
After graduation, I plan to...
I may take a year to work or gain additional experience abroad. I then want to enter into graduate school for an integrative program combining anthropology, the environment and possibly global health. I would love to eventually become a professor, teach student groups abroad and work for National Geographic.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
Study abroad in Costa Rica on the UGA campus was the most unforgettable experience. Not only did I learn all about tropical ecology and conservation, but I also got to learn how to surf, snorkel in the Caribbean, ride horseback through the mountains, zipline over the canopy, tour a coffee farm and pick the “cherries,” see how chocolate is made, live with two local families, hike 14 kilometers to a world-renowned surf break and back, lie in a hammock with a volcano in the distance, involuntarily pet a tarantula, learn bachata and merengue, and conduct my own research. I loved learning about the tropical environment by being immersed within it.