Morgann Lyles isn’t afraid of adventures—or changing her major to suit her life’s goals. The Foundation Fellowship drew her to UGA, and her majors in French and African-American studies are now expanding her horizons beyond her expectations.
The Westminster Schools
AB in French, AB in African American Studies
University highlights, achievements and awards:
• Foundation Fellowship
• Group trips to NYC/DC; Oxford, England; Berlin, Germany; and Delhi, India
• Individual trips to Abomey, Benin; Xela, Guatemala; and Montreal, Canada
• Honors in Washington internship with Congressman David Scott (summer 2011)
• Cecil B. Willcox Award for Excellence in French (spring 2011)
• Black Theatrical Ensemble: Current President
• SAT preparation and college admissions/financial aid information to high school students at my church, Ebenezer Baptist Church East, and elsewhere in the Athens community
Family Ties to UGA:
My cousin, Keith Barksdale Jr., graduated with an A.B. in history in 2010.
I chose to attend UGA because...
...of the Foundation Fellowship. I really couldn’t find a better deal anywhere! I get to travel the world with some of the most brilliant people on the face of the earth—and still catch all of the SEC football action between the hedges. I still thank God quite frequently that I turned down a school with a bigger name in favor of pursuing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
...seeing friends while walking up and down Sanford Drive during a class change, experiencing a breathtaking show in the intimate Cellar Theatre, watching the pre-game video narrated by Larry Munson before a big game in Sanford Stadium, oh, and going to class!
When I have free time, I like...
...to learn the lyrics to (fairly) clean rap songs and attempt to recite them to the instrumental beat and watch game shows, like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
The craziest thing I've done is...
…completely change the course of my life by leaving my microbiology/pre-med intentions behind in exchange for African American Studies and French, which do not lend themselves as easily to a prestigious career. But I believe that the person I am today more closely approximates the person I was created to be, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
My favorite place to study is...
...in an open space, like my room or a rarely frequented section of stacks in the main library. I study best when I pace in a circle and read aloud, so the table and chair configuration often doesn’t work for me.
My favorite professor is...
Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’ve had a lot of great professors here. I’ll pick Dr. R. Baxter Miller and Dr. Diana Ranson, who are actually married! I took African American poetry with Dr. Miller, and I am currently taking my second French linguistics course with Dr. Ranson. They both challenge their students to think outside the box and challenge preconceived notions they may have held about those who are different from themselves.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
I would love to share it with the late Dr. W.E.B DuBois. I first read his masterpiece, “The Souls of Black Folk,” in Introduction to African American Studies (AFAM 2000) with Dr. Freda Scott Giles last year. I was amazed that his observations on the personal and social implications of race are still very much true today. I would love to hear his comments on the progress we have made as a people and the steps we still need to take in order to achieve multiracial harmony.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
...audition to act in a sitcom or become a stand-up comedian. I guess that’s pretty much the same thing.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
...travel the world alphabetically. Allow me to explain. When I was younger, I loved reading about distant lands in our family encyclopedia. I managed to memorize the first and last cities within each letter of the alphabet: Aachen and Avignon, Baden-Baden and Butte, etc. I still know them all! 26 letters, two cities per letter = 52 cities. And there are 52 weeks in a year. Get the picture?
After graduation, I plan to...
...teach English in France for a year before going to graduate school to become certified as a kindergarten through 12th grade French teacher in the U.S. I am interested in revolutionizing public schools in America on a national scale, so eventually I’d love to enter the realm of educational administration and/or policy.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
...is getting to hear Congressman John Lewis speak for the first time at the annual Freedom Breakfast event my freshman year. I have heard him speak twice more since then—once at UGA—and I have spoken with him more informally during my D.C. internship over the summer. He is one of my heroes because of his genuine desire to ensure that every human being living in the U.S. has access to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness promised by the Declaration of Independence. He fought for human rights alongside Dr. King, and he continues to do so today, whether addressing immigration reform or the budget deficit. He doesn’t just talk the talk, as do many politicians. Congressman Lewis walks the walk.