Senior Helen Smith attends the University of Georgia, but the world has been her campus. As a Foundation Fellow, she has had the opportunity for international travel, which has given her a unique perspective in her area of study: International Affairs. Her travels have been the impetus for her social consciousness. She would like to turn the world away from its dependency on nonrenewable resources and over-consumption and increase the accountability and transparency of governments worldwide. In an ideal world, she would also reduce the gaps between the poor and rich and halt the homogenization and sprawl in America and other developed nations. She teaches English as a Second Language at Catholic Social Services and she is involved with the UGA chapter of Amnesty International and the Delta Prize for Global Understanding. She was a contributing writer for Pambazuka News, writing articles like “Sudanese Refugees in Cairo: We’ll wait here, we’ll die here” and “UNHCR responds to the Cairo refugee sit-in: An official response.” After graduation, she plans to continue to explore the world and see what life has in store.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Myers Park High School
A.B. in International Affairs
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Being awarded the Foundation Fellowship was and is a fantastic experience and the biggest honor of my time at UGA. Through it I have been able to study everything from ecology in New Zealand, the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa, evolution in Ecuador, and Arabic in Morocco and Egypt. Studying abroad at The American University in Cairo during the fall semester of 2005 was a tremendous highlight of my time at UGA. While there I had the opportunity to help research and interview Sudanese refugees who had gathered in demonstration for the largest and longest-running refugee protest ever recorded. With a team of other students I was able to help write and publish two articles in Pambazuka News, Africa’s largest social-justice news network. Teaching English has been the best part of my week for the past three years, both in Cairo and with Catholic Social Services in Athens teaching Hispanic immigrants. Other honors include my induction into Blue Key, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Dean Tate Honor Society. I’ve also been part of the leadership team of Let’s LEED!, a UGA student coalition advocating for the new Tate II building to be LEED certified and become a ‘green’ building. This past summer I was an intern for Worldchanging.com, a constant inspiration and daily read for a green and sustainable future. My largest leadership role at UGA was acting as the training director for WUOG 90.5 FM; I loved every minute on the executive board and am proud of my time helping to lead the station.
I am currently an intern at The Carter Center in Atlanta, working with the peace programs and Visiting Fellow Peter Bell, who just completed a 10-year presidency at CARE. I like to claim that I am now two degrees away from Bono of the music group U2, because among his many endeavors, Bell is currently chairman of the board of the ONE Campaign. Among other things, I am doing a lot of research on development in Haiti, HIV/AIDS and debt relief in Africa.
Family Ties to UGA:
My mom’s parents both graduated from UGA. My granddad gets tears in his eyes when he tells the story of being offered a place at UGA as part of the G.I. Bill, even though he hadn’t completed high school, and my grammy commuted to Athens from Gainesville for six years to get degrees in fine arts and art therapy. My cousin, Katherine, also recently graduated from UGA and is now working as a university studies advisor.
I chose to attend UGA because…
The Foundation Fellowship was certainly a huge factor in providing a wealth of opportunities and support. I also felt immediately at home on the campus with the truly special Southern friendliness of everyone I met. It has only become more apparent to me over my years at UGA that our school has so much to offer by way of its tremendous student body, dedicated professors, and drive to become an even better public institution.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
...sitting in the DJ booth at WUOG on the 5th floor of Memorial Hall, sharing my love for diverse music and spinning the best of rare and unheard oldies on my show, Who Put the Bomp? Wandering through the art building is also high up on the list, as is sprawling out on Herty Field on a sunny day.
When I have free time, I like…
...to have mini dance parties, putting on crazy hats or pieces from my personal costume collection and dancing around the room. I also love going to trapeze classes at Canopy Studio and swinging upside down with my friends. Listening to music, DJing, or reading the New York Times also rank highly on my list, in addition to looking up recipes to make good vegetarian food and sharing meals with friends.
The craziest thing I've done is…
...try to get from the Casablanca airport to Fez, Morocco with a poor command of the Arabic language on a train whose conductor didn’t feel the need to announce the upcoming stations. I have a kind French woman to thank for asking me where I was going and upon my reply of “Fez” she informed me that we were in Fez! There are many parts of my time in both Morocco and Egypt that would probably classify as crazy, but they were absolutely fantastic experiences.
My favorite place to study is…
...in the lobby of the radio station or in Hot Corner. With both places the challenge is to keep myself from getting distracted by the people and the music, but I have to have at least a little bit of background noise to help me focus on my work.
My favorite professor is…
...Christopher Allen in the International Affairs Department. He loves to challenge students and engage with them on both philosophical and personal levels. He is always available to talk and is incredibly supportive. I also can’t help but love a professor who I’ve run into at EarthFare wearing soccer cleats and buying up organic vegetables.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
...my mom, my aunts, and my grandmothers when they were my age. I think it would be a special afternoon and an opportunity to see how some things have changed a lot and how other things never do.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
...turn the world away from its dependency on nonrenewable resources and over-consumption and increase the accountability and transparency of governments worldwide. I would also reduce the increasing gaps between the poor and rich and halt the homogenization and sprawl plaguing America and other developed nations. I think it would also be fun to instantaneously become one of the best modern dancers in the world and speak lots of different languages.
After graduation, I plan to…
...explore the world! I have a list a mile long of places I would like to go: today Libya, tomorrow Bolivia, and everywhere in between. Ideally I would like to find a job or a fellowship abroad dealing with sustainable development, but I know that my life so far has been better than any plans I could have made, so who knows where I’ll end up.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
...getting a call at 4 a.m. from a friend to let me know that it was our first snow day at UGA. The whole day was full of ‘ice skating’ in the parking decks, having snowball fights, and sharing cozy moments inside drinking hot chocolate. I hope I get another one of these before I graduate!