Amazing Students

Jackson Garner

Ever since Jackson Garner, who will graduate in May with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree, stepped foot on campus, he’s been involved in numerous activities, from conducting research to working in the halls of Congress. The future lawyer says “it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog.”


Savannah, GA

High School:

Herschel V. Jenkins

Degree objective:

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Bachelor of Arts in Economics
Master of Public Administration

Expected graduation:

May 2016

University highlights, achievements and awards:

During my freshman year, I was selected to be a member of the Student Government Association’s Freshman Forum. This program introduced me to about 60 other first-year students and a handful of upperclassmen who served as mentors, which helped me get connected throughout campus and figure out other opportunities to be involved in. One of those opportunities was being a staff member for Dawg Camp, which is a program for incoming first-year students over the summer before their freshman year and is facilitated by the Center for Leadership and Service. I think Dawg Camp is one of the best organizations on campus, and I was honored to be a part of it.

As a sophomore, I was on the executive board of Freshman Focus, a new program for first-year students. Over my college career, I’ve worked with many amazing people on this campus, but the other five members on the exec team were truly all-stars. I also became heavily involved in research. I started out in the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities where professor Elizabeth DeBray supervised my research project on education policy, which was a comparative analysis between the education systems of the United States and Eastern Asian nations. 

I did Honors in Washington the summer after my sophomore year, interning with Congressman Jack Kingston. That was probably the busiest three months of my life to date, but only in good ways. I was able to walk past members of Congress on a daily basis while attending exciting academic, cultural and social events after work. The other 13 members of my internship cohort were all bright, fun and exceptional people. I will always be grateful for the Honors Program, which created my internship opportunity, and most importantly, paid for it. Without that funding, there is no way my summer is possible.

I continued doing research my junior year, where I worked at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government under Rob Gordon. I was able to present my research — tax policy on municipal bonds — to the entire institute.
Also over the past couple of years, I have been an intern in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Working there has been one of my favorite experiences while on campus. I am able to give information sessions to prospective students and talk with families about UGA. On a daily basis, I am able to learn about the cool initiatives, programs and research that colleges across this campus are undertaking, which makes me even happier to call myself a student at this institution. To make my experience even better, I have worked with some other amazing interns while doing it under supportive and encouraging bosses.

Current Employment:

Intern at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Family Ties to UGA:

My great-grandfather, Chick Shiver, was an All-American punter at UGA in the 1920s. Also, according to my family, we’re related to former Dean William Tate, maybe? My grandma pulled out a family tree when I was home for Christmas break one year and he was there … a little distantly, but there nonetheless! I am the first one in my immediate family to graduate college, but my entire family are all Dawgs at heart.

I chose to attend UGA because...

During my senior year of high school, I had this internal debate between choosing UGA and a small, liberal arts college. I ended up coming to UGA because I wanted the opportunities that a larger school offered. There are so many different activities to be involved in and even more people to meet. My decision was validated as soon as I set foot on campus for orientation, where I met my best friend and future roommate.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

I think some of my favorite days on campus are when I run into friends or old professors. A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting outside the library taking a break from studying and kept seeing friends walking across North Campus. My five-minute break turned into an hourlong conversation. Other than that, I love catching a bite to eat in Tate or hanging out on Herty Field.

When I have free time, I like...

I had always heard Athens was a cool town, but didn’t really know why until I became a student. I have been to numerous music and comedy shows at the Georgia Theatre, even if I had no idea who the performers were before going. The shows are always cheap, which makes it even better. I also like to read, whether that is catching up on the latest UGA football recruiting news or a good book. Finally, if I have a few hours to spare, I’ll rewatch old “24” episodes. Still waiting on a new season …

The craziest thing I've done is...

During my summer internship in D.C., I was attending a committee hearing with Congressman Kingston and one of his legislative assistants. About 20 minutes before the show was supposed to start, he got sick and handed me his thick binder full of notes. Even though I had researched the topics being discussed, I had nowhere near the knowledge the assistant did. In those 20 minutes, I tried to cram as much information in my head as possible since he wouldn’t be there. The congressman asked me a couple of questions throughout, and I was able to answer them! Probably the most exciting, yet nerve-wracking three hours of my life.

My favorite place to study is...

I have spent many nights working at the main library, whether writing a paper or studying for a test. They have these carrels on the third and fourth floor, and when you sit in one you almost are forced to study because there is nobody else around you nor any distractions. Baldwin Hall comes in a close second.

My favorite professor is...

Such a difficult question because I’ve taken so many classes with phenomenal professors. Here are just a few.
Loch Johnson is internationally recognized as an expert on counterintelligence. I tried to soak up as much information as I could from him during my sophomore year in his “Strategic Intelligence” course.  Even though he probably had 100 other engagements, he always found time to meet with students outside of class, like meeting me for coffee once a semester after I was no longer his student.

I have taken three graduate classes with Brian Williams in the department of public administration, and each has been better than the last. I love his teaching style, incorporating different methods to keep the material fresh while encouraging class discussion. I always left class each week with some newfound wisdom.

During fall 2013 I enrolled in Michael Lynch’s class on “Social Choice and Institutions,” which was basically applying game theory to political institutions. Dr. Lynch took abstract ideas and made them tangible to present-day politics. His passion for the subject, personality and sense of humor made getting up for an 8 a.m. enjoyable.

Elizabeth DeBray, who I mentioned earlier, definitely deserves to be on this list. Without her, I do not think I would have enrolled in the MPA program. As a timid first-year student, I emailed her asking if I could sit in on her graduate course while she supervised my independent research project the next fall semester. I was a little surprised, but thrilled, to see her show so much enthusiasm about the idea. It was a great course with an even better instructor.

Even though they aren’t professors, a couple of people deserve my eternal gratitude. Joe Davis was my first adviser (SPIA) when I came to orientation and has been with me ever since. I’ve bounced career, internship and life advice off Joe over the past four years and I always leave his office feeling more confident. Additionally, Maria de Rocher in Honors has played an integral role since my sophomore year. Her title, assistant director of Honors programming, doesn’t do her justice because she is truly a jack-of-all-trades who has helped me with myriad things during my time here. Thank you, Joe and Maria!

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

… John Grisham. His political/legal thrillers captivate me every time I read one of his books. He is a brilliant novelist, and I would love to pick his brain for an afternoon.

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

I love food and I love a lot of it, so I would probably become a professional chef so I could learn how to cook many different dishes.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to...

I have only been outside the Eastern time zone three times in my entire life, so traveling is at the top of my to-do list.

After graduation, I plan to...

… work for a year or two before attending law school.

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

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific experience. The UGA-LSU game my junior year will always be memorable. I couldn’t hear myself think during that entire game because it was so loud. Other than that, I will always remember the fun times with my friends over the past few years. From the many places in Athens to New York City, and everywhere in between (New Orleans, Biloxi, Sugar Mountain, Columbia, Chattanooga and Nashville to name just a few), it is always great to be a Georgia Bulldog because of the people I have met here.

Published Sunday,