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elizabeth allan ('12) arabic, economics, international affairs; master of international policy; critical language scholar

While pursuing degrees in Arabic, economics, and international affairs and a joint master's degree in international policy, Elizabeth Allan has developed a great admiration for the on-campus resources available to her.

It wasn’t until her second sojourn to Morocco, however, that her devotion to UGA’s Arabic program truly came into focus. Elizabeth spent the summer in Morocco, continuing her Arabic studies through the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), and she previously spent five weeks there as part of a Maymester program.

“My interaction with other CLS students has only increased my appreciation for UGA’s Arabic program,” says Elizabeth, who is set to graduate in May 2012. “The fact that I can take classes in Advanced Arabic, Koranic Arabic, and Media Arabic at UGA is amazing from an educational perspective. The language skills are critical to communicating with Arab people on a one-on-one basis and, through this communication, truly understanding people's desires and needs.”

With an eye on serving as an educational officer in a Middle East bureau of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Elizabeth says much of her course of study has well prepared her for the future.

“The wide variety of courses offered at UGA and the opportunity for students to pursue a dual BA/MA has allowed me to delve into economics, political science, and statistics at both the undergraduate and graduate level,” she says. “These courses will equip me with the analytical skills and political and cultural knowledge that are necessary for my career goals.”

A Presidential Scholar and member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Delta, Elizabeth wants to make the world a better place, but her quest for the big picture hasn’t dimmed her desire to see the small picture, as evidenced by her community service work in Athens, which in spite of the presence of UGA is one of the state’s poorest communities.

To that end, Elizabeth serves as director of the Thomas Lay After School Program, which provides educational help to elementary and middle school students in Athens. She says that what she’s received from the program is equal to or better than what she’s put into it.

“Giving back to the community has always been important to me, and when I entered UGA, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work,” she says. “I had no idea what a fundamental part of my life Thomas Lay would become. Athens-Clarke County is among the poorest counties in the nation, and the lack of educational achievement among many students contributes to this cycle of poverty.

“I see the Thomas Lay After School Program as a way that UGA students can make a positive impact on the lives of students in Athens-Clarke County, in addition to being a fulfilling and fun way to play and interact with the wonderful students who attend.”

A presenter at the 2010 CURO Symposium and a member of UGA’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute (where she’ll serve this year as a teaching assistant in the Roosevelt Scholars course), Elizabeth says her two final UGA semesters will find her polishing her Arabic, continuing her work with the Thomas Lay program and feeding “the nerd within.”

“I don’t feel like I’m adding anything new to my plans for senior year,” she says. “Instead, my activities seem like a natural continuation of the goals that I have been working towards. I am extremely excited about my plans for senior year. I will be a T.A. in the Roosevelt Scholars course, which means that I will be teaching policy analysis skills to undergraduates and helping them research and write full-length policy papers. I am excited about supporting the continuation of an organization that has helped me immensely throughout my time at UGA.

“I also am going to focus on improving my statistical skills during my last two semesters at UGA. My experience as a master’s student has demonstrated the importance of advanced statistical and econometric skills for accurately engaging in quantitative analysis. I have to admit that the nerd in me can’t wait to take another calculus class and have math in my life again. These skills will help me complete my capstone policy analysis paper for my master’s degree in International Policy.”

And as her senior year unfolds, Elizabeth continues to be bowled over by all the treasures she’s discovered within the Foundation Fellowship.

“I could talk forever about what an amazing gift the Fellowship has been to my life,” she says. “Since my time at UGA, I have set foot on six continents. Because of this wide variety of experiences, I can honestly say that I am more socially, culturally, politically, and environmentally conscious than would be possible if I had limited my exploration of other nations to textbooks. The lessons that I have naturally learned by simply living in a country like Morocco for nine weeks will have a lasting impact on my world view, and this personal and intellectual development would not have been possible without the Foundation Fellowship.

“And the support system within the Fellowship - and really this is available to all Honors students - is also exceptional. Finally, I was extremely lucky to enter college with an automatic network of smart, interesting, and kind friends. One aspect of the Fellowship that I really appreciate is its inexplicable ability to attract genuine and kind people. We are a Fellowship, and the friendships we have within this amazing network are some of the deepest and closest that I could hope to form.”

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