In order to prepare for a career as a political officer in the State Department’s Foreign Service, Ashley Bartlett (AB International Affairs, AB History ’11) knew the University of Georgia was the logical choice for her undergraduate studies.
“I chose to attend UGA because of the School for Public and International Affairs,” says Ashley an Honors International Scholar and Presidential Scholar who graduated in May. “I was considering a couple schools, but very few actually had degrees in international affairs.
“I also liked that SPIA did not have a particular area or region of focus, enabling the flexibility I desired. I also chose UGA because of all the language and history classes available. I knew that no matter which region I ended up studying, I would be able to study the language and history of that region as well, a key component to the true understanding of a culture and country.”
A Truman Scholar nominee who earlier this year received the prestigious Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship (one of only 15 students selected and the first UGA student to earn the honor), Ashley accumulated a wealth of experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
On campus, she was a Scholar in the UGA chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a student-run think tank, studied ancient Chinese military thought and was a founding member of the Georgia Grand Strategy Group, and served as an Honors teaching assistant, eventually being named an Honors Teaching Fellow.
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Ashley’s travels have taken her to Oxford, England, where she spent three months as an international affairs and history exchange student in the UGA Study Abroad Program, and to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, where she learned Mandarin at an intensive language immersion program as part of UGA’s Honors International Scholarship.
But it was in Washington, DC where Ashley gained the inside edge on her future. In a four-month internship at the State Department, she worked in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ Office of Regional Security and Policy Analysis, earning a “top security clearance” and working on a host of projects.
“My work with the Regional Security and Policy office reaffirmed my belief in diplomatic solutions and my desire to become a Foreign Service officer to promote better bilateral relations between the United States and foreign countries,” says Ashley of the internship, which was arranged through UGA’s Washington Semester Program.
She also took part in the Washington-based Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program, studying political economy, United States diplomatic history, and technical writing.
Noting that “immersion is the life of a Foreign Service Officer,” Ashley’s engagement with international affairs began as a UGA first year, when she traveled to Kutchan, Japan, as part of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program.
“I went with WWOOF, through which I found a family to serve as my host for a month,” she says. “They owned a bed and breakfast and also operated some classes for tourists on rafting and ice-cream making. I helped them cook, clean, weed, and even farm.
“It was the most work I have ever done in my life, and it was the most fish I have ever eaten in my life, too. I learned a lot about myself, my adaptability, Japan, and Japanese culture. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I’m glad I did it by myself and so early in my college career.”
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