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Ramsey civic engagement

Ramseys Highlight Service & Leadership

Ramsey Scholar Pranay Udutha talking to Buddhist monks visiting from South Korea

Pranay Udutha Vibha Academic Bowl Outreach Founding Officer; Child Family Health International Medical Volunteer; Ramsey Spring Break Organizer and Volunteer; Student Government AssociationSenator, University Council Member; Residence Hall Association Executive Officer; Student Alumni Council; Thomas Lay After-School Program Mentor; Roosevelt Institute National Security Act Policy Fellow; Honors Program Student Council; UGA MATHCOUNTS Outreach Coach; UGA Miracle Fundraising Committee; Volunteer UGA Network Coordinator for Education and Mentoring

In Athens I’ve been involved in several volunteer organizations, but one of the most important ones has been the most recent. Last year, a few friends and I wanted to start an academic bowl organization and link it to Vibha, a service organization we had been part of when we were much younger. I felt this could link all of my contacts, networking skills, and leadership experience with other organizations on campus. Over the past year, I’ve watched our meetings expand from ten members to more than 40, and I’ve been to several schools and seen our coaches work with the students. It has been a pleasure to create such a service opportunity for UGA students and to build the academic potential of Athens-Clarke County students.

Ramsey Scholar tutoring

This past summer I traveled to the Galápagos Islands with the support of the Honors International Scholarship Program to volunteer in the Galápagos National Park. From feeding and cleaning baby tortoises to swimming with their enormous relatives in the ocean, my mind was blown on a daily basis. I spent the next four weeks on the Ecuadorian mainland, volunteering in community clinics and major hospitals. I learned about the strategies they use to deal with health disparities and was impressed by their expertise in improvising treatments with much less than what we have in the U.S. I also took time to help cook at a community kitchen, where I learned a little bit about how their culture handled public health issues such as teenage pregnancy. Through my conversations with strangers on long bus rides and hikes across the Andes, I gained insights into their universal healthcare system. As a future policy maker, I hope to apply my travels to improving the healthcare system in America.

As a Ramsey Scholar, I was fortunate to have helped coordinate our first Ramsey spring break. With the support of the UGA Foundation, all four years of Ramseys have planned each trip. My freshman year we drove to New Orleans and helped rebuild houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Through my travels, I have seen abject conditions in other corners of the world, but I was shocked to see this in America – six years after the disaster. Working with families to rebuild their homes showed me how aid had not been delivered effectively; it responded to the immediate symptoms in more noticed areas while ignoring the underlying issues that kept the rest of New Orleans from recovering. I used this experience in my research on USAID’s redevelopment efforts after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and I later discussed my experience and research with Dr. Rob Jenkins, the executive director of USAID who was responsible for much of the work I was analyzing and critiquing.

Subsequent Ramsey spring breaks have taken me to Charleston, Miami, and Asheville. We’ve worked in community centers and also in the outdoors volunteering in the Everglades, on the Appalachian Trail, and on the Carolina coast. Planning the trips ourselves and traveling together created bonds between Ramseys of all ages. While organizing an impromptu assembly line at food banks to sort goods and indulging my personal quest to wrestle a ’gator, we grew a lot closer. This kind of community is what makes the scholarship more than just funding.

These experiences have led me to appreciate other cultures, not only in other countries but also in different regions of our own. I will apply these experiences to crafting policies that address the diverse cultures within the U.S. to be more effective in improving public health.

2012 Goldwater ScholarsAmanda Holder Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Curriculum Developer; Whatever It Takes at UGA After-School Program Site Coordinator; Teach For America Campus Campaign Coordinator; Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Summer Camp Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Coordinator; UGA Ramsey Center Group Fitness Instructor, Biggest Loser Trainer; Honors Teaching Assistant

Every child has the right to an excellent education. I am pursuing a career in educational leadership so that I can improve students’ access to compelling instruction and curriculum and opportunities to achieve at high levels. The UGA Honors Program’s combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program has helped me prepare for this career by providing the opportunity to pursue an MEd in educational administration and policy in conjunction with a BS in psychology. Through graduate coursework I have cultivated an understanding of how to develop effective curriculum, promote a positive and healthy culture within a school environment, and motivate students in the classroom. I have also become deeply involved in the Athens-Clarke County community.

As a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, I believe that educators have a responsibility to teach students to nurture both their minds and their bodies. This past summer I was contracted by Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services to develop and implement a fitness, nutrition, and wellness curriculum for approximately 450 six-to-twelve-year-olds at five summer camp sites. Can you imagine trying to get a group of 40 third graders to exercise outside during a Georgia summer? This experience was an endeavor in creativity and patience, and while I did manage to teach the kids how to locate their quadriceps and execute perfect pushups, they taught me a lot more.

I fell in love with the kids of Athens that summer, especially the kids at East Athens Community Center (EACC). Through the Whatever It Takes at UGA student organization, I continued to work with students in East Athens by running the after-school program at EACC. Tutoring, mentoring, and getting to know the students fueled my passion for expanding and improving schooling in our country. I look forward to meeting all of my future students and discovering the different ways that we can impact each other’s lives.

Ramsey Scholars Catherine and Emily Backus

Emily Backus & Catherine Backus Creators of ‘The Skipperdees’ Americana Music Group

One of the best aspects of doing The Skipperdees has been the connections we’ve made in the Athens community, from our monthly performances for the folks at Jessie B. Denney Tower to a summer reunion during AthFest, from townies at the Go Bar to babies at the Farmer’s Market. I know so many more artists and consumers than if we’d kept to the confines of UGA. Many folks whom I first considered heroes and mentors (Kyshona Armstrong, Hope For Agoldensummer, Caroline Herring, to name a few) are now friends.

I think one of the reasons our music resonates with such a wide range of folks is that we give a lot of ourselves in the writing and performance of each song. Every time we play a show, I relive the hurts of my parents’ divorce, the loneliness of long-term depression. I am proud of what Catherine and I have created. It is timeless in its honesty and has elicited strong reactions from frat boys and old hippies alike.

I’ve learned that audiences deserve to have a wide variety of perspectives presented and that those of us who have achieved a modicum of success in the local scene have to do our best to help out unique newer acts. Teaching just one audience member that two young women can be good at writing and singing songs is our most important goal. If we’ve prepared hundreds of ears to be more receptive to the next nontraditional act that comes along, The Skipperdees will have been a success.


Ramsey Honors
Contact Information

Scholarships Office
Emily Shirley,
Program Administrator

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