UGA’s most prestigious academic scholarship provides students with academic funding, stipends for travel-study, and research and conference grants
Growing up in Athens, many high school students feel like they know everything about the University of Georgia. They have taken annual field trips to sites across campus, attended summer camps, and have seen red and black throughout their lives.
But if they decide to attend the University of Georgia, local students are exposed to a new set of opportunities while remaining connected to their hometown.
“I grew up in Athens, and UGA’s campus was like a playground to me as a kid,” said Daniel Garcia-Pozo, now a junior at UGA who graduated from Clarke Central High School. “But, coming to UGA I felt like I could take the experiences and community from Athens along with the rigorous academic experience of UGA to go different places, both in and outside of Athens.”
This year, four of the university’s Foundation Fellows—students who receive the university’s most prestigious academic scholarship—are graduates of the Clarke County School District. Freshman Ella Johnson and sophomore Hadiza Sarr graduated from Cedar Shoals, and Garcia-Pozo along with senior Theron Camp are Clarke Central High School alumni.
“I applied to the Foundation Fellowship after learning about two Clarke Central students who were selected,” Sarr said. “I worked with one of them to help prepare for the interviews. I’ve seen a lot of support for Clarke County students to go in that path.”
The Foundation Fellowship, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, provides students with academic funding, stipends for travel-study, and research and conference grants. The fellows are connected to a network of talented students, who help each other learn about academic, cultural, and other enriching opportunities on campus.
“Because of the Fellowship, I immediately walked onto campus knowing about more opportunities and cultural programs than other students would know,” Johnson said. Camp concurred, noting, “the people and the insider network of information is incredibly useful.”
In addition to these Fellows, many Athens students choose to attend UGA. This fall, 39 students from Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals High Schools enrolled in the university’s freshman class.
UGA’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions works closely with the local high schools to recruit students. This year, the Admissions team has connected with local high school students on 15-20 different occasions, including hosting dual enrollment nights, visiting the high schools, and leading workshops on writing admissions essays, among others.
“We want to work with our community, and we want to work with the students in our back yard,” said David Graves, UGA’s interim director of admissions.
Though enrolled in the university, many local students find ways to remain connected to their community.
Garcia-Pozo serves as a volunteer tutor for ULead Athens, a program that he participated in as a high school student. Sarr has returned to Cedar Shoals High School to speak about the college applications process. She also volunteers as a poll manager for the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections and is giving back to the community through the UGA Public Service and Outreach Student Scholars Program.
The students also offer context to their peers at UGA about Athens history and culture.
Ella Johnson, a freshman who graduated from Cedar Shoals High School, is taking a First-Year Odyssey course on the music, media, and culture in Athens. She is the only Athens native in the course that will take students to concerts and venues around town.
“My professor was so excited that I was from here,” she said. “It’s a new way to explore the city that I’ve never done before.”