My time in Warnell has been an extremely enriching experience and has helped me to grow immensely, both personally and professionally. My only problem is that I have not had enough time to soak it all up. Looking back at my entire undergraduate career, there was so much time that I wasted not being a part of Warnell. I realize now that this school is no doubt where I am meant to be, but I spent a good bit of time bouncing between majors before finding my place. Since I have become truly immersed in this environment, which I can only describe as “wacky while somehow remaining professional,” I have seen a large change in myself for the positive. Part of it may be the fact that I am getting a bit older, but part is also attributed to Warnell.
My major is Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism, and I will be graduating this May. A little background on me, I grew up north of Atlanta in a town called Calhoun (right near Dalton, which you probably know as “that place that makes carpet”). From a young age, I have found myself being attracted to outdoor recreation, particularly in forested areas. My main justification for doing long distance running in high school was the fact that I got to run on cool trails. I chose to come to the University of Georgia over going to Tech, which was quite obviously the best decision of my life.
Unfortunately, I had basically no idea what I wanted to do. I tried out a few different majors, and took some classes that I didn’t need, but I got to learn a lot through the process of elimination. It was not until I read about the NRRT major and took a few classes in Warnell that I realized, “hey there are other people like me, who like weird creatures, getting dirty in the woods, and often prefer the left side of College Street.” That was a nice realization, but I also found myself truly enjoying my classes and schoolwork for the first time.
The only real regret I have about not finding Warnell and the NRRT major sooner is that I had to miss out on some of the time I could have had here. When I found the major, my electives were all basically complete, and the core classes I needed were nearly there, so I only had one semester as a pre-professional. Now, I have had a full year in the professional program, and am nearly ready to graduate proudly as a fifth year senior. More time in this school could have meant more connections with great people, and more chances to participate in things like conclave and study abroad. That’s not to say that I have been idle while here. One of my favorite experiences with my program was the Smokies trip, which is sort of a quasi-study abroad that can be used to fill the field experience credit if you are like me and did not snag yourself a relevant internship. Its based on experiential learning and you get to spend a week in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; its hard to find anything wrong with that. I built some of my strongest friendships on this trip, which have really helped me this year. The resources offered here, not only by the school, but also the people, are nearly without limit. They say hindsight is 20/20 and my perspective on my time in college is very different now that I am near the end than it was when I first started. I have a long list of great memories and experiences made possible by Warnell, and I know I would have a much longer one if I could go back and do it one more time. This time I would just find my place a little sooner.