Ashlyn Douglas, Georgia College
Ashlyn Douglas, a senior sociology major at Georgia College is a student who is passionate about building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships between the university and surrounding Milledgeville community. Ashlyn’s ability to bring different groups together is unparalleled. She has sophisticated interactional skills that she has used to great effect in her research that highlights some of the challenges faced by students, faculty, and community members as they work together. As a result of Ashlyn’s community based experiences, she has realized that all of her experiences in the community eventually come together. Ashlyn has met people who are connected to each other through working at the senior center, the Lucille Harris Community Garden Association and the mural and the food class fieldtrips. Ultimately, she has recognized that all of these different experiences fit together and exhibit the interconnectedness of our community.
-Steve Dorman, President
Last year, I was part of a collaborative mural project with community members and subsequently developed an independent research project to improve community-based learning experiences for community members and students. I learned building relationships with community members is vital because they have important knowledge. For example, discussions with one community member and a local resident’s book provided context about the area’s rich cultural history. Along with my classmates, I have evolved from a student serving to an active member of the community. I understand what it means to work across differences and I have the utmost respect for the people in the community. At first, I was very aware of being white in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. However, as our relationships evolved I learned to appreciate that there was more diversity in the room than in any of my classes. I will carry the sense of belonging I developed through discussions we had about food, health and spirituality with me into the future. I now understand the importance of community, and will continue to seek opportunities to make real differences in people’s lives as well as my own. Finally, I will always value the things I learn from people.