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Stepping-stones: Making the next move to graduate school

While graduation marks the beginning of many Georgia College students’ careers, for some, it serves as a stepping-stone to their next big journey. Three students are taking the knowledge they gleaned from their undergraduate experience and going on to graduate school to pursue opportunities in higher education, STEM and leading in the non-profit world. 

Senior Brooke Judie has spent much of her time in college thinking about how other people think. 

She’s a philosophy and liberal studies major, concentrating in culture, religion, and society. But, it wasn’t until a professor mentioned her strength in writing could be used in philosophy, that Judie dove head first into the subject. Her first foray into philosophy was sitting in on Assistant Professor Dr. Jameliah Shorter’s class.

“I was trying to figure out what I would do with a liberal studies major. I saw her teaching philosophy, and it just changed my whole perspective,” said Judie. “She spoke a lot about how, in order to get context for these people’s ideas, we need to look at anthropology and history. It was a turning point for me, because I realized that this is what I could do with my major—I could teach.” 

In the summer of 2018, Judie was selected for two summer programs at Penn State: Cultivating Underrepresented Students in Philosophy (CUSP) and Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI.).  

“I was always interested in going to graduate school, but I never had the sort of experience that I did at CUSP,” she said. “They taught us a lot about applying, how to fill out applications, and how to negotiate for more money.” 

In the program, Judie was also able to sit in on a graduate student, listening to them defend their dissertation. It further enflamed an already smoldering fire in Judie to go on to pursue her graduate degree—at none other than Penn State.  

Judie applied and was recently accepted to the philosophy Ph.D. program at Penn State, where she’ll begin fall 2019. Ultimately, Judie wants to teach philosophy at the college-level and continue research.

“I want to become a professor—I had made my mind up about that the first time I sat in Dr. Shorter’s class,” said Judie. “Hopefully, I can inspire other students like the professors in the Department of Philosophy and Liberal Studies have inspired me.”


Chemistry major Melanie Schellman has spent years in the lab, cultivating her confidence and knowledge. Her research has been focused on sol-gels. She’s working on trapping organic molecules inside the sol-gels, creating sensors that could ultimately be used to detect heavy metals in water sources and dangerous gases in the air.  

Diving into research, finding community outreach opportunities, and being mentors within their department are one of the many ways female students in STEM fields at the university have learned to make a difference.  

“I wanted to become a student instructor at the Learning Center for incoming chemistry majors so I could make them feel more welcomed,” said Schellman, who has also served as vice president and president of the Chemistry Club. “I want them to come chat with me about any questions they have because if I can’t answer them, I know someone who can.” 

Schellman will soon begin the anesthesiology program at Emory University. She takes with her all the lessons she’s gained at Georgia College. 
“Going into anesthesiology, a very male dominated field, does make me a little nervous. I’m going into an area where I could potentially be one of three women in a practice,” said Schellman. “But I’ve seen what it means to be a woman in STEM at Georgia College. It’s going to help me stay who I am no matter what I face. I know that I have what it takes and I can rise to it and get it done.”


Sociology major Sabrina Brant hit the ground running her first year at Georgia College. As a Bridge Scholar, she spent the summer before her first fall semester taking two courses that helped her adjust to college life.

“I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten so involved right away if I hadn’t had the time to adjust,” said Brant, who also has an environmental science minor. “I knew what I was interested. So, on day one, I was able to get involved.” 

Brant knew she had an interest in nonprofits coming into college, but she wasn’t sure where her future would lead her. She had heard about the GIVE Center and was immediately drawn to the impact the department was able to have on, not only the campus, but the community. 

“I registered as a volunteer with them and then I got an email for the Servant Leader Cohort,” said Brant. “It was basically a cohort of students that all wanted to work on a service project and learn about the principals of servant leadership.” 

She applied, set up an interview and was selected as part of the cohort. Her project was a community engagement fair, where service organizations held a marketplace for students to get more information. 

Since then, she was hooked on nonprofits. She got involved with the Nonprofit Leadership Appliance and continued working with the GIVE Center as the leadership manager her entire undergraduate career. Her passion for nonprofits, paired with her major, has given her a unique perspective on her future career. 

“What I’ve learned in my sociology major, I can apply anywhere. It’s enabled me to see and understand how the world works,” said Brant. “It also has given me research and writing skills. I’m able to make connections across theories and aspects of societies—and those are skills I can use anywhere.” 

In the fall of 2019, Brant will begin her graduate studies at Indiana University in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She’ll pursue a Masters of Public Affairs.

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