Enhancing the Learning Environment
Maddie Dill (AB ’18) strives to change the way we approach public policy.
When Maddie Dill was looking at colleges, she had many options, including Harvard University. However, the merit-based UGA Foundation Fellowship made her choose Georgia, and the Triple Dawg has taken advantage of every opportunity that UGA offers.
She has studied abroad, conducted research, interned with the South African government and the U.S. State Department, volunteered with UGA Miracle and was even named Homecoming Queen.
“Reflecting on the things I have been able to do at Georgia, I realize that they wouldn’t have happened at any other school. Getting to travel and be involved in the UGA and Athens communities—those are experiences that can’t be replicated anywhere else.”
For many students, being Homecoming Queen would be the highlight of their college careers, but for Maddie Dill, it was just the frosting. The recent graduate from Dunwoody, Georgia, has studied abroad in several countries, conducted research, interned overseas and volunteered in the Athens community. She was considering out-of-state colleges, including Harvard, but when she was offered a UGA Foundation Fellowship, she chose the University of Georgia. Receiving UGA’s foremost undergraduate scholarship would not only place her in a community of similarly dedicated students, but would offer her experiences that many other schools would not.
Maddie recently graduated with degrees in anthropology, international affairs and Spanish, as well as a certificate in global studies while pursuing a master of public administration degree.
“Reflecting on the things I have been able to do at Georgia, I realize that they wouldn’t have happened at any other school,” she said. “Getting to travel and be involved in the UGA and Athens communities—those are experiences that can’t be replicated anywhere else.”
Maddie’s experiences outside the classroom were further enhanced as she also was named a Coca-Cola Scholar and Stamps Scholar. She was a teaching assistant in the Honors Program, the executive director for UGA Miracle (which raised more than $1.2 million for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) and head tutor with the Whatever It Takes program.
Maddie is pursuing a career in international policy, a field she was introduced to through the Honors Program. During the course, she wrote a paper on the state of mental health on college campuses. The following semester, she was a Vinson Fellow with Professor Paula Sanford in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, where she researched the feasibility of providing dental care in Georgia public schools to help bridge the coverage gap.
Those experiences inspired her to investigate how policy is made around the world. She studied abroad in England, Spain, South Africa, Bali, South Korea and Australia. In Cape Town, South Africa, she interned with South Africa’s Department of Education working on policy recommendations.
“South Africa has a multilingual education system in which students are taught in their home language,” Maddie said. “After fourth grade, they have to continue their education in English. They have low graduation rates and low college matriculation rates because most students don’t have the English language skills to continue. I worked on policy recommendations for best practices in multilingual education, and I got to go into the schools and analyze national testing data.”
Maddie’s interest in international policy also steered her participate in the Honors in Washington program. While living in Delta Hall, she interned at the U.S. State Department, where she worked on policy memos and briefs for department officials.
“The Honors Program staff–Jessica Hunt, Emily Myers and Dr. Williams–helped me get the most out of my college experience,” Maddie said. “They helped me accomplish all of those internships and study abroad trips, while still being heavily involved in campus activities.”
As she enters the real world, Maddie admits that she will miss hanging out with friends in the library at Moore Hall, planning Dance Marathon in Tate Center, and eating dinner in downtown Athens. She’ll miss professors like Maria Navarro, who sparked her interest in international aid work and policy. She will also never forget standing on the field in Sanford Stadium with her dad when she was named Homecoming Queen.
“There were so many other people on the court that were doing such amazing things, so I didn’t expect to win at all,” Maddie said. “It was exciting when they announced that I had won. I didn’t even hear my name because it was so loud.”
After graduation, Maddie will join McKinsey & Company, a consulting group that helps health care companies and nonprofits improve their operations. She sees this as an opportunity to learn something new while still pursuing a career in international policy.
“When I was little, I wanted to be the first female president of the United States, and that’s something I wanted even through high school,” she said. “As I learned more, I realized that the people with the most influence on people’s lives are the people who make the policies that politicians are working to enact.”
“All of these experiences were possible because of the generous scholarships I received from UGA,” she continued. “But, one of the things that I love about UGA is that [students who do not have the Foundation Fellowship] can have some of the same experiences that I have had. That’s what’s exciting about the experiential learning program—it encourages students to try different things. UGA is working so hard to make sure that any student who wants to study abroad or do an internship can do that, and that’s really amazing.”