Removing barriers and opening doors
Sometimes the career compass spins a bit before pointing true north.
Sam received a Foundation Fellowship and chose UGA over Ivy League and other schools.
His scholarship took him to Indonesia, Vietnam, England, and 25 other countries.
Sam will graduate with three degrees – a bachelor’s degree in entertainment and media studies, a bachelor’s degree in geography, and a master’s degree in geography.
His passion for using innovative data and technology to help manage humanitarian crises drew him into geography.
Sam has interned with NASA, the CDC, and other leading humanitarian organizations.
“A Foundation Fellowship at UGA isn’t just the best four years of your life – it builds the foundation for you to have the best EVERY year of your life. Four years at UGA gives you the confidence and competence to continue to grow and succeed every year after graduation. UGA has been absolutely incredible, beyond anything I ever imagined as a high school senior.”
Sam Tingle ’19
Sam Tingle ’19 will graduate from UGA with two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree in geography. When he arrived at UGA in 2014, though, his path lay uncharted.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” said Sam. “I tried different classes, considered a bunch of different clubs, and met with professors. I’m not sure I could have gotten the academic freedom at another school to test, discover and analyze my options for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
The recipient of UGA’s prestigious Foundation Fellowship, Sam first explored the hard sciences and the world of research. Not quite satisfied, he corrected course and looked into advertising. Finally, he discovered two fields that fit his interests: geography and disaster management.
The discovery came after his travels to Indonesia, Vietnam, Oxford, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Greece (funded by his Foundation Fellowship), and through his diverse UGA courses. He had serious discussions with professors, and interned with organizations that serve the globe through a variety of disaster management and development initiatives: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and the UN Development Programme.
“These experiences have been exciting because of their breadth,” said Sam. “I’ve been lucky to have been exposed to a variety of humanitarian operations and to diverse data sources informing their global operations.”
That dazzling intel really fired up Sam’s imagination. During collegiate career, he has used data to support solutions to various issues including refugee movements, crisis preparedness, post-disaster health recovery, and more. He has enjoyed hands-on experience with satellite imagery, crowdsourced road/building data, local surveys, information aggregated from news sources, global datasets (Fragile States Index, Global Risk Index, Gender Inequality Index, etc.), and global political violence and natural crisis incident data.
“As I begin my career in the humanitarian sphere,” Sam said, “I realize that complex problems require complex solutions. I know that my background with so many data types will be vital to help devise complex solutions that can help solve human problems associated with disasters.”
Sam grew up near Knoxville, Tennessee. It would have been easy for him to wear Volunteer orange and sing “Rocky Top” for the rest of his life.
His Foundation Fellowship changed everything, though. The undergraduate scholarship covers Sam’s tuition and funded a month-long study abroad program at Oxford University after his first year at UGA. It also provided him with travel-study grants, an annual travel-study group trip, research and academic conference grants and seminars, and a community that facilitated connections to faculty who shared his interests.
“[During my time at UGA], I never ran into administrators or faculty who said ‘you can’t do that, you shouldn’t do that.’ In every case, the university gave me support to explore the world, find out who I was, and do what I wanted to do. I’m grateful that UGA has always said yes.”
Sam is quick to note that the Foundation Fellowship has been “a defining moment” for him.
“I have developed a background in geography and telling stories (Sam holds a bachelor’s degree in entertainment and media studies), and the Foundation Fellowship has allowed me to continue to grow through international exposure and internships … all opportunities that UGA so graciously supported.”
He’s shipshape now for the journey ahead.
“I’m prepared for a career using data in international contexts, and navigating and understanding different approaches to solving problems. In my career, I will drive data and technological development in managing disasters. UGA has given me the opportunity to help the world.”