Good morning and welcome to Accepted Students Day. My name is Sarah DeLoach, Miss Georgia Southern University 2020, and a dual major in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering from Claxton, Georgia. This is very similar to the introduction that you would hear from me if you're on one of my campus tours. And if you received a letter from me after the tour, you would have read the following line that I tell every prospective student that I meet. I write, Georgia Southern has become my second home, and I hope it becomes yours too. My second home. That's exactly what I found as a true blue Eagle. And today, I want to share with you what makes this second home of mine so special.
There was no question that I would attend Georgia Southern University. I'm from a small town called Claxton, Georgia, the fruit cake capital of the world. If you drive 22 miles south on 301, you'll see Claxton or nearly drive right through it. I'm thankful for my small town roots, but you get the point. My graduating class consisted of 37 students. So needless to say, we were more of a family than classmates. Never did I anticipate that my college experience would offer the same atmosphere, but I was wrong, especially when you consider that our university has a 33 to one student/professor ratio.
I'm a campus tour guide, more commonly known as a Southern Ambassador. So right now, I want to share with you a few facts about our campus and programs that we offer. And this is very similar to what you would hear on one of my tours. First up is Sweetheart Circle. Sweetheart Circle is the area at the Statesboro campus that originally house both the male and female dormitories, the library and all classroom buildings for South Georgia Teachers College. Now it holds a rich history for our university and a unique legend. Did you know that if you hold hands with your significant other and walk around sweetheart circle three times, the two of you are destined to be married? Really sweet, right? And let me tell you from experience, it works. I met my Georgia Southern sweetheart my sophomore year, and the long walk around Sweetheart Circle proved fruitful upon our engagement on Christmas Eve of last year.
Next is the Eidson House, the home of our University Honors Program. This prestigious program focuses on the greater challenge and depth of learning through undergraduate research. As a student who always valued a challenge in the classroom, I jumped at applying for the University Honors Program, and some of my fondest memories can be traced back to the program. From my Modern Political Debate FYE class with Dr. Caplinger, to receiving my honors medallion upon graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics, and never would I have imagined that I would have written a thesis entitled The Patterns, Symmetries and Mathematical Structures in the Arts.
Now at some point along the tour, you'll see some construction for a new building, the Center for Engineering and Research. As a Mechanical Engineering major, I could not be more thrilled about the growth of our Mechanical Engineering department. But this building is special to me for more reasons than academic ones. As someone who added a second major in the middle of my junior year, it's easy to say that my plans after graduation were a little unsure. So last summer, I searched for an internship to help me gain some work experience to solidify my plans. And because there's some fantastic connections in the Engineering department in our Career Services Center, I landed an internship as a virtual construction designer at the Sack Company, a local subcontractor specializing in mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. My very first job was on Georgia Southern University's Center for Engineering and Research. And I cannot wait to be able to walk the halls of the project that I had a part in.
In addition to serving as a campus tour guide, I've also been a member of the Southern Ambassador lead team for two academic years as the Recruitment Chair. In this position, I spearhead all efforts to recruit bright new ambassadors. And this year, we added a simple essay question to our application that states, "describe a moment when you feel proud to be a Georgia Southern Eagle." For me, that moment came after I was crowned Miss Georgia Southern University 2020. On February 8th, I interviewed for the job of a lifetime. Our judges panel included multiple Georgia Southern faculty and staff, in addition to the mayor of Statesboro, and hands down the best interview I've ever had, because I shared with them how much I love this university. I shared with them my journey as a woman in STEM, experiences I've had that have caused me to grow, my favorite things about campus, and facts that I've learned as a Southern Ambassador. I shared with them my action plan if I were to win, because I knew that I would want to leave a legacy as Miss Georgia Southern University. Most importantly, I shared my heart. And my proudest moment was when I picked up the George-Anne, our school newspaper, the next week, and the headline read Southern Ambassador wins Miss Georgia Southern University. And to see those two titles in the same sentence could not have made me prouder.
I hope you all see in each of these stories just how much I love this university. I love the beauty of our campus, the people I interact with every day, informing prospective students and serving current students. If I had to offer one piece of advice to anyone sitting in the audience or at home, it's this: accept change and embrace it. Your college years will throw some curveballs at you that you would have never expected, but those trials are what teach you the most in life. And the thing is, those trials are going to happen regardless of which university you choose. But what makes all the difference is the support system you have at your fingertips. You don't have to have your life planed out right now. But in order to find your calling, you do need to be in a place that fosters growth. You need to be challenged by your mentors. You need to be surrounded by opportunities. You need to be circled by family and friends and, most of all, you deserve a place to call home. And for me, that's Georgia Southern University.