Student Spotlight: Alana Burrell
During the summer months, the Office of Student Life was quiet and calm, but one student leader would often stop by to liven things up. She would already start thinking about programming for the new 2017 fall semester at Clarkston campus, Perimeter College. Her smile would light up the room and her attitude about being actively engaged would add a nice flair of expectancy and excitement. Who is this go-getter? She is Alana Burrell, a sophomore majoring in computer engineering.
Student Life now has a new neighbor, The Multicultural Center, and Burrell has welcomed the center by attending two of its major events since its June 12th arrival on the Clarkston campus. Multicultural Center, in collaboration with Office of Student Life, was the first event that she attended. “I was impacted by the [Open House] held during Welcome Week because I made a connection with a new office on the Clarkston Perimeter Campus. This gives me the opportunity to work with this office on future collaborations and help them with exploring inter-campus relations throughout Perimeter,” said Burrell.
The following month (September 2017), she was privileged to be among the first students at Perimeter to attend the 2017 Social Justice Retreat held at Montara Farms. This event was made possible through the resources representing The Multicultural Center from both Atlanta and Clarkston Campuses. Burrell reflected, “I was impacted by the Multicultural’s [Social Justice] retreat because it [allowed] me get an understanding of how Perimeter College is represented and viewed at intercampus workshops. There were [three] perimeter students to represent the ~25,000 student body; and at least 20 students from Atlanta for their ~20,000 total. This let me know that Perimeter College has a lot of work to do when it comes to reaching out to the other campuses and making sure we have equal representation during intercampus events.” She continued by saying, “I was also impacted by getting a better idea of how to represent my student body at large, and give me ideas of topics to consider when I am helping create events for the different clubs and programs I attend at my college.” Burrell showed campus leadership by supporting “the welcome week [activity by attending the Open House.] It has impacted me by giving me the opportunity to see what the multi-cultural center is all about and why having one on our campus is such a good initiative [or] idea. I learned what the Multicultural Center does, what the upcoming events are for this semester, and I learned about why having this office is important for all colleges under Georgia State University.” At the retreat, Burrell met “a lot of students from the Atlanta campus and got an understanding of the culture on their campus. The retreat also allowed [her] to get a better understanding of cultural differences and micro-aggressions that [students] may encounter outside of college and how [they] as individuals and active students on campus can work to diminish these biases.” Overall, says Burrell, “these events gave me a better understanding of the culture on my own campus (Clarkston) the culture of Georgia State University, and how to approach different situations that may arise from clashing cultures.”
From a personal perspective, the Multicultural Center’s impact, though still new to the Clarkston Campus, has given Burrell a much better understanding by participating in the events just recently held in August and September 2017. As a student leader at Clarkston, Burrell is creating quite a unique path for herself. First, she is a Senator for Academic Affairs for Student Government Association. Willie R. Mickell, Jr., Student Life Advisor for Student Life at Clarkston, stated, “Alana is blazing her way through the Perimeter Campus as a scholar and student leader. She has much potential and I am proud of her efforts.” She is not only active with Student Government Association, but there are several other organizations, internal and external, that Burrell shares her time with. She is active in the Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF), Step Talent Expansion Program (STEP), Peach State Lows Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PSLSAMP), Mathematics Engineering Science (MES), Project RAISE, and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). Burrell says that her best advice to students who are thinking about increasing their level of campus engagement includes “telling these students that staying social and managing their time wisely is the best thing they can do for themselves. I learned about many of the programs and activities I have on my resume through the lead/ help of another student or emails from my professors. Joining these programs will be a lot of fun and open the door to a lot of opportunity so your schedule will fill up quickly! Take time to prioritize your assignments, don’t be a ‘yes [person]’ to EVERY opportunity, and try to put your best foot forward for every program and activity you participate in. Nothing is worse than being in 20 different clubs and having a mediocre experience with each of them vs. being in just 4-5 and having stellar experiences and a relationship with faculty that will write recommendation letters for you.”
Clarkston has a large of refugee/immigrant student population, and one can only imagine the demands of school, work, family, adjusting to life in the United States of America. Burrell, an upcoming trailblazer, strongly suggests to all new students “that freshman students begin college with a light course load to get a feel of what college is about without taking up too much time. For new students, especially the freshman class, I would tell them to use their down time in between finishing assignments and going to class to participate in activities around campus. This will help them develop connections and take note of which clubs will look best on their resume, make you happy, and find your niche in whatever campus you attend.”. Additionally, she “would advise students who are attending this newly consolidated institution to be considerate. From the academic, co-curricular, and social component students at the different [Georgia State] campuses are usually unaware of the [environment] and activity on the other campuses. Clarkston, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Decatur, Newton, and Atlanta campuses all have their own unique atmosphere when it comes to courses, extra-curricular programs, and social initiatives. I would suggest every student at GSU at some point in time make it their prerogative to visit all the other campuses at least once in their academic career at GSU.”
Burrell is well connected with what is going on in her collegiate community and society in general, so from a multicultural perspective, she would like “to see more people/organizations take time to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between themselves and others.” For this millennial with such a great path of opportunities at her disposal, the future from a personal and professional outlook looks bright. Burrell reflects, “I imagine that five years from now I would be financially responsible, open to new ideas/perspectives, and I would be able to be a better employee, co-worker, manager, and overall person because of the initiative I have taken to improve my inter-personal, multi-cultural, and professional skillset.” When she is not studying, organizing, volunteering, or meeting with an advisor, Burrell likes to partake in a good meal of lasagna, which is her favorite food. A trailblazer got to have fun somehow and release all the stress of being a college student. She stretches herself musically by playing the trombone. She rode the acrophobia at Universal Studios for the one-time ride of her of life. For a native Atlantan who is proud of her African-American heritage, Burrell is truly blazing her own path of excellence.