“I will make an impact on this world.”
Upon her first step onto the GGC lawn during its annual “March Through the Arch” new student welcome event, Alicia Griffiths said she felt a sense of belonging and strong potential. Today, she counts herself lucky because Georgia Gwinnett was not her first college experience.
Griffiths, 23, began her college career at an exclusive southern college promoted as providing a personalized educational experience. However, this was not what she found during her freshman year.
“I left my previous school because I worked so hard in classes and in the work program, but was never presented with opportunities to expand my knowledge or involvement. The atmosphere was extremely traditional and lacked diversity among students. It also lacked networking between students and faculty, as well as the community,” Griffiths said. “In contrast, at GGC, I no longer felt like the poor student within the population, and I have been presented with numerous opportunities that set me up for success and faculty/peer mentors who encouraged service to the community and the nation.”
Griffiths chose GGC due to its convenient location and because it offered a military science class that tapped into her dream of eventually serving in the military. Inspired by her grandfather, a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and her father, who attended military school, Griffiths was attracted to the idea of flying planes and defending the nation.
“Enrolling in GGC and taking that class turned out to be two of the best decisions of my life,” Griffiths said. “I built a group of friends who became my second family, and it led to my becoming an Army officer.”
Griffiths’ dedication and commitment caught the attention of Sergeant Andrew Keene, who told her that she had what it takes to be an officer. This gave her the confidence and inspiration she needed to believe that she could succeed as an officer in a male-dominated organization. She was then offered a scholarship and sworn into the U.S. Army.
“I have since worked my way up in rank and gone through two military training cycles. I have been challenged and had to face my weaknesses more times than I can count,” she said. “Coming to GGC and joining ROTC has made me who I am today, and when people ask me why I joined the military, I tell them that it is my calling. It is what I was always supposed to do.”
Griffiths’ résumé is studded with impressive accomplishments, including an internship with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, where her tasks include assisting the program manager in planning and executing events, such as hosting multiple ambassadors to the U.S. She also edits and prepares executive letters for South African businesses, drafts letters for member recruitment, markets the organization on social media sites, and drafts emails and press releases.
While at GGC, the political science major has studied international terrorism, homeland security, global issues, conflict resolution, international law and international organizations with an in-depth analysis of the United Nations. She also studied business and marketing while abroad at the IE Business School of Madrid and traveled to Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, the Bahamas and Mexico to gain cross-cultural experiences.
During her travels, she immersed herself in the arts and histories of these countries by visiting their most notable landmarks, such as the Palace of Versailles, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel and Mayan ruins.
Griffiths’ 4.0 GPA earned her induction into the GGC Honors program, Golden Key International Honour Society, Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society and Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society for International Studies. She was awarded the 2014-2015 GGC Outstanding Student – Leadership Award and has made the President’s List every semester.
She was one of two GGC students chosen to participate in the Student Conference of United States Affairs at West Point Military College, where she helped develop a policy on disaster preparedness. She was also chosen as a representative for the 2015 GOP Chairman’s dinner and was recognized for her military service.
During her spare time, Griffiths enjoys volunteering on behalf of ROTC at the Children’s Shelter, where she spends time with children by playing basketball, helping with homework and providing fun and comfort. She also attends legislative luncheons, meet-and-greets and serves as a GGC ambassador at political events such as GOP dinners hosted by Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia GOP Chairman John Padgett. An artist, she relaxes by painting in acrylics.
Griffiths credits her mentors Dr. Mazin Tadros, Captain Edward VanBuren and alumnus Luis Rivera with furthering her personal and professional development. Tadros, assistant professor of history, lends advice when needed and helps her stretch to new challenges. VanBuren introduced her to the philosophical side of leading. Rivera, a fellow political science major and sergeant in the U.S. Army, had the honor of being her first salute at graduation.
“Alicia came to GGC disillusioned by her previous college experience,” said Tadros. “It has been rewarding to help her plot a course to form relationships with peers, staff and faculty and see her thrive thanks in part to GGC’s many support resources. I believe she has the capacity for a profound future in service. She has an inquisitive and analytical mind and is poised with enough energy to conquer the world.”
Griffiths said she is most grateful to her parents, James and Shelley Griffiths of Loganville, for providing great encouragement along her path and considering her a hero for serving her country. During her commissioning ceremony, they had the proud honor of pinning military bars on her uniform to signify her joining the Signal Corps, a branch responsible for information systems and communications.
She took the oath of office as second lieutenant during the 2016 spring commencement ceremony, along with fellow cadet Ashleigh Simmons. They were GGC’s first two female ROTC cadets to be commissioned.
After graduation, Griffiths left for the Basic Officer Leaders Course. She would like to be stationed in Germany or Hawaii upon completion, and to experience deployment, possibly in South Korea. Beyond that, she hopes to start a family and focus on her career in the Army. She also has political aspirations.
“I am confident in my abilities and the leadership skills I have gained through ROTC. I will make my impact on the world.”
Read more about the college, its student and alumni in GGC's Engage Magazine.