For Laura Kelley, education doesn't end with a degree.
"I don't ever want to stop learning," she said. "I want to take something and continually develop my knowledge of that content area."
That's why she's working toward a doctorate in educational policy and administration and educational policy and law while helping students in the College of Education get ready to lead their own classrooms.
Kelley, a program coordinator in the college's educational theory and practice department, works with students—mostly those studying social studies education and middle grades education—to prepare them for a teaching career. That can include everything from preparing for certification to making sure they're taking classes in the correct order.
"I love to see how excited these students are to change their career paths and become teachers. It's exciting to see them pursue their goal to where they truly feel they need to be," she said. "They're not just fulfilling a critical need of the state. They're fulfilling their dreams."
Kelley herself keeps learning not only by pursuing her doctorate, but also through her work on UGA's Staff Council and University Council.
"Being on Staff Council and University Council, I've been able to see firsthand how change can positively impact our university," she said. "It's crucial because this is where the conversation starts. We're able to utilize the expertise of one another and find appropriate paths to solve whatever it is we're working on."
In fact, it was her work on policy as a Staff Council member that helped lead to her current area of study. She's been a member since 2014 and is currently the Staff Council representative to the University Council Committee on Facilities.
"I'm proud of the work we've done supporting women and providing justification and data to support creating a centralized policy portal at our university," she said. "We put so many volunteer hours into Staff Council. We're not doing it for the glory. We're doing it because we love our employees, and we want it to be an amazing place to work."
Although her work and her own education takes time away from her family, Kelley said that it's important to her that her children see her reach her goals and achieve her dreams.
"It's crucial for my daughter to see what strong women in society can do, but it's also equally important for my son to also understand what women are capable of," she said. "I want them to get excited about achieving their own dreams through higher education. It's really important for them to see me reaching my own goals through education."
Kelley comes from a large family—she has 12 siblings—and makes sure that the quality of the time she spends with her family is high even if the quantity of time is low.
"I have to be present in every moment I have with them," she said.
Overall, Kelley said she hopes to be a voice for necessary change and inclusion and to help people grow and become more successful at UGA.
"I've been with this university, in some capacity, since 2005," she said. "It's familiar to me. This place is my home. I can't imagine being anywhere else."