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John Blessing Video Transcript

[Interviewer] Hello and welcome to the University of North Georgia Political Science & International Affairs department's YouTube channel, where we present interviews of our students, past present and future, to highlight their accomplishments and insights. We have a special treat in store today. In the coming minutes you'll get to know John Blessing. In early April of this year John received the news of his selection to receive a grant from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation -- a first for UNG.  First off John, congratulations on receiving this prestigious award.

[John Blessing] Thank you.

[Interviewer] Before we get some details about the award itself, tell us a little bit more about yourself.

[John] So, born and raised in Georgia; proud of it. I grew up here in Gainesville for the last eight years. After moving around a bit in Georgia and yeah double-major history and political science. And you know, yeah UNG's got everything I know at this point right. I've been for four years now, so...

[Interviewer] Tell us, why did you come to North Georgia?

[John] Well I started looking into the University of North Georgia after...I grew up in an impoverished family I wasn't sure if I'd be able to afford going to college. And so I kind of put it off for about a year not thinking you know I'd have that chance but then my sister, she started going here. And, so I learned about UNG and I thought you know what maybe they'd maybe they'd give me that opportunity that I needed. And so I applied, I got in, and I haven't looked back since.  It's been quite amazing the opportunity they've given me.

[Interviewer] Tell us again a little bit more about yourself.

[John] Well so you know born and raised in the south; proud Georgia. I love getting involved in politics. I've been involved in politics since I was like 14 years old. And then what I'm not doing politics, I play video games. I do tabletop; I actually built created and founded the club here on campus for tabletop gaming. I play video games with my friends and yeah just anything to get my mind off of things that bring you down in the world.  So. 

[Interviewer] That's great. Tell me...I know that the Truman award is not your first academic success. Tell us more about that.

[John] Well so when I first started at UNG I thought, you know, for me it was just, you know, go through my classes get things done. That was the goal. But you know I actually was nominated for the Newman Civic Fellow, which was an award for leadership. And I got to meet the great department here for scholarships led by Dr. Lin. It was incredible. And so I ended up winning that Newman Civic Fellow and from there it just started snowballing into more things. Early on we started planning for future scholarships but I then applied for the Jack Kent Cooke. Unfortunately got semi-finalist. I didn't end up winning that one. And then more recently I was able to win both the Rangel Summer Internship and then the Truman Scholarship.

[Interviewer] How did you even know about scholarships to begin with?  What, what got you kind of motivated to pursue them?

[John] Yeah it was all about the, UNG's scholarship engagement program here ran by Dr. Lin. I didn't even know all the scholarships until I was put forth by a professor of mine. And then once I met her she kept pushing me she kept telling me you know you're really a good fit for a lot of these. When I lost Jack Kent Cooke there was a part of me that kind of felt like maybe this wasn't my place, but she, she pushed me forward. And if it wasn't for that I probably wouldn't have won Truman so... 

[Interviewer] Were you, sort of competitive, do you have a competitive spirit that said I want to go for these types of things? I can get these? 

[John] To an extent.  Right. I mean yeah there's definitely a part of it that you know part of me that's competitive. But I think another part of it is that chip on my shoulder I coming from my background I want to prove to people that I belong here and that you know I'm just as good as anyone else. And I think UNG gives me that opportunity to prove that.

[Interviewer] Can you tell us you know what you see as the significance of, the purpose behind the scholarship to begin with? 

[John] So I mean the purpose that they've created a scholarship for, it’s to push leaders into leadership positions, you know, the State Department, things of that nature, it’s to help people who have this urge to lead others to doing just that, you know, pushing them towards, helping guide towards change, policy change, law things of that nature.

[Interviewer] And what do you, what do you see as kind of the benefit from you participating? What are you hoping to get out of, sort of this recognition and the scholarship?

[John] I think a part of it, you know, referencing back, you know, it helps with that chip on my shoulder.   Right?  And then proves that I belong here now. I won Truman. I'm starting to prove that, you know, this is where I belong, but more importantly, it opens doors that I would have otherwise had to pry open, you know, I have other universities reaching out to me now about their grad school programs and that starting to help me figure out, you know, where I'm going .  And it helps me know that, you know, I want to go into this position of leadership. I want to do these things and I now have the opportunity thanks to this, so.

[Interviewer] Tell me, tell me, go back to your gaming. 

[John] Yeah.

[Interviewer] Do you think that, being competitive helped fuel your fire for, going after scholarships?

[John] Yes and no. I think, you know, I don't think you have to be competitive in order to go for these scholarships. But I do think that there has to be a part of you that wants more for yourself. I think that's the, that's the key. It isn't like I want to be better than other people. It’s that I want to be my better self. And I think that's the competition. It's, it's competing with yourself to prove that you're better than where you are.

[Interviewer] Awesome. Did you, it sounds like there was a lot of competition. Can you tell us about what you’re, what you knew that you were facing.

[John] So I knew that every university in the country is looking at this. You know, a lot of universities are going to apply for it. I think this year we had over 800 students who applied, or who even got into the, the applicant, through the application phase because there's a lot of students even here on UNG, who didn't, were unable to finish the application stage just because it's so difficult and tedious. But you know, over able to submit their application, about 200 of them were able to make it to the finals if you will which is a very rigorous test in which we all went to do an interview. You have to sit in a room with these intelligent, incredible people, and you ought to know that this is who you're competing against that you know this is your competition. And out of them only about 62 of them won. And I was the only one in the state of Georgia who goes to a Georgia college, to win. So...

[Interviewer] What does that mean to you?   

[John] Well, you know, I think it was important to me that not only was I the only student to go to a Georgia college that won this award this year, but also to be the first student to ever win at the University of North Georgia was incredible. I was shocked when I was told actually. It was incredible.  

[Interviewer] Tell us what, where, where are you heading?  What's the next phase for John Blessing?

[John] Well right now what's next for me is, you know, studying for my GREs, studying for my LSATs, and getting into the programs that I'm looking forward to and thanks to Truman, in almost any university that I choose as long as I, you know, want to go there.

[Interviewer]  How has your Political Science & International Affairs experience helped you to move on to the next step?

[John] Oh.  A lot actually. I mean, even in applying for Truman, you know, one of the big parts of applying for Truman and you had to actually create your own policy. That was the, the biggest part of the application, and I wouldn't been able to do that if I wasn't doing political science,if I wasn't doing my  law classes through our political science department.  Ya know, it was, it was instrumental in even finishing the process. But you know, even from my research right now focuses on political science and I think that's going to be a big part of what gets me in to grad school and big part of what I'm interested in when I enter grad school. So ya, political science has been instrumental in this.

[Interviewer] Tell me what got you interested in the program specifically here at University of North Georgia? You could've chosen any other program.

[John] Well, I guess because I've always done politics; I didn't know very much about programs and stuff like that.  Again, no one in my family has ever gone to college. I'm the first generation student. So, I didn't really know much about programs or anything of that kind. But what I did know is that I liked politics. I've always been curious why people make the decisions that they do in politics and political science seemed to be the exact path for me to go. So...

[Interviewer] So, John, what do you have to say to future students?  

[John] If I was to give advice to prospective political science students -- Firstly, go for it. That's the big thing. You know, if there's something in your political science class that like, wow, you know, that's really interesting. Talk to your professor about it. You know, start a project with it. You'd be surprised about the information you'd learn. And more importantly, about how the UNG faculty wants to be involved with you on this. They are excited to get involved and and it is exciting for you to be involved in. And then, the other key is go for things beyond just the classroom. These scholarships, I would have never known about if I wouldn't have gotten involved beyond the classroom, you know, get involved in clubs. Get involved with the administration here because you can find a lot of important information if you just simply go beyond your classroom.  So ...

[Interviewer] Thank you John, for your time again, and congratulations. There he is, John Blessing, a shining example of the UNG Political Science & International Affairs family.

[John] Thank you

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