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Your worth is in who you are, not what you do

Amanda Turner is a senior student at the University of Georgia who is passionate about people, coffee mugs and glitter. Amanda will graduate in May 2016 with a degree in Human Development and Family Science, an emphasis in Child Life and a certificate in Disability Studies.

1. What's your story? What makes you unique?

I grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia knowing two environments very well: the dance studio and the classroom. A perfectionist from birth, I have always strived for the best from myself. I thrived in the classroom and would consume the pages of books faster than I could check them out from the library. Most of my early character consists of what I've learned in the dance studio. Hours upon hours of perfecting the art of ballet helped me develop into a person that enjoys challenge and appreciates beauty.

However, I think that it was not until I attended the University of Georgia that I truly began to grow into the skin I was created to fill. Here in Athens, Georgia I learned to be okay with how imperfect life can be and slowly embraced how beautiful a free life is. I have been surrounded with such remarkable people that have showed me how important it is to dream and awaken your passions. From being a member of UGA Miracle's Executive Board and Executive Council, a UGA Orientation Leader, a University Tour Guide and 2015 Homecoming Queen, my journey here at the University of Georgia is one that I will forever consider life-changing.

2. What motivates you?

Above all else, I believe that people deserve to know their true value. This is the perspective and belief that motivates my every decision, both personally and professionally. Sometimes the world can be a discouraging, dark place that encourages us to look at all we can't do. My motivation is to guide people to realize their true significance in this world. You have value. You can make a difference. You do matter.

3. Who is a hero of yours?

Up until a few years ago, I would have answered this question with the name of a favorite novel character or a special friend. However, two summers ago I discovered my real answer to this question. My grandmother, Luann Lamp, is one of my greatest heroes. Raising her family in Illinois, my grandmother realized that her social drinking was beginning to get out of hand. The next day, she took herself to the local AA meeting and confessed her struggle with alcoholism. Presently, Luann celebrates 37 years of recovery. Because of Luann's bravery and vulnerability, her family and my life are forever changed. Luann now visits the local women's jail every week to talk with the women about her experience with alcohol and to be a friend. When I grow up, I want to be like her.

4. What's your future plan? Your goals?

After graduation in May 2016, I will be starting an child life internship at the Children's Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia for one year. Following this internship, I will pursue a career as a Child Life Specialist. These specialists work in pediatric hospitals to help children understand their diagnosis in a developmentally appropriate manner, through medical play therapy, surgery preparation, procedural support and coping interventions. Further down the road, I would love to return to higher education for marriage and family therapy to widen my abilities in working with families and children, specifically with military families. Apart from that, I would really enjoy writing a children's book and hope to create that opportunity later on in life.

5. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Often I feel like we put our worth and value into the titles we gain throughout life. If we spend our time putting our value into the roles we have, and not into who we are, then we will continually be disappointed in life. Your worth is in who you are, not what you do. Spend your time building a character worth having and then you will always be content, regardless of the title, resume or job you may or may not acquire.

6. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?

I really believe in the power of people first language, especially in regards to disability. There is a big difference between the labels, "The wheelchair girl" and "Sally, who uses a wheelchair." I believe that language has the power to make a difference and that the way in which we address people matters. For more information on people first language, check out:

7. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?

One of most special things I've done is make the decision to start my blog, Just Sparkle. Just Sparkle exists to empower women to embrace the person that they have been created to be. To shine by being you! It's been such a fun journey and creative outlet to have women share their own stories on Just Sparkle!

8. Anything we haven't asked that you'd like to talk about?

All too often, I feel like people do not use their voice to advocate for others. I believe in everyday advocacy and I believe that it matters. I am currently participating in the Dressember Campaign, which advocates for women who have been exploited, trafficked or victimized as a result of their femininity. This campaign asks women to wear a dress all 31 days of December to promote awareness and fundraise for restoration of inherent dignity. For more information on the Dressember Campaign and how a dress can change the world, check out the following TedTalk and their website !

To contact Amanda for any networking opportunities or to learn more about any of the above organizations and movements she is a part of, you can e-mail her here.

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