The next generation

These students in the John Munro Godfrey, Sr. Department of Economics are ready to change the world
Jhaycee Barnes headshot
Jhaycee Barnes

Home to the 10th largest undergraduate program at UGA, the John Munro Godfrey, Sr. Department of Economics has long been known for producing top scholars. As the department enters a bright new era, these three students are among the many continuing a legacy of excellence.

A role model for debt-free education 

Jhaycee Barnes always imagined she’d go Ivy League. Her aspirations, and those of her family of educators — grandmother, mother, father and others — aimed for uncompromised excellence.

But two days before the application deadline in 2022, Barnes discovered UGA’s Foundation Fellowship scholarship. She quickly filled out the form, realizing the generous stipend, travel and quality of course work rivaled those of any university. The scholarship would also let her earn a college degree without going into debt.

Barnes received the fellowship. She chose economics as a major. “Economics applies to literally everything you see, from the politics on TV to the food in front of you,” she says. “It doesn’t teach you what to think, but how to think … and understand things in the world.” 

Barnes may have an intuitive gift for understanding the world. Since elementary school, she’s made YouTube videos. Her channel currently has more than 1 million views and 17,000 subscribers. 

“I share information on productivity, fashion, the college application process and more,” she says. 

Her college application videos have made her a role model to students globally by helping them get into the universities they prefer. The success of these videos prompted Barnes to create Virtu College Planning, a consulting service dedicated to providing equal access to affordable college resources. 

“I want to show students how to get into a college of choice, earn a degree … and leave debt-free,” Barnes says. “I’ve been lucky enough to do that, so if somebody has a college application question in the middle of the night, I take the call.”

On campus, Barnes stays busy: Corsair Society, Delta Sigma Theta, Student Government Association, Terry Student Diversity Council and more. Terry contacts led to a two-month internship at Deloitte, and she attended two special training programs at Bain & Company, where she’s in a summer 2024 internship.

“I’m on a management consulting track,” she explains. “Learning how to solve problems with different businesses will be a launching pad for a future in consulting. That’s what I see ahead.”

It will be coming soon, no doubt, to a YouTube channel near you.

Ashni Patel ringing the Chapel bell
Ashni Patel
Preparing to do a world of good

Ashni Patel is ready to hold the whole world in her hands.

At graduation in 2024, she left Terry with an AB in economics plus a BA in international affairs, along with a minor in Chinese language and literature. She also speaks Gujarati, the language of the west Indian state of her ancestors and, of course, the English of Laurel, Mississippi, and Douglas, Georgia, where she grew up.

She spent a Maymester in Oxford, United Kingdom, on her Foundation Fellowship, and she interned with the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State. She supported the Center for International Trade and Security and was a member of the UGA Model United Nations team. 

Now comes a capstone moment in preparation for an international career. This fall, Patel joins the Schwarzman Scholarship program, pursuing a one-year master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. 

Patel is the fifth Terry student and just the eighth UGA student to receive a Schwarzman Scholarship, awarded to only 150 students each year out of 4,000 applicants from 43 nations.

“As a Schwarzman Scholar,” Patel says, “I plan to learn more about Chinese diplomatic and development efforts around the globe. Then, I hope to have an international career and live abroad, ideally in Asia. Working at the State Department really opened my eyes to the foreign service.” 

It’s somehow appropriate that a future globetrotter gives campus tours for UGA. 

“My first tour, in March 2022, was terrible,” she remembers. “I cried. I didn’t know if I was cut out for it. But my supervisors were so encouraging, and I tried again. Now, it’s a special part of my UGA experience.”

As Patel prepares for global life, she also tutors people who are imprisoned. 

“Teaching through Athens Prison Tutorial is probably my favorite thing I’ve done in college,” Patel says. “I work with people who want to live productive lives. 

“Tutoring incarcerated students always reminds me of how fortunate I am. It really helps me keep perspective as I prepare to go out into the world.” 

Logan Williamson in suit outdoors in plaza
Logan Williamson
Four degrees, and a world to change

Logan Williamson and his twin brother, Elliot — “identical down to the beard,” Logan says — grew up in Athens. Both were Foundation Fellows. Both studied economics.

“It was my first choice going to college,” Williamson says. “Whether macro or micro, I’m really interested in knowing how economics affects people’s decisions about progress and improving the world.”

Economics proved a solid foundation for multiple interests. When Williamson graduated this spring, he earned bachelor’s degrees in economics, political science, international affairs and Spanish. 

He’s learned to move fast to accomplish all he wants.

“After COVID-19 my second year, I went to Oxford for a Maymester,” Williamson says. “I was home for a couple of weeks, then left for five months in Chile to study political economy there. 

“I returned, then eight days later traveled with a U.S. Department of Commerce internship to work five months on semiconductor policy. I came home, worked 10 days on a research paper, then flew to Europe to study the Eurozone in Florence, Italy.”

As an important academic influence, Williamson singles out Terry professor Laura Zimmermann. She guided his senior economics thesis, a paper exploring the potential impacts that lithium exploitation could have on stabilizing and strengthening the economy of Argentina. (Williamson continues this research as a Latin American Studies intern at the Council on Foreign Relations.)

“Dr. Zimmermann was always there, happy, trying to empower us, showing us the importance of being more focused on humans than pure economics,” Williamson says.

The Honors College student sees influences of economics in every area of his studies and even outside the classroom, when he volunteers nights as an English-language tutor at Casa de Amistad, an Athens nonprofit.

“There is absolutely no time when economics is not helpful,” Williamson emphasizes. “It helps you understand government. It helps you understand business. It helps you understand why people make the choices they make.”