Josie Hartney arrived at AMU four years ago as a freshman interested in working in the medical field—she just didn’t know exactly where. “Science has always interested me,” she explains. “I like problem-solving and understanding what is going on in the world around me and also in my own body.” Not sure where her interests would lead her down the road, Josie decided to major in Biology; it would help get her where she wanted to go, while still keeping her options open.
For the spring semester of her sophomore year, Josie had the opportunity to travel to Rome with AMU’s study abroad program. At one point, the program’s chaplain asked if anyone wanted to volunteer for the Pontifical Academy for Life’s 2015 General Assembly Workshop, “Assisting the Elderly and Palliative Care.” As someone interested in healthcare, and particularly in this topic, Josie shot her hand in the air. “This turned into a way bigger opportunity than I anticipated,” she recalls, “allowing me to work inside the Vatican and participate in one of its operations with renowned scholars from around the world!” Josie was privileged to attend a private papal audience that Pope Francis held with the Academy members, and she even had the chance to greet the pontiff in person at the end. “It was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life, and it never would have happened without the opportunity to participate in the study abroad program that AMU provided me.”
While at AMU, Josie has had a couple of opportunities to travel abroad. Through the Mother Teresa Project, she served on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic last year. And immediately after graduation, she will take off once again to volunteer on a final mission trip to Calcutta, India. Opportunities such as these are part of what attracted Josie to AMU in the first place. “I wanted to get involved in the university and immersed in the community in a place that would challenge me to be a better person but not force it. I decided to come to AMU because I felt it was where God was calling me to grow towards the best version of myself throughout my four years of college.”
Over the last four years, Josie has certainly found ways to grow into the best version of herself. She not only balanced outstanding academic work with her passion to serve, but she also was involved in a multitude of student organizations and activities. On the academic side, she made the Dean’s List every single semester here. She was also in the Honors Program, a member of the Tri Beta Biological Honors Society, and a Mother Teresa Scholar. But the list of Josie’s engagement with the university community doesn’t stop there. She served on Student Government, and was a member of the Student Activities Board. She played intramural sports throughout her four years, and also joined the Students for Life, Life Runners, and AMU Biology clubs. Josie was a member of the Asteria Tis Marias Women’s Faith Household, which won Household of the Year in 2016, and she worked as a Resident Assistant. “I can tell that I have greatly matured and gained many life experiences during my time here,” she shares. “AMU has shaped me by challenging me to be a critical thinker—both in and outside of the classroom, and to approach things with the whole picture in mind.” She continues: “I have learned how to be a professional while here. I have discovered my own spirituality by making my faith my own, which AMU enabled me to do by providing a variety of prayer and formation opportunities that I could take and explore.”
[Photo credit: Patricia Nicole V. Baguinon]
Josie was accepted into her top pick for graduate school. After graduating on Saturday, she will fly with President Towey and a group of fellow AMU students to serve the poor in Calcutta. Upon her return to the States, she will spend some time back in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, working at the Dolphin Academy Swim School. Come the fall, Josie begins pursuing her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.
Best of luck to Josie as she finishes up her classes and prepares for the adventure of life after college! And congratulations on being named a President’s Award finalist!
The President’s Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior of Ave Maria University in recognition of academic accomplishments, involvement in the life of the University, service to others, and exemplification of AMU’s highest Catholic ideals.