OXFORD, Ga. - Kerstin Hilley has been selected as the 2017-2018 President of the ABAC Ambassadors, one of the most prestigious leadership organizations at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
The rural studies–writing and communications major from Oxford wasn’t even thinking about ABAC when she was trying to decide where to go for her college education.
“My whole family loved the University of Georgia but when I toured the campus I didn’t like it,” Hilley said. “It was too crowded for me. I always detected flaws at every other place I looked at. My high school agriculture teacher, Marcus Pollard, is an ABAC alumnus, and he recommended ABAC to me. I have strong morals, and ABAC was the place that I felt valued those same morals.”
The daughter of Brian and Brandy Hilley and Tonya and Curt Dowling started her ABAC career as an Ambassador in 2015. She had heard about the Ambassadors’ program from Pollard.
“I had also participated in the Associate Board of Directors in high school,” Hilley said. “The Ambassadors seemed very much like that program.”
Hilley now enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone after being quite shy in high school. By trying out for the Ambassadors, Hilley said she challenged herself.
“My father told me to make something you’ll remember when I got to college,” Hilley said. “I wanted to leave a legacy at ABAC.”
Hilley admits she was very nervous when she first interviewed for the Ambassadors. She was shocked when the panel selected her.
“I cried for joy,” Hilley said. “I was so surprised that they picked this shy girl from Newton County. Then I called everyone I knew to tell them that I made it.”
Two years after joining the Ambassadors that shy girl has blossomed into one of the college’s student leaders. Since her first semester at ABAC, she has held positions in other student organizations including Vice President of the Sigma Alpha sorority and Vice President of Scholarship for the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. She has served as a writing tutor at the Academic Achievement Center and is a member of the Beekeepers’ Association.
This fall Hilley will take the helm of the Ambassadors as president. And she is ready.
“I worked closely with the Ambassador president while I served as vice president this year,” Hilley said. “I took on a lot of leadership roles and was given an award for the most hours served within the group. But the title of president isn’t important. I love what the Ambassadors do and stand for much more than any title I could receive.”
Hilley is confident that the year to come will be as successful as the one she just completed.
“We have a very solid base and devoted over 1,500 hours to the college and community,” Hilley said. “I would love to beat that number. We also have had a lot of people express interest in the Ambassadors, and I want to help the program grow and excel.”
Before she starts her term as president, she will spend the summer in a marketing internship for Progressive Marketing. The business is a multi-million-dollar company based out of Macon.
Hilley will graduate with her associate’s degree this month and receive her bachelor’s degree in 2018. She would like to continue her education by attaining her graduate degree online through UGA, but says it depends on what opportunities may arise.
She is certain about one thing in her career. She would love to come back to ABAC as an employee.
“I love ABAC and would love to continue working here,” Hilley said. “I would like to work in marketing or recruitment but would be happy with a lot of positions on the campus.”