By Ashley McKelvy and Gracie Bell
ATLANTA — KeyShawn Phillips credits a campus tour with convincing him to become a Panther.
Despite his innate shyness, he was inspired by his guides to help other students get to know Georgia State, so he became a Welcome Center tour guide himself during his first year on campus.
“The people who were interviewing me, as well as some of the other guides, said, ‘It’s OK to be shy. It’s OK to be quiet. Just be yourself,’” Phillips said.
That advice gave him the confidence to embrace the opportunity that attending Georgia State, at the vibrant center of downtown Atlanta, afforded him.
Phillips says he’s grown during his time at Georgia State, just as the university’s campus has grown and changed around him.
“It’s beneficial to see how growth works and just look back on the four years and see areas like the greenway that didn’t exist, the new Convocation Center they’re building, or just Georgia State’s growth in the Summerhill district and how that changes the landscape of the university,” he said. “I was changing the landscape within myself during that same time period.”
While Phillips majored in mathematics — a universal foundation for just about any job he’d want to do in the future — his interest in politics blossomed when he served as an intern for the Congressional Black Caucus, working under U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams.
Phillips plans to go to graduate school to study urban planning and find thoughtful ways to shape the infrastructure of cities.
“You can make a person’s life better by building good roads that are beneficial for the city or building a bus stop or train station that’s beneficial for the people who live in that area,” he said. “I want to advocate for people as much as possible.”
As a former tour guide, and as a future urban planner, when asked what his favorite spots downtown are, Phillips points to the fifth-floor terrace at the College of Law and the Student Recreation Center, but it’s really the location of the campus that he loves.
“Anywhere in the Woodruff Park area where you can see all of the tall buildings and just feel like you’re in the heart of the city,” he said. “As entwined with the city as Georgia State is, this is exactly what I wanted when I came to college.”
Photo by Carolyn Richardson