With so many University of Georgia alumni and even former professors scattered around the world, you never know where two former Dawgs might run into each other, even after decades.
John Shearer (AB ’83) recently hooked up with his old Myers Hall faculty resident friend, Dr. Joe Snow, while traveling through Madrid, Spain, in a reunion that in some respects had been more than 30 years in the making.
Dr. Joe Snow (left) and John Shearer in Madrid
The story of their friendship began when Shearer moved into Myers in January 1982 after two years of living in the now-razed McWhorter Hall as a walk-on football player and then four quarters in University Gardens Apartments off Baxter Street. In Myers, which was two-thirds male at the time, Shearer said he finally found the closely knit, small-college-like community of male and female students for which he had been longing.
Among the many people he befriended was Snow, a Spanish and Portuguese language instructor, who had an arrangement with university housing to live there at a greatly reduced rent. Snow's only job was to circulate among the students and help break down the barriers between students and faculty.
Through Snow, Shearer found out about a 1983 spring break trip being planned to Russia, then called the Soviet Union, by then-University of Georgia Russian language professor Dr. Harold Schefski. Shearer ended up going on the trip with his mother, Dr. Snow, Dr. Snow’s sister and several other students. Upon their return to the United States in those pre-Internet days, they learned that Georgia had qualified for the Final Four in men’s and women’s basketball for the first time.
Shearer, who majored in geography, ended up keeping a journal about his trip, and that inspired him to pursue a journalism and writing career that continues 30 years later on a freelance basis from his home in Knoxville, Tenn. In 2013, Shearer wrote a column on the 30th anniversary of his trip and through Dr. Schefski, who now teaches at California State University, Long Beach, he reconnected with Snow via email.
Snow, who became interested in Spanish while a high school student in New Jersey, had left UGA in the early 1990s to begin teaching at Michigan State University. Today, he spends most of his time in retirement in Madrid in a residence he was able to pay for in part due to his reduced rent while at Myers Hall.
After realizing he would be traveling to Madrid in June with his wife, Laura Anderson Shearer (ABJ ’69), on the way to visit her son in Portugal, Shearer made plans to reconnect with Snow. And since it would be Shearer’s first overseas trip since the Russian excursion, he could say he had been with Snow on every international trip he had taken.
“It was neat reconnecting with him,” said Shearer, who had not seen Snow since the first year or two after he graduated. “He took us to an out-of-the way restaurant with which he was familiar, and it ended up being one of the best meals on our nearly two-week trip. But the conversation was even better. His engaging and warm manner that had endeared him to students became familiar again.
“And most of all, it was neat comparing our memories of both the Russia trip and our experiences in Myers Hall, because my time in Myers was one of the happiest of my life.”
Written by freelance journalist John Shearer (AB ’83)
University of Georgia alumni continue to accomplish great fetes as they work their way into top positions across Georgia, the United States and the world. A few weeks ago another UGA alumnus did just that.
Remer Brinson III (BBA '82) was recently named the 125th chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association (GBA). As the president and CEO of Augusta-based First Bank of Georgia, Brinson was well prepared to take on this new position.
During his time at UGA, Brinson was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order and studied finance. He graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Joe Brennen, president of the GBA, had this to say about Brinson's new position, "Our banks and our industry will be well-served by his experience and insightfulness about the critical issues facing our members, their customers and Georgia's communities."
Congratulations on this incredible achievement, Remer!
The UGA Alumni Association regional programs team had the chance to catch up with Richmond Chapter Vice President Taylor Jacobson (BS '09). Take a minute to learn a little more about Jacobson and her involvement with the Richmond Chapter.
RP: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what brought you to Richmond, what do you do here?
TJ: I'm originally from Albany, Georgia. After graduating from UGA, I moved to Virginia Beach and from there pursued my Masters of Surgical Assisting at Eastern Virginia Medical School. I accepted a job at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond in June of 2013!
RP: When, and from what program, did you graduate at UGA?
TJ: I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from UGA in 2009. I graduated with the minor miracle of never changing my major and finishing in four years!
RP: What are your favorite things about Athens and the University of Georgia?
TJ: I worked for the Visitors Center at school and used to give tours - that was one of the best experiences of my four years at UGA. Because of that job, I'm absolutely obsessed with my alma mater!
A few things I love(d) about Athens/UGA: Tailgating in the fall, Pauley's restaurant downtown, naps in front of the physics building, the meal plan and the forever friendships!
RP: What made you take an active role in the Richmond Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association?
TJ: I wanted to get involved in this chapter because it has led to friendships in a new place and it reminds me that I'm not alone in my fanaticism! When I moved to Richmond, I knew one person and through this chapter I have explored and experienced this city with people that are crazy, but bonded to me by our common interest in UGA.
RP: If you could describe UGA in only one word, what would it be and why?
TJ: Tradition. There is so much tradition within the university itself, but I believe that once you graduate you start to form your own traditions centered around UGA; i.e. Walk/Don't walk under the Arch, ring the Chapel Bell, call the Dawgs, network with alumni, watch games with other alumni, bleed red and black!
While at an Atlanta Women of UGA Luncheon recently, I had the chance to meet and chat with alumna Jennifer Bradley Franklin. Jennifer is a 2002 graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady School for Journalism and Mass Communication. Self-described as a “writer, traveler, lover of life and endlessly curious,” Jennifer gets the opportunity to write about everything from food and travel to celebrity weddings. Fascinated by her stories, I was inspired by how she developed her passion into a fulltime career as a freelance writer. Jennifer was kind enough to answer some additional questions for me to share for this UGA Atlanta Alumni Spotlight!
FB: How did you start your career as a freelance writer?
JBF: I've known that writing was my passion since I was a child. But, the terror attacks on 9-11 happened during my senior year at UGA, so it was challenging to find a job in journalism after graduation. I spent almost nine years in marketing for some of Atlanta's most acclaimed restaurants (it was a great education in both the culinary world and business), but breaking into writing professionally was always my goal. I started doing some freelance writing on the side and by the time I broke out on my own in 2011, I had a full roster of clients - both magazine and corporate - to keep me busy. Since then, I've written for People, Time.com, American Way (for American Airlines), Alaska Airlines Magazine, Vacation Agent, The Atlantan, Southbound, Flavors, Simply Buckhead, Southern Seasons and for brands like Newell-Rubbermaid (Graco), Warren Averett Turnaround Advisors, Bella Cucina and others. It's fun and I love being my own boss!
FB: You have written for some very well-known and established publications. In your opinion, what has been the most exciting assignment you have had?
JBF: It's been cool to help break celebrity stories for People - including being on the ground reporting Princes William and Harry's visit to Memphis this year and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds' Charleston wedding. Truly, though, my favorite stories to work on are travel features. In the last several years, I've had the privilege to visit Morocco, Mexico, England, Scotland, the Canadian Rockies, Switzerland, The Dominican Republic and others. It's hard to pick a favorite!
FB: When you think back on your world travels, what has been the most memorable and why?
JBF: It's hard to choose! One of the standouts from the last year was a visit to La Mamounia in Marrakech, Morocco. The resort is steeped in luxury, has a storied 90+ year history (it was a playground for President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Sophia Loren and Alfred Hitchcock, to name only a few) and sits in the shadow of the High Atlas Mountains. I'm heading to Shanghai in July - I can't wait for the next adventure!
FB: Let’s take a look back at your days at UGA. How do you think your degree from UGA has benefited you in your profession?
JBF: I feel like my entire experience at UGA was so rich. Certainly, I think that my journalism training at the Grady College has been invaluable - the professors are terrific and the opportunities to get real experience (like writing for UGAzine and The Red & Black or working at WUOG and around Newsource 15) definitely helped me lay a foundation for a successful career. Beyond that, though, I think being in a place that made it easy to pursue a wide variety of interests - like ballroom dancing, for instance - has helped propel me on my way.
FB: Who was your favorite professor while attending UGA?
JBF: My time in Dr. Ann Hollifield's classes at Grady always stand out in my memory. I took her media management class my junior year, and as a journalism major, it was one of the only business-oriented classes I was able to take. She is so smart, strong and passionate about teaching. I learned so much from her!
Want to learn more about Jennifer? Check out her website at www.jenniferbradleyfranklin.com or follower her on Twitter and Instagram @JennBFranklin.
Frances Beusse (BS '06)
In 2011, while studying fashion merchandising and marketing, UGA alumna Michelle Blue (BBA '13) studied abroad in Ghana. While visiting textile workers and taking in the incredible, vibrant clothing, she was inspired.
Upon returning, Blue contacted her now partner, Sasha Matthews, and together they founded Bené, a company with much more to offer than amazing style.
Bené is an online store that allows users to create their own customized scarves from a number of styles, patterns and features. The scarves are gorgeous and versatile additions to any wardrobe. The real story, however, is behind the scenes.
The scarves themselves are created by the women of the Refugee Sewing Society in Atlanta from unique patterns and textiles that Blue discovered on her trip abroad. The Refugee Sewing Society is a non-profit organization that supports women who have fled their home countries for many reasons including ethnic cleansing and war. The organization teaches women to sew and provides an outlet to help sell their items. The money raised goes directly to provide for their families.
In addition to visiting textile workers while in Ghana, Blue was introduced to many local organizations that work to provide young girls with a secondary education and skills to engage in the world of entrepreneurship.
A portion of all Bené sales goes to the Stay-In-School Tuition Assistance (SISTA) Program and specifically to the SISTA Scholarship program. Built on the goal of increasing female education and business knowledge, SISTA Scholarship funds the secondary education of young Ghanian women. Through each educated girl, the cycle of poverty grows weaker and empowerment spreads throughout the community.
Blue and her partner have made it very clear that at the heart of Bené is giving. They believe that, "as global citizens we are responsible for each other, connected by the similarities and differences that tie us together. We must not simply placate the situation, but empower women by making investments into their lives, natural abilities and gifts to enable them to be self-sufficient."
Click here to learn more about the Bené mission!
Photo credit to www.benebyyou.com.