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UGA Class of 2013 40 Under 40 spotlights

Each day for the next 40 days, I'd like to feature one of this year's 40 Under 40 honorees on the blog. The 2013 honorees are simply amazing and I know readers will enjoy learning more about these impressive young graduates.

I will continue to share news from campus and updates about other alumni, but those posts will be mixed in with these 40 Under 40 features.

Without further ado, let me begin by introducing you to Kevin Abernethy (AB ’99):

Abernethy graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1999. As a sophomore, he was elected president of the Student Government Association and was a student speaker during former UGA President Michael Adams’s inauguration ceremony. He became a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity in 1999. He went on to earn his law degree from Georgia State University’s College of Law.

Today, Abernethy is a partner in Hall Booth Smith’s Atlanta office. The young alumnus has extensive litigation experience handling civil rights claims for the City of Atlanta, large complex environmental lawsuits, corporate suits, and claims involving professional negligence.

In 2010, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Abernethy to a three-year term on the board of the Superior Court Clerks Retirement Fund of Georgia, a position of fiduciary responsibility and oversight over a multimillion dollar portfolio.

That same year, Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle appointed Abernethy to a four-year term on the State Ethics Commission, a quasi-judicial body with statewide jurisdiction over ethical issues involving public officials, lobbyists, and state vendors. The following year, he was selected to serve as chairman of the Ethics Commission and then reelected in 2012. Abernethy is the youngest person to hold this role in Georgia’s history.

He credits much of his success to those who guided him at UGA – Thomas Cochran, his SGA adviser, and the late professor Dr. Eugene Miller. He credits Cochran with teaching him critical lessons in leadership during his SGA years, and credits Miller with helping expand his knowledge and skills regarding political thought and effective advocacy.

Abernethy’s friend, Bart Newman (AB ’99, JD ’03), nominated Abernethy for this honor, saying, “There is a humility in Kevin that makes him real and at odds with others in his political circles who can be consumed with their own celebrity. He remember people’s names, not to manipulate them with flattery, but because he cares.”

Truly, Kevin Abernethy exemplifies the qualities of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees. Thank you for representing UGA – and the state of Georgia – so well, Kevin.

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Alumnus and longtime supporter brings NASA to campus

Roger Hunter’s (BS ’78, Mathematics) passion for UGA is unmatched by most, and despite living thousands of miles from Athens, his veins are still filled with red and black.

In 2014, the associate director for programs at NASA Ames Research Center in California gave the fall commencement address and a TEDxUGA Talk. This past summer, he hosted UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) and other university representatives on a tour of Ames, even surprising them with an image of Uga IX on Mars – the first “earth-being” to visit the surface of the Red Planet.

His commitment to UGA continued this fall when Roger brought two of his NASA colleagues, Roberto Carlino and Jasper Wolfe, to campus to present to and mentor students and faculty on the Friday prior to the UGA vs. South Carolina football game.

(left to right): NASA scientists Jasper Wolfe from Australia, Roberto Carlino from Italy and UGA’s own Roger Hunter from California.

Malcolm Adams, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Math, arranged for an afternoon lecture in the Miller Learning Center that was open to all students and promoted in STEM classes on campus. The presentation focused on the history and future of the use of Cube-Sats (mini satellites used for space research) from the perspective of the NASA Ames Research Center.

Earlier that day, though, the NASA representatives participated in a seminar/workshop for a group of faculty and students who are planning to build the first UGA CubeSat to gather spectral data off the Georgia coast. The group includes faculty from geography, marine science, physics and math, and 25 to 30 undergraduate students.


Both the students and faculty in attendance were inspired by the exciting, breakthrough technology presented by the visitors, and were appreciative of the first-hand mentoring offered.

Roger Hunter continues to contribute to UGA through his time, expertise and financial support. His involvement is greatly appreciated and can be seen as a stellar example of alumni enriching the learning experience on campus through volunteerism.

If you are interested in mentoring on campus or bringing a special project to UGA students, please email and indicate your interest.

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Alumnus Spotlight: Joey Shonka (BS ’05)

Joey Shonka (BS ’05), a long distance hiker and mountaineer, is trying to become the first person to traverse the entire Andes mountain range on foot. He has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking, which refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails: the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Joey has written the following books about his experiences hiking each of these trails.

"The Darkness in the Light" (about the AT)

"An American Nomad" (about the PCT)

"A Strong West Wind" (about the CDT)


In July 2013, Joey began his attempt to create the first unbroken chain of footsteps across the continent of South America. He started his trek at Cape Froward, the southernmost point on the mainland of South America. As part of his current journey, he has already hiked nearly 5,000 kilometers, crossed parts of the world's third-largest glacier network and summited seven of the highest peaks in the Americas. Joey checks in via a location tracker on his website to keep family, friends and fans updated. Recently, he was spotted near the Rio Vilcanota in Peru. Joey plans to culminate his hike in Columbia, political unrest permitting, around March 2016.

Learn more about Joey and follow his adventures around the world here.

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Adeline Kenerly ’16 Named New Miss Georgia 2015

Adeline Kenerly '16, a UGA digital and broadcast journalism major, was recently named the 2015 Miss Georgia after Betty Cantrell, the former 2015 Miss Georgia, was named Miss America on September 13.

In addition to being a member of the UGA Majorettes, Adeline was crowned Miss University of Georgia in 2014. She is involved with Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and has held leadership roles with both UGA Relay for Life and HEROs at UGA, a student organization that raises funds for pediatric HIV/AIDS. The Jesup native also served as a member of the Student Government Association's Freshman Forum.

Adeline is continuing a long Bulldog tradition in her family. Her father, Dr. J. Lex Kenerly III met his wife, Joy Bland Kenerly, when they were UGA students in the early 1980s. Her father was a walk-on member of the football team and her mother was a UGA Majorette who twirled during three Sugar Bowls and the 1980 National Championship. Today, Lex is a member of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors and his company, Bone and Joint Institute of South Georgia, was on last year's Bulldog 100 list of fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. The couple has raised a family of passionate and involved Bulldogs. They attend each home football game to not only cheer for the Bulldogs, but also their daughters, Adeline and Jameson. Jameson is a third-year Feature Twirler and in the Honors Program.

Adeline will be crowned Miss Georgia on Saturday, October 3 during halftime of the Georgia vs. Alabama football game. 

The Miss America Organization, at the local, state, and national levels, is the largest private scholarship foundation for women in the United States. This year, scholarship assistance totaling more than $45 million was available to contestant’s at all three levels. The organiztaion was established in 1921 and is a nonprofit civic corporation. The Miss UGA Scholarship Pageant is a program within UGA's Division of Student Affairs.

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