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09.11.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Logan Smalley (BS ’06)

Logan Smalley (BS ’06) is doing big things – and has been for quite some time.

The Athens native first put himself on the map as a future leader during his time as an undergraduate at UGA. Inspired by his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival, Smalley decided to create a feature-length film about his close friend and hero, Darius Weems. In 2005, he directed, edited and composed the soundtrack for Darius Goes West, which documents Weems and several friends on a cross-country quest to get Weem’s wheelchair customized on the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”

Along the way, the film crew raises awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which led to Weems being in a wheelchair, and to test for wheelchair accessibility across the country.

Since that time, Darius Goes West has been shown in 1,000 venues and 30 film festivals. More than 100,000 DVDs are in circulation and the film has won more than 25 awards. Smalley even appeared on TV shows such as Ellen DeGeneres, The Today Show, and The CBS Early Show. He continues to serve as president of the Darius Goes West nonprofit organization, which has raised $2.3 million for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research since the film was launched. 2013 marks the ninth annual Darius Goes West Day.

Smalley has not slowed down, though, following those successes. He earned a master’s degree in technology, innovation and education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2008. That same year, he was one of 30 applicants selected to become a TED Fellow.

The alumnus capitalized on that experience and went on to create TED-Ed to push the popular TED Talks into K-12 education. Since 2010, he has served as the TED-Ed director, overseeing and managing the TED-ED team of teachers, animators and web specialists. TED-Ed recently won three Webby awards, including “Best Education Website,” and the first 150 TED-Ed lessons have been viewed more than 20 million times in the last year.

When asked about his advice for current UGA students, Smalley responded, saying, “Participate in making the world, by using every tool available to you to tell your story, and to help tell the story of others.”

Through his work with Darius Goes West and now, through TED-Ed, it’s clear that Smalley takes his own advice to heart. Thank you for continuing to inspire us, Logan, and welcome to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013!

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07.06.2015

Alumnus Spotlight: Matt Tommey (BSED ‘96)

Matt Tommey (BSED '96) spent 13 years in the metro Atlanta area making baskets as a hobby before moving to Asheville, North Carolina’s River Arts district to make one-of-a-kind sculptural baskets professionally. Harvesting all the materials himself, Matt is passionate about creating art baskets that reflect the rustic elegance of nature for his clients.

The UGA Alumni Association’s Communications Intern, Sarah Rose ’16, had the opportunity to chat with Matt Tommey about his career as a sculptural basketry artist and his UGA experience.

When and how did you realize that you wanted to make your hobby of basket weaving into a full-time professional career? 

After I had been making baskets for around 15 years, I started feeling drawn to doing basketry full-time. I started doing more shows to get my work out there and around the same time, my family and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina.  Asheville is the center of the universe for fine craft in the United States so the creative community, luxury clientele and natural environment all made it possible for me to go full time.

Where did you learn to make baskets? What artists have inspired you? 

I'm self-taught through experimentation, a love for nature and an insatiable curiosity. Throughout the years I've been influenced by many artists in a variety of mediums including clay, fiber and sculpture.

What's your favorite type of piece to make? 

This is always changing, but right now I love making pieces that incorporate mountain laurel branches and baskets that are reminiscent of pods and nests.

  

How long does it take you to complete a custom piece? 

Usually 2-3 weeks which includes a personal visit to the client's home to harvest materials from the property. Many of my clients are in the Cashiers, Highlands and Lake Toxaway area, which allows me to harvest branches and vines from their personal land. This really makes each piece special for the client.

What is your favorite memory from UGA? Are there any specific places you liked to visit in Athens as a student? 

My wife and I met at UGA while working at the Tate Center / University Bookstore on campus. We harvested kudzu by my apartment at College Park on Riverbend Parkway and loved to eat at Peking. Lots of great memories!!

How did you time at UGA shape you into the artist you are today?

I started making baskets while I was a student at UGA in the Therapeutic Recreation department. The professors in that department, specifically Dr. Diane Samdahl really encouraged me in my creativity. I also led adventure trips through GORP and was ropes course facilitator.  All of those experiences, along with my love for nature solidified in me the importance of following my creative passion in basketry.

To learn more about Matt or see examples of his work, please visit www.matttommey.com.  

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07.01.2015

Alumna Spotlight: Former Gymdog Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10)

Former UGA Gymdog, Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10), was recently named co-valedictorian of the University of Texas Medical Branch Class of 2015.

Marcia always knew she'd pursue a career in medicine. Despite battling a chronic ankle injury during her senior year at UGA, Marcia achieved momentous athletic and academic success at UGA. Between balancing two three-hour MCAT courses a week, rigorous gymnastics training, and classes, Marcia devoted her spare time to serving the greater Athens-Clarke community.

Her efforts at UGA won her numerous awards and accolades—including the prestigious NCAA TOP VIII Award, which is presented annually to eight outstanding student-athletes across the nation and recognizes outstanding athletic, academic, community service and leadership accomplishments.

As a recent medical school graduate, she hopes to combine her passion for sports, medicine and service to open an adolescent and young adult sports medicine clinic.

The UGA Alumni Association’s strategic communications intern, Lauren Steffes ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna:

What is your favorite UGA memory?

My favorite memory as a student was when my roommates and I would have random dance parties in our dorm. They were always fun because we would act silly and just do crazy things. These random dance parties always seemed to occur around finals because we never wanted to study!

How did UGA help you achieve your goals – both professionally and athletically?

UGA definitely helped prepare me academically for medical school. Since UGA had a tough curriculum, I was able to develop efficient studying skills that allowed me to complete my medical school work but still have time to hang with friends to minimize stress levels. This was a great skill because it ensured a smoooth transition to medical school. 

Athletically, UGA (specifically Coach Suzanne Yoculan) taught me the value of teamwork and its application within athletics and outside of the gym. This lesson helped me contribute to UGA's NCAA National Championship in 2007, 2008, and 2009 as well as UGA's SEC Championship in 2008.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of from your time as a student?

My most proud accomplishment from my time as a student actually is not an award, honor, or anything that special. Simply, I am most proud of the true friendships I made during my college years. Developing those friendships to the point that they are maintained several years after graduation is amazing and provides a personal joy.

What led you to pursue a career in medicine?

From an early age, I knew I wanted to become a doctor. My father is a doctor and my mother is a nurse practitioner, so I was always around medicine in some capacity, but my true passion for it came through personal experiences as a gymnast. Having injuries myself and seeing other teammates with injuries engaged my curiosity in learning how to care for injuries but to also understand the needs of those who are injured or sick.

What advice would you give to current students at UGA?

My advice to others would be to go after your dreams no matter what. You may have to take a different route than others, but don't let obstacles deter you from your path. Remember to always work hard at every task because there is always something to learn and you never know when it may be useful! And finally, enjoy the ride because life is more than the final destination. 

Marcia is married to former UGA football player Demiko Goodman (BSFCS '08). The two plan to move to Daytona Beach, Florida, where Newby-Goodman will attend a family medicine residency. The UGA community is proud to call them both members of the Bulldog family.

To learn more about Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10) and her various accomplishments, click here.

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06.29.2015

“Big Man on Campus” turns 90

Earlier this month, Dave Wilkinson (ABJ '89), featured to the left here, reached out to let UGA Alumni Association staff know that his father was turning 90 today. Dave shared so many great details about his father’s time on campus that he was invited to serve as today’s guest blogger. Enjoy this special post about one of UGA’s outstanding graduates.

We are all proud of our UGA heritage. We share fond memories of football Saturdays and library Sundays. We watched the ancient trees on North Campus shed their leaves in autumnal breezes. We faced the challenge of traveling a mile across campus to make our next class in 15 minutes or less! From the dorms and dining halls to the Tate Center and Legion Pool, we learned to live and loved to learn at UGA. We worked hard. We played hard. We found ourselves at Georgia and left with Georgia in our hearts and souls!

Many of us are children or relatives of UGA alumni. I am honored to share the story of my dad, an outstanding alumnus who turns 90 this month. His name is Albert Mims Wilkinson, Jr., and you would know him as “Mims.”

Mims graduated from Decatur Boys High School at the age of 16 in 1942. He attended Emory University then transferred to the University of Georgia. At the age of 18, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He was assigned to the USS Evansville, Patrol Frigate 70, as a radar operator; Radarman, Third Class. After 2.5 years of active duty, mostly on submarine patrol in the North Atlantic, Mims was discharged having earned the American Defense Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the U.S. Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal.

In June 1946, Mims re-enrolled at the University of Georgia. The following year, he entered the UGA School of Law. He was elected Campus Leader in 1947 to represent all non-fraternity men on campus. While at UGA, he was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Blue Key Honor Society, the Gridiron Secret Society, and the Sphinx Club, UGA’s oldest honorary society. He was a member of both the Demosthenian Literary Society and the Phi Kappa Literary Society. Mims was a charter member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1948 and was elected president of the Georgia Law School Senior Class the next year.

  

Dad began to practice law in Atlanta in 1950. He practiced in all Georgia and federal trial and appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He was a member or chairman of various committees of the Atlanta and Georgia bar associations, and served as chairman of the American Bar Association Committee on the Trial of Commercial Claims. Mims was a charter member of the Georgia Chapter of the American Trial Lawyers Association. He authored a book on contract law in Georgia which sold out two editions. He was Honorary Legal Advisor to the British Consul-General in Atlanta from 1970 until 2000. For his service to the Crown, he was awarded membership in the Order of the British Empire in 1985.

   

Dad was a tough act to follow at UGA. He credits the University of Georgia with preparing him for success in all of his endeavors. He was just one of so many great alumni who paved the way for us. We can all be grateful for those who established and helped grow this great institution. I am especially grateful to the University of Georgia Alumni Association for its ongoing service to the university and its alumni and friends. It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!

HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY, DAD!

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