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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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09.02.2014

Sounds of the Classic City

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in Athens, Georgia, knows that the music scene is unparalleled. Every night, dozens of venues brim with talented performers and their fans, playing songs from nearly every genre. Although many of these musicians permanently reside in the Classic City, some are here for an education, playing their music while studying at UGA. The university has produced a number of notable musicians over the course of its history, and will continue to do so - especially with the ever-growing Music Business Certificate Program. While Athens is well-known for producing stars such as R.E.M. and Neutral Milk Hotel, many other alumni have also made their mark on the national music scene. Here are just a few:

Bill Anderson (ABJ '59) is a country music sensation who has produced 36 top ten hits on the country music charts. Beyond his music career, Anderson was a TV game show host for “The Better Sex” and “Fandango," and published an autobiography titled “Whisperin’ Bill."

Luke Tan (AB ’01, BS '01) is the founder of the Asheville Tango Orchestra, a group he still directs today. The alumnus is a country music singer and songwriter who began performing in Athens under the name “Racecar." He has also had a number of successful podcasts and radio shows.

Raymond Hughes (AB '74) worked as the chorus master of the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1991 to 2007. He began his career as a conductor in 2007 at Carnegie Hall and currently works as director of the Thomasville Singers.

Parker Gispert (AB '07) (right above) and Julian Dorio (BS '04) (left above) are two-thirds of The Whigs, a popular garage band that began in 2002. The Whigs are still touring and have accompanied artists such as The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and Drive By Truckers on tour.

  

Charles Kelley (BBA '04) has recently made headlines as a founding member of the Grammy award-winning country music band Lady Antebellum. Kelley has co-written the majority of the band’s songs and has helped other famous artists including Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert write some of their recent hits. 

Another one of UGA’s big claims to fame in the music industry is the post-punk band Pylon, which earned great recognition on the national stage after opening for U2. Michael Lachowski (BFA '79) (bottom right) played bass, Curtis Crowe (BFA '84) (top right) played drums and Vanessa Briscoe (BFA '78) was the lead singer of this influential Athens group.

  

The University of Georgia produces numerous talented graduates each year who go on to perform in orchestras, symphonies and other groups around the world. This blog post simply couldn't highlight them all - who did we miss that you think should be on this list? Email eelmore@uga.edu with your suggestions!

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08.29.2014

Official 2014 Game Watching Parties

Saturdays Between the Hedges are here and it's time to cheer for the Bulldogs with fellow alumni, friends and fans from your local chapter of the UGA Alumni Association!

UGA Alumni Association chapters will be hosting game watching parties at more than 60 official locations throughout the 2014 football season. Whether you're reuniting with old college pals, looking to get back in touch with the university, traveling or new to a city, game watching parties are the perfect way to bring a little bit of Athens into your life.

Dust off your red and black, practice your Dawg bark and get ready to cheer for the boys in the Silver Britches.

Click here for detailed information about official chapter game watching parties.

Go Dawgs!

  

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08.26.2014

Five questions with wedding planner Maren Clarke White (AB ‘09)

Maren Clarke White (AB ’09) may be Athens-bred, but she is taking the Golden Isles by storm, one wedding at a time. After growing up in Athens and graduating from UGA with a degree in English, Maren packed her bags for St. Simons Island to work with the Sea Island Company’s esteemed wedding planning team.

Maren has been with the Sea Island Company for over four years and currently serves as the company’s wedding manager. As the wedding manager at this exclusive 5-Star Resort, Maren has the opportunity to plan high-end wedding events for an elite group of clients. Throughout her time at Sea Island, Maren has planned over 200 weddings and events and has worked with celebrity planners and couples. Maren will always hold Athens and her alma mater close to her heart as she is the daughter of Rebecca White, Dean of UGA’s School of Law, and Dan White, Director of Production at UGA’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and sister to Brendan White (JD ’11), a 2011 graduate of UGA’s School of Law.

Recently, Margaret Sullivan (BSFCS ’11, MA ’12) had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna. Read below to find out more about Maren’s amazing career.

How did you get into the wedding planning business?  

My first job after college was at a boutique hotel, and my favorite part of the job was working on weddings and events. So when I saw the opening for a wedding coordinator at Sea Island, I knew that was the right move for me.

What advice do you have for others wanting to get into wedding planning?

Planning weddings, particularly at a resort like Sea Island, is in many ways a glamorous job. But what many people don’t realize about wedding planning is that you must be highly focused, able to pay close attention to detail, be very organized, able to adapt quickly to changes, as well as being able to think creatively and stylishly. And you need to be prepared for some blistered feet from long wedding days!

How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?

As an English major at UGA, I learned the true strength of written and verbal communication. I have found this knowledge to be vital in communicating with my brides. Every bride has her own vision, and through words we find a way to translate her dreams into reality!

Have you planned many weddings for your friends or other fellow UGA alumni?

We do have a number of UGA alumni weddings, and that is always special to me! While I may not have known some of my UGA brides in college, they become fast friends during the planning process due to having UGA in common with one another! Sea Island’s wedding clientele comes from throughout the entire country, not just the southeast.

What’s your favorite wedding tradition?

When the groom first sees the bride.  It brings tears to my eyes every time.

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