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01.14.2014

UGA alumnus Tom Okie (PHD ‘12) explains the history behind “The Peach State”

The Garden State. The Big Apple. The Magnolia State - there's no question as to which states these terms relate. And the Peach State? That should be an easy one!

In his award-winning dissertation and upcoming book, Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia: Culture and Agriculture in the American South, UGA graduate Tom Okie (PHD ’12) explains why "Peach State" became synonymous with our beloved Georgia. Okie’s interest in peaches is far from random; his father was a U.S. Department of Agriculture peach breeder based in Byron, Georgia.

In his book, Okie explains that the peach represented progress 100 years ago. At the dawn of the 20th century, cotton suddenly represented poverty and carried a negative connotation, relating to the “benighted vassalage” of the South’s cotton planters. The adoption of the peach as representation of change was carried out in order to give the the agricultural economy a face-lift. In his book, Okie says “the cultural footprint of the peach is much larger than its economic impact.” Despite the fact that blueberry sales significantly surpassed the annual value of peaches, the peach icon lives on because of its historical value to Georgia.

According to the alumnus, “Growing up [in Byron], I took for granted that middle Georgia was common, even ugly. But reading the glowing descriptions of these early horticulturists gave me a new appreciation of the nuanced beauty of my home. Wendell Berry has a line in his poem How to be a Poet that captures this feeling. He wrote, ‘there are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.'”

I encourage you to read more about Okie and his dissertation, which was described as “a beautifully written, elegantly rendered tale full of surprises and profound implications for understanding America’s past” by the Society of American Historians. He even received the 2013 Allan Nevins Prize for best-written history doctoral dissertation on an American topic. The UGA Office of the Vice President for Research covered Okie's work beginning on page 27 of the Fall 2013 issue of "UGA Research."

Great work, Tom! The meaning behind "Peach State" is something that most of us should probably learn - thank you!

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12.19.2014

Brothers make business a family affair

How do two brothers from tiny Hopeful, Georgia, manage to take Atlanta’s entrepreneurial spirit to a new level? Well, ask the Shirah brothers, Benjie (BSFR ’07, MFR ’10) and Jamey (BBA ’10). Since leaving Athens, the business-savvy brothers have embarked on a number of successful endeavors, including The Ivy Buckhead and Atlanta-based companies Kill Cliff – The Recovery Drink™ and Vida-Flo: The Hydration Station. Now, the brothers are heading in a new direction - your feet. 

This fall, Benjie and Jamey launched their latest project, JL The Brand, a flair-filled sock company. Together with friends, the brothers are working to add a little jazz to the mundane black and blue men’s suit with top-notch socks. 

Designed with unique patterns and colors, JL The Brand offers affordable high quality socks that add a subtle yet sophisticated pop to any outfit. JL The Brand socks are the perfect gift for any guy this holiday season! 

With the Shirah brothers’ keen eye for business development, these young alumni are sure make a lasting mark on Atlanta's entrepreneurial scene. 

Keep up with the Shirah's businesses on social media: 

@theivybuckhead
@govidaflo
@jlthebrand

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12.18.2014

40 Under 40 honoree to direct UGA’s state government relations

Tobin R. "Toby" Carr (BBA '01, BSAE '01) was named associate vice president for government relations and director of state governmental relations at UGA. Vice President for Government Relations J. Griffin Doyle announced the appointment of Carr, who currently is planning director for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Carr was appointed to his current DOT post in 2012, a position in which he has led a team of some 30 planning professionals in guiding strategic planning and project budget documents that direct state and federal resources to fund transportation projects. He graduated from the UGA Honors Program in 2001 with bachelor's degrees in business administration and agricultural engineering. Before assuming his DOT post, Carr served as Deal's transportation policy adviser and the governor's liaison to the Georgia House of Representatives. He previously was director of Deal's gubernatorial transition committee.

An active student leader while at UGA, Carr served as president of the Interfraternity Council and was named to Sphinx, Omicron Delta Kappa, Blue Key, Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi and the Arch Society. He currently serves on the UGA College of Engineering Alumni Advisory Board and was recognized in 2014 as a UGA 40 Under 40 and as the 2012 Blue Key Outstanding Young Alumnus Award winner.

"I'm humbled and thrilled to serve my alma mater in this role," Carr said. "I'm very grateful to Gov. Deal for his support of this new endeavor and to President Morehead and Vice President Doyle for giving me the opportunity to advance the mission of UGA."

Carr will serve as primary liaison between the university and state government officials, representing the university in all matters involving legislators, agencies, departments, and the other higher education institutions of Georgia. The transition will occur in early January.

Click here to read more. 

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12.11.2014

UGA’s Thank-a-Teacher Program

Did a teacher at UGA enrich your life or create a spark that inspired you to pursue your dreams? Was there a professor or teaching assistant that pushed you to do your best and helped you discover your passion for a certain subject? 

Now is the time to let that teacher - and the university community - know how grateful you are for their effect on your life. UGA's Center for Teaching and Learning invites current UGA students and alumni to particpate in the Thank-a-Teacher program.

What is Thank-a-Teacher? It is a program that allows students and alumni to express gratitude for teachers who have impacted their lives in a profound and meaningful way. If a teacher (professor, instructor, teaching assistant) made a positive contribution to your experience at UGA, please consider sending them a brief note. You may choose to remain anonymous or have your name attached to the note. 

You will be asked to fill out a simple form and acknowledge your appreciation for your teacher's work, dedication and extra effort. Share a simple thank you or an anecdote to let that teacher know what you enjoyed about their class and why it was important to you. 

Click here to complete the Thank-a-Teacher form

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