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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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11.26.2014

UGA Alumni Association announces sixth annual Bulldog 100 list

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has released the 2015 Bulldog 100. This annual program recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. More than 450 nominations were submitted for the 2015 list.

The 2015 Bulldog 100 includes businesses of all sizes and from industries such as landscape design, marketing and orthodontics. Several areas of the country are represented, including companies from as far north as Chicago and as far west as Texas. Of the 100 businesses, 88 are located within the state of Georgia. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors verified the information submitted by each company and ranked the businesses based on a compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period.

The public, including UGA alumni and friends, is invited to celebrate the Bulldog 100 honorees at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Feb. 7. The evening will begin with a reception, followed by dinner and the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony will feature a keynote address by Hala Moddelmog, the first female president and CEO of the Atlanta Metro Chamber. Moddelmog graduated from UGA in 1981 with a Master of Arts from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Prior to joining the Atlanta Metro Chamber, Moddelmog was president of Arby's Restaurant Group, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Church's Chicken.

Following her remarks, members of the Student Alumni Council will lead the highlight of the evening-the release of the final rankings and countdown of the 2015 Bulldog 100.

"Each year, the caliber of the Bulldog 100 businesses illustrates the important role that UGA graduates play in their communities' economic growth," said Meredith Gurley Johnson, UGA's executive director of alumni relations. "On campus, important work is being done to prepare students to become leading entrepreneurs. During the annual Bulldog 100 Celebration, I am proud to see the results of that rigorous academic environment."

To review the alphabetical list of honorees and to learn more about the Bulldog 100, including sponsorship opportunities, see www.alumni.uga.edu/b100.

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11.21.2014

2014 International Education Week

This week, the UGA Alumni Association joined the campus community in celebrating International Education Week. 

"International Education Week gives us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the role of international education in providing a well-rounded education and equipping students with the competencies for living and working in an intercultural environment," said Kavita Pandit, associate provost for international education.

Not only does UGA encourage students to travel and study abroad, the university also welcomes international students to call UGA home. Interacting with students from other countries - working on class projects, living in the same dorm, sharing a meal in the dining hall - creates a greater cultural and global awareness and helps prepare students for whatever life holds. 

The UGA Alumni Association believes in the transformative power of international educational opportunities and is proud to support various study abroad scholarships across campus. Since 2006, it has have provided more than $50,000 in study abroad scholarships. Such funding has allowed students to study abroad in a varity of places, including Cortona, Costa Rica and Oxford.

Joey Sharp '15 was recently profiled as a UGA Amazing Student, where he shared the lasting impact of his study abroad experience. 

The summer after my sophomore year I received funding from the Honors International Scholarship Program and spent 12 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, volunteering in a township clinic and conducting research on antiretroviral HIV treatment adherence. The work culminated in an article published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and, more importantly, the implementation of a more effective and efficient treatment program in the community. The experience confirmed my goal of pursuing an MD/MPH and a career in global health. - Joey Sharp '15, UGA Amazing Student

Each year, nearly 6 percent of the UGA student population participates in a study abroad program, with an additional 150-200 students from other universities transient enrolling. These statistics testify to UGA's reputation for providing high quality international academic experiences. 

Click here to read more participation statistics from the Office of International Education. 

Interested in supporting UGA study abroad programs and helping students like Joey Sharp? Click here.

Do you have a favorite memory from a UGA study abroad experience? We'd love to hear it! Email your story to Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) at jelewis@uga.edu

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11.20.2014

Alumna Spotlight: Cheri Leavy (BSED '97)

After a childhood of frequent visits to Athens, Cheri Harden Leavy (BSED ’97) couldn’t resist the pull of the Classic City. During college, she transferred to UGA from Ole Miss and has been bleeding red and black ever since. Today, she is the founder of Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie, three publications that cover the modern South.

UGA Alumni Association Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) spoke with Cheri about her experiences at the university that helped shape her career:

You started college at Ole Miss. What are your connections to UGA and what made you return to Georgia?

My father, Mac Harden (BBA ’77), graduated from UGA and his mother grew up in Watkinsville. We spent a lot of time on the family farm in Oconee County when I was growing up, so I have always loved the area and cheered for the Bulldogs. Generations of our family bleed red and black. I loved my time at Ole Miss; my father says I built my resume on classes that were interesting, but didn’t fit a degree (like "Anthropology of the Blues" and "Faulkner Studies"). I transferred to UGA and got serious. I stayed on the Dean’s List until I graduated from the College of Education, where I participated in the pilot year of the Collaborative Inquiry Teacher Education Program. I taught high school for several years, then joined The Brunswick News where I launched a Newspaper in Education program to showcase local student writing. 

Along with your husband Vance (AB '94), you’ve started Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie. Explain a little bit about what those are, the inspiration behind them and how your time at UGA prepared you for an entrepreneurial career.

Vance and I created Bulldawg Illustrated, a print newspaper and website that covers UGA sports and the Bulldog lifestyle. Now in its 12th year covering the South’s beloved tailgating and football, it is still a ton of fun. Six years ago, we created Guide2Athens. The pocket-sized square book and blog captures the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich. We have loved getting involved in the Athens community and have had a home here for the last five years. When Athens isn’t beckoning, you can find us at home in St. Simons with our two golden retrievers.

  

I founded The Southern Coterie with my friend Whitney Long; it is a resource for the entrepreneurial South. Designed to offer a community of passionate business owners the opportunity to connect, collaborate and create, the “Southern C” network is capturing the South’s entrepreneurial renaissance one post at a time. The Southern C Summit brings the online content to life with a unique multi-day conference where attendees network and connect with the best and brightest names in Southern business and branding. 

What is your most memorable UGA experience? Favorite UGA sports experience?

Meeting Herschel Walker for the first time at Vince Dooley’s home was pretty surreal. The Leavy Family/Brunswick News Publishing endowed a scholarship and we had brunch at the Dooley’s before the game. Vance, his brother, his brother’s wife and I went on the field that day to be recognized. Since we are all UGA graduates, that whole experience was pretty incredible. Herschel was on our Christmas card that year!

Since graduating, you and Vance have stayed involved with the university. Why do you think it’s important for alumni to stay connected to UGA once they’ve graduated?

Staying involved with the university provides you with an invaluable resource of connections to continue to support your growth personally and professionally. Vance and I enjoy supporting the philanthropic side of UGA. I attended the UGA Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy, and now serve on the Georgia Museum of Art friend’s board. We also support our vibrant athletics programs.

I give back to students that are up-and-coming at the university. We have 15 interns from Grady. They bring me a tremendous amount of joy and I learn from them as much as I hope they do from me. I give them a great deal of responsibility and I have high expectations, but if they work hard, they can count on me after graduation.

I traveled recently to the West Coast and to Memphis, where I spent time with former interns. One even visited on her “engagement tour,” where she was introducing her future groom to family. We felt honored to be a stop on her travels. They turn into amazing friends as they get older and I couldn’t be prouder of their successes. The internships certainly feed the teacher side of me that was fostered while studying at UGA. I may not formally be in education any longer, but I am still using that skill set.

Can you give us a hint of what’s next for you?

Oh my goodness, there is no telling.

  

Vance and Cheri Leavy with Uga IX

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