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06.06.2014

Former UGA Orientation Leader hopes to inspire others to serve their country

Seventy years ago, 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. To pay our respects today, we bring you a story from just one of the many Bulldogs currently serving in our Armed Forces.

During each UGA football game, dozens of students and alumni feel something “extra” when the Redcoat Band triumphantly plays the Star-Spangled Banner. They are the ones telling friends to take off their hats. The song takes grip, and by the time the trumpet hits the octave jump on “land of the FREEEE,” many hearts have skipped a beat.

As a newly commissioned 2nd lieutenant of the medical corps for the United States Air Force, I am excited to join the ranks of Bulldogs currently serving our nation. This fall, I begin medical school at Emory University on a full military scholarship. After graduation, I will have the privilege of serving the soldiers defending our country and its values. We owe service members our eternal gratitude, and it will be an honor to one day provide them medical care.

UGA students are surrounded by peers who plan to serve their communities after graduation. I was influenced by many of my friends and professors who seemed to be motivated by a higher calling. One such friend was recently selected to join Teach for America in New Orleans. He could talk for hours about how excited he was to help close the achievement gap. My professors, in addition to educating the next generation, spend their days conducting research that will benefit future generations. There’s not a lot of money in teaching in underserved areas or in researching “orphan diseases” like malaria, but the atmosphere at UGA is not one that measures success in dollar bills. Rather, Bulldogs are directed toward service and the betterment of our communities.

As a senior, I was granted a certain degree of influence after serving as a 2013 Orientation Leader, executive director of University Judiciary, and member of the 2013 Homecoming Court. I hope that by using my world-class education to serve my country, I will inspire others to do the same. I hope that, as more of my generation joins the Armed Forces, the word “veteran” will no longer bring to mind our grandparents.

Let us remember that we have friends, roommates, lab partners, teammates, and classmates answering the call to serve each year. So the next time you get goose-bumps in Sanford Stadium as the trumpets declare us the land of the free, remember all of our devoted alumni working to ensure its continuity.

Go Dawgs and God Bless the United States of America!

Conner Blackwell (BS '14)
2nd Lieutenant, United States Air Force

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09.17.2014

Class of 2014 40 Under 40 Honorees

Tomorrow is the big day, the 2014 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon! With a combined 10 honorees, the School of Law and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication are two of the most well-represented units at the event.

This year, the School of Law has produced four honorees:

While at UGA, David Adams (JD ’02) was a Moot Court board member, a member of Honor Court and a member of the Business Law Association. Today, David is a partner at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Atlanta where he led the Georgia Financial institution practice for the firm and founded its Georgia State Public Policy practice. He also provides pro bono representation to terminally ill patients who need assistance with end-of-life planning.

With a focus on educational and disability law, Lisa Taylor (JD ’01) works in Washington, D.C. as a prominent civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice. In this role, she works throughout the country to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recently, she also helped launch a diversity and inclusion office in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

After enjoying classes about Georgia law, the legislative process of the Georgia General Assembly and the Executive Branch, Ryan Teague (JD ’03) decided to enter Georgia politics. He currently serves as executive counsel for Governor Nathan Deal. In this role, he has led key criminal justice reform, saving the state millions and allowing for extended rehabilitation opportunities for non-violent offenders.

Double Dawg Shannon Wallace (JD ’12) was the first female elected District Attorney of the Blue Ridge Judicial District in Georgia. She is also one of the youngest of the state’s 49 district attorneys, and recently led the formation of Cherokee County’s first felony drug accountability court. Outside the office, Shannon is involved with the Junior Service League of Woodstock, and travels around her county as a motivational speaker.

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has six alumni who will be honored during the awards ceremony:

As the director of communications for Disney Channel Worldwide, Rachel Harper Fox (ABJ ’06) oversees all communication and media relations for the Disney Channel and Radio Disney. She also is in charge of Disney Channel’s internal corporate communications and national press outreach. Recently, Rachel served as a board member of the South Pasadena Educational Foundation, an organization that supports educational excellence in South Pasadena’s public schools.

A former Bulldog 100 honoree, Christy Hulsey (ABJ ’97) is the owner and creative director of the Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Ga. Christy rebuilt and rebranded the 50-year-old shop, earning her the Chapel House Designer Designation. She was asked to decorate the White House for this past Fourth of July, and Pottery Barn has chosen the shop to help launch its summer brand. Outside her business, Christy is a member of the faculty at Ogeechee Technical Institute and the Distance Education Consortium.

A leader in his field, David Mowery (ABJ ’99) owns and operates his own lobbying and public relations firm, one of only two firms in the country that works with both Democrats and Republicans. David’s firm has helped to run successful congressional, senatorial and mayoral campaigns, including the first-ever election of an Independent to the Alabama Senate. Outside of the office, David serves as the president of the newly-formed Montgomery Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association.

Eric NeSmith (ABJ ’02) is the youngest publisher in the history of Community Newspapers, Inc. Currently, the alumnus is its vice president of business development and sits on the board of directors for the company. Most recently, Eric received the National Newspaper Association’s Daniel M. Phillips Award for outstanding leadership as a young professional in the journalism field. To give back to his alma mater, Eric serves as the chair of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Alumni Board.

Elaine Reyes (ABJ ’97) works as an international news anchor for CCTV America, interviewing the likes of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. She also serves as the host for CCTV America’s flagship magazine program. Outside the office, Reyes is an active supporter of the March of Dimes, a passion that began when she was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma at UGA, and continued when her daughter Mercer was born premature three years ago.

Emmy-winner Tracy Thomson (ABJ ’00) is the co-head writer of CBS’s The Young and the Restless, America’s top-rated daytime soap opera. In this role, she has been nominated for four Writers Guild Awards and six Daytime Emmy Awards. Tracy’s brother, Robert Thomson (BA ’02), is also a 40 Under 40 honoree this year, making them the award’s first sibling honorees.

Click here to see the rest of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2014. Information about others in this year's class will be posted to the UGA Alumni Association's blog between 9/12/14 and 9/18/14.

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09.16.2014

40 Under 40 Class of 2014: Advice to Students

Each 40 Under 40 honoree has an amazing success story that starts with their time at UGA. 

With this year's 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon right around the corner, the UGA Alumni Association cannot think of a better group to give advice to current UGA students

Silvije (Sly) Barisic (MBA ’04), Founder & CEO, FotoIN Mobile Corporation

“Believe, for you and for those around you. Act on what you know and believe, for you and for those around you. Selflessly acting for others leases to the greatest personal gains. Faith, family, team – all successful when based on selfless action.”

Mark Butler (BBA ’02), Founder and President, CXO Staffing, Inc. and Pay It Forward Atlanta

“The world measures success often in numbers, whether it is people or dollars. Work hard with passion, drive and superior ethics for yourself, not others, because you are made of greatness. More importantly, try to be sensitive to, and available to meet the needs of, those around you.”

Toby Carr (BBA ’01), Director of Planning, Georgia Department of Transportation

“Be trustworthy. Live your passion. Seek mentors for guidance, and mentor those who need it. Do not be too proud to ask for help. Be curious, reading everything you can. Question every assumption. Balance life by keeping work in its place. Rest on Sundays, and practice humility.”

Ashley Diamond (BBA ’06), Global E-Commerce Leader, Procter & Gamble

“Take the opportunity to study abroad at least once during college. Immersing yourself in another culture and a foreign situation will challenge you from an emotional, mental and physical perspective, allowing you to grow and evolve in ways not possible in Athens, Georgia.”

Bynikini Frazier (BSED ’08), First Grade Teacher, Hodge Elementary School

“Always believe in your dreams and never give up on them. Develop a plan that aligns with your focal point and that allows you to discover your resources, make connections and get involved. Your actions determine your success and your experiences at UGA will guide you into your forever.”

Matthew Sawhill (BBA ‘01), Managing Director of External Affairs, AGL Resources

“Get out of your comfort zone and be involved with other students and organizations. The effort put into building relationships and understanding differing opinions will have an exponential return on your investment.”

Lindsey Harper (BSFCS ’99), Owner, Lindsey Coral Harper Interior Design

“Take advantage of all the opportunities around you. If you are able, study abroad. I participated in a work/study program in London. It definitely was a stepping stone in my career, and it gave me the confidence to move to New York City, the epicenter for interior design.”

Danielle Hosker (BS ’01), Founder and CEO, Dancefx, Inc., Antage Bleu and Baby Bleu

“College is about discovering your passions. Expose yourself, find out what you don’t like and uncover what you love. Read the UGA Bulletin and discover majors and minors you never knew existed. Get involved and pursue every interest: intern, volunteer, shadow, audit a class, join professional clubs, study abroad and have fun!”

Laura Jalbert (BSW ’99, MSW ’00), Owner & Clinical Director, Mindful Transitions, LLC

“Be mindful of the full experience of each moment you encounter. Experience every moment, now and forever, pleasant or unpleasant, with the curiosity and inquisitiveness of a child, but utilize the wisdom you are acquiring as an adult.”

Burt Jones (AB ’04), President, JP Capital & Insurance

“A lot of us have preconceived notions about whom and what we want to be. Knowledge is power! The more education and life experiences you have will create a better you. Make your own decisions, think for yourself and find your place in this world.”

Jody Young (AB ’99), Founding Principal Partner, Atlanta Capital Group

“Take risks, but don’t be a fool. Do your homework, learn as much as you can, so when you make that leap you have some idea of where you are going to land.”

Congratulations to all our 40 Under 40 honorees! The UGA Alumni Association supports you in all your current and future endeavors and can't wait to see you on Thursday, September 18, at the Georgia Aquarium! 

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09.15.2014

Class of 2014 40 Under 40 Honorees: Favorite UGA Memories

Though this year's 40 Under 40 honorees represent different colleges, work in various fields and live all over the world, each has fond memories of time spent at UGA. 

In celebration of the upcoming 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon, the UGA Alumni Association asked a few honorees to share some of their favorite memories from their time in Athens.

Turmel Kindred (BBA ’02) 
Inspector General, United States Army

“I happened to run into this pretty, young freshman in the elevator and exchanged numbers [with her]. We became friends, and we later matured that friendship into a healthy relationship that spanned two continents. My chance meeting with this young lady led to that woman becoming mother of my two children, protector of my household and my lovely bride.”

Jon Ostenson (BBA ’02, MBA ’06)
Vice President of Sales, Carter’s/OshKosh B’Gosh

“The time I spent [as president] with the Banking and Finance Society […] We succeeded in nearly doubling the organization's 100-member base through bringing in top-notch Atlanta companies to present on a frequent basis and setting up networking nights in downtown Athens. It was very rewarding to be a part of this turnaround.”

Jon Pannell (BBA ’00)
Partner; Gray, Pannell & Woodward, LLP

“I was fortunate enough to be selected as a member of Arch Society as a student leader, and served during my junior and senior years as a member. Through the Arch Society, I was exposed to some incredible experiences as a student ambassador for UGA.”

Michael Patrick (BBA ’03)
Vice President of Capital Markets, Carroll Organization

“Representing my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, as a member of the winning team in the Greek step show that takes place annually at the Classic Center downtown. This memory touches one of the things I’m most passionate about: my fraternity brothers. The night we won the competition we all became that much closer.”

Godfrey Powell (BBA ’00)
Team Lead, Business Development and Partnerships, Samsung Electronics

“I worked as a roadie for the UGA event technical crew. We set up the stage and sound technology equipment at events all over campus […] I worked with the Harlem Ballet, met Destiny’s Child, picked up Bobby McFerrin from the airport, set up a drag queen ball and assembled a Rolling Stone Magazine exhibit. Each event exposed me to the rich diversity of UGA’s student body.”

Bakari Brock (BBA ’01)
Director of Business Development, Lyft, Inc.

“The Outkast concert at Soldier’s Field is one of my favorite memories from UGA. This was a time in their career before they were global megastars, and performing in a relatively small venue. Most importantly for me, however, it was the first time other than at a sporting event that I witnessed our multi-cultural student body truly interact with each other in a positive manner.”

Jared Schmidt (BBA ’04)
Vice President, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

“I learned so much about philanthropy and the importance of giving one's time through Mr. Earl Leonard and Terry's Leonard Leadership Scholars Program. One year at the closign banquet, I was honored to be sitting at a table with Mr. Leonard, his wife and my family. That moment was the culmination of pride, hard work, sacrifice and gratitude that I felt on that evening. 

Robert Thomson (BA ’02)
Major, United States Army Special Forces (Green Beret)

“My older sister, Tracy (ABJ ’00 and fellow 40 Under 40 honoree), gave me a personal tour of the campus and mapped where all my classes were located before my first day of class. During that campus tour, she not only gave me a UGA history lesson, but she shared all the great insights that a new student would surely need and put my nerves at ease as I embarked on my UGA journey.”

Eric Wearne (MA ’02)
Assistant Professor, Gwinnett College School of Education

“My first child was born while I was a student at UGA. Living in Gwinnett and commuting to Athens, I remember being ‘on call’ [while in class], waiting for my huge, stone-age cell phone to ring with my wife telling me to hurry back down 316. My professor, Sally Krisel, was very understanding, but that memory is a good one because it reminds me of the kindness of the faculty members who taught me during my time at UGA.”

Trey Wood (BBA ’08)
Partner/Vice President, Turner, Wood & Smith Insurance Agency

“One of my favorite memories is the final RMI project I completed in Dr. Robert Hoyt’s class. Our team of three met every single Monday afternoon for several months. At the time, I could not have had any idea that my teammates would soon thereafter transition from classmates to colleagues. Both now serve as underwriters for companies I work with daily. We often meet for lunch and reminisce about that project.”

Evangeline George (BA ’08)
Press Secretary, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

“The Washington Semester Program was an incredible experience. Differing political perspectives didn’t matter – we formed a bond over our love of UGA and excitement to be in the nation’s capital. The fall of 2008, lifelong friendship were formed through countless seminars, networking receptions, lunches on Capitol Hill, walks on the mall, football games, West Wing episodes, late-night talks about our futures, a near collapse of our financial system and a presidential election.”

Click here to see the rest of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2014. Information about others in this year's class will be posted to the UGA Alumni Association's blog between 9/15/14 and 9/18/14. 

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