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06.17.2014

Marshall Scholar meets Prince Charles

Over the past two years as a Marshall Scholar studying at Oxford University, I have had some incredible opportunities, from singing evensong in a 17th century chapel to studying rare manuscripts in the storied Bodleian Library. But celebrating the Marshall Scholarship’s 60th Anniversary with the Prince of Wales was truly once-in-a-lifetime.

Prince Charles’s presence at the reception was owing to the Marshall Scholarship’s 60th Anniversary celebrations. Along with fellow Marshall Scholars, I met the Prince of Wales at a reception in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Before he arrived, we worried over how to address him (first “Your Royal Highness” and afterward “Sir”, I learned) and whether to bow (I opted for a plain old handshake). I had spent the better part of an afternoon picking out a tie. And then there was the issue of what to talk about with the heir to the British throne!

It turns out our worries were misplaced. Prince Charles was personable and greeted us all warmly. When my turn came, he asked after my studies in English at Oxford and reminisced about his own time at a different, but still venerable English university—he attended what Oxonians know as the “Other Place”, Cambridge. Our conversation was brief, and it was only after he moved on that I realized I had just discussed my research with royalty—an interaction I would never have dreamed of when I entered UGA as a freshman in fall 2008.

Since the first class of Scholars in 1954, the Marshall Scholarship has funded American students to study a wide range of subjects at Britain’s most prestigious academic institutions—Wolfson College, Oxford in my case. While in Oxford, the “city of dreaming spires,” I have delved into my interest in the British Empire and its literature. I have completed a master’s degree, writing a thesis that focused on Joseph Conrad and late-nineteenth century print culture. This year, conducting research through the Oxford Centre for Life-writing, I have used archives at the British Library to explore the perhaps surprising relationships between British and Indian intellectuals in the nineteenth century. Those interactions led to interesting exchanges of ideas and texts, but they also speak poignantly to a human dimension of complex colonial relations.

The Marshall is more than an academic award, though, and the scholarship aims to strengthen cultural and diplomatic ties between Britain and the United States. In the 1950s, it was the legacy of the Second World War that prompted the scholarship’s namesake, General George Marshall, to write to the first Marshall Scholars, “a close accord between our two countries is essential to the good of mankind in this turbulent world of today.” It is this dimension, I think, which makes the scholarship special - the Marshall Scholarship immerses scholars in British culture by, for example, organizing annual trips to Britain’s devolved governments: Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

This August, I will leave Oxford to enroll at Stanford Law School, but I’ve learned a great deal in my two years here: how to “take the mickey” and cycle on the left-hand side of the road—even how to address royalty. Meeting Prince Charles was an exciting opportunity, of course, but only one example of an incredibly rewarding two years. With the Marshall’s support, I’ve broadened my cultural horizons, pursued my intellectual ambitions, grown as a person, and made lasting friendships. I may be moving back stateside soon, but thanks to the Marshall I will always have an abiding connection to Britain. 

Matthew Sellers (AB '12)
2012 Marshall Scholars

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07.29.2015

UGA to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty, adding more than 300 course sections

In the latest in a series of steps to enhance the learning environment, UGA is investing $4.4 million to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections.

"This major initiative demonstrates the University of Georgia's strong commitment to putting students first," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD '80). "Reducing the number of large class sections in critical instruction areas will improve student learning and success and further enhance our world-class learning environment."

The first of the new faculty members will begin teaching this fall, and a total of 56 will be hired in the coming year. By fall 2016, a total of 319 new course sections in 81 majors will be added, the majority of which will have fewer than 20 students.

UGA currently has an 18-1 student/faculty ratio, and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten noted that the new courses will help ensure students receive even more personalized attention from their professors.

She added that the push to decrease class sizes at UGA builds upon a series of academic enhancements the institution has implemented in recent years. Last fall, the university hired 10 new faculty to teach in 80 high-demand course sections. In the spring, the university approved a new graduation requirement that will make UGA the largest public university in the nation to require that each of its nearly 27,000 undergraduate students engage in experiential learning-such as internships, research, study abroad or service-learning-prior to graduation.

"UGA offers the broad range of resources and opportunities that a major research university provides as well as personalized and hands-on learning experiences that are typically associated with smaller universities," Whitten said. "It's the best of both worlds, and it's exactly what our world-class students deserve."

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07.27.2015

UGA Majorette is No. 1 College Twirler

While Nicole Jensen ’15 has lit up Sanford Stadium with her flaming batons and show-stopping gymnastics moves as a UGA feature twirler on game days, she is also making her mark on the national stage. She has garnered attention for UGA and continued the legacy of national champions after winning the highly coveted title of Miss College Majorette of America. This is the highest award given to a college twirler at the National Baton Twirling Championships, held each year in South Bend, Indiana.

Nicole has been a UGA feature twirler for the past four years. This is highly sought after position among top twirlers in the nation. Nicole, a senior marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa, was selected through an intense audition process and has enjoyed every minute of her time twirling between the hedges at UGA. 

Nicole is no stranger to success. She was on the USA World Team, where she was a silver medalist, and has traveled and performed in Peru as an ambassador. She has won hundreds of awards and titles in her twirling career, including the Collegiate Women’s Solo National Champion in 2012. 

Representing UGA as the reigning top college twirler, Nicole has been touring the country this spring and summer, performing at events and competitions as an ambassador of her sport. This past weekend by performing at Notre Dame in the National Baton Twirling Championships, Nicole performed her final duties as College Miss Majorette of America. Make sure to check out Nicole, in her final season, and the rest of the UGA Majorettes at every home football game this fall! 

UGA mascot Hairy Dawg joined Nicole for her final performance at Notre Dame

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07.23.2015

Alumna’s songs featured on HBO’s “True Detective”

If you watch HBO's popular series "True Detective," odds are you've heard Lera Lynn Buettner's (AB '08) songs. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter has had four songs featured on the show's soundtrack. The UGA Alumni Association recently sat down with Lera to learn more about her musical career and time spent studying anthropology at UGA.  

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and what led you to UGA? 

I was born in Texas, but my parents left soon after and slowly made their way to Georgia, stopping in Louisiana for about five years first. We moved around a good bit in Georgia, and I finished high school in Woodstock. It was around that time I visited Athens for the first time, to hang out with friends and see live music. I fell in love with the town's energy and lively music scene. That's ultimately what led me to UGA. My family stressed the importance of college, though I had my sights dead-set on music. UGA and Athens were my ticket to satisfying both.

As a student, were you involved in any activities or student groups on campus? Did you have a favorite professor or any fond memories from your time in Athens?

I worked my way through college, waiting tables, bartending and saving up as much as I could between semesters so that I could work fewer hours and still survive when school was in session. That said, I didn't have a lot of extra time for student groups. What time I did have was always devoted to music. Attending UGA still endures as some of my most fond memories. What a luxury it is to go to college and just learn all day! My senior year was definitely my best, as the courses were digging deeper into the things that truly interested me. I loved study groups that were assembled by classmates. I loved sitting in the group and discussing the subject matter in-depth outside of the classroom. It's easy to take that for granted when you're so young, but those are some of the most important conversations you can have; just digging in and bouncing ideas off of other people who are dedicating so much energy to the same things as you.

One of my favorite memories was a beautiful and moving lecture by Dr. Peter Brosius. He was recounting time spent researching in the field and the relationships he'd developed there; the focus being love at the center of everything in life. His lecture brought the whole class (100+ students) to tears. I think he was in tears, too. I will never forget the passion he has for what he does. It reminds me to do what I do for the right reasons. 

  

Since graduating, you’ve moved to Nashville. How did you establish yourself as a musician in there?

I've yet to establish myself anywhere, really, because I'm trying to establish myself everywhere all the time. As an artist, you're often trying to establish yourself on a national level. There's a difference between a studio musician in Nashville and an "artist."

You’ve had several songs featured on the soundtrack for HBO’s True Detective. Tell me how that project came about and what doors it has opened for you

I've had four songs featured in the series so far. I was lucky to have my manager set up a meeting with legendary producer, T Bone Burnett, after he expressed an interest in using the title track from an EP I released last year called "Lying in the Sun." We got along well. Burnett asked if I wanted to collaborate on music for the show and the rest is history. I got to appear in the show several times and I've learned a lot about the business side of music and show business. The show has exposed my music to many new eager ears - that's been the best part of the whole thing.

Do you have any other big projects in the pipeline? Where do you envision your career in five years?

I'm currently writing and recording my next LP. I'm really enjoying the process. I feel like there are so many more possibilities to explore. I hope that in the next five years I can buy a sensible new car. That would be success!

Learn more about Lera Lynn

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