Recently, UGA several faculty students have been in the spotlight for prestigious scholarships and awards. The UGA Alumni Association is proud of these outstanding award recipients and all that they do to further the university's mission and increase its reputation.
Torre Lavelle '16 has been named a 2015 Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Scholar which is awarded to an undergraduate pursuing a career focused on environmental or Native American policy. Lavelle is a third-year student majoring in ecology and plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental management as well as a Juris Doctor in hopes of becoming a conservation policymaker. Read more.
Juanita Johnson-Bailey (MED '93, EDD '94), director of the Institute for the Women’s Studies at UGA, is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award, an honor given by the American Association of University Women for outstanding contribution to equality and education for women and girls. Johnson-Bailey has authored and co-authored more than 100 journal articles, book reviews, book chapters and monographic. She has also delivered nearly 120 conference presentations and chaired nearly 30 completed doctoral dissertations. Read more.
Kathleen Wilson '16 was named a 2015 Truman Scholar receiving a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school. Wilson is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a master’s in public policy and Middle Eastern studies after graduation in 2016. Read more.
Megan Ernst '15 was awarded the James Madison Graduate Fellowship which provides up to $24,000 for individuals who desire to become outstanding teachers at the secondary school level. Ernst will graduate in May with Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Bachelor of Arts in political science, and a Master of Public Administration from SPIA. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in teaching from the UGA College of Education. Read more.
Lauren Dennison '15, Erin Hollander '15, and Karishma Sriram '15 received 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, the exclusive undergraduate scholarship in the field of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. All three students are enrolled in Franklin College and plan to earn doctoral degrees related to biomedical research. Read more.
Ayan Hussein (BS ’12) is one of the winners of the 2015 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. This fellowship supports the graduate education of students who were born abroad but have become permanent residents or naturalized citizens of the United States. Hussein, a 2012 UGA graduate, is now a Ph.D. student at Yale University studying biological and biomedical student. Selected from a pool of 1,200 applicants, she will receive tuition and stipend assistance of up to $90,000 in support of graduate education. Read more.
Sixteen UGA students have been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The highly competitive awards recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.These fellows were selected from more than 16,000 applicants nationwide for the 2015 competition. Read more.
The Georgia Trail Summit is excited to announce the schedule for its second annual event, which will take place in Athens, Georgia, June 4-6 at The Graduate. Continue reading to learn more about Georgia Trail Summit's founder, Double Dawg Tracie Sanchez (AB '88, MPA '11), and the inspiration behind this organization.
Josh Collins (BSEH '97, MS '99) is the proud owner of Athen's newest juke-joint style restaurant, Champy's Famous Fried Chicken. Located at 1120 Baxter Steet, Athen, GA, the restarunt stives to bring together traditional, southern-family recipes with an atmosphere that will attract a diverse crowd.
The UGA Alumni Association’s Strategic Communications intern, Emilie Clarke ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumnus. Read below to find out more about Josh’s entrpreneurial endeavors.
You recently opened Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken, tell me a little bit about the restaurant. What steps did you take to open your own business? What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Champy's was founded in Chattanooga in 2009 by a good friend of ours, Seth Champion, who was raised on the Mississippi Delta. Although Champy's of Athens is the fifth location, which also includes Daphne, Alabaster and Muscle Shoals, AL, we are not a franchise. We refer to ourselves as a "friendchise" between buddies that enjoy great food in a fun atmosphere. The atmosphere is fun for all ages.
My wife, Amy, and I have talked about moving to Athens for the past 10 years and I knew that Athens was a Champy's explosion waiting to happen. We worked on selling the idea of Athens to Seth for over two years then invested everything we had into opening, including having to go all the way to Mississippi to get a business loan because local banks wouldn't work with us. We cashed in our 401Ks, are still living in an RV and continue to invest all of the elbow grease we have every day.
Interior of Chmapy's Famous Fried Chicken
Where do you see the company in five years?
For the Athens Champy's, I can see a destination spot that draws customers from all over Georgia and visiting sports rivals, a thriving catering business for everyone that wants good southern food, and a restaurant full of locals that are drawn to our bluesy atmosphere. As for expansion, I definitely see a second location in five years, maybe an hour or two from Athens.
What chefs or types of cuisines are your biggest food influences?
Flavors from the Deep South - Mississippi Delta hot tamales, fresh fried chicken and homemade sides. Our recipes were handed down from Seth Champion's grandfather over 40 years ago.
How did your time at UGA help you achieve your personal and professional goals? Did you have a favorite professor or class that really stuck with you? Favorite memory from your time at UGA?
My environmental health sciences degree kick-started my corporate career and provided me with 15 years of business experience that I lean on every day to run the restaurant.
I would have to go with two professors, Dr. David MacIntosh and Dean Phil Williams of the Health Science Campus. You didn't ask, but I couldn't forget about Ms. Sandra McPeake who was the department's assistant in the late 1990s. She couldn't always keep me out of trouble, but she tried her best!
Football Saturdays in Athens are my favorite memory. All of them...
What advice would you give to future graduates or young alumni who aspire to own their own business?
Just do it. No one is going to make it happen, but you.
To learn more about Josh Collins (BSEH '97, MS '99) and Champy's Famous Fried Chicken visit ChampysChicken.com.
Former UGA Alumni Association President Carlton Curtis (ABJ '72) has been honored with the 2015 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award. Presented by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), this award goes to an individual who has shown extraordinary achievement and exemplary leadership in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Curtis spent the past 43 years with the Coca-Cola Company, while volunteering his time, resources and expertise to restaurant operators and retailers around the globe in an effort to raise the stature of the industry. He has served as chairman of the board of the NRAEF, serves on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association, is the current chair of IFA's Diversity Institute, and is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. He serves his alma mater as an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation. He will be recognized today at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
Recently, Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS '00) had an opportunity to attend the Shabbat 500 dinner.
Thanks to generous Georgia Fund gifts, University of Georgia student organizations are able to apply for sponsorship dollars from the UGA Alumni Association. This is an important way for alumni to support the diverse student groups on campus, including UGA’s student Jewish center, The Rohr Chabad House.
Since 2011, the UGA Alumni Association has been a proud sponsor of the Shabbat 500, an annual free dinner for UGA’s Jewish community in celebration of Shabbat. As a sponsor of Shabbat 500, we help fund the 500-person event hosted by The Rohr Chabad House.
The Chabad House is located near the Spec Towns Track and is a home-away-from-home for Jewish students that offers fellowship and an opportunity to celebrate the holidays. Rabbi Refson and his wife, Chana, have five children, yet they are still able to provide unparalleled hospitality to UGA students through their work with The Chabad House. Every Friday evening, the couple welcomes approximately 60 students for a free dinner in their home. The UGA community is lucky to have individuals like Rabbi Refsen and Chana who provide such special moments for students to gather and celebrate Judaism.
I was able to attend this year’s Shabbat 500 with UGA Alumni Association Vice President Ruth Bartlett (BBA ’76). I witnessed a number of UGA’s student leaders participate, enjoyed seeing the special connections these students have with one another, and loved hearing the prayers, blessings and singing that took place! The students’ energy reminded me how wonderfully diverse the University of Georgia student body is and it made me proud that the UGA Alumni Association sponsors this program.
I greatly admire Rabbi Refson’s family and appreciate the role they play in building a welcoming community for students on campus. I am proud to call them my friends and hope the entire Athens community knows how lucky we are to have them as a resource for students. I invite students, parents and alumni to investigate Chabad of Georgia and The Chabad House to find their role in supporting Rabbi Refson and this special organization on campus.
Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS '00), Student Alumni Council Member Reed Turry '17 and Vice President Ruth Bartlett (BBA '76)
I look forward to our team sponsoring this event, which promotes campus diversity and inclusiveness, again in the future. Thank you to The Chabad House for hosting Ruth and me!
Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00) is the executive director of the UGA Alumni Association.