Happy New Year, Bulldogs!

The UGA Alumni Association and the University of Georgia are well on the way to a great 2015. 26,882 undergraduate students have returned to campus for the spring academic semester, 1,113 whom are calling UGA their “home” for the first time. It is impressive to have such competitive students choosing UGA to further their educations.

This year marks the 230th celebration as the nation’s first state-chartered institution of higher education. In honor of the signing of UGA’s Charter on January 27, 1795, the UGA Alumni Association hosted the annual Founders Day Lecture. This lecture was held in the UGA Chapel and featured Paul Kurtz, UGA School of Law J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law and Associate Dean Emeritus.

The New Year brings opportunities to get more involved with the university and your local alumni chapter. Check out our upcoming events calendar online. If you are interested in chapter leadership, several chapters will be holding interest meetings in coming weeks and months.

Bulldog 100 is right around the corner! This event will take place on Saturday, February 7 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. If you were unable to nominate someone this year, the nominations for 40 Under 40 and next year’s Bulldog 100 open in mid-February.

Also, be on the lookout for UGA Days. The tour will visit 7 cities throughout Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The UGA Alumni Association will keep you informed about UGA events and happenings. Simply keep your contact information up-to-date so that we include you in all the exciting things planned for 2015. You can also stay informed of events and news on Facebook and Twitter.

This year holds great potential for growth on campus and within our Alumni chapters. Let us come together as the Bulldog nation in embracing all that 2015 has to offer.

Sincerely,

Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00)
Executive Director
UGA Alumni Association 

Alumna Spotlight: Amy Robach (ABJ ’95) receives Distinguished Achievement Award from UGA

Amy RobachJournalist Amy Robach received the Distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and Cable Award from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s national broadcast society, DiGamma Kappa.

The award was presented on January 23 at DiGamma Kappa’s annual awards banquet at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

Robach, a 1995 Grady graduate, serves as the news anchor for “Good Morning America” on ABC.

“Amy follows an American and Grady tradition of news anchors who are also great journalists, who care about what they report and how their stories influence audiences,” said David Hazinski, an associate professor in the Grady College and one of Robach’s instructors when she was in school. “They insist that information is factual and balanced. We’re proud to have her as an influential graduate.”

Since joining ABC News in 2012, Robach has traveled nationally and internationally to cover major news events ranging from the campaign to free captive school girls in Africa and reporting on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, to covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. She has also anchored “ABC News” and “20/20” on multiple occasions.

Prior to joining ABC, Robach worked at NBC News as the co-anchor of Saturday TODAY and an NBC national news correspondent. She was an anchor for MSNBC from 2003 to 2007 following her start at local news stations WTTG in Washington, D.C., and WCBD in Charleston, South Carolina.

Robach was last in Athens in October when she was the featured speaker for the Suits and Sneakers fundraiser, which generates awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society, a cause of special significance since she fought her own battle with breast cancer in 2013.

The Distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and Cable Award is presented by DiGamma Kappa and co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters and Grady. Previous winners include Steve Koonin (M ’79), Gale Anne Hurd and Monica Pearson (MA ’14).

View more photos from the awards banquet.

Source

Student Alumni Association celebrates UGA’s birthday

UGA students, including members of the Student Alumni Association, have been wishing UGA a happy birthday throughout the week as the university community celebrates Founders Week and the 230th anniversary of the university’s establishment as the first state-chartered institution of public higher education.

On Tuesday, students gathered in Tate Plaza to receive 2015 Founders Week T-shirts, enjoy a few birthday treats and learn more about the university’s founding and what it means to be the first state-chartered institution. Even the guide dogs got into the Founders Week spirit!

That evening, students watched the men’s basketball team defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores 70-62 at Stegeman Coliseum. Other Founders Week activities taking place this week include a Greek Life banner contest, the Spring Career Fair and a special Dawgs After Dark on Friday night.

Another exciting part of Founders Week is the annual 100 Days Until Graduation Celebration. This one-stop-shop provides seniors with an opportunity to meet with alumni representatives from their schools and colleges, learn more about the Young Alumni Football Ticket Program, order a UGA ring, make their mark on the Senior Signature plaque, and order caps and gowns for commencement. All members of the Class of 2015 are invited to attend this special event.

And if you haven’t seen it, be sure to check out the video of UGA students wishing UGA a happy 230th birthday.

Thank you to the Student Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council for making Founders Week another exciting time for students on campus.

It’s not too late to send UGA your own happy birthday message. Simply use #UGATurns230 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

UGA to celebrate 230th anniversary on January 27

Each year, the UGA Alumni Association proudly celebrates the signing of the University of Georgia Charter that took place on January 27, 1785. In recognition of the university’s 230th anniversary as the nation’s first state-chartered institution of higher education, the UGA Alumni Association and the UGA Emeriti Scholars present the annual Founders Day Lecture. The lecture is held in the UGA Chapel and has become a Founders Day tradition, drawing alumni, students, faculty, esteemed guests and members of the community. This year’s lecture will be held on Monday, January 26 at 1:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The 2015 Founders Day Lecture will be presented by UGA School of Law J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law and Associate Dean Emeritus Paul M. Kurtz, and will be titled, A New York Yankee in Abraham Baldwin’s Court: (Almost) Fifty Years Behind ‘Enemy’ Lines. 

Paul M. Kurtz

Student Bar Association President Carey Miller (AB ’12, JD ’16) will provide the student response.

Carey Miller (AB ’12, JD ’16)

Can’t attend the lecture? It will be livestreamed, so you can join in the celebration from your home or office.

And don’t forget to wish UGA a happy birthday on social media using #UGATurns230. 

The UGA Student Alumni Association will sponsor a series of free events in advance of and following the lecture. For more information about these events, please email Assistant Director of Student Programs Evan Tighe (BSED ’08, MA ’11) at eptighe@uge.edu.

  • Monday, January 26: Founders Day Lecture at 1:30 p.m. in The Chapel
  • Tuesday, January 27: Founders Week T-shirt Giveaway and Birthday Party in Tate Plaza; Men’s Basketball Game vs. Vanderbilt at 7:00 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum
  • Wednesday, January 28: Career Fair from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. at The Classic Center
  • Thursday, January 29: 100 Days Until Graduation Celebration; birthday cupcakes in the dining halls
  • Friday, January 30: 100 Days Until Graduation Celebration and Dawgs After Dark
  • All week: Greek Life Banner Contest

UGA alumnus participates in Alaska tradition

Philip Walters

A native of Washington, D.C., Philip Walters (BMUS ’04) moved to Alaska after graduating from UGA. A middle school band teacher by day, Walters is training to participate in the 2015 Iditarod dog race.

Former UGA Alumni Association communications intern Bernadette Green ’15 had the opportunity to chat with Philip about his upcoming trek.

Going from Georgia to Alaska is a huge change! What motivated you to move to Alaska?

I visited Alaska in 2002 while on vacation. My family has always been very outdoorsy ─ I was camping and hiking at a young age ─ and Alaska is pretty much an outdoor playground, so I immediately fell in love with the state and tried to find ways to get back there. In 2004, I worked at a string music camp in Birchwood (just north of Anchorage) and met some local music teachers who encouraged me to move up to Alaska after I graduated that fall.

Could you give us some background on the Iditarod? What inspired you to participate?

The Iditarod was started in 1973 as a way to bring sled dogs back into the public spotlight. The race is 1,049 miles and runs from Anchorage to Nome, crossing three mountain ranges and running over frozen sea ice near the finish. It follows the Iditarod mail route, which was the only way to move mail and freight from one place to another before the railroad and the road system came to Alaska. In fact, sled dogs are still used as a main form of transportation in some rural Alaskan villages. The Iditarod begins the first weekend in March every year.

After visiting Alaska for the first time, I read everything I could get my hands on about Alaska, and much of what I read was about sled dogs and dog mushing. I began dreaming of running the Iditarod after reading a book called “Winterdance” by Gary Paulsen. It is still one of my favorite books about the sport, even if it is a bit romanticized in regard to what actually takes place during a race.

I started volunteering with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2006. I’ve been a volunteer every year since, in some form or fashion, including working at several remote checkpoints. I love watching the teams come through on the race, and can’t wait to be on the other side of the race.

How did you get into running sled dogs?

I met a local musher in 2007 who put me in touch with Kurt and Val Jokela, local mushers who were looking for a “handler,” someone who could help them with dog chores in exchange for learning the tricks of the trade. They taught me how to mush, let me run their dogs, use their equipment and even helped me train for my first distance race. Once their dogs started getting older, they put me in touch with Alan Peck and Barbara Trost, who allowed me to train their dogs and begin working toward my Iditarod qualifiers.

I now run dogs for Snowhook Kennel, which is owned and operated by Justin and Rebecca Savidis. I’ll run the Snowhook Kennel “B-Team” (think about it as the junior varsity team) in the 2015 Iditarod.

How do you train for such a feat?

Basically, we get the dogs out running pretty early in the fall. In fact, we started in July this year. When there isn’t snow on the ground, we hook them up to a gangline that is attached to an ATV and have them pull it while it’s in gear. It’s basically weight-lifting for the dogs. We use that to slowly and safely build up muscle and get them back in shape after taking the summer off.

Once there’s enough snow on the ground, we will start running the team on sleds. We try to put the dogs and ourselves in a variety of situations so they are ready for any sort of terrain or issue that might come up on the trail. In a 1,000-mile race, you’ll run into every type of weather and terrain imaginable; for example, last year much of the race was run without snow!

I’m basically running dogs four to five days a week, in addition to my full-time day job as a middle school band teacher in Anchorage. I come home from school, change clothes, drive an hour out to where the dogs are located, run the dogs, come home, go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again the next day. It’s a crazy schedule, but I love working with the dogs and I’m Iditarod-bound, so I’m willing to do what it takes to make this dream possible.

What is your favorite memory from your time at UGA?  

Most of my memories revolve around the Redcoat Band. I was a 4-year marching member of the band, and most of my friends were in the Redcoats with me. I guess many of my fondest memories were also football-related because I was at almost every game. I was there for the “hobnail boot” in Tennessee, and Michael Johnson’s miraculous touchdown catch at Auburn. I was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, and many KKPsi brothers are still some of my best friends. As a member of the Wind Symphony, I was honored to record two different professional albums of amazing band music under some of the best conductors I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.

Do you keep up with UGA football or other university-related happenings?

Of course I keep up with UGA football! I have a big Georgia banner in my band room, and I’ve worn holes in my UGA sweatshirts. Most of my mushing gear is red and black, I painted my dog box, the box on my pickup truck that I use to haul the dogs around to races, red and black. Once a Dawg, always a Dawg ─ how sweet it is!

Good luck, Philip! The UGA Alumni Association looks forward to keeping up with your progress during the race. If you would like to follow Philip’s Iditarod journey, check out his website or Facebook page.

Flavor of Georgia celebrates tradition of artisan and craft foods

From cheeses to chutneys, craft chocolate to chorizo, the 2015 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest—sponsored by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development—will celebrate Georgians’ creativity and craftsmanship by finding the best products in the state.

“Flavor of Georgia is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain publicity and exposure for their products,” said Sharon P. Kane, a UGA food business development specialist and the contest’s coordinator. “It’s also a chance for them to network with other food entrepreneurs and industry experts.”

Nearly 90 percent of the finalists in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Contest reported seeing increased interest in their products following the contest, and many others benefitted from increased sales, profits, publicity and website traffic, she said. Some also indicated an increase in full- and part-time employees.

More than 50 percent saw an increase in new contracts within one month of the contest.

A follow-up survey of past finalists, from the 2007 through 2012 contests, found that they attributed about 11 percent of their business revenue to their participation in Flavor of Georgia.

Finalists and winners will be eligible to participate in a number of high-profile industry showcases throughout 2015, including the Georgia Grown Symposium, the Georgia National Fair and showcase days at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. They also will receive industry feedback and use of the Flavor of Georgia finalist logo for their product’s packaging.

Winners will be featured in the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown magazine, a statewide publicity push, a booth at the Georgia Food Industry Association conference, a spot at the Sherwood Food Distributors annual food show and use of Flavor of Georgia winner logo for their packaging.

Contest finalists will be invited to participate in the final round of judging and a public tasting March 9-10 as part of the Governor’s Agricultural Awareness Day in Atlanta.

Food marketing experts, grocery buyers, chefs and Georgia agricultural experts will judge each product based on flavor, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities and commercial appeal.

Registration runs through Jan. 30 and includes commercially available products or market-ready prototypes. Product categories include barbecue sauces; beverages; confections; dairy products; jams and jellies; marinades and sauces; meat and seafood; salsas, chutneys and condiments; snack foods; and miscellaneous products. There is no limit to the number of products an individual can submit.

Register and learn more.

Alumna Spotlight: Brooke Anderson (ABJ ’00)

Brooke AndersonInterviewing celebrities on the red carpet, attending prestigious award ceremonies and covering movie premieres – it’s all in a day’s work for Bulldog Brooke Anderson (ABJ ’00), who is a correspondant for “Entertainment Tonight.” After studying Broadcast Journalism at UGA, Brooke worked her way up the ranks at CNN, eventually becoming co-anchor of HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight,” before heading to “The Insider” and eventually landing her current position at “Entertainment Tonight.”

Brooke describes her professional journey:

I had no intention of working in front of the camera at CNN. My goal was to become the best writer and producer I could be. I really enjoy the creativity inherent in those aspects of the job. I worked in general news and hard news initially and worked my way from VJ to production assistant to associate producer to associate writer to writer. I was deeply affected by 9/11 and the death and heartache associated with that tragedy. Soon after, I pursued something lighter—the entertainment side of news! I have always been a fan of film, TV, music, and theater, so I thought it was be a good fit! I worked as an entertainment writer/producer/booker and one day the president of the network asked me to fill in for the correspondent I produced for because she was sick. After she took a job at E!, I was offered the position of correspondent while initially writing, producing, and booking for myself, and ultimately I also became co-anchor of HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight”.

An award winning journalist, mother, full time correspondent and avid blogger, Anderson provdes hard work and Bulldog Spirit can take you anywhere in life.

Source: The Every Girl

UGA alumna explores success of minorities in media

Tracie-PowellAfter earning her degree from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Tracie Powell (ABJ ’93) spent years working in newspaper ad sales and circulation, including a stint in Detroit during the 1995 Detroit Newspaper Strike. Eventually, Tracie realized she belonged in the newsroom, not out on the street pushing ad sales.

She launched All Digitocracy in 2013. The site delivers national and international news and information on technology, policy and politics and how communities access information.

Currently, All Digitocracy is trying to raise money to produce a series of video interviews titled “How’d You Get That (Media) Job?” It will focus on women and journalists of color explaining how they got to where they are in their careers.

During an interview with Poynter, Tracie said “One of the things I hear constantly from journalists of color is they don’t understand how you get from Point A to Point B.” Hopefully, this new video series will help solve this problem.

Powell was inspired to create the series after interning with Cox Media’s Washington bureau, where she witnessed the career success of TV One host Roland S. Martin, the series’ first subject.

“I saw how he took off in his career, and others don’t have the benefit of that knowledge,” said Powell. She hopes the interview series will help to share such knowledge with a larger audience.

The UGA Alumni Association wishes Tracie the best of luck on her newest endeavor!

Click here to learn more about “How’d You Get That (Media) Job?” and watch the first video.

UGA’s Amazing Students: Colby Ruiz

Colby Ruiz ’15, a senior majoring in biological sciences, has successfully focused on his research since stepping foot on campus and has his sights set on becoming a physician.

University highlights, achievements and awards:

As a student of the Honors Program and a recipient of the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Honors Scholarship, I began participating in undergraduate research in my first semester. I am studying a family of proteins that includes Ras, which is mutagenic in 30 percent of all human cancers. I have presented my research numerous times including at the UGA CURO Symposium and a regional research conference within my field. While I’ve made a very small contribution to the scientific community, I can’t begin to convey the value of my work to my learning experience; this project has taught me to manage my time, approach complex problems and communicate complicated ideas to audiences with a range of scientific understanding. The lessons I have learned though my research involvement couldn’t have been taught in a classroom, and I am forever thankful to CURO for providing such a valuable learning experience.

My extracurricular involvement has been focused on recruiting talented students from rural areas of Georgia for UGA and particularly the Honors Program. As an Honors ambassador and a member of the Georgia Recruitment Team, I have traveled to high schools to speak with potential applicants and met with dozens of potential students on campus to discuss my experiences at UGA and help connect them with academic programs that fit their needs and interests.

In the summer after my junior year I was selected to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at New York University; three out of the 35 participants in this program were from UGA, chosen from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. I spent the summer at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York where I worked on developing a protocol for processing biological evidence samples from crime scenes.

After three of the best years of my life, I’m excited to see what my senior year at UGA holds. I can say with confidence that I could not have chosen a better university, and I plan to be involved on campus in a significant capacity for many years to come.

After graduation, I plan to: 

Become a medical student. I’d like to be trained as a surgeon. The one UGA experience I will always remember will be: Every Saturday between the hedges is a Saturday I’ll never forget. Go Dawgs.

Click here to learn more about Colby.

Alumna Spotlight: Antonina Lerch (MFA ’06)

You’ve most likely seen Antonina Lerch’s (MFA ’06) work on TV. No, she’s not an actress, but the Belarus native is one of Hollywood’s leading costumers. Her designs have been featured on “Dexter” and “Mad Men” and the film “Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian.”

UGA Alumni Association communications intern Bernadette Green ’15 had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna. Read below to find out more about Antonina’s impressive career.

How did you get into costuming?

I grew up in Belarus. Out of financial necessity, my mom taught me to sew and repair my own clothes. As an undergraduate at Brenau University, I realized I could leverage my skills and aim for a career in costuming. One of my professors at Brenau, Janet Smith Morley, encouraged me to work in the music, theater and dance departments. With her help, I got a job at the Gainesville Theater Alliance. I furthered my training in costume design and technology at UGA’s graduate school. After completing the program, I landed a job in Los Angeles.

How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?

At UGA, I was exposed to everything that relates to theater: costume, lighting and scene design, as well as directing and makeup. UGA offered me enormous resources, which helped develop my costuming and research skills. The library and research facilities are world-class. UGA’s Hargrett Library contains more than 6,000 original costume design renderings from Broadway shows and more. My major professor, Sylvia J. Hillyard Pannell, encouraged and facilitated my efforts to get internships, and I interned with the Georgia Museum of Art, Alliance TheaterSeaside Music Theater and Perpetual Motion Films.

What advice do you have for others wanting to get into costuming and fasion design?

You need to meet as many people as possible who are in the business. Connections can be made through internships, professors, or even reaching out directly to people in the industry. Persistence is important. Keep trying and don’t be discouraged by rejection. Determination is viewed favorably and not seen as a sign of weakness. Do as many internships as you can. Be flexible about specializing, as there are many careers within the costume world: fabric artists, agers, dyers, costume illustrators, patternmakers, supervisors, etc.

What is your favorite part of your job? And what is your favorite memory so far from your career?

My favorite part of my job is building bespoke (custom-made) costumes. This requires expertise in a vast number of costume-building techniques, which can be complicated. You need to build multi-dimensional forms, make complex mathematical calculations and understand the chemical properties of all fabrics. It is incredibly challenging and rewarding to build bespoke costumes that are functional and beautiful. My favorite memory of my career was working on Joss Whedon’s show, Dollhouse. Joss and his team were incredibly nice, professional and respectful.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?

Due to the project-to-project nature of the entertainment business, it is very difficult to maintain a stable career as a costumer. My greatest accomplishment thus far has been continuously securing work on great productions with great people.

You currently spend your time between Los Angeles and Tokyo. What is your favorite part of working internationally?

My favorite part is meeting interesting people in my field and learning new techniques from local artists, costumers, designers and manufacturers. I find Japanese artistry and craftsmanship superb, very intricate and incredibly unique. I met a world-renowned Japanese artist, Noriko Endo, who developed a unique quilting technique called Confetti Naturescapes. I met Seiji Naito, a fifth generation craftsman who makes traditional Japanese sandals called Zori. I visited Seiren Corporation’s state-of-the-art clothing production facility, which embraces all elements of manufacturing including research, fiber and fabric production, printing, pattern making, cutting and building.

Do you have a favorite memory or experience from your time at UGA?

My favorite memory at UGA was spending time in my small office on the third floor of the Drama Building. It was at the very end of the long corridor next to the fire exit. I spent many hours doing my research or other homework there, and would prop the fire exit door that led outside to breathe some fresh air and listen to the birds in the huge trees outside. It was my favorite place on campus – I loved being there.