From the Arch to the Gateway Arch

As a graduate of the University of Georgia, Stephanie Berrier (BBA ’07) has always been committed to staying involved with her alma mater. Originally involved with the alumni chapter in Chicago from 2007-2010, Berrier immediately reached out to fellow Bulldogs in 2013 when she moved to St. Louis. The rest is history! Today, Berrier is a president of the St. Louis Chapter, which boasts more than 700 alumni and friends in the area.

Digital communications intern Emily Middleton ’18 recently interviewed Berrier to learn more about the St. Louis Chapter.

Stephanie Berrier

Stephanie Berrier

When did you graduate from UGA and what are you up to now?

I graduated from UGA in May 2007 with a degree in International Business from Terry College, and also have an MBA from the Global Partners program at Georgia State and IAE Sorbonne in Paris. Since then, I’ve bounced around for my career and education, living in Chicago, Atlanta, Paris, and Santiago, Chile. Now I live in St. Louis with my husband, Stephen Berrier (AB ’07), and our dog, Savannah. I love to travel and I’ve been fortunate that my studies and work have made that possible!

How did you become involved in your local chapter?

I first got involved when I moved to Chicago, which has a really large chapter. My roommate and I both got involved with the leadership there in from 2007-2010. When I moved to St. Louis in 2013, I didn’t know anyone. So, I looked up the local chapter online to get involved and meet new people. It’s a great way to have a piece of home and make friends!

Meet and Greet with the St. Louis Rams

Meet and Greet with the St. Louis Rams

What chapter event are you most proud of?

Last December, our chapter was able to have an amazing event with the St. Louis Rams, including tickets and a post-game meet and greet with former Georgia Bulldogs Alec Ogletree, Will Witherspoon and Todd Gurley. It was particularly special as the team has now moved to Los Angeles.

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?

It’s been a great way to meet people, especially as a new person in a new city. In my experience, the passion UGA alumni have for the university and Athens itself is so unique! I’ve literally met Georgia fans all over the world and we instantly had that connection, making it easy to grab a drink and cheer ridiculously within minutes of meeting.

Football Kickoff Event in 2015 with the St. Louis Dawgs

Football Kickoff Event in 2015 with the St. Louis Dawgs

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at UGA?

It’s hard to pick just one! I think learning to embrace change during my time at UGA was most important. Friends move and change, relationships evolve, even jobs or majors can come and go. Learning to lean into changes, getting excited by the opportunities instead of being afraid or avoiding change, helps build strong character and a positive attitude. It also opens doors to life experiences you may never think you would have, which can be really fun!

If there is any advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?

Enjoy your time at UGA – not just socially, but embrace all the opportunities to get involved! It’s a time to learn and ‘fail’ in a safe environment. Learning what you don’t want to do with your life is an important part of the journey to figuring out what you actually do want to do!

The Redcoats are coming!

This story was written by Jim Lichtenwalter and originally appeared on

Near the back of the intramural fields complex on Lake Herrick Drive, there is a full-sized football field. Covered with a brand new synthetic field turf and even adorned with the University of Georgia’s iconic “super G,” this field will never hear the crunch of pads colliding or shrill cry of a coach’s whistle. Cleats will never dig into its surface, and plays will never be perfected across its yard lines.

Instead, a completely different kind of practice takes place on this field. With musical instruments in place of helmets and footballs, some 440 students take the field three nights a week to perfect their formations, movement and timing.

Since 2009, UGA’s Redcoat Marching Band has called this field its home. The field is an exact replica of a football field: 120 yards long-including end zones-and 55 yards across.

Before this, the band rehearsed at Woodruff Field, the same place where the football team practices, which caused scheduling conflicts.

This past summer, the university made upgrades to the field, namely replacing the grass with the synthetic field turf.

“Practice has been 100 percent better on the turf,” Paige Healey, a Redcoat drum major from Dahlonega, said. “It’s been such a blessing.”

Last year, the field would flood whenever it rained. This led to practice in the mud and ultimately missed rehearsals. The field’s drainage wasn’t working, and the band was slowly tearing up the field the more they practiced during rainy weather.

Michael Robinson, an associate professor of music and the director of athletic bands, appealed to UGA President Jere W. Morehead and the administration at UGA’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Morehead asked Facilities Management to determine the best option for repairing the field. With funds from the President’s Office and assistance from the School of Music, the Redcoats were able to fully fund the preferred option-synthetic field turf.

Other schools similar to UGA, such as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Georgia Tech and Florida State University, all have similar fields to accommodate marching bands.

“The new field makes a huge difference,” Healey said. “It helps us with aligning our positions. Our show looks much better now.”

“For the president to step up, it’s honestly huge,” said Robinson. “He responded to the fact that the students were not getting the proper UGA experience.”

Site preparation for the new turf began in April, and installation was finished in time for band camp in August. So far, it has proved to be a great investment.

“The field is absolutely gorgeous,” Robinson said. “We’ve already had rehearsals after rainy days that if they had happened last year, we had to cancel. It’s already showed benefits for us.”

The new turf is just the beginning of the Redcoat Band’s improvements to the field. Currently, there is a fundraising campaign for a permanent teaching tower, from which Robinson can teach, view practices and see the entire formation.

Former professor, cheerleader has rooted for UGA for more than 70 years

Bonnie Bellamy Howard’s school spirit has lasted more than 70 years. And this year’s Homecoming was no different. She rode in the parade and was on the field during the first half with other cheerleading alumni, supporting the Bulldogs.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “I think it’s amazing—the reaction of the crowd when we run out on the field in our long skirts. That’s the most fun you’ll ever have—­running out on that field and having 98,000 people stand up, scream and yell.”

She started as a freshman at UGA in 1944, putting herself through school by working part time as a cashier in the dining hall.

“I was 16,” she said. “And some of the other students were going to Georgia, so I decided I wanted to go to Georgia, too. It was really that simple.”

In addition to her job, Howard also was involved in the Voluntary Religious Association, the Youth Workers Association Council, the 4-H Club and the Economics Club. On Friday nights, she enjoyed the dances.

But one of her favorite extracurricular activities was joining the UGA cheerleading squad her senior year. The football team won all 11 games that year, Howard recalled, including the Sugar Bowl. She’s celebrating the 70th anniversary of joining the squad, making her one of the oldest cheerleading alumni. And she’s been back for as many Homecoming games as possible since then.

After graduating in 1947 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at age 19, she worked as a secretary. Eventually, she decided she wanted more and received her master’s degree in 1950. While working on that degree, Howard taught secretarial science classes in the College of Business Administration.

Howard was teaching at South Georgia College when she met her husband, Daniel, an FBI agent. They moved to California and started a family that now includes five children—Dana, Richard, ­Camille, Gregory and Jody—10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She continued to teach part time while raising her family. After several other posts, the Howards eventually moved back to Georgia. At

that point, she decided to continue her education even further and graduated with her doctorate from Georgia State University in 1984.

After Daniel died, she wanted to get back into teaching full time and applied for a position at UGA, where she taught

classes until she retired around 22 years ago, earning Teacher of the Year honors a couple of times.

“I expected something of my students,” Howard said. “I enjoyed teaching, and they knew I enjoyed teaching them.”

Math and statistics have always been an interest of Howard’s. She likes to study the numbers to see what data she can pull out—averages, etc.

“I just liked going to school, and I was one of those weird students who liked to study. You don’t hear that much today,” she said. “I was always the inquisitive one in classes. I would be the one who asked all the questions.”

Her advice for students today is similar. She said the most important lessons she learned as a student UGA were to study and make good grades.

“Do your homework, but enjoy your time here,” she said. “There are so many things you can do to get involved. But don’t overdo it, because if you do, you will not make good grades.”

This story was originally published in Columns on October 10.

Bleeding Red and Black in Music City

When it was time for Kelly Smith (AB ’00) to choose a college, she toured different schools: big, small, all girls, coed—she saw it all. However, upon stepping onto UGA’s campus, her decision was made. As a political science major, she studied abroad in Verona, which Smith says taught her unique ways of thinking about the world.

Today, she works at Lighthouse Counsel in Nashville, a company owned by a fellow UGA graduate, that helps nonprofits succeed through fundraising consulting. Getting connected with the Nashville Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association helped her to meet other alumni in the city, and as president, her leadership has grown the chapter. In a conversation with Smith, she shares memories of her college experience, and imparts her wisdom on how students can get the most out of college.


Kelly Smith and Diane Johnson, Director of Parent and Leadership Giving

What was your favorite class at UGA?

All of the classes I took while studying abroad in Verona were amazing. It might have just been the setting, but I really loved them. It was such a great opportunity. My favorite class on campus was the Intro to Political Science course that made me decide on it as my major. It was mind-opening and exposed me to so many ideas that I had never considered in the past. That was the beginning of my interest in political science.

How did you get involved with the UGA Alumni Association?

When I first moved to Nashville, before social media was a thing, I remember getting on a website and finding the Georgia Bulldog Club, which I was vaguely aware of. There was a contact here in Nashville and I asked him how I could get involved. He told me there were a few guys who go to the games together, and that if I wanted to get involved I could, so I did. I ended up tracking down people in Georgia T-shirts and stopping to talk to people with Georgia stickers on their cars—really defining what going organically means—to grow the group, and it took off from there.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

I remember we had a tailgate for Vanderbilt five years ago that was packed—I mean jam-packed. Locals, out-of-towners, UGA employees and people from Athletics were all there.  What was neat was that we had a connection with someone who was selling condos that weren’t open yet, so they gave us full range of the whole facility and pool for the tailgate. We probably had 300 people there, and of course the Alumni Association helped us out a ton. Another one that we have done for years is a water station at the Country Music Marathon. It’s good visibility and marketing for us, and it’s also great from a volunteering standpoint that we can help out.


What is your favorite thing to do in Nashville?

Eat. We have the best restaurants and new ones open all the time. I have a mason jar full of Post-it notes of restaurants that I want to try. I like to try all the new chefs since a lot of them come from Atlanta and beyond. We have great food!

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Get uncomfortable. Reach out, network and pick up the phone to call people. I get emails all the time. Emails are great, but I think there’s value in getting uncomfortable and putting yourself out there to grow your circle of friends and connections.

This blog was written by Nellie Pavluscenco ’18, intern for DAR Communications. 

Annexstad Dinner Unites Scholarship Founders and Recipients

Representatives from the Annexstad Family Foundation, including co-founders Al and Cathy Annexstad, recently enjoyed an evening with the UGA students who receive their foundation’s need-based scholarships. Al addressed the group briefly, reminding them of what an accomplishment it is to be accepted to UGA, which he called “the Harvard of the South.” The scholars also taught Al how to “Call the Dawgs” in preparation for Saturday’s football game against Tennessee.

This was the first visit to campus for Al and Cathy, whose foundation supports 12 students who have overcome serious adversity in their lives and would otherwise not have been able to afford a college education. The dinner provided a chance for fellowship and an opportunity for the students to share some of their accomplishments: shadowing neuroscientists and observing brain surgeries as part of a summer internship, graduating with an engineering degree and choosing between three job offers, and preparing for a string of job interviews that includes Amazon and Google.

Life the Griot

Written by Bridgette Burton

New York native and UGA alumnus Lemuel LaRoche, aka Life or Life the Griot (MSW ’03), is creating a channel for youth to activate academic success and critical thinking skills, while engaging them with their communities. As the executive director of Chess and Community, his goal is to use chess as a learning tool for young people in the Athens and northeast Georgia areas. The program also sends Athens students abroad for tournaments to learn from their peers across the globe, using chess as the common language.

LaRoche wears many hats, including author, speaker, activist and poet. He has traveled nationally and internationally to fulfill his mission of making a positive impact on youth. Most recently, he became an instructor in the UGA School of Social Work, where he earned his master’s degree. Bridgette Burton (AB ’11, ABJ ’11), marketing and communications chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council, sat down with LaRoche to talk about his experiences in the graduate program at UGA, and what he does now in the School of Social Work.


Burton: Why UGA?

LaRoche: I had some friends that attended UGA. It wasn’t really on my list at first, but I came to visit for a party and I saw all the beautiful people and beautiful energy here, and I knew that I could come here. It felt good and I said, “You know what, I can do this.”

Burton: Where do you work and what do you do?

LaRoche: In addition to Chess and Community, I’m an adjunct instructor at the School of Social Work, where I teach Organization and Community Theory Practice. I am also the co-chair of the Youth Development Task Force headed by one of the Athens commissioners. Key members of the community serve on this committee to find ways to engage and help our local youth.

I am also working on an initiative to send Athens youth to Ethiopia through a partnership with the Global Education Foundation and Chess and Community. During the summer of 2017, the Classic City Knights (the Athens chess team) plan to travel to Kutaber, Ethiopia, where two secondary schools have accepted our challenge to a chess tournament. Chess is a universal language that will act as a platform to engage the students in meaningful interaction.

Burton: Who is a person who made a significant impact on you while at UGA?

LaRoche: When I think back on my experience, I can truly say that it was a community experience where everyone around me poured into me. My peers and colleagues helped me to grow and challenged me. So many teachers were helpful, but there are three who I am really thankful for because of their academic and personal contributions to my life: Dr. Maurice Daniels (previous dean of School of Social Work), Dr. Edwin Risler and Dr. Deryl Bailey.


Speaking at TEDxUGA in 2015

Burton: What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

LaRoche: Your network is your net worth. Get to know the people who you are in school with now. Get to know your classmates and work with them. Develop those partnerships and they will help increase your net worth. If I would have done more of that, I would have been in a better position. Don’t compromise your integrity. Stick to your goals, develop plans of action. Don’t compromise your humanity for any corporation.

This blog was written by Nellie Pavluscenco ’18, intern for DAR Communications. 

Checking in on past UGA Homecoming Royalty

Homecoming at the University of Georgia holds a special place in many graduates’ hearts. From the annual concert, to the parade through downtown Athens, or the carnival, there are plenty of memories to be made. This week, memories are cherished even sweeter for previous Homecoming Kings and Queens. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with some of UGA’s past Homecoming royalty last month to see where they are today and learn more about their experiences being crowned Between the Hedges.

1) When did you graduate from UGA? What are you doing now? When were you crowned as Homecoming King/Queen?

Mel Baxter (AB ’12): I was crowned Homecoming Queen in 2011, and graduated the following spring. After graduation, I enrolled at Clemson University for graduate school and then moved to San Francisco to work at the Stanford Visitor Center. A year ago, I accepted my dream job as the Visitor Center Director at The University of Texas at Austin. Though I left Athens soon after graduation, and have worked at a variety of schools, I still bleed red and black and am a proud UGA alumna.

Colton Fowlkes (BS ’16): I left UGA in May 2015, and I graduated with degrees in biology and psychology, a minor in religion, and a certificate in personal and organizational leadership. I was crowned during my senior year in October 2014. I am in my first year of dental school at The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Johnelle Simpson (AB ’16, BBA ’16): I graduated from UGA in May 2016. I am now employed by the Clarke County School District in Athens, where I serve as the district’s coordinator for Great Promise Partnership and Work Based Learning. I was crowned King in Fall 2015.

Christina Swoope (BS ’11): I graduated from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and was honored to be UGA’s 2009 Homecoming Queen. I work at the White House Office of Management and Budget as a program examiner. In this role, I have the opportunity to serve America’s most vulnerable population through my work on the Medicare program.

Collette Toney (BSED ’13, AB ’13, MED ’15): I graduated from UGA with undergraduate degrees in both social studies education and history in May 2013. I then graduated from UGA with my master’s degree in May 2015. I was crowned UGA Homecoming Queen in Fall 2012. I am now an educator and cheerleading coach.

Darryl Tricksey (BSEH ’10): I graduated from UGA in 2010. Now, I am a senior associate consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in their People and Organizations practice. I was crowned in 2009.

Amanda Turner (’17): I finished my coursework at Georgia this past May, and am completing an internship in Augusta before receiving my diploma in May 2017 in human development and family sciences. I am the most recently crowned Homecoming Queen, having received this honor in fall 2015. I am interning with the Children’s Hospital of Georgia for the Child and Adolescent Life Department to be a child life specialist. Child life specialists are development experts, trained to help children process and cope during stressful experiences and specifically within the hospital environment. We help the child or teenager understand their medical diagnoses and corresponding procedures through medical play, procedural support, coping and distraction, family support and normalizing their environment.

2) What made you want to run for Homecoming Court?

Simpson: I was nominated by the Student Government Association to be its representative for Homecoming King.

Johnelle Simpson

Johnelle Simpson (AB ’16)

Toney: I had a lot of friends who encouraged me to run for Homecoming Court. My sorority sisters nominated me to represent our sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Personally, I thought it would be so wonderful to serve as a representative for UGA on Homecoming Court. UGA was the place where I found the most inspiring and faithful friendships, organizations that molded me into the person I am, staff members who believed in me, and academics that gave me the desire to strive for excellence. I couldn’t imagine NOT wanting to represent the place that has so much of my heart in it!

Darien LaBeach & Collette Toney

Darien LaBeach (BBA ’13) & Collette Toney (BSED ’13) pose with former UGA President Michael F. Adams.

3) Describe your crowning experience.

Fowlkes: It was pretty surreal walking my mom out Between the Hedges at the homecoming game. I’ll never forget looking up toward the front of Section 309 and looking straight ahead toward the hedges and seeing all of my friends cheering for me. My favorite part of my crowning experience, though, was being able to look my mom in the eyes and simply thank her for giving me the opportunity to attend the University of Georgia.

Colton Fowlkes

Colton Fowlkes (BS ’16) – Photo Credit: Cassie Wright Photography

Swoope: I am so thankful that someone videotaped the halftime crowning in 2009 because I was so excited and surprised that I honestly can’t remember it fully. To say it was an overwhelming moment would be an understatement as, for me, some of the most amazing moments in my life have all taken place on the 50-yard line of Sanford Stadium and never in my wildest dreams would have I have imagined that this would be one of them. Exactly five years prior, I had been invited to conduct the Redcoats at homecoming as a high school junior, and I specifically remember thinking that conducting the Redcoats that day would be a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Three years later, I marched onto the field for my first pre-game show as a Redcoat Band Drum Major, being the first African-American female in the history of this university to do so. In that moment in 2009, I stood on the field in total disbelief as a member of the 2009 Homecoming Court representing an organization that I can honestly say has had a large hand in making me who I am today. Very rarely can you say that something has truly changed your life, but I know that I am the person I am today and the leader I will be tomorrow because of the amazing experiences, relationships, and challenges I faced at the University of Georgia. Crowning in 2009 is the moment at which all of that became apparent to me.

Christinia Swoope

Christina Swoope (BS ’11)

Turner: Wow, there are almost no words to tell you how overwhelmed and loved I felt. It is such a powerful experience to stand before a student body of 35,000 students, look into the crowd, and know that most of the incredible faces staring back at you are your friends. Not just people you pass on the bus or in the street, but real friends with whom you have had real experiences. It was such an overwhelming moment to experience all the love you’ve poured into others’ lives and experiences, reverse and pour right back onto you. It’s one of those beautiful, Heaven meets Earth, humbling moments that I think only come a few times during your lifetime. To have one of those moments, surrounded by my family and friends, on Stanford Stadium is something I will never forget. Through the entire experience, I wanted to illuminate the stories and peers that had changed me, not just what I had done during my time at Georgia. I would not be the Georgia Bulldog I am without the influence of others. I hope that in that moment of crowning, that my fellow Bulldogs in the stands felt that their stories were being celebrated right alongside mine.

Amanda Turner

Amanda Turner ’17

4) What did it mean to you to be elected Homecoming King or Queen?

Baxter: Being voted Homecoming Queen meant the world to me. I came from Kansas to be a Georgia Bulldog, and being a student changed my life in a number of ways. It was an incredible honor to represent the place that I love so much, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that UGA has given me.

Mel Baxter

Mel Baxter (AB ’12)

Tricksey: It meant that I was able to represent the entire class of 2010 and all that we had accomplished. To this day, I am amazed at the impact that we had on the university, and I am proud not just to be a Georgia Bulldog, but to also have graduated with such a dynamic group of people.

Darryl Tricksey & Christina Swoope

Darryl Tricksey (BS ’10) & Christina Swoope (BS ’11) pose with former UGA President Michael F. Adams.

This year’s King and Queen will be crowned during halftime of the Vanderbilt football game on Saturday, October 15. To learn more about Homecoming 2016 and to view a schedule of Homecoming events for students and alumni, please visit



Hanging out with Chicago Chapter president Lauren Mullins

When Lauren Mullins (BSFCS ‘09) moved to the Windy City in 2013, she didn’t know anyone. The Chicago alumni chapter became a resource for her to connect with fellow Bulldogs and meet people. Three years later, Lauren Mullins is now the president of the Chicago Chapter.

What did you study at UGA, when did you graduate, and what do you do now?

I was a fashion merchandising major at UGA and graduated in May 2009. Right out of college, I was an assistant store manager for Kohl’s Department Stores and was asked to go back to UGA to recruit management trainees and interns. This extracurricular activity for Kohl’s introduced me to a career in campus recruiting and led to a promotion to university relations manager with Kohl’s. I moved to the Windy City with my husband in 2013 and started a sales campus recruiting and internship program for an insurance company. This June, I became the senior sales campus recruiter for Groupon in Chicago.


What made you want to become a chapter leader?

I didn’t know anyone in Chicago when we first moved here, so I wanted to get involved with the chapter as a way to get to know the city and local alumni and build my network. It just so happened the first email I got when I updated my address with the university was an invite to a chapter leader interest meeting!

Why do you feel like it is important to stay connected to your alma mater after graduation?

Athens will always be a home to me, and I’ll always cherish my four years at the university. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities UGA provided to me as an undergrad and enjoy giving back to my alma mater and paying it forward for future grads. You never know where life will take you, and it’s comforting to know there are chapters around the country that help Dawgs stay connected.

lauren mullins

How do you create a sense of unity inside your chapter with other UGA alumni in your city?

It starts with having an active leadership board to support the chapter and executing amazing game watching parties during the fall as this creates a captive and engaged audience. In between game watches and in the off-season, we try to plan a variety of events to engage alumni on all fronts. From local philanthropy efforts to “Bulldogs After Business Hours” to the winter letter writing campaign to recently admitted students – we try to host regular events and advertise via email and consistent Facebook communication.

What is your favorite event your chapter has planned?

I have to pick just one? Can I share my top 3? It’s so hard to pick! One event I look forward to every year is the SEC Flag Football Tournament that the SEC Alumni Chapter Leaders get together and organize. It’s a friendly competition the week before football begins, the proceeds go to local charity, and there’s an awesome after-party. Chicago is the heart of the Midwest and Big 10 country, so it’s nice to network with fellow Southerners and band together as the SEC! The Chicago Dawgs have yet to win, but I’m feeling like 2017 will be our year. Another favorite is when we purchased the supplies and cooked a meal for the homeless. We really have a lot to be thankful for, and it was so awesome to see how appreciative the group of 60 were for our support. Lastly, I really enjoyed adding a Halloween costume contest to our Georgia-Florida game watch last year. This was a great way to spice up the parties, and fans really got into it!


What is your favorite UGA memory as a student?

I have to pick just one here too? So hard! Football games are an obvious favorite – GA/FL trips to St. Simons and Jacksonville every year, Georgia vs. LSU my senior year and the trip we took to New Orleans/Baton Rouge to see the Dawgs emerge victorious, and the original “blackout” game vs. Auburn in 2007 with Matthew Stafford at the helm. Aside from football, I met some really amazing friends at UGA that I still keep in close touch with. We still reminisce and look back fondly of our times in Athens – the glory days.

If there is one piece of advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?

SAVOR EVERY MOMENT – including the feta fries at The Grill. From my professional campus recruiter perspective, get involved early on in your college career. There’s no going back once you’re a senior, so start ASAP in adding value and transferable skills to your resume. This will help you put that education to use and land your dream career!

Find the alumni chapter closest to you at

Karisa Strickland cheers with the Richmond Dawgs

Written by Nellie Pavluscenco

When asked how she would describe her alma mater in three words, Karisa Strickland (BSED ’04) is quick to sum it up: “Best. Years. Ever!” As president of the Richmond Chapter, Strickland has found a way to bring her love for Georgia along with her wherever she may be.

Richmond Karisa Strickland (2)

Karisa Strickland (BSED ’04)

She has always been extremely enthusiastic about football and all things Georgia. When Strickland moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2008, she realized she didn’t have anyone around her to share that passion, so she looked to the UGA Alumni Association to connect with fellow Bulldogs.

“I was looking to have a bright spot of red in a sea of orange,” Strickland said.

She had a great experience being a part of the Knoxville Chapter, so after her move to Richmond, Virginia for a job with Capital One, she immediately got involved with the local chapter, and went on to become its president. Strickland has always taken a leadership role in whatever she got her hands on, and this proved no different.

One of their standout successes includes a Richmond Dawgs tailgate they put on last year the Saturday before football season started. Alumni and football fans got together in a local park to tailgate and brought back some old memories of student life. They parked an RV in the park, the chapter provided food and UGA fans kicked off the season.


An RVA Dawgs Chapter event

Strickland credits her time at UGA for giving her the foundation she needed to be able to apply her skills in a variety of ways, which allowed her to be flexible in the job market. She was a mathematics education major, and despite trading the classroom for the boardroom, she still remembers how her time at Georgia helped her to get to where she is today.

“I really enjoyed a geometry class that we took,” Strickland said. “I think what I enjoyed so much was seeing how technology can be used in the classroom, and obviously that has blown up since then. That was the first time I could really see how technology could make a huge difference.”


With fellow chapter leaders at the Alumni Leadership Assembly in Athens

Her biggest piece of advice for students and recent graduates is to not worry so much about majors, but rather to use this time to get a wealth of knowledge that will help students beyond the four years of college.

“You won’t necessarily end up in your major, and that’s okay,” she said. “College really just prepares you for the real world, and the most important part of being in college is getting a well-balanced education, rather than preparing you for a job. My job didn’t exist when I was in college. I couldn’t have taken a course to be where I am now, but I am absolutely doing the right thing for me.”

This blog was written by Nellie Pavluscenco ’18, intern for DAR Communications.