In October 2015, the UGA Alumni Association launched the UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group, which is led by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. The council seeks to connect with black alumni and students through shared experiences and to continue building a welcoming and supporting campus community. Tonya Freeman is the fundraising committee co-chair of the Black Alumni Leadership Council, and we recently interviewed her to learn more about her UGA experience and what drives her to stay connected to the University of Georgia.
When did you graduate from UGA and what did you do after college?
I graduated in December 1986, and my degree is in statistics. I was already working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so I went back to work at CDC. That is where I’m still working 31 years later!
Which Black Alumni Affinity Group event are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the UGA Black Alumni Brunch and Learn: A Discussion of Finance and Wealth we hosted in April. We invited former UGA football player Mohamed Massaquoi (BS ’08) and UGA professor Kenneth White, Ph.D. to speak about finances and wealth in the black community.
How has serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council benefited you?
[The Black Alumni Leadership Council] has helped me express to fellow alumni how important it is to still be a part of UGA. Getting black alumni to understand that it’s important to stay connected to UGA, to give back to UGA, and showing them some of the programs and scholarships for the students is important. I’m actually enjoying the generations that I’ve come in contact with. It’s not just about my generation, it’s about the generations behind us and ahead of us.
What is the most important thing you learned as a student?
How important college is, but also how fun college can be! You’re building relationships that last for a lifetime, and I really feel like anybody that hasn’t had the opportunity to experience college is really missing a great opportunity in life.
What is one piece of advice you would give to UGA students?
If you need studying habits, always go to the library first! Go to the library before you go back to your dorm. For me, that’s how I made it. I’d always do my homework before going back to the dorm. Another thing I’d say is to never underestimate your networking opportunities; not just with students, but with your professors and staff at UGA.
UGA is committed to its students and mission as a land and sea grant university. What is your commitment?
My commitment is to give back financially to UGA, to support UGA and to be a good steward for a school that I’m really proud of.