Every year, graduating students are given the opportunity to leave their mark on their alma mater. Started in 1991, the Senior Signature plaque is a UGA tradition that continues to grow each year. Students participate by donating a minimum $50 gift to the university. This gift includes a designation option so that graduates can give to any school, college, department, program, or scholarship that has had a personal impact on them during their time at UGA. Celia Dixon (BSED ’95), did not have the means to participate in Senior Signature when she graduated, but never lost the desire to leave her mark on campus.
Now, nearly 23 years after earning her diploma, Celia has returned to add her to name to the ever-growing list of Bulldogs, which can be found in Tate Plaza. We recently spoke to Celia about her decision to participate in the Senior Signature and what led her to give back to UGA.
What is your favorite memory at the University of Georgia?
My favorite memory at UGA has always been the first day of student orientation where we learned the “Go Dawgs, Sic ’em!” chant as a group! The sound of all of us chanting in front of Tate Student center was an overwhelming and awesome feeling.
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing since graduating and how your time in Athens prepared you for life post-college.
I am a recreation therapist on a spinal cord injury team in the Rehab Center of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I worked 4 of my 5 years in Athens while going to school, so I developed a very strong work ethic that prepared me for my work experience now. I have a real love for working with patients and helping them become more independent in life.
As a 1995 graduate, what made you want to participate in Senior Signature in 2018?
I know it sounds silly to some, but the money to participate in Senior Signature was not an option for me when it was offered to me back in 1995. I recalled all of that when I was in Athens two summers ago with my daughter, Hope, and I showed her the plaque wall. She said, “Mommy, where is your name?” It was devastating that I couldn’t show her! It was like I had never been there. I had my diploma to show her, my pin from the College of Education graduation ceremony, etc., but it still devastated me. Over the next year, I thought a lot about that moment with Hope. I had the money to pay for it now, but I wasn’t sure that it would matter. So that’s when I contacted the UGA Alumni Association.
Why, in your opinion, is it important to leave your mark by giving back to UGA?
I didn’t realize what an impact giving back would make on other students. I guess at the time, I was struggling myself and I was living in a vacuum. Now that I can give back, it makes it all so much more important to give!
Do you hope to inspire other graduates to follow in your footsteps?
I encourage them to think of their future that they are making. By giving, it gives another student that chance as well!
How has UGA impacted you as a person and as a professional?
I am very proud of the decision and really the risk I took by coming to UGA. Coming in as an out-of-stater (shh.. from South Carolina)…. but always living as a Dawg, my mom and I were never sure of how we were going to do it, but we did! I know that I received an excellent education that not only prepared me for my profession, but also prepared me as a mom.
Last year in March of 2017, I underwent brain surgery for trigeminal neuralgia. I was fortunate that the surgery was a success but even if it wasn’t, I was not going to give up. Giving up was not an option! I have a beautiful daughter and patients that need me. Dawgs never give up, we keep fighting. That’s just what you do as a Dawg!
Interested in learning more about Senior Signature? Visit alumni.uga.edu/seniorsignature.