Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Terri Polk (BBA’86) in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
In what year did you graduate from UGA and what was your major?
I graduated in 1986, and my major was finance.
What are you up to now?
As the director of brand development at The Coca-Cola Co., I help to drive brand awareness of our tea and coffee portfolio brands across the U.S. The tea and coffee brands include Gold Peak Tea, FUZE Tea, Honest Tea and Peace Tea.
What is the most important thing that you learned in college?
I ran track at Georgia, so I would say the most important thing I learned was time management. Time management in terms of being able to accomplish my academic and athletic goals, manage friendships, have time to be student (as in being crazy), have fun and be a kid. So, the greatest thing I learned was how to manage my time to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish. I was also able to add on additional skills in being persistent, relentless and hyper-focused. Those traits help me now.
How did you get involved with the Women of UGA Leadership Council?
You know, it’s so random how things happen. I wasn’t engaged with UGA for a number of years. About five years ago, I ran into Yvette Daniels, the current secretary UGA Alumni Association (AB ’86, JD ’89) and she asked if I was ready to get engaged with Georgia. I asked to think on it a little bit. I thought on it for about a year, and I called her back about it about four years ago. I started just attending events that were sponsored in Atlanta and seeing exactly was the university was up to from an academic perspective. Then, I became involved a little later.
Why is the Women of UGA Leadership Council important to you?
You get to a point in your life when you want to start giving back for what you have received. That point has come for me in terms of being able to serve the university in a way that’s helpful for future students. Doing work to support the scholarship that Women of UGA has endowed is one way to do that for me. Being able to help students with an academic need was really intriguing for me.
What is your favorite UGA memory?
One of my professors gave me absolute support and was actually interested in my success. He would even come to track meets! It meant the world to me to see a professor at our track meets. That was phenomenal and a good memory for me. Another good memory for me was going to all of the sorority and fraternity parties in Memorial Hall back in the day. It was really hot, but fun. It was the only thing going on so if you weren’t at the party in Memorial, what were you doing?
What about the Women of UGA Leadership Council excites you the most?
The fact that the council includes women with diverse backgrounds and interesting things that they do. From their experiences at Georgia to what they do professionally now, that is quite motivating. From a separate perspective, being able to look around the room and see the success that these women bring to the table. Overall, it’s the ability and excitement to create programs that bring alumni together and bring opportunities to raise funds for the Women of UGA Scholarship Fund. That really excites me.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at UGA since you were in school?
The way the campus has expanded, the majors being offered and the competitiveness of getting into the school. I also like the emphasis on global education and experiences. Seeing the opportunities to study abroad makes me happy. When I was going to school, the thought of going abroad was out of reach to even think about. Now to see it as generally part of the curriculum to go out of the country and get a global perspective is awesome and one of the best changes I’ve seen.
Where was your favorite place to eat when you were a UGA student?
I was a poor student, so my favorite place to eat was O-House. I lived at O-House. I ate at O-House. I studied at O-House. I swam at O-House. I walked out the door and went to Sunday brunch at O-House. My food was already paid for, so I went to O-House. The food was really good!