When you know it’s fall in Athens

Fall in Athens is a special time for those who love the University of Georgia, even if it arrives later than in other parts of the country. The weather finally cools, fall colors abound and football season is in full swing. In honor of the first day of fall today (Sept. 23), we asked a few current and future alumni how they know when it’s autumn in the Classic City:

“When the weather finally begins to cool down, falling leaves make North Campus look like an autumnal painting, and excitement fills the air in anticipation of each Saturday between the hedges, you know it’s fall in Athens. Fall in Athens fills me with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I am a student at UGA and will forever be a part of the Bulldog Nation.”

Caroline Kraczon ’21, Student Alumni Council president

 

“Most people associate fall in Athens with the beginning of football season, but as a student it was a time when my favorite people came together in our collegiate leadership organizations like the Arch Society, 4-H and Tri-Delta. The friendships that were formed then have lasted a lifetime!”

Brandie Park (BSA ’97), Women of UGA Council secretary

 

UGA Campus in Fall

“You know it’s fall in Athens when the grass on North Campus is filled with colorful leaves and more and more students find themselves outside throwing a frisbee or having a picnic. Fall in Athens is synonymous with football season. On Saturdays, Athens is the place everyone wants to be and the day is filled with tailgating, cheering on the Dawgs, and taking part in UGA’s greatest traditions.”

Rachel Byers ’19, Student Government Association president

 

“As the Roast Master for Jittery Joe’s, I know it is Fall when the cooler weather increases the amount of coffee I must roast. In addition to that, downtown is packed on home football games. Also, paddling down the river with Oconee Joe looks like a postcard with all of the colors of the leaves.”

Charlie Mustard (MS ’97), master roaster at Jittery Joe’s

 

UGA Campus in Fall

“To me, it doesn’t feel like fall in Athens until the Georgia heat finally begins to ebb so you can climb the campus hills without sweating through your shirt. That’s when the leaves start changing colors and the quads all look so inviting that you can hardly stand to be inside. That’s fall in Athens – irresistible!”

Rachel Webster (ABJ ’08), Women of UGA Council member

 

“At new student orientation each summer, I always speak to families about the importance of the first six weeks of classes. At UGA, we reach six weeks on September 25. At this point, most students have learned their way around campus (particularly the bus routes!), adjusted to the rigor and pace of university classes, and engaged with some new friend groups, programs and organizations. Yes, there are some rhythms that many UGA folks know well, such as fall colors, football cheers, and a cooler feel to the air (soon, I hope!), but the rhythm I enjoy most is that of the students settling in and deciding how to get the most out of their experiences here. We’ve had a great start this semester, and I’m looking forward to some wonderful few months of successes, both Between the Hedges and everywhere else on campus. This is how I know it’s fall in the Classic City! Go Dawgs!”

Victor Wilson (BSW ’82), UGA vice president for student affairs

 

UGA Campus in Fall

“I know when it’s fall in Athens because everyone finds a reason to be outside–laying on North Campus between classes, listening to the Chapel bell ring, watching the leaves change in color, admiring the brightly colored produce at the Athens Farmer’s Market, walking through pumpkin patches along Milledge Avenue, and running through the intramural field trails with friends. Athens offers something for everyone, but it truly shines when the temperature drops, the seasons change, and the campus and the community come alive!”

Sarah Rettker (BBA ’10), Women of UGA Council member

You can sing “Glory, Glory,” but can you sign it?

🎶 Glory, glory to old Georgia! Glory, glory to old Georgia! 🎶

With the start of football season, the rally song of the Bulldog Nation hums a continuous tune in the hearts and minds of every Georgia fan.

🎶 … G-E-O-R-G-I-A! 🎶

There’s nothing quite like an entire stadium joining together in perfect unison to sing “Glory, Glory,” the silence before the solo trumpeter belts the first 14 notes of the Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation, or the clang of the Chapel Bell after every victory.

But, have you ever considered what a UGA football game would be like without sound?

Luke Bundrum ’19, who was born deaf and got a cochlear implant at age 3, says that the in-stadium visuals and watching the Bulldogs play keep his attention during football games.

“When I go to the UGA football game, I don’t really pay much attention to the sound,” Luke said. “The game is very visual and there is a large video board, as well as closed captioning monitors. So, I spend most of my time getting in the spirit and watching the game.”

Luke is also the president of the ASL Dawgs, an interest- and academic-based organization that seeks to provide educational opportunities for all students interested in learning about American Sign Language and Deaf culture.

“Deaf Culture on UGA’s campus is small, but vibrant,” Luke said.

In celebration of Deaf Awareness Month and Bulldog football, we’ve teamed up with the ASL Dawgs to teach alumni, fans and friends how to sign one of the most iconic Bulldog songs, “Glory, Glory.”

So, are you ready to learn? Follow along as Luke and the rest of the ASL Dawgs show us how it’s done!

 

Think you’re ready to try signing “Glory, Glory” on your own? We’ve broken down each step below.

STEP 1: Let’s start by learning the phrase “Glory, Glory to old Georgia.” First, let’s learn the sign for Glory.”
STEP 2: Now to learn the rest of the phrase, “… to ole.”
STEP 3: Let’s complete the phrase. In this case, we will sign G and A instead of Georgia.
STEP 4: Repeat steps 1-3!
STEP 5: Now, let’s sign out G-E-O-R-G-I-A. Practice each letter below.
STEP 6: You’re getting the hang of it! Repeat steps 1 through 5 one last time!

Have you mastered signing “Glory, Glory?” Show us! Share your videos with us by tagging @ugaalumni on social media.

Introducing … The Jerry Tanner Show

This year, the UGA Alumni Association has enlisted the help of one particularly proud alumnus to chronicle UGA’s 2019 football season. Meet Jerry Tanner.

Jerry Tanner is everyone you’ve ever met at a UGA tailgate, everyone who’s ever talked about Georgia football by your cubicle, and every message board poster who claims to have a cousin who cut Vince Dooley’s grass. He’s a UGA alumnus, he’s a college football fanatic with a Twitter addiction, and he’s definitely a real person and not a character played by Clarke Schwabe.

Every Friday morning, Jerry Tanner will share his thoughts on last week’s game, the Bulldogs’ next matchup, and the wider college football world. Be sure to subscribe to the Alumni Association’s YouTube and click the bell by any of our videos’ subscribe buttons to be alerted whenever a new video goes up.

Jack

John “Jack” C. Sawyer (BBA ’78): An (Irish) Bulldog

John “Jack” C. Sawyer is a Georgia Bulldog who finds himself in an interesting situation this week: his alma maters will battle it out between the hedges on Saturday in one of the most highly anticipated games of the college football season.

On Becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Jack’s father was a U.S. Marine Corps officer, so his family moved a few times, eventually settling in Lilburn, Georgia. In high school, Jack learned that UGA had a fantastic accounting program, which combined with the more affordable in-state tuition rates, sold him on becoming a Georgia Bulldog.

FUN FACT: The J. M. Tull School of Accounting in UGA’s Terry College of Business is ranked No. 13 (8th among public schools) by U.S. News & World Report.

At UGA, the accounting major had countless great memories as an undergraduate. He especially cherished his time with his hall-mates in Russell Hall 6 West, noting that they were “a great bunch of men, both then and now.”

FUN FACT: Russell Hall was rededicated in 2018 after a 15-month renovation and has earned multiple awards including the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Excellence in Sustainable Preservation.”

His Path Since UGA

Jack graduated with his Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting in 1978. He visited the University of Notre Dame Law School and knew that’s where he wanted to spend the next three years.

FUN FACT: The University of Notre Dame Law School, founded in 1869, is the oldest Roman Catholic law school in the United States.

He was newly married when he began his law school journey, so he notes that his lifestyle was much different from his undergraduate years in Athens. He also was shocked in November when South Bend received eight inches of snow one evening … and classes weren’t canceled the next day!

After graduating from Notre Dame, Jack followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a judge advocate for nearly five years. The Judge Advocate Division operates like a large law firm and includes more than 400 judge advocates and a comparable support staff. Judge advocates often serve as prosecutors or the defense counsel in military courts-martial and they advise Marines on legal issues.

After that, he returned to the Atlanta area and began private practice with a smaller law firm before joining Alston & Bird, where he worked for approximately 27 years. Two years ago, he left Alston & Bird and joined Taylor English Duma, LLP.

FUN FACT: The University of Georgia School of Law boasts a global network of 10,500+ living alumni who work in all 50 states and approximately 70 countries.

 What He Does Now

Jack resides in Gainesville, Georgia, with his wife, Debbie. In his role at Taylor English Duma, Jack serves his clients in a variety of ways, most frequently relating to taxes. His practice includes estate planning and administration, asset protection planning, tax-exempt organizations, conservation easements, and tax and fiduciary litigation/alternate dispute resolution.

FUN FACT: The Sawyers live on land that has been in Debbie’s family for approximately 100 years.

Jack has spoken at UGA-sponsored conferences, assisted with fundraising efforts, and, of course, has attended home football games. As a graduate of both UGA and Notre Dame, he says that both alumni bases are extremely passionate about their schools and their teams, which probably means that we can expect to see a few Fighting Irish in Athens this weekend. He appreciates the top-notch education he received at both schools, and the great time he enjoyed on each campus. He’s especially appreciative of the more affordable education he received at UGA since it made it financially possible for him to attend law school later. He added, “I believe the UGA value proposition is even greater today.”

Jack

Jack enjoys spending time with his family.

His Call for Saturday’s Game

“I believe the Dawgs at home will be too much for the Irish to handle.”

FUN FACT: We (no surprise) agree with Jack. Go Dawgs!

2019 Welcome to the City: A Recap

This summer, UGA Alumni Chapters across the country hosted Welcome to the City events. During these annual gatherings, Bulldogs come together to welcome new alumni to their area. The Bulldog family is always growing, and our chapters did a great job of making sure Bulldogs Never Bark Alone, wherever they go.

“What was memorable about this year’s event was the number of new faces. Some Bulldogs have been in the city for a couple years, but had no clue there was an active chapter. Others were as new as three days in Chicago,” says Michael Lyons, Chicago Chapter president.

There are more than 80 alumni chapters worldwide, so there’s almost always an opportunity to connect with fellow alumni through them. Stephen Scates, Charleston Chapter president, says, “There is a huge Dawg presence here in the low country, and we are blessed to never have to bark alone while so far away from Athens.”

Check out our photo gallery of this year’s Welcome to the City events:

Interested in connecting with Bulldogs in your area? Find your local UGA Alumni Chapter today!

Interested in helping out UGA students, on your schedule? Sign up for the UGA Mentor Program.

#AlwaysADawg

Q&A With Aaron Luque (MBA ’16)

Aaron Luque (MBA ’16) is the CEO of EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, a company that specializes in the design and installation of electric vehicle charging station solutions. EnviroSpark was honored as a 2019 Bulldog 100 company, and Aaron is visiting campus this week to speak to entrepreneurship and sustainability classes, field questions from students and share his experience in both areas. We spoke with Aaron to learn a little bit more about him, his work, his UGA experience and how those three things intersect.

What made you want to start your own business? And why this particular business?

My work experience had previously always been in what would be considered a “big corporate” environment, complete with inefficiencies and red tape that would make it very difficult for me to best serve my clients. At the end of the day, I just wanted the freedom to be flexible and creative, and “best-fit” solutions for my clients. I wanted to recognize the uniqueness of each and every client and prospect, let them know they were special, and provide services with their needs in mind.

As cheesy as it sounds, I really did choose the sustainability sector out of an innate desire to leave the world a better place for future generations of humans and for life in general. Selling something you believe in is extremely fulfilling and comes easily and naturally, whereas selling something in which you don’t believe is difficult and unsatisfying.

You earned your MBA from UGA in 2016. Why did you choose to pursue that degree, and what impact has it had on your professional path?

Both of my companies had grown to a point where I needed to be thinking about business strategy and finance on deeper levels, and as a result I chose to enroll in the Executive MBA program. As an entrepreneur for the last 12 years, with no aspirations of working for anyone else anytime soon, the program has probably benefited me in different ways than it would for, say, someone who was simply looking to move up the corporate ladder. On a personal level, I’d have to say I personally got the most value from the finance and economic-related portions of the program, and the knowledge gained in those areas has significantly enhanced my ability to run my businesses.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The knowledge that my efforts and those of the teams I have built are having a major impact on the adoption rate and transition towards electric vehicles. EnviroSpark, a company self-funded and organically-grown, is directly responsible for the design and installation of over 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States and Canada. I cannot count the number of times one of my clients has called me up and told me they couldn’t believe how many people went out and purchased electric cars after we completed an installation at their office, hotel, apartment, condo, convenience store, etc. Knowing that we reached out to these locations, educated them about electric vehicles, designed a charging solution for them, implemented that solution, and then seeing the end result of increased electric vehicle ownership is extremely rewarding.

You’ve said that you’re passionate about sustainability. What do you see as your role—personally, professionally, or both—in creating a more sustainable society?

When I was first considering getting into the electric vehicle space I was thinking to myself “electric vehicles are amazing, why do more people not drive them?” After some research, it became very apparent there were two main reasons for this:

  1. Awareness – People simply didn’t know all the benefits of owning an electric car (I could go on for days on this topic).
  2. Range Anxiety – People were scared they would get stuck somewhere due to a lack of infrastructure (and rightfully so).

With that in mind l founded EnviroSpark with two primary goals:

  1. Learn as much as possible about all of the benefits of electric vehicle ownership and share this with as many people as possible
  2. Design and construct as many charging sites as possible. My hope was that every time someone saw one of our charging stations, they would be a little more comfortable with the idea of switching to an electric car.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would it be?

Whatever you do for a living, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Work is too much time of your life to be spent doing something you don’t love, and I’d venture to say it’s impossible for your overall quality of life not to be directly influenced by the level of satisfaction you have for your career.

 

40 Under 40 profile: Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11)

Brooke Beach

This article was originally posted on Grady’s site on August 27, 2019.

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized as 2019 40 under 40 honorees, presented by the University of Georgia Alumni Association. The 40 under 40 celebration, recognizing the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates under the age of 40, takes place Sept. 13. This interview with Brooke Beach, the CEO and founder of Marketwake, is the first in a series of conversations with Grady’s honorees this year.

Grady College: What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

Brooke Beach: It was becoming a Grady Ambassador. It helped me expand my horizons on what life could be like after college. It’s no surprise that college students can get tunnel vision. Everything is about your classes, your friends, and your free time. It can be overwhelming to have a concept of what life will be like after graduation, but being a Grady Ambassador helped me place goals around who I wanted to be. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from incredible leaders, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs — and I was inspired to be like them. It made me think far bigger than I had before and gave me goals to strive for.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

BB: Persistence and perspective. I’m sure it is exhausting for the people around me, but I do not give up — I don’t even know what that means!

But perspective is equally important; it gives you the ability to see both sides and make a decision on the best path forward for the greatest amount of people. The world is hard, and we cannot keep going if we don’t acknowledge it for what it is. But the next step is more important: to decide if we will do something great in spite of the difficulties. Each of us needs to be self-aware enough to know when to learn from mistakes and change, and when to move forward. I love this quote by Teddy Roosevelt, and I feel it captures this sentiment far more eloquently than I:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

GC: What motivates you?

BB: I have one shot in this world — one chance to make something of the blessings I’ve been given. David Rae said that CEOs are less afraid of dying than they are of not contributing to the world, and that describes me perfectly. I am compelled to build, create, grow, and serve, and I know that I have the opportunity to work hard to fulfill it. I’ve experienced great loss, deaths, injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, and pain beyond belief. I’ve learned that I need to acknowledge these storms, feel the loss, and then keep going. Every single one of us has a story — it’s what makes us who we are — and I want to use my experience to help others tell their truths.

GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

BB: You are responsible for what you become. One of my favorite books is “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. All people should read this at least three times in their life!

In the book, Carnegie says: “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  This could not be more true. The second you start to focus on all the reasons you “can’t,” or shift blame on others, you fail. If you want to grow, your focus should be on what you want to accomplish, why you can achieve it, and how you’ll get there.  Don’t be your biggest bully. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change the way you think and you can change your future.”

Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11) is a member of the UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. She graduated from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2011 with a degree in public relations. She is the founder and CEO of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta.

On Thursday, September 7, Brooke took over the UGA Alumni Association Instagram Story to show us a day in the life of Brooke Beach! You can watch that takeover here. 

Inside the life of Will Carr (ABJ ’06), an ABC news correspondent

Each year, UGA’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes 40 young alumni who are leaders and change-makers. We spoke with one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, ABC News Correspondent Will Carr (ABJ ’06), to get a look into the high-speed life of a national broadcast journalist.

What has been your career path since graduating from UGA?

I was in Grady’s Newsource 15, and through that program landed my first on-air job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there for about 2.5 years, and then secured a job in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I broke a couple stories at the border, and amazingly, ABC reached out to me. At the same time, FOX News reached out to me as well. In 2012 or 2013, FOX offered me a job as a national correspondent, where I could travel to cover big news stories, so I joined FOX News in their Los Angeles bureau for five years.

At that time, ABC came back on me and said, “we’ve been following your career, we love what you’ve been doing, we’d like to fly you to New York.” Since that’s the place that I’ve always wanted to work, it was like a dream come true. It didn’t happen exactly right when I wanted it to, but ultimately things played out the way they needed to. FOX gave me a lot of experience with national stories that helped me hit the ground running when I got the job at ABC.

When did you realize you wanted to go into news?

During my freshman year at Georgia, I walked on the football team. This was not a big deal because I was basically a tackling dummy. When I realized that my football career had fizzled out, I decided to go into the broadcasting program. I wanted to be an athlete, but I felt like if I can’t keep playing, then I’d like to at least cover sports. 

Newsource 15 forced us to rotate in the position every day. Through that experience, I fell in love with hard news, not even meaning to. From there, sports became sort of entertainment for me and I pursued hard news as my passion professionally.

When asked about your “typical day,” how do you respond?

My day is the antithesis of a nine-to-five. I have four cell phones: my personal phone, two work phones with two different providers in case I don’t have service for one. I also have a satellite phone that I carry with me at all times. Basically, I’m on call 24/7, even if I’m on vacation. 

It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes you cancel vacations, you work weekends, you work holidays. When the news calls, you go. But there is downtime where you can chill at home, catch up on errands, exercise or knock out anything you need to do when you’re not physically in the city you live. It’s not boring!

What is the most important story you’ve ever covered?

I’ve covered so many, I don’t know that I can name the “most important.” A recent story that jumps out was last year, one one of the more crazy days of my career. I got woken up at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles, and was told, “There’s been a mass shooting at Thousand Oaks,” which is a Los Angeles suburb. We went to the shooting location and worked for eight hours, and then I was called and told, “A massive fire has broken out up north in California.”

So we jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, and then drove two hours to Paradise, California. When we arrived, the entire town was burning. It was the most swift-moving wildfire I’d ever seen, and we saw neighborhood after neighborhood just burn to the ground while we were there. 

We ended up staying in Paradise for a week and a half. It is probably the worst devastation I’ve ever seen; the entire city was wiped off the map. It was really something to see and experience. 

How do you stay prepared to travel and break a story?

I have three or four bags packed at all times. I have a large bag that would be checked if I’m covering an international-type story that would keep me on the road for a week or two. You want to take as much as possible since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into on the ground or what you’ll be up against. 

Other than that, I have a carry-on bag that I keep ready at all times, and also a wildfire bag. That bag contains the gear that you would see firefighters wearing, since basically we are in the fire just like the firefighters. I actually train with them so that we can do our job safely. I have a bag full of miscellaneous items that I can just sort of pick and choose from depending on the situation I’m going into. 

I have three younger sisters, all of whom went to UGA. When I pick them up from the airport, I can never put their bags in my trunk because it’s always full. They’re always frustrated by that, but I think they understand the gig. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming a news correspondent?

It’s really important to make sure you feel like the news is in your DNA. Of the people that I stay in touch with, a lot have ended up changing professions and/or going into public relations. A lot of people wanted to go into news, but then they realized the grind of it.

I also feel like a lot of people have a passion for the news, but are talked out of going into it because they’re told “you’re not gonna make any money, you’re gonna have to work holidays, weekends, you’re not gonna have a life.” I don’t really feel like that’s fair. People just need to have their eyes wide open about what they’re getting into and ensure that it’s something they’re really passionate about. Because trust me: you don’t want to work weekends, holidays and 20-hour shifts in the worst elements if you don’t really love what you’re doing. 

What were you involved in as a student at UGA?

I think a lot of kids in college have an idea of what they want to do because they’ve been pointed in a certain direction or learned something about themselves along the way that they wanted to do. I needed a major. I knew I needed to do something, and getting into Newsource ignited that passion. That program and the professors I had equipped me with the tools to enter this profession and hit the ground running.

Coming out of Newsource, I felt like I had a jet-pack propulsion device on my back that helped me take off from the beginning It gave me so many amazing tools. We were doing newscasts across Athens, so transitioning into local news wasn’t difficult. 

 

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Which UGA professors influenced you most?

Michael Castengera and Steve Smith, who taught Newsource 15, were like a ying and yang. I felt like they were family, and I’ve stayed in touch with them. They not only had an impact on me while I was at Georgia; they had an impact on me throughout my career. I find it to be rare to stay in touch with two of your college professors so intimately, and I think that’s the beauty of the program at UGA. 

They’ve retired, but the journalism school is run by some top-notch people. Dean Davis is amazing, Parker Middleton in great, Dodie Cantrell does a great job. So I know that even though my mentors have retired, the journalism school is in very good hands. 

What is the most important experience you had as a UGA student?

It was my first day of Newsource, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to cover sports. I talked Castengera into letting me be the sports anchor. Apparently one of the reporters didn’t show up or called in sick, and he said “Well, you know, you can’t do sports. You have to be a reporter.” There was a story about a student living in a house with guys who had overdosed on heroin. One of the professors said, “we want you to go down to the zoning director for the city and ask him how often they enforce the single family housing ordinance where you have to be related to live in a house.”

We sat outside his office for an hour or two, and finally he came out. We went into his office and I pulled out my notepad. I asked the first question. The zoning director had three note cards on his desk. He looked at the first note card and read verbatim off that note card. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him. 

I clerked for my dad, who was an attorney, and so I was in trials a lot. I saw my dad react to people when he felt they were not being truthful on the stand, and I felt a similar feeling in this moment. When I asked him the second question, he went to the second note card and the same thing: nothing to do with what I asked him. I had no idea what I was doing except I felt like this guy was lying to me. I couldn’t figure out why, so I said something to the effect of, “are you going to keep reading off these note cards or are you gonna actually answer any questions?”

He jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me out of the room. He said, “this is over,” and slammed the door. So we went to the professor and I said, “Sorry, I still can’t do the story, I didn’t get any information from him.” My professor said, “No, this is the story.”

We ended up reporting what happened, and the local paper ended up doing an expose on the zoning director. A week or two later, one of the reporters for the newspaper said, “Hey, we saw your story. We’re digging into this guy and he hasn’t been enforcing a lot of things he’s supposed to have been enforcing. Really great job of digging that up.” That was the moment for me where sports became more fun and entertainment, and I fell in love with hard news. 

Do you have any other favorite UGA memories?

I always think about the memories with my close friends, some of whom were in the journalism school, some who weren’t. I’ve stayed in close contact with a lot of them over the years. In college, there were four of us who watched the HBO show called “Entourage,” and we felt like we were our own entourage.

It’s been amazing over the years to see what they’ve done, and several now have families and kids. It’s really cool to have developed strong friendships with people and feel like they were fortified over the years coming out of Georgia. They really have developed into lifelong friendships. 

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldawg when ______.

I’m the most proud to be a Bulldog when I see other Bulldogs succeed.

Throughout the years, I’ve had members of the UGA community reach out to me, especially within journalism, and I try to help as much as possible. When you see people from Georgia do well professionally and personally, I love that. I get excited about Georgia because it had such an impact on me. I know it’s had a similar impact on others.

It’s ironic actually: I’m sitting on a patio in Wyoming and there’s a house two doors down with a Bulldog flag outside. I haven’t seen the homeowners yet, but I’m waiting for them to come out so I can give them a big “Go Dawgs.” When you move further and further away, you don’t run into people who went to Georgia very often. So it’s a special moment, like a nice bond. You see each other and want to hug.

Georgia’s “Green Girl” is making recycling more accessible

“Hey, Alexa … can I recycle this?”

Thanks to Katherine Shayne (BSENVE ’16, MS ’18) and her all-female research team at the University of Georgia, recycling really is as easy as asking your Amazon Alexa.

One of the youngest honorees named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 2019 40 Under 40, Katherine is the co-founder of Can I Recycle This, an organization working to clean up recycling by providing localized answers to specific recycling questions.

Katherine’s list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. Just this month, the alumna spoke at the United Nations and led a team of UGA student researchers to the Dominican Republic to study marine debris. She’s also analyzed over one million pieces of marine debris collected through the Marine Debris Tracker, worked with Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) and is a proud College of Engineering Double Dawg—all at the age of 26. 

Solving Wicked Problems

Katherine concentrated her undergraduate research and her graduate thesis on the end of life for materials, particularly ocean-bound plastics, working and learning under the expertise of Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Engineering. Jenna is internationally recognized for her research on plastic waste in the ocean and is the other co-founder of CIRT.

“[I chose to study at UGA because] the University of Georgia is one of the top—if not the top—research institution working on this global problem from a waste management perspective,” Katherine said. “We have some of the best researchers here working on this grand challenge of waste management.”

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities here and every single one of them has been an outpouring of support … I think that that’s what is extremely unique to me about the University of Georgia.”

Early Beginnings at UGA

The idea for Can I Recycle This (CIRT) was conceived in 2017 and quickly became a pilot project headquartered in the Driftmier Engineering Building among UGA students.

In May 2018, CIRT went through UGA’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Program, a public-private partnership that aids collegiate innovators and includes an intensive, six-week Accelerator and up to six months of business and product mentoring.

“The program helped us narrow down what our business model was going to be, our customer focus and then how we were going to transition into scaling our model.”

Now, the all-female research team is working to develop this technology into a self-contained app that can answer every day recycling questions without the use of social media.

So, How Does CIRT Work?

It’s simple. First, add @CanIRecycleThis on Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter. Next, send a photo directly to CIRT and voila—you will instantly receive an answer based on your location. Or, simply ask your Amazon Alexa.

“You shouldn’t have to memorize recyclables on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to make it easy and accessible for consumers to utilize,” Katherine says. “Consumers interact with AI where they can ask and get a real-time response.”

When making use of CIRT, you’ll interact with “GG.” The significance of “GG” is two-fold: it’s Katherine’s sister’s nickname and also short for “Green Girl.”

Katherine Shayne holding phone featuring Can I Recycle This

On the Horizon

So, what’s next for CIRT? The team is developing a partnership with an e-commerce giant in order to integrate CIRT into packaging systems.

“Say you get a package from a big e-commerce giant and in that box or shipping confirmation email, it tells you everything in the packaging that’s recyclable and also everything that’s not. That information’s based on location because it’s where it was shipped. So, it just accesses our database and provides consumers with answers.”

As for Katherine, she’s continuing her research on plastic pollution as a researcher at the University of Georgia and is involved with a youth leadership group through the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. The group is drafting a white paper on the dangers of plastic pollution that will be presented to 20 governments around the world.

“Even though we might only make up 25% of the population, we’re definitely 100% of what’s going to be the future,” Katherine notes about the role youth can play in solving the grand challenges of our time.

Katherine will be honored during UGA’s 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens this month. Meet her fellow 2019 40 Under 40 honorees.

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Check out “Where the Crawdads Sing” on National Book Day

For many of us, reading is a pleasure, but one too often forfeited for a Netflix binge or Instagram scroll. But September 6 is National Read a Book Day: a reminder to pour a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite reading nook.

When I fall out of the habit, the fastest way to reestablish my reading routine is a good book. A page-turning, can’t-put-down, just-one-more-chapter book. I found one. This novel comes with a bonus: it’s written by fellow Georgia Bulldog and best-selling New York Times author, Delia Owens (BS ’71).

Owens’s debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation.

I fell in love with the main character, Kya Clark. As Owens puts it: “Kya is every-little-girl and one in a million.” She inspired both pity and awe and forced me to question my own survival instincts. Kya’s deep love of the natural world sets her apart from typical fictional characters and urges readers to appreciate the nature that surrounds them. As one line of the story reads, “… Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” Her journey to fulfill basic human needs, like companionship, pulls the reader along and satisfies through the end.

I finished the book on a flight. My airplane neighbor caught me wiping away tears. My failed discretion got more embarrassing when the tears (good tears!) kept free-flowing, yet I remained buckled into a middle seat. I told him the truth—that the book was really good—but also avoided eye contact until we parted ways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Reviews

Do yourself a favor: read this book. If my recommendation isn’t enough, please see below for critics’ reviews.

New York Times Book Review Quote“The wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in Where the Crawdads Sing, a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…”
—New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and hauntingly beautiful … An astonishing debut.”
—People Magazine

“Reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver, this Southern-set period novel unfurls a whodunit against a typical coming-of-age tale, when a mysterious “Marsh Girl” becomes the primary suspect of a grisly crime.”
—Entertainment Weekly

An Evening with Delia Owens (in Athens!)

On Friday, September 20, join alumni and friends for an evening with Delia Owens in the UGA Special Collections Libraries on campus. The auditorium in which Delia will speak is sold out, but an overflow room down the hall will live-stream her remarks. All attendees will have the opportunity to meet the author and have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” signed ($25/person). The talk and Q&A will take place from 4-5 p.m. and the reception and book signing will be from 5-7 p.m.

More Bulldog Authors

Once you’re back in the habit of reading, check out these Georgia Bulldog authors to find your next book:

  • Stuart Woods (AB ’60) has won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America and had more than fifty best-sellers, including the successful Stone Barrington series.
  • Mary Kay Andrews (ABJ ’76) is another New York Times best-selling author of 24 novels including “The Weekenders,” “Beach Town,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Summer Rental.”
  • Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) is not only a former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, but also a successful author whose foundation helps children discover a love of reading.
  • Michael Bishop (AB ’67, MA ’68) is in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 books, including “The Quickening” and “No Enemy But Time.”