Meant to be—a UGA Mentor Program testimonial

In honor of Women’s History Month, the UGA Mentor Program is highlighting two strong Bulldogs. Holli Hines Easton (BBA ’93) mentors Olivia Kernels, UGA Class of 2023. Here, in their own words, is the story behind their incredible connection.

Holli Hines Easton (BBA ’93), Mentor

When Olivia contacted me via the UGA Mentor Program platform, she wrote the most endearing, kind, earnest note sharing her class year, major, and volunteer experience with the Humane Society (an organization dear to my heart). Lastly, she mentioned she was in a sorority holding a leadership office. Olivia’s note captivated me through her gracious, poised words. I responded immediately that I would be honored to serve as her mentor and that I, too, was a member of the same sorority and that I was in the same leadership role while I was at UGA. Meant to be!

Olivia and I scheduled a standing bi-weekly call. On our first call, I learned that beyond us being sorority sisters, we lived in the SAME BEDROOM in the sorority house — the same bed, same side of the room. Amazing! Olivia and I immediately bonded. We have had an incredible experience talking through Terry College of Business applications, resume crafting, cover letters that set you apart from other candidates, study habits, thriving academically during a pandemic. I cannot put into words how special this mentor-mentee relationship is. This is such a rewarding experience and I am grateful to serve as Olivia’s mentor. This was meant to be, and I am thankful to the University of Georgia for creating this special program.

Olivia Kernels, (UGA Class of 2023), Mentee

When Mrs. Easton was suggested to me via the UGA Mentor Program platform, I immediately reached out to her and I am so grateful that I did! We clicked due to our shocking similarities—both marketing majors, both in the same sorority, and we both held the same leadership position in that sorority. She even lived in the same room I am in at the sorority house!

Aside from this, Mrs. Easton has helped me set goals and educated me more about the marketing industry. I had no idea what I’d want to do after I graduate. Thanks to Mrs. Easton, I am gaining a better understanding of the ins and outs of a career in marketing. She encouraged me to grow as a student and has provided me with knowledge and support ranging from resume building to learning about her career.

Mrs. Easton and I have cultivated an awesome mentor-mentee relationship. I look forward to talking with her bi-weekly. One of my favorite parts about the UGA Mentor Program is that you are not only gaining a mentor, but also a friend. From my experience, your mentor really cares about you and what’s going on in your life. While I enjoyed learning from Mrs. Easton regarding the business and career sphere, I have equally enjoyed getting to know her as a person. I cannot say enough good things about the UGA Mentor Program and the amazing connection it has given me.

Sign up for the UGA Mentor Program and create an amazing story of your own!

Where commitment meets community: Toyin Adon-Abel (ABJ ’05) brings equity to art

On the outside of Krog Street Market in Atlanta, a mural titled “History of Good Trouble” depicts the life of former U.S. representative and Civil Rights activist John Lewis. The mural is part of The Civic Walls Project, an initiative founded by University of Georgia alumnus Toyin Adon-Abel (ABJ ’05).

The Civic Walls Project combines Atlanta’s outdoor art scene and storytelling to advocate for racial justice and civic engagement in Atlanta. The project completed its first mural last summer and has since created nearly 10 murals throughout south Atlanta.

“We’re here to support Black and minority artists to paint pieces that focus on social justice,” Adon-Abel said. “We’re painting these murals to get people out to vote and to be engaged in civics.”

Civic Walls is in partnership with Adon-Abel’s marketing agency and brand initiative, MeddlingMinds. Adon-Abel founded MeddlingMinds after he became disillusioned with experiences in corporate marketing. Through MeddlingMinds, Adon-Abel wants to encourage conscious capitalism that empowers communities.

 

Toyin Adon-Abel (ABJ ’05) founded MeddlingMinds and The Civic Walls Project.

“I believe that marketers are best positioned from a skill set to actually cause social change,” Adon-Abel said. “We know how to communicate with people. We understand storytelling.”

The UGA grad hopes to prove that a brand can prioritize community service while attracting an audience and growing sustainably.

The Civic Walls Project isn’t limited to Atlanta. Since the project’s inception, Civic Walls has gained attention from Miami and Boston. Adon-Abel has been asked to take the project to Nigeria, where he is from. He hopes to expand Civic Walls to the United Kingdom, where his family lives.

Neither is the project limited to walls. Civic Walls has renovated and redesigned two basketball courts in Atlanta, and is exploring augmented reality and digital crypto art.

“Community,” a mural by artist Cassandra “Honey Pierre” Hickey, is located in Atlanta.

For Adon-Abel, the message of the John Lewis mural encompasses the mission of The Civic Walls Project: for people to get into “good trouble” using their expertise to promote justice for all and improve lives.

Adon-Abel credits Eric Johnson (ABJ ’86), director of the UGA Visitors Center, with making the biggest impact on his time at UGA. Adon-Abel worked with Johnson as both a Visitors Center tour guide and an Orientation leader.

“The biggest thing that I learned from EJ [Eric Johnson] is authenticity,” Adon-Abel said. “It ties into what my business model is.”

For Adon-Abel, an authentic commitment to community means a commitment to equity and a constant pursuit of innovative solutions.

“Part of the tagline for my business is ‘creativity conscious,’” Adon-Abel said. “My commitment is finding creative solutions to community problems.”


WHERE COMMITMENT MEETS COMMUNITY

Whether life takes them to new cities or to the neighborhoods where they grew up, Georgia Bulldogs do more than get jobs – they elevate their communities. Bulldogs lead nonprofits, effect change and create opportunities for others. Wherever people are suffering, wherever communities are looking for effective leaders and whenever the world cries out for better solutions, Bulldogs are there to answer the call to service. It’s more than our passion. It’s our commitment.

Caroline Odom, an intern with UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, brings you a spring blog series that

Want to read about other Bulldogs impacting their communities?

Learn about Erin Tatum (BBA ’08, AB ’08, MPA ’14) intersecting music, culture and education and Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) pairing passion with community empowerment. 

The mentoring relationship from both sides

Hunter Smith (AB ’18 ) mentors Bryson Henriott (Class of 2023). Here, they share their perspectives about the mentoring relationship in their own words.

The Mentor (Hunter Smith [AB ’18])

The cinematic legend Steven Spielberg once said, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” When you step back, the role of a mentor is more akin to that of a producer or director — they help the writer, the mentee, to see their goal through; to advance their vision. When I was first contacted to serve as a mentor, I felt woefully unprepared to fulfill the role. What benefit could I, a young professional having only graduated two-and-a-half years earlier, really provide a student only a few years my junior? Since graduating, I had not seen the realities of the “real-world” which would have warranted me to give sage advice on the best career and life moves. Instead, I had spent my time in law school and currently was juggling my own fears concerning life and career moves. In my mind, I was not yet an individual worth emulating; I was not yet a mentor.

Upon reflection, though, I realized mentorship is not a demonstration of excellence to be emulated, but is instead a journey towards one’s truest potential—both for the mentee and the mentor. When I thought back to my mentors in college, I realized that the importance of my experience was not in their title or who they were, but instead in how they made me feel, the opportunities they gave me, and in who they allowed me to be. A good mentor provides mentees a chance to develop themselves by acting as a sounding board and guiding light. Mentorship is not a map, but a compass. My best mentors in life, have been with me every step of the way, not telling me what to do or where to go, but have given me a refuge to run to when times get tough, stability in times of uncertainty, and a light when things seem dark.

By stripping the idea of mentorship as the pinnacle of excellence, I have also come to understand that mentorship can have lasting effects for the mentee as well as the mentor. Though the few ages difference between my mentee and me worried me at first, I have since come to understand this as a benefit. Though he is my mentee, he is also my friend; I see myself in him and when I give him advice or answer his questions, I feel as though I am talking to my younger self. In helping him navigate this time in his life, I also feel compelled to reflect on my own journey and those who helped me and may also be able to provide mentorship to him. My mentee challenges me to see the world from new perspectives, reminds me of where I have come from, and challenges me to reach new heights. Mentorship is a pursuit of self-development and, as such, it is a recursive and reiterative lifelong process. What good is knowledge and experience without someone to share that wisdom with? And the sooner we do so, the better the world. Even as I provide mentorship to others, I look to my own mentors for guidance in my life. Mentorship is a crucial relationship in life—whether you are old or young, you have value as a mentor because you can advise and counsel others and provide them an opportunity to create themselves. Each day I strive to be like the visionaries that came before me and light the way for the generation that will follow.

 

The Mentee (Bryson Henriott, Class of ’23)

As a rural first-generation college student, the process of thinking about graduate school, choosing between internships, and deciding on a career overwhelmed me. There was a moment during freshman year when it hit me that although I made it to college, I had no idea how to navigate the steps during and after college. I was interested in law school, but did not have anyone that I could talk to about the LSAT, applications, how law school realistically is, and how to make such an important decision when you have uncertainties.

I knew the best way to tackle these issues would be to find a mentor who had gone through the same decisions. The UGA Mentor Program is an incredible platform that allows students to connect with alumni who have the same passions and the experience to help you answer the questions you do not know. I remember looking through the available mentors, and Hunter immediately stuck out. We both came from rural Georgia to UGA; he graduated with the same degree I am pursuing, and took part in several organizations that I was involved in. Hunter and I both have a passion for the intersection of law and politics, and I knew he would be able to provide meaningful advice. The fact that he was in law school was helpful, and he has been able to deliver authentic answers to my law school questions.

Although our mentorship is relatively new, it is been an incredible experience. Hunter has reviewed my resume, advised me on internships, and shared about his personal journey behind attending law school. There was no awkward transition period once we matched, and we quickly began sharing our journeys and stories. A mentor is not there to have an answer to every question, but rather is a guidebook to share their journey and advice. There is a comfort in knowing that whenever I am facing a decision in my college career, I have someone in my corner one call away. I cannot recommend the UGA Mentor Program strongly enough; it is an incredible way to connect with professionals who can share a vast amount of knowledge and who want to see you succeed. It has shown me what a mentor is supposed to do and has prepared me to (hopefully) be a mentor after graduation so I can give back to a program that has given me so much.

UGA Class of 2020 achieves 91% career outcomes rate despite pandemic

Of University of Georgia Class of 2020 graduates, 91% were employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation, according to career outcomes data released by the UGA Career Center. The Class of 2020 data includes undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who earned degrees between August 2019 and May 2020.

Regarding 2020 UGA graduates:

  • 61% were employed full time.
  • 22% were attending graduate school.
  • 8% were engaged in post-graduation internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, reported their status as entrepreneurs or were not seeking employment.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the job market has been significant with fewer job opportunities, postponed or rescinded job offers, and more students altering plans to attend graduate school,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “Overcoming all of these challenges reflects the tenacity, determination and resilience of the Class of 2020.”

Of those who reported full-time employment, 40% cited the UGA Career Center as the most effective resource used during their job search. Another 29% credited experiential learning for helping them find employment, indicating the university-wide experiential learning requirement is boosting career preparation. The requirement took effect in fall 2016, making the Class of 2020 the first graduating class for which every undergraduate student was required to have at least one significant hands-on learning experience.

Graduates from UGA’s Class of 2020 were hired by 2,880 unique employers and are working full time across all sectors of the economy, from business (72% of graduates working full time) to education (17%), government (6%) and nonprofit (5%). Top employers for the Class of 2020 include Amazon, Bank of America, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deloitte and The Home Depot.

Of graduates employed full time, 59% secured employment prior to graduation and 99% were hired within six months of graduation.

“Despite the last few months of my college career being spent in a virtual environment, the UGA Career Center made every effort to provide the Class of 2020 with the resources we needed enter the ‘real world’ in these unprecedented times,” said Jyoti Makhijani, a May 2020 graduate who earned a degree in marketing.

When Makhijani’s start date with Big Four accounting firm KPMG was delayed from July to November as a result of the pandemic, she continued to lean on the UGA Career Center, which offers programming for both students and alumni.

“During these months of uncertainty, I continued networking through virtual Arch Ready sessions,” Makhijani said. “I remember attending a budgeting and money management Arch Ready presentation as an alumna and thinking how much I appreciate that the UGA Career Center is there for students and alumni every step of the way.”

Nearly three-quarters of Class of 2020 graduates working full time accepted employment within the state of Georgia. Graduates landed in 48 U.S. states and 33 countries in the six months after graduation, with top out-of-state destinations spanning the country and including major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Class of 2020 data showed an increase in students who chose to pursue additional education, up three percentage points from the Class of 2019, amid uncertain economic conditions. The 22% of 2020 graduates furthering their education have enrolled in top graduate or professional schools including Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and Vanderbilt University.

The UGA Career Center calculates the career outcomes rate each January by leveraging information from surveys, phone calls, employer reporting, UGA departmental collaboration, LinkedIn and the National Student Clearinghouse. The preceding data is based on the known career outcomes of 8,581 graduates from the Class of 2020.

For more information on how the Class of 2020 overcame the pandemic and its economic effects, visit career.uga.edu/outcomes.

To learn about hiring UGA graduates, visit career.uga.edu/hireuga.

A Bulldog on Netflix: Q&A with comedy creator Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00)

From the stage of the Georgia Theater to the streaming screen, writers and producers Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black  recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce a new 10-episode animated sci-fi comedy, “Farzar.” The pair will continue airing their show “Paradise PD” on the platform with season three releasing on March 12.

O’Guin and Black met in the Classic City in 1999 while O’Guin studied art with an emphasis on digital media and Black was working toward his master’s degree. After their Athens comedy show, “The DAMN! Show,” made it to MTV2 as “Stankervision,” the pair began writing and producing an animated series, “Brickleberry.”

We caught up with Waco to learn about his career in comedy and the creative process, and to ask for show recommendations to make a Bulldog laugh.

What led you to pursue comedy while at the University of Georgia and then after graduation?

I was a huge “Saturday Night Live” fan growing up, so starting a sketch comedy show was something I always wanted to do. I also loved “The Simpsons,” and my ultimate goal was having a primetime animated show on Fox. We got close!

What has been your career path since graduating from the University of Georgia?

While doing comedy on the side, I started a production company in Athens to produce local commercials and corporate videos. We were very lucky that our college comedy show got turned into a show on MTV2. That landed us an agent at WME in Los Angeles. We started pitching a bunch of shows and eventually sold “Brickleberry” to Fox. They did a pilot but decided not to take it to series. Instead, we were able to sell it to Comedy Central. After “Brickleberry” ended, we began working with Netflix.

two men pose in front of fountain

A 2011 portrait of alumnus Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and comedy partner Roger Black in front of the Herty Field Fountain. Photo taken by Peter Frey.

What class or professor positioned you for success?

I took animation under Prof. Mike Hussey [associate professor of dramatic media and interdisciplinary animation studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences]. I learned a lot, and he seemed to believe that I could reach my goals.

What’s it like to be developing a new series, “Farzar,” for Netflix? How does the process compare to your past shows?

Working on “Farzar” is a lot like “Paradise PD.” Most of the crew works on both shows. Finding talented people and convincing them to stick around is key to a smooth production.

two men pose for a photo

A recent image of Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black.

What is your creative process?

We write for about eight weeks to plan out the season and get scripts before our first table read. After the read, we rewrite the script and record it. After editing the audio, we hand it off to one of our directors, who creates an animatic. That animatic [a preliminary sequence of shots, images or sketches, usually arranged with a soundtrack] is shipped to Bento Box Atlanta, the animation studio that does our color animation.

Does working with a streaming platform offer you more creative latitude? How does that change the relationship with your audience?

It’s definitely different. With streaming, we don’t have to hit a specific time length for the episodes. As long as they average around 25 minutes in length, we are good. Netflix also releases all the episodes at once rather than weekly. With “Brickleberry,” it took years for the episodes to be released in some countries. On Netflix they are released worldwide on day one.

two men stare at computer

Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black work on their comedy through the night.

What are your all-time comedy favorites?

“Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule.”

Learn more about the Lamar Dodd School of Art, where Waco began his journey to becoming a successful comedy creator.

March 19 is TEDxUGA 2021: Next Level

Bulldog are committed to crafting better tomorrows. We harness ambition to innovate, search for answers to big questions, and enact impactful solutions. As part of that commitment, many Bulldogs are gathering virtually on Friday, March 19 at 7 p.m. for TEDxUGA 2021: Next Level.

After postponing the 2020 event due to COVID-19, the eighth annual TEDxUGA will feature eight University of Georgia faculty, students and alumni who will share messages with the power to launch our world to the next level.

UGA alumni in this year’s speaker lineup are:

  • Cristen Conger (ABJ ’06) and Caroline Ervin (ABJ ’06), co-founders of Unladylike Media and co-hosts of the feminist podcast “Unladylike”
  • LaKeisha Gantt (MED ’03, PHD ’10), licensed psychologist, assistant professor of psychology at Piedmont College and member of the Athens-Clarke County Board of Education
  • Matt Stevens (AB ’03, MPA ’14), vice president of strategic impact at Creature Comforts Brewing Company

TEDxUGA 2020 ticket holders have priority for in-person attendance at The Classic Center Theatre, but the virtual livestream of this year’s event will allow Bulldogs from Athens, Georgia, to Athens, Greece, to join in this special event. Tickets for the livestream are $5 for UGA students and $10 for non-students.

Jeffrey Berejikian, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, speaks at TEDxUGA 2019: Amplify. Berejikians delivers a message, “What Godzilla can teach us about nuclear weapons.”

TED events gather thinkers, innovators and dreamers to cover topics related to technology, entertainment, design (TED) and beyond. UGA launched its first independently organized TEDx event in 2013 to highlight the spirit of TED already thriving on campus. TEDxUGA is organized by a team of faculty, staff and students from across UGA’s colleges and departments.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from members of the UGA community who are committed to a better tomorrow.