Growing up, Natalie Clauson (AB ’21) always knew she wanted to be a Bulldog. Coming from a family of Georgia fans and an older brother who loved his time at the university, she built a dream of becoming a Dawg herself. Now, after graduating with a degree in public relations and working her way up to a manager position in a Bulldog 100 company, she has become quite the outstanding alumna.
Natalie Clauson credits much of her professional success to the Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS) program that allowed her to thrive during her time at UGA. “It was such a blessing, beyond just financially,” she said.
The GCS program has created more than 680 endowed, need-based scholarships since 2017, and students in Natalie’s scholarship cohort were some of the first to be awarded this aid. The program invests in its students financially, but also professionally and academically with a focus on providing networking opportunities and career coaching. Natalie explains, “GCS is like having an extra layer of support at UGA in all aspects of student life.”
As an undergraduate student, Natalie was involved in many areas on campus. She served as T-shirt Chair for Alpha Chi Omega, designing merchandise for her sorority—something she considers an integral part of her college experience. She was also a member of the Wesley Foundation, serving as a small group leader and discipleship mentor. In addition, Natalie was a teacher’s assistant for American Sign Language (ASL) courses and closely worked with ASL students and Brian Leffler, lecturer in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. This experience, as well as her involvement with her sorority and campus ministry, gave her a passion for mentorship that she carries with her to this day.
“My biggest advice to current UGA students is to find a mentor,” Natalie states. “Finding people to ask for advice who had similar career goals to me was something that I really valued in college. I don’t think I would have the experience that I do now without that.”
Donors who create Georgia Commitment Scholarships like Natalie’s have the opportunity to provide direct mentorship to the student receiving the scholarship. Natalie remains connected to her donor, Samuel Holmes, and the team of UGA staff who operate the GCS program. “The fact that the team still checks on me shows how much they care about the students going through this program,” said Natalie.
During her time as a student, Natalie worked as an intern with a public relations agency she was connected to through the GCS program. Her experiences in that internship helped her to land a position with her current employer, Marketwake, a leading digital marketing agency and 2023 Bulldog 100 honoree based in Atlanta. After finishing the junior associate program, which places great emphasis on mentorship and training, Natalie was offered a full-time role with the company as a technical project manager and traffic manager.
“Being part of the GCS program was essential to my growth as a student and a professional,” she states. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”