Saucehouse owner Christopher Belk talks Bulldog 100 and BBQ

This post was contributed by Emily Clary, graduate student and talent management intern for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing overalls or a suit; everyone loves barbecue.” This is a guiding philosophy for Christopher Belk (AB ’05, MBA ’13), the owner of Saucehouse BBQ–the No. 1 2018 Bulldog 100 business.

“Bulldog 100 is giving us the publicity and recognition in a market where it’s hard to be recognized,” says Belk. “I am so thankful and so grateful.”

A North Carolina native, Belk grew up loving barbecue. He attended UGA for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and later an MBA. Belk created the business plan for Saucehouse BBQ in one of his MBA classes, and because of his love for the University of Georgia, opened the first Saucehouse BBQ restaurant in Athens. Christopher’s original vision was to be a “fast casual” restaurant, but Saucehouse BBQ has expanded into catering and become a destination for watching UGA football games.

Belk is extremely proud of the recognition Saucehouse BBQ has been given through Bulldog 100 and looks forward to the growth of the company into Atlanta and other areas. We caught up with him on a busy afternoon between catering gigs.

Christopher Belk Saucehouse

 

On the benefits of a UGA education

“[My education] rounded me out and gave me the confidence to know that I had a good shot at starting a business. It really is so amazing to know that UGA really does support its alumni. When I started my business in Athens, the school was really great about supporting me.”

On going with the flow

“What I ended up doing was a lot different than what I set out to do. I originally was just going to open a restaurant, but now we’re one of the largest caterers in Athens and growing our catering business in Atlanta. Being flexible and willing to change the business plan and model has been the most important thing.”

On being recognized by Bulldog 100

“I couldn’t believe it! I had never been to Bulldog 100 and I didn’t know they were going to count down people in order. I kept saying to myself, “No way!” Everyone around me started getting excited. It was probably the most surprised and honored moment I’ve ever had… The best thing so far has been the free publicity. We are a small business and we’re investing every bit of profit into our growth. We are in Atlanta now growing our catering business and no one knows about us. We’re out there every day on the streets with sales people to let people know that we exist. [Bulldog 100] could not have happened at a better moment in time.”

On staying positive

“I’m a big believer that a big part of success is being positive. [Bulldog 100] puts you in a room of other positive, successful people. It doesn’t matter if you’re number one or number 100, everyone is proud to be part of it. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be a part of this.”

Nominations for the 2019 Bulldog 100 are open through May 31, 2018.

Maritza McClendon reflects on the Olympics, fast cars and 40 Under 40

This post was contributed by Emily Clary, graduate student and talent management intern for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

Maritza McClendon (BS ’05) originally took up swimming as a way to alleviate the effects of her scoliosis, but it quickly became her passion. She began competing in her home state of Florida and eventually secured a spot on the UGA swim team. In 2004, Maritza became the first African American woman to be a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team. Her 400-meter freestyle relay team earned a silver medal at the Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

McClendon swam her last race at the USA Nationals in 2007 before she retired. Afterward, she took a marketing position at Nike, which had previously been her sponsor. She is now the Senior Brand Marketing Manager at OshKosh B’Gosh in Atlanta. She is also a motivational speaker and volunteers with Swim 1922, an organization that offers swim lessons to children of color around the country.

 

“Seventy percent of African Americans didn’t know how to swim,” McClendon said. “I felt that it was a mission that I wanted to take on… to change that statistic through access to pools, swim lessons and clinics. It’s more than just being able to swim up and down the pool, it’s about being able to save your life.”

Maritza’s dedication to the University of Georgia has not dwindled since her days on the swim team. This summer, she will speak as part of a new Women of UGA initiative called Mentorship Mondays. Learn more about this 2017 40 Under 40 honoree below.

On her fondest memory at Georgia

“After we won NCAA’s, we were invited to be on the 50 yard line at the next UGA football game and we were recognized for winning our national championship. I still have all the pictures from that weekend. It was so amazing to be “Between the Hedges” with all the fans cheering. Nothing beats a Georgia football game day. It was an experience I’ll never forget.”

On making history

“There is an element of pressure for every athlete, especially when it comes to making the Olympic Team, but for me it was really about focusing on all the hard work I had done previous to that event, and putting all of that hard work into action.”

On being named 40 Under 40

“It’s kind of like winning an Olympic medal! I’m extremely honored. One of the coolest things about college is when you graduate, you have something that most other people can’t really understand because they didn’t have your college experiences. To be recognized by my school for the things that I’m continuing to do beyond my school career is amazing. I think it’s fantastic that UGA has this program and that they continue to keep track of their alumni and celebrate their wins.”

On giving back

“When I received the 40 Under 40 recognition, I was approached by Women of UGA to be one of the speakers in the Mentorship Monday series. I want to make sure that I’m giving back as much to UGA as they gave me and that I’m encouraging the next class. I think it’s really important that we’re connecting… Growing up, I didn’t take advantage of all the mentorship opportunities I could have. I want to make sure that I am able offer that for other people, because I know there is value in it. I want to give back to the communities that have offered so much for me. We’re networking and offering advice, but we’re also handing the baton to the next class and reminding them to pay it forward.”

Maritza, right, and others at the 2017 40 Under 40 Celebration.

On living life in the fast lane

“I’m a huge Fast and Furious fan! My first paycheck went to my first car (a Nissan 350Z). Over the years I started to soup it up: I put in a twin turbo kit, gages, I had a spoiler on the back… I’ve always loved speed, hence I’m a 50 freestyler, so I used to take it to the track in Braselton, put on my helmet and race it down quarter mile runs. I did the whole Fast and Furious thing, I loved the thrill. I don’t race anymore because I’m a mom and I’m trying to be responsible, but put a fast car in front of me and I’ll take it for a spin.”

Celia Dixon proves there is no graduation date for giving back

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.

Celia Dixon

Celia and her daughter, Hope.

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.

Senior Signature

Warnell dedicates classroom, center to honor alumnus Langdale

This article was originally published on UGA Today on March 7, 2018.

Gift from Langdale’s estate and foundation expanded education, research efforts

The University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources dedicated a classroom and its Center for Forest Business after prominent alumnus Harley Langdale Jr. on March 6.

Langdale, who graduated from UGA in 1937, died in 2013. Gifts from his estate and the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation totaling $3.6 million allowed the Center for Forest Business to expand its education efforts and research, as well as its service to the forest industry and private landowners. The center has been renamed the Harley Langdale Jr. Center for Forest Business.

“Harley Langdale Jr. was the consummate entrepreneur,” said Bob Izlar, director of the center. “When he encountered obstacles, he found innovative ways around them, whether it was brow beating the chairman of the regents, reforming national banking laws, helping enact capital gains tax treatment of timber, or creating new and sustainable markets for economic development of forestland. His life was a model for all Georgia. We are humbled by the legacy he has imparted to us.”

Langdale’s family, the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation, Warnell faculty, and UGA President Jere W. Morehead attended the dedication on Tuesday.

In addition to the classroom and center, he will also be recognized with a named professorship, the Harley Langdale Jr. Endowed Chair in Forest Business.

Langdale graduated from what was then the George Foster Peabody School of Forestry in 1937, and over the next few decades he became one of the foremost pioneers in Georgia’s forest industry. As one of the first foresters to make the move from producing turpentine to planting trees for harvest, Langdale’s vision and passion ushered in an era of tree farming and sustainability.

Five University of Georgia alumni to be recognized for civic service

WriterEmily Webb

This story was originally published by UGA Today on November 6, 2017.

Five University of Georgia alumni will be honored November 17 at the university’s Tucker Dorsey Blue Key Alumni Awards Banquet.

The event will take place at Mahler Hall in the UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel. The 6:30 p.m. reception will be followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Attorney C. Randall Nuckolls, hospital association executive Susan C. Waltman and UGA administrator Victor K. Wilson will receive the Blue Key Service Award. Honors Program director David S. Williams will receive the Blue Key Faculty Service Award. Physician Matthew T. Crim, who also is a faculty member with the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership, will be presented with the Blue Key Young Alumnus Award.

Recipients of the AT&T Student Leadership Award, the Richard B. Russell Student Leadership Award and the Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship will be announced during the banquet. The 2017-2018 Blue Key initiates also will be recognized.

The Blue Key Honor Society is a national organization whose members are committed to leadership in student life, high scholastic achievement, service to others and citizenship. Established in 1924 at the University of Florida, the organization’s second chapter was established at UGA in 1926.

The award recipients are:

Randall Nuckolls

Nuckolls is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Dentons US LLP. He previously served as chief counsel and legislative director for U.S. Sens. Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn. Since leaving Capitol Hill, Nuckolls has served as Washington counsel for the University of Georgia, assisting with federal government relations initiatives and building relationships with Congress and the executive branch.

Nuckolls has helped devise strategies to bring infrastructure dollars to UGA for buildings, secure research funding from various federal agencies and transfer federal properties. He also helped to advance President Jere W. Morehead’s priorities of establishing UGA’s Honors in Washington and Washington Semester programs, as well as UGA’s residential facility, Delta Hall.

Nuckolls is a member and past chair of the Society of International Business Fellows and a member of Leadership Georgia. He currently serves on the board of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the Georgia 4-H Foundation, Wesley Theological Seminary and the Georgia State Society of Washington, D.C. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities recently presented him its Outstanding Achievement Award for his contributions in counseling the higher education community on federal ethics law.

Nuckolls received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1974 and his Juris Doctor from the UGA School of Law in 1977. An active alumnus, he has served as president of the Law School Association and on the advisory board of the Honors Program. He currently is a member of the Board of Visitors for the School of Public and International Affairs. He is a past recipient of CAES’ Alumni Award of Excellence, the J.W. Fanning Distinguished Professional Award from the college’s agricultural economics department and the Georgia 4-H Green Jacket Award. In 1987, he received the Blue Key Young Alumnus Award.

Susan Waltman

Waltman is the executive vice president for legal, regulatory and professional affairs and general counsel for the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents the interests of 150 hospitals and health care systems across the New York region. Prior to joining GNYHA in 1987, she was general counsel for the Medical College of Pennsylvania as well as an associate in the Philadelphia office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

Waltman serves on the boards of the UGA Foundation and the UGA Research Foundation. In addition, she is a committee member for the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign to raise $1.2 billion.

A volunteer ambassador for UGA in the New York area, Waltman shares her insights about UGA’s commitment to excellence with fellow alumni. She also has served on the advisory boards of the university’s Honors Program and College of Public Health, where she has helped support internships, scholarships and public health outreach. She hosts UGA interns at GNYHA each summer.

Waltman graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1973 and a master’s degree in social work in 1975. She earned her Juris Doctor from Columbia University Law School in 1977.

Victor Wilson

Prior to his appointment as vice president for student affairs at UGA in 2013, Wilson served for nine years as executive vice president for student affairs at the College of Charleston. He previously was assistant to the president and associate vice president for student affairs at UGA. In addition, he held student affairs leadership positions at Agnes Scott College and Northern Arizona University. He began his career in higher education at UGA in 1983 as director of orientation and assistant director of admissions.

Wilson has written numerous articles and given presentations on issues of race, ethics, crisis management, student life and staff development in higher education. He has held leadership roles in several national organizations, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Orientation Directors Association and Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education. He also serves on the national board of directors for Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the local board of directors for the St. Mary’s Healthcare System.

Wilson currently oversees a Student Affairs division of 18 departments and more than 600 staff members dedicated to enriching student learning and supporting student development and growth. He currently co-chairs the President’s Task Force on Student Learning and Success, which is charged with identifying opportunities to enhance the educational experience for UGA students, both inside and outside the classroom. Wilson earned his bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s degree in education from the University of Georgia in 1982 and 1987, respectively.

David Williams

Williams has served since 2004 as associate provost and director of the Honors Program, where he holds the Jere W. Morehead Distinguished Professorship. The first director also to be an alumnus of the UGA Honors Program, Williams earned an undergraduate degree as well as a master’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1979 and 1982, respectively. After receiving his doctorate and teaching at universities in Ohio, he returned to his alma mater as a faculty member in the religion department in 1989. He became department head in 2002.

Williams has published widely in the fields of biblical, Jewish and religious studies, including three books, numerous journal articles and other publications. He has received several awards and honors related to teaching at UGA, including the Richard B. Russell Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Sandy Beaver Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship. He also holds the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, UGA’s highest honor for teaching excellence.

Williams serves as UGA’s faculty representative for nationally competitive fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, Truman and Udall scholarships. He also oversees the student Fulbright scholarship process for UGA. Since he began serving in this capacity, nearly 250 students have been selected for these and other prestigious awards.

Matthew Crim

Crim is a cardiologist for the Piedmont Heart Institute and an assistant professor of medicine with the AU/UGA Medical Partnership. In addition to his clinical practice and teaching responsibilities, he is engaged with the development of health policy through research and administrative activities at the local and national levels, with a focus on value-based payment reforms and patient outcomes.

Crim earned a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia in 2005. A Foundation Fellow, he became the first UGA student to win both a Truman Scholarship and Marshall Scholarship.

He used the Truman Scholarship to pursue his interest in health policy. Through the support of the Marshall Scholarship, he completed a master’s degree in health policy, planning and financing offered jointly by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as a master’s degree in medical ethics and law from King’s College London.

He earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2011 and completed internal medicine residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital followed by a cardiovascular disease fellowship at Emory University.

No business like show business

This feature was originally published in the March issue of Georgia Magazine.

Emily Hammond Cook’s (AB ’07) journey into the New York theater scene sounds familiar at first. After graduating from UGA, she moved to the Big Apple with no job or apartment—just big dreams and ambition. Cook’s interests, however, were not performing on the stage and under the bright lights, but working behind the scenes.

Since then, Cook has carved out a role off-Broadway in the management side of nonprofit theatre, helping make the art form accessible to the general public. In that capacity, she played a supporting role in the developing stages of the smash-hit musical “Hamilton.”

Cook majored in theater at UGA, while also taking business classes.

“I love UGA and am so deeply grateful to it for all the ways in which it shaped and molded me into who I am today,” said Emily. “Those four years in Athens were the most formative years of my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for UGA and the experiences and relationships formed there.”

Emily now donates to the UGA Department of Theatre and Film Studies in recognition of the lasting impact it has had on her career. She hopes her gifts will help ensure the support the department deserves and will inspire others to acknowledge the need for funding.

As president of the NYC Dawgs Alumni Chapter and a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2015, Emily remains deeply connected with her alma mater and encourages alumni in New York City to connect with their fellow Bulldogs.

After graduation, Cook landed an internship in the casting department at the Manhattan Theatre Club, an acclaimed Broadway nonprofit theater company. “I loved being in on the audition process and seeing how new shows are developed,” she says. “It was a huge learning experience in how nonprofit theaters are run.” After the internship, Cook worked as an assistant to the executive producer of the company, Barry Grove, who became a mentor and, as she says, provided a “master class in theater producing.”

From there, Cook took a job in general management at the Public Theater, a premier off-Broadway nonprofit, where she works on budgets, contracts, and union matters. By chance, she took a role as the co-company manager of a new musical in development. Her job was to serve as a caretaker of the cast, “doing everything to keep them healthy and happy.” That production was “Hamilton.”

“We knew the show was special and were confident it was going to be a hit, but we had no way of predicting the cultural phenomenon it has become,” Cook says. The show earned stellar reviews and played to capacity houses full of celebrities at the Public Theatre before moving to Broadway.
“It was a life-changing experience getting to be a part of the revolution that is ‘Hamilton.’”

Show business goes on for Cook, who now serves as the general management planning and programs manager at the Public Theatre, which produces 10 to 15 shows a year and presents the renowned Shakespeare in the Park, which has offered free productions in Central Park for over 50 years.

Cook says her philosophy about theater aligns with the Public’s ethos: “Theater shouldn’t be an elitist art form; it should be accessible to all, created by all, and should share the stories of all walks of life.”

Know an outstanding young alumnus like Emily Hammond Cook? Nominations are open for the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017 are open until April 7!

Bulldog in the Big Apple: Josh Johns (AB ’11)

Through a combination of his serious dedication and the immense support from his professors at UGA, Josh Johns (AB ’11) is living out his dream. After landing a highly sought-after editorial internship with Marvel Comics while in college and going on to become the director of digital media for comics company Valiant in Manhattan, Josh has seen his hard work pay off starting from his UGA days to today.

Early on, Johns realized he wanted to get into the comic book industry. He knew UGA would be a place where he could grow his abilities and was proved right through his positive experiences as an English major in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The constant support from his professors led directly to a valuable internship and propelled him into career success post-college. Now, Johns lives in New York and cheers on the Dawgs from a UGA-themed bar that gives him a slice of Athens in the big city. In a conversation with Johns, he shares his story and dishes out meaningful advice for current students.

Josh Johns (AB '11)

Josh Johns (AB ’11)

Where are you from?

I’m from Ithaca, New York, but I went to high school in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia?

I had friends who had really positive experiences there, which made me interested in UGA. Once I got there, Franklin College was a place that—being someone who wanted to get into niche industries—helped you get where you needed to go. I had professors like Christopher Pizzino who were extremely helpful throughout my experience. Their guidance led me to get the Marvel editorial internship and I spent entire summer working there. Franklin is a very forward-thinking college and I knew that would be beneficial to me.

What was your favorite class at Georgia?

Again, Christopher Pizzino was a big influence and he taught a class I took called Graphic Novels of Alan Moore, which I loved. The works of Scott McCloud, Robert Mckee, Joseph Campbell, and Frank Miller also had an incredible amount of impact on my education in comic books.

Where do you work and what do you do?

I work at Valiant Comics in New York City. I was promoted to director of digital media and development there after working for our Editorial and Digital Sales departments. I am tasked with developing Valiant’s slate of live action and animated digital exclusive projects  in addition to a number of special publishing projects. I am lucky enough to have been with the company since our launch in 2012, joining the team right after my time at Marvel. 

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Follow your dreams wherever they’re going to take you—whether it as far as New York or farther. Spend your time at Georgia looking for internships because a quality one will directly lead to employment. Push yourself. I was denied from the Marvel internship twice but kept trying. Trust your professors as they try to guide you. Reach out to the alumni inside the areas that you want to work with and figure out how to get in contact with them—they will earnestly try to help you. Be open to their advice and counsel and you will find yourself working where you want to work. We have an incredible alumni network that is a great resource.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

Our game watching parties truly speak to the success of the chapter. We all go the bar American Whiskey for a totally authentic experience of game day in Athens. Every TV is on the Georgia game and the staff there is awesome. If you’re not going to be at Sanford, you should be at this bar.

Also, we host a yearly meet up for recent graduates. This year we got 175 grads all coming to Brooklyn to do a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery. They are always so excited because they just moved to this new city and just getting to hang out with them is great.

What is your favorite thing to do in your current city?

Me and my girlfriend are big theater fans so I always really enjoy a Broadway show. I’m also a big sports fan so you can find me at Knicks and Rangers games. Having a Georgia-friendly bar with UGA basketball and baseball always playing really makes it a home away from home.

Describe Athens in three words.

Coming back soon!

Is there anything else that you would like for me to know?

I hope to be a resource for current students interested in comics. I’ve hired 3 interns out of UGA and I’m passionate about doing so. Students looking to go into the field are always welcome to reach out at joshjohns112@gmail.com.

This blog was written by Nellie Pavluscenco ’18, intern for DAR Communications. 

Meet Heather Ward, Boston Chapter President

Did you know that with the help of volunteers, the UGA Alumni Association operates more than 50 alumni chapters across the country? These chapters help alumni maintain their personal connection to the university and help connect alumni to one another. The Boston Chapter is led by Heather Ward, a 2005 Franklin College of Arts and Sciences graduate. The UGA Alumni Association recently sat down with Heather to learn more about her and her time at the University of Georgia.

When did you graduate from UGA and what are you up to now?

I graduated in May 2005. In July 2005, I moved to Boston to attend law school and have been practicing law in Massachusetts since 2008. In 2011, I started my own law practice in Boston handling family and housing law litigation. Working for yourself is truly outstanding.

Heather recently represented the UGA Alumni Association at inauguration of Brandeis University's newest president.

Heather recently represented the UGA Alumni Association at inauguration of Brandeis University’s newest president.

How did you become involved in your local chapter?

I have been attending local chapter events since I moved to Boston. Shortly after graduating law school, I joined our chapter leadership team. For the past several years, I have served as the chapter’s president.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

This is a tough question. The Boston Chapter stays quite active, and we have had numerous events over the years that have been exceptionally well-received, including Summer Freshmen Send-Off picnics and Winter Holiday Parties. Most recently, I would say it was a dinner we held with a local 40 Under 40 honoree. This event was named the 2015 Alumni Event of  the Year by the UGA Alumni Association.

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?

On a personal level, it has been rewarding to meet and socialize with so many other alumni, to learn about what they are doing professionally and how they are contributing to the city I love so much.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at UGA?

The most important lesson learned was to say “yes” to the opportunities that come your way. A friend offers you a chance to go on a fun road trip? Say yes. You get the opportunity to study abroad? Say yes. Someone suggests you get involved in student government? Say yes. You get the idea!

Boston Chapter Happy Hour

Boston Chapter Happy Hour

If there is any advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?

Embrace the differences you have with your fellow students – don’t shy away from them. You are going to meet dozens, perhaps hundreds of people from a different background than that in which you come from. Embrace the differences, educate one another about them, and learn from them.

The University of Georgia is committed to inspiring future leaders and solving the world’s grand challenges. What is YOUR commitment?

I’m committed to spreading UGA’s mission throughout the Boston and New England area. When my time is up as Boston Chapter president, I will continue to stay involved with the Bulldog community here and help foster and enhance the relationship between the University of Georgia, its alumni, students and friends in my city.

 

UGA Extension: Bettering the World One Community at a Time

Last month, the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors met for its quarterly meeting and had a chance to hear from Lynwood Blackmon, DeKalb County Extension Coordinator, with the DeKalb Mobile Farmer’s Market. This mobile food market is run through UGA Extension, which helps local communities as part of the university’s mission as a land-grant institution.

In addition to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price, the Mobile Farmer’s Market also educates its customers about healthy eating habits.

So, how did this program get started? 

Officials in DeKalb approached DeKalb Cooperative Extension to discuss the possibility of launching a Mobile Farmer’s Market modeled after the Fulton County Mobile Market (Fulton Fresh). However, the initiative went well beyond the expected result and the market has become an amazing addition to the already established cooperative extension foundation. DeKalb County was able to provide a retired prison bus, which was retrofitted to accommodate this project.  

This program is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative to promote healthy eating and physical activity and help improve health and reduce health disparities for residents in DeKalb County

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What is the program’s mission? 

The mission of the DeKalb Mobile Farmers Market is to provide access to healthy, affordable food. The market makes stops throughout the county bringing fresh regionally grown fruits and and vegetables to low income communities. The Mobile Market accepts EBT (SNAP benefits), credit cards, checks, and cash. The DeKalb Mobile Farmers Market is a program of DeKalb County Extension

The DeK goes to communities without access to grocery stores within a one (1) mile radius and provides an opportunity to learn healthy eating habits and purchase items.

How successful has the program been? 

Year One:

  • More than 10,000 pounds of produce sold
  • Served 8 communities and 2 employee-based locations
  • Served 3,210 non-unique participants

 Year Two:

  • More than 19,000 pounds of produce sold
  • Served 10 communities
  • Served 5,367 non-unique participants

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How can people help out?

“Get on the DeK” – This will allow community members to make one-time or continuous donations to the DeK.  The funds will be used strictly for the programming provided by the DeK in DeKalb County.

Volunteer Opportunities – This would involve assistance during large-scale events in May and September of each year and will launch in 2017. Volunteers will go through a simple screening process and half day of training.

Community Partners – Another 2017 initiative is get people involved by having them bring DeK information to their communities and encourage visits to the market.

For more information or to get involved, please email mobilemarket@dekalbcountyga.gov or visit this website.

Representing the Bulldog Nation in Gamecock Country

It’s a tough job keeping the Bulldog spirit alive and well deep in enemy territory, but that’s exactly what Joe Popkowski (BBA ’05) does as president of the Columbia, South Carolina alumni chapter. Jamie Lewis (AB ’12), recently spent some time getting to know Joe and finding out more about what it is like to wear the red and black in Gamecock country.

Joe Popkowski (BBA '05)

Joe Popkowski (BBA ’05)

When did you graduate from UGA and what are you up to now?

I graduated from Georgia in 2005 with a double major in finance and management. I now own and operate a risk management and insurance business, Livingston Insurance, with my wife in West Columbia, South Carolina.  I moved to South Carolina with my wife in 2012 when the opportunity to run our own business became available and to be closer to my wife’s family. We have an almost 4-year old boy whose favorite football player is Nick Chubb,  and twin 1-year old girls. Columbia is very small-business and family-oriented, so despite being in the middle of Gamecock Country, we are happy here!

How did you become involved with your local chapter?

The Alumni Association hosted a Holiday Happy Hour back in 2015, and I was excited to finally attend an event where the Bulldog fans outnumbered the Gamecock fans, so I offered to help with the event. At the time, there was not an official chapter for the Midlands Area of South Carolina, and I was inspired to start up the chapter and represent Georgia in enemy territory.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

Being a brand new chapter, we have only had a few events, which makes each one a proud moment for me as I begin to see the Bulldog pride emerging in the Midlands of South Carolina. But the one I am most proud of so far is a joint Georgia-Carolina game tailgate that we hosted earlier this season. I coordinated with the surrounding chapters in South Carolina, as well as Charlotte, Augusta, and Savannah. We established good contacts for future events at a local brewery and got to meet several new Georgia graduates in the area. Despite the low attendance due to Hurricane Matthew, it was a successful event!

uga-alumni-night-at-fireflies-game-group-shot

UGA Alumni Night at the Fireflies Game

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?

All businesses are people businesses, so anytime I can meet new people with a connection is a benefit to me and my business. I also really enjoy being able to introduce my kids to fellow alumni who bleed red and black. Living in a town with another SEC team can be tough for a Georgia fan, and this club has given me a chance to introduce my children to the traditions of the University of Georgia and the incredible people who have graduated from the institution.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at UGA?

I believe my experiences both inside and outside the classroom at Georgia gave me a solid foundation on how to succeed in life. The two most important lessons I learned were hard work in the classroom pays off and trying new things keeps you open-minded. I worked hard at my school work, and we all know it takes a lot of personal drive to stay focused on your studies in a town like Athens. But it is possible, and it does pay off in the long-run. Finally, I learned so much by simply trying new activities, meeting new friends, and going to new places. I constantly pushed myself out of my comfort zone after classes were over, and it showed me there was a world beyond my apartment with incredible people that I could learn something from if only I was willing.

If there is any advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?

Work hard and play hard! Learn as much as you can in class, take as many interesting classes as possible, even take the hard classes, just get as much out of the classroom as you possibly can. Boyfriends, girlfriends and friends come and go, but GPA’s are forever.  That’s not to say don’t have fun. Because I believe, play as hard as you can. Enjoy the most unique, fun-filled college town in America. Try the local restaurants, join clubs, and enjoy the evening festivities by the Arch.

The University of Georgia is committed to inspiring future leaders and solving the world’s grand challenges. What is YOUR commitment?

I’m committed to making people the best they can be! I try to give my children the opportunity and support to be the best they can be in whatever path of life they choose. I try to help my employees maximize their potential both during work hours and after. I try to bring positivity and thoughtful guidance to our clients so they can be the best businesses and households possible. I try to help shape my local community by supporting it through my church and other organizations so it can continue to thrive and be the best it can be. Although I drive my wife crazy, I want to be the best I can be to give my family and my community the love and attention they deserve.