Alumni Chapters give back on Dawg Day of Service

On April 8, Alumni Chapters from Nashville to New York hosted community service events as a part of Dawg Day of Service. This initiative encourages Bulldogs all across the world to pay it forward. These events strengthen the connection between the chapters and their communities.

The following chapters hosted events: Jacksonville, Fl. (Humane Society); Dallas-Fort Worth (Habitat for Humanity); Southwest Florida (Bowditch Park); Metro Atlanta (Atlanta Community Toolbank); New York City (Concern Spring Run); Charlotte (Levine Children’s Hospital); Emerald Coast (St. Andrews Park); and Nashville (Nuci’s Space Benefit).

Check out photos from some of the service projects below.

The Charlotte Chapter visited Seacrest Studios to raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital.

 

The Emerald Coast Chapter hosted a beach clean-up at St. Andrews State Park.

 

The New York City Chapter participated in the Concern Spring Run in Central Park, benefiting people living in extreme poverty.

 

The Southwest Florida Chapter hosted a beach clean-up day at Bowditch State Park. The chapter picked up trash, spread mulch and cut down an invasive vine called the coin vine.

 

 

 

Meet NOLA Chapter Leader Mary Lane Carleton (AB ’96)

While attending grad school in New Orleans, Mary Lane Carleton (AB ’96) got involved with her local alumni chapter through football game watching parties. Now, as a historic preservation consultant in New Orleans, she’s an active chapter leader. Mary Lane shared with us her experience hosting UGA students on service trips to the city and the value of friendships she’s made through the New Orleans Chapter.

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

I graduated from UGA in August 1996, finished in three years! That was the summer of the Olympics and we had three events on campus and a week off to accommodate them. Luckily, UGA allowed me to go through graduation in June even though I still had summer quarter to complete.

Today, I am a self-employed historic preservation consultant based in New Orleans, specializing in Historic Tax Credit project applications and National Register of Historic Places nominations.

How did you become involved with your alumni chapter?

When I moved to New Orleans to attend graduate school at Tulane, I looked on the UGA Alumni Association’s website to see if there was a chapter. There was, so I started attending game watching parties. My involvement grew from there and now I’m part of the chapter leadership team! It’s true that part of success is just showing up and being involved.

New Orleans alumni chapter members at a Trash Mob cleaning litter with UGA IMPACT students.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

We host an annual dinner for UGA students visiting New Orleans with the IMPACT (Alternative Spring Break) program where alumni provide a meal and have an opportunity to interact with students and learn about what is happening on campus. We’ve hosted this event for six years now! It’s a rewarding and fun experience every year to see what dynamite students are at UGA. Their willingness to be involved and give their free time while on their spring break is inspiring. We have also started having a “social” with our New Orleans University of Florida Chapter in advance of the big game, and that’s a fun tradition we plan to continue.

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?

Being a part of my local chapter has produced a lot of friendships with fellow Dawgs I would not have met otherwise in my daily life. The friendships are definitely my most valued aspect of being involved and being a chapter leader. It’s also helped me hone my leadership and organizational skills.

Mary Lane with fellow alumna Valentina Williams (PHARMD ’12) at Mardi Gras.

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

I think the most valuable lesson I learned, and understood while at UGA (versus in hindsight) was to get to know your professors and/or advisors.  I got to know my Franklin College advisor well, and used to go visit her even after I moved to the Political Science Department. She helped me out of a schedule jam one time and it was absolutely because I had gotten to know her on a personal level.

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

My advice to current students would be the same answer as in the above question, as well as be flexible. College (and life) will not always go your way, be able to adapt, change your schedule, or take a class that might be outside of your area of study. Meet as many people as you can, both students and professors/advisors/professionals in your chosen field. Take time to appreciate UGA life in the moment, it goes by so fast! Take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to you because it may lead you to your next important step in life.

This post was written by Kendall Little ’17, intern for DAR Communications.

Meet alumna Shannon Hanby (BS ’10, MPH ’12)

As a young alumna new to Texas, Shannon Hanby connected with the local Austin alumni chapter and was pleased to find a little bit of Athens in Austin. Today, Shannon is president of the Austin Chapter.

When did you graduate from UGA and what are you up to now?
I graduated from undergrad in 2010 and grad school in 2012. I now work at the University of Texas at Austin in University Health Services as a health promotion coordinator. It seems I refuse to ever leave college!

Shannon Hanby (BS ’10, MPH ’12)

How did you become involved in your local chapter?
I became involved the day after I moved to Austin! I moved from a small village in central New York, and I terribly missed having UGA friends. The day after I arrived in Austin, the chapter was meeting for brunch, and I showed up! I went to every game viewing party (except one when I was out of town), and loved every second. I became friends with the president at the time, Katie Postich (BSED ’10, BBA ’10), and when she moved back to Georgia, I volunteered to take over for her.

What chapter event are you most proud of?
This is a hard one! I’m most proud of any event that encourages people who are new to Austin to attend. Each event and viewing party that we have had includes people who have just moved to Austin. It provides a little community and a taste of home as people are getting settled in Austin.

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?
I have made some of my closest friends from being involved in the chapter. I never knew any of the people in college, and yet, we share so much history and love for the university! It also helps me to not feel so homesick. There is nothing better than sharing a Georgia win with your friends, and it makes the losses a little easier.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at UGA?
I learned to not give up on myself. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, so I went through many phases while I was in school (including a very short, very difficult biology major phase… yikes!). I had a really great and inspiring academic advisor in Dr. Katie Darby Hein, and she encouraged me to continue in the field of public health. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never known about public health or what I could do in the field.

If there is any advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?
Take advantage of every opportunity you are given in college. From joining lots of organizations to studying abroad to internships and volunteering… do it. The people you will meet will be friends and mentors for forever. (The higher education/public health side of me also encourages taking care of yourself! Get sleep! Don’t forget to eat!)

The University of Georgia is committed to inspiring future leaders and solving the world’s grand challenges. What is YOUR commitment?
My commitment is to continue trying to solve public health problems. I promise to continue to look at the world and try to find ways to make people healthier and happier.

Want to connect with your local chapter? Check out the complete list now at alumni.uga.edu/chapters!

Karisa Strickland cheers with the Richmond Dawgs

Written by Nellie Pavluscenco

When asked how she would describe her alma mater in three words, Karisa Strickland (BSED ’04) is quick to sum it up: “Best. Years. Ever!” As president of the Richmond Chapter, Strickland has found a way to bring her love for Georgia along with her wherever she may be.

Richmond Karisa Strickland (2)

Karisa Strickland (BSED ’04)

She has always been extremely enthusiastic about football and all things Georgia. When Strickland moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2008, she realized she didn’t have anyone around her to share that passion, so she looked to the UGA Alumni Association to connect with fellow Bulldogs.

“I was looking to have a bright spot of red in a sea of orange,” Strickland said.

She had a great experience being a part of the Knoxville Chapter, so after her move to Richmond, Virginia for a job with Capital One, she immediately got involved with the local chapter, and went on to become its president. Strickland has always taken a leadership role in whatever she got her hands on, and this proved no different.

One of their standout successes includes a Richmond Dawgs tailgate they put on last year the Saturday before football season started. Alumni and football fans got together in a local park to tailgate and brought back some old memories of student life. They parked an RV in the park, the chapter provided food and UGA fans kicked off the season.

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An RVA Dawgs Chapter event

Strickland credits her time at UGA for giving her the foundation she needed to be able to apply her skills in a variety of ways, which allowed her to be flexible in the job market. She was a mathematics education major, and despite trading the classroom for the boardroom, she still remembers how her time at Georgia helped her to get to where she is today.

“I really enjoyed a geometry class that we took,” Strickland said. “I think what I enjoyed so much was seeing how technology can be used in the classroom, and obviously that has blown up since then. That was the first time I could really see how technology could make a huge difference.”

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With fellow chapter leaders at the Alumni Leadership Assembly in Athens

Her biggest piece of advice for students and recent graduates is to not worry so much about majors, but rather to use this time to get a wealth of knowledge that will help students beyond the four years of college.

“You won’t necessarily end up in your major, and that’s okay,” she said. “College really just prepares you for the real world, and the most important part of being in college is getting a well-balanced education, rather than preparing you for a job. My job didn’t exist when I was in college. I couldn’t have taken a course to be where I am now, but I am absolutely doing the right thing for me.”

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

Todd Rose (BBA ’96) makes a splash with Bulldogs in the Queen City

When Todd Rose graduated from UGA, he packed his bags and headed to Salamanca, Spain. The International Business major and Spanish minor, enjoyed the Spanish classes he had taken throughout college, so when an opportunity to study in Spain presented itself, he jumped. His time there would prove to be full of adventure, but it wasn’t the first adventure. The Poughkeepsie, NY native’s father moved the family to Charlotte when he was in high school, and when it was time to choose a college, he selected a school that he admits he did not know much about. Looking back, he knows that taking a chance on Georgia was worth it, because of all of the “dynamic, diverse, engaging individuals” that he encountered on campus. Today, as president of the UGA Alumni Association’s Charlotte chapter, he helps to create fun and meaningful experiences for fellow Bulldogs.

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What made you choose to go to school at the University of Georgia?

I didn’t know much about the university until someone I went to high school told me about it. My first day on campus was the day that Tennessee defeated Georgia in this crazy game in 1992. I was unprepared for the level of emotion that the campus put into a football game– it was as if they lost a major war. That was very informative as to what kind of emotional roller coaster football would bring. I was also in awe of the beauty of the campus and the people on it. One of my favorite things to do was going to The Grill downtown– it embodied an interesting mix of people.

What are you up to now?

I’m a financial adviser with my own firm called Blakeney Financial Group. I handle investments, retirement planning and walk my clients through their financial reality and future. We have a team of six advisers that work together. I do international visitor liaison work with the State Department, so my Spanish and international business background definitely comes in handy. I had an affinity for Spanish and learning languages, and I have used it in every job since graduating. I have Spanish-speaking clients now. The two jobs are totally different, but they’re complementary.

How did you get involved with the UGA Alumni Association?

It was quite a while before I got involved with the Alumni Association. After graduation I went to a program through Augusta State University in Salamanca, Spain, and after coming back from Spain, I moved around a bit. I lived in California, I traveled with a theater company. I came back in Charlotte in 2006, and that was when I decided to get involved with the Alumni Association. There was a need for people to put in time and energy in terms of giving alumni a positive experience outside of Athens, and I really liked the people. I thought it was a good way to be involved with UGA in a way that I didn’t know about before.

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What event with the Charlotte chapter are you most proud of?

I became the chairman of the SEC Alumni Bash for Charity. It’s where all of the local SEC alumni get together to kick off football season, and I helped get it into its current format. We’ve raised a lot of money for charity and generated goodwill among the community in Charlotte. We do it every August and over the past few years, the Charlotte UGA alumni have raised more money than the other SEC schools for Ronald McDonald House Charities three years in a row.

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

Take time to really decide what you want from life. I think it’s important to be aware of how you’re changing and what your view on the world is upon leaving college. Now that you’re out of school it’s the first time in your life that you don’t have set guidelines for what comes next. Take time to enjoy what’s around and you, and see what you want to do and where you want to go. Be open and look for lessons to present themselves to you.

Interview with Linda Fernekes (BS ’05), Chapter President of the Colorado Chapter

Between being a surgical physician’s assistant and the Colorado Chapter president, Linda Fernekes (BS ’05) has a lot of responsibilities. Emily Middleton ’18, digital communications intern, recently interviewed Fernekes to learn more about her experience with the Colorado Chapter.

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What made you want to become a chapter leader?

When I first moved to Denver, I knew very few people in the area. I connected with the Colorado Dawgs to meet people, make friends, and grow my network in Denver. We are a strong community and support one another even outside of the alumni events. I wanted to become chapter leader to continue to grow the group and strengthen the camaraderie.

Why do you feel like it is important to stay connected to your alma mater after graduation?

The UGA community has so much to offer after graduation. Staying connected with your alma mater, especially with living across the country, allows you to meet many people with whom you share a common bond. That bond helps to foster relationships both socially and professionally.

Linda Fernekes

How do you create a sense of unity inside your chapter with other UGA alumni in your city?

Our chapter creates a sense of unity by gathering often. We hold many events that appeal to different tastes. Many of our grads frequently get together outside of our larger events and partake in the many outdoor activities and events Colorado has to offer. In addition, our chapter engages heavily with each other through social media.

What is your favorite event your chapter has planned?

My favorite event is Ski Day. We get together with the other SEC alumni chapters in the area at Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort for a day of tailgating, grilling, and skiing.

Linda Fernekes

What is your favorite UGA memory as a student?

My favorite memory is studying abroad in Innsbruck, Austria during the summer of 2004. It was such a great opportunity to experience the culture of another country.

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

Do not ever think it’s too late or you’re too old to start over or try something new. Always strive to learn and grow. Your education should not end with graduation.

Want to find an alumni chapter near you? Click here.

Catching up with D.C. Dawgs president Maeve Szambelan (ABJ ’11)

While Maeve Szambelan (Connolly) was studying telecommunications at UGA, the most valuable lesson she learned was not about writing scripts or editing videos– it was about success. The Sandy Springs native attended Marist High School, and came to UGA with dreams of becoming a broadcast news anchor. But, toward the end of college, she realized that the passion for service that she developed through involvement with her sorority was pulling her in a different direction. Instead of resisting, she followed that urge, and today she works in Washington D.C. helping higher education institutions secure federal funding for scholarships and other initiatives. The lesson she learned– “You’re ultimately in charge of shaping your own future. Be proactive, be determined and get involved.”

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Describe UGA in three words. 

Community, football and excellence.

What was your most memorable college experience?

In general, it was the opportunity to be involved in leadership positions. I was president of Phi Mu and president of the Panhellenic Council. My UGA experience was the most memorable four years of my life. My husband also went to Georgia, and when I got married on July 30, we got married in Athens. We wanted to show our family and friends our favorite place.

What are you up to now?

I am the managing director at McAllister & Quinn, a government relations consulting firm in Washington D.C. that helps colleges and universities secure federal funding for a variety of scholarships, research projects and programming. I recently worked with a college to apply for, and secure, a $2 million grant through the Department of Education that will be used to implement a five-year plan to strengthen the institution, with a focus on improving retention of at-risk students.

What is your favorite thing to do in D.C.?

I feel like I should say something related to politics or history, but in my spare time I like to explore new restaurants. New neighborhoods are popping up all over D.C., and Bon Appetit named D.C. “Restaurant City of the Year.” I also love walking past the White House on my way to work everyday, and exploring the city on foot.

How did you get involved with your local chapter? 

I started meeting up with other grads to watch football games and then I started asking how I could get involved. I started small with philanthropic events, and then eventually stepped into my current role as president. There are so many grads here that I didn’t know when I went to Georgia.

The D.C. Chapter leadership attended the annual Alumni Leadership Assembly in Athens last spring.

The D.C. Chapter leadership attended the annual Alumni Leadership Assembly in Athens last spring.

What is your favorite event that you have done with the D.C. chapter?

That’s a hard one. I would probably say an event that we did with the Terry grads called Bowling with Veterans. We did it at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. About 30 people came, and it was really fun. We got to spend time with older veterans. It was a great day, a lot of fun and a nice way to feel like we were making an impact.

What advice would you give to recent graduates?

Everything happens for a reason. Do your best. Show up and try hard. Have a strong work ethic and produce solid work product, and things will happen for you in your career. I didn’t know that I would end up where I am– I showed up as an intern. The grunt work pays off in the end.

Interview with Kramer Johnson (BBA ’08), digital experience at Chick-fil-A

Have you used the new Chick-fil-A One app? If so, you’re using something that was created by a team of Georgia Bulldogs. Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12), digital specialist, recently interviewed Kramer Johnson, a 2008 Terry College of Business graduate and senior consultant for digital experience at Chick-fil-A in Atlanta.

Tell me about your time at UGA. 

I studied International Business, and I grew most during my time in the Institute for Leadership Advancement. My few classes and thirty classmates in ILA helped shape who I am today. Outside of the classroom, I loved enjoying Athens with people. There was always another place to visit – or another person to meet.

What was your path to working at Chick-fil-A? 

After starting my career in management consulting at EY, a friend from UGA recruited me to Chick-fil-A. I “learned this business” during three years of consulting Chick-fil-A operators on their local marketing plans. In 2013, UGA graduates David Salyers (BBA ’81) and Michael Lage (BBA ’05) shared a big vision for how we might reinvent the Chick-fil-A guest experience through mobile. I didn’t know much about mobile technology, but I knew this was going to be something special. Thankfully, they invited me to bring my in-house experience to the project.

How did your time at UGA help prepare you for your current career?

My relationships at UGA taught me the things that can’t be learned in a textbook. The community in Terry College and ILA helped me see how business can me be so much more than dollars and cents.

Tell me about the process of creating and launching the Chick-fil-A One app. What was your role in this project and how were other UGA graduates involved?

I lead Membership Engagement for the Chick-fil-A One App. I was lucky enough to design the “treats” element of our app. Giving free food to app users is our way of saying thanks. I’m thrilled to say that UGA grads brought Chick-fil-A One to life in all kinds of ways – Marketing, IT, Operations, Training, Accounting, and more. Bulldog fingerprints are all over it!

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That moment when a largely UGA-designed app hits No. 1 in the App Store

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Chick-fil-A is one of several corporate alumni chapters. Why do you think it’s important to stay involved with your alma mater? What is something you’ve enjoyed about participating with the CFA corporate chapter?

President Morehead inspired our chapter’s motto: Connect, Give, Hire. I’m so grateful to UGA, and this is a small way to help the university thrive. The chapter helps us connect with UGA in deeper ways, give more and focus on hiring UGA grads – some of the best talent around.

 

What is one of your fondest UGA memories?

This one’s easy. I met my beautiful wife, Hayley (BBA ’08), at a table near the tray return at the original Bolton dining hall. We made her friend eat all of her Jell-O in one bite… and the rest is history. We live in Atlanta with our two wonderful daughters.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student entering their senior year this fall, what would it be?

Get up early. Later in life, I learned the magic of getting up early to accomplish the most important task of that day: maybe it was quiet time, exercise, or writing notes to loved ones. I wish someone had taught me this purpose-driven habit when I was at UGA.

Summer Send-Off for Corporate Chapter Interns

As summer comes to an end, UGA student interns will soon head back to Athens equipped with a summer’s worth of experience from a variety of companies and organizations. Two of the UGA Alumni Association Corporate Chapters recently hosted events to honor their UGA student interns before they begin the fall semester. UGA alumni working at The Home Depot (above) and Chick-fil-A headquarters organized networking and panel discussion gatherings to bid farewell to the young adults who dedicated time and talents over the summer.

The UGA Alumni Association would like to extend its gratitude to the following panelists and organizers for making these Corporate Chapter Student Send-Off events a success:

The Home Depot
Panel discussion on Friday, July 22

Moderator: Wes Neece (BBA ’00)
Ryan Zupancic (MBA ’15)
Rob Thomas (BBA ’08, MACC ’09)
Michelle Pyne (BSED ’07, MBA ’11)
Matthew Pitts (BSA ’11)
Andrew Sexton (BBA ’15)
Tommy Ryan (BBA ’96, MED ’98)

Chick-fil-A Intern Send-Off

Chick-fil-A Intern Send-Off

Chick-fil-A
Panel discussion on Monday, July 25

Moderator: Todd Phinney (BBA ’88)
Allison Duncan (BBA ’09)
Amy Ohde (MBA ’02)
Wayne Hoover (ABJ ’83)
Robin Hoover (BSED ’83)

UGA Alumni Association Corporate Chapters foster networking, fellowship and camaraderie among UGA graduates in the workplace. To learn more, please email ugaatl@uga.edu, call (404) 814-8820. If you or your company are interested in hiring UGA students or alumni, please click here to learn more from the UGA Career Center.

Interview with Jenna Thomas (ABJ ‘06)

After learning UGA’s very own Jenna Thomas (ABJ ’06) was a finalist in the Agency PR Professional of the Year category at the 2014 PR News PR People Awards we decided to reach out and ask Jenna how her time at UGA prepared her for a successful career at Nebo and what the future holds for the PR rockstar!

What do you feel like has been your biggest success in the last year?

In the past year, we’ve experienced a lot of growth and success on our digital public relations, social and content team at Nebo. We’ve expanded our team, enhanced our capabilities and have brought on a host of exciting new clients and projects. And, for the first time, we have secured a number of nominations and wins for local and national award recognitions from leading industry organizations.  It’s been so exciting to see our team grow and evolve, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come.

How did your time at UGA help you prepare for the career you have now?

My time at UGA really helped confirm my passion for journalism, public relations and media industries. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications first exposed me to the range of exciting career paths and opportunities available in those fields. I left UGA knowing where my passions and strengths lied. My time at Grady helped put me on a track to pursue what I really wanted to do and taught me that dedication and hard work can set you on a path for success.

What is your favorite UGA tradition?

The Arch is such an iconic symbol for UGA. I was first told during my introductory tour of campus about the long-standing tradition of only passing under the arch after you’ve earned a UGA degree. On my graduation day, it was so amazing to stand in the (very long!) line after the ceremony and get a picture taken in my cap and gown after walking under the arch for the very first time… as a UGA grad.  That, and of course, game days in Athens! It’s so great to get together with other fellow Dawgs on Saturdays during football season wherever you are, but nothing beats game day in Athens.

Where do you think you will be in 5 years?

I’m hoping to further grow and expand our team and really take our PR, social and content capabilities to the next level. Atlanta has been an amazing place to work in PR and digital, and in just the past year, I’ve been really lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of two really amazing local campaigns –Choose ATL– a community driven initiative to brand Atlanta as a digital hub and Build the BeltLine – a grassroots campaign to raise funds to help support the development. I hope that over the next five years, I get the opportunity to continue to help improve my local community and to be a part of campaigns that make a real difference in other causes that I’m passionate about.

What organizations outside of work are you involved with?

I currently serve on the board of the Atlanta Ad Club as the Communications & Public Relations Lead for the 2015 American Advertising Awards – the local tier for the advertising industry’s largest competition. I am also a member of the Atlanta Press Club – comprised of media and PR executives that aims to support the journalism community as well as the American Marketing Association (AMA) Atlanta – an organization composed of public relations, creative, interactive and marketing professionals.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Three words – change the world!

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