A Dawg’s guide to Lexington

The journey to Lexington, Kentucky, is the last road trip of the regular season for the Bulldogs. For some fans, Calling the Dawgs in the Bluegrass State is a new experience, but there’s no need to fret–UGA’s own Lexington Alumni Chapter knows their way around and shared some of their favorite restaurants and classic Kentucky activities.

Dawgs in Lexington frequent restaurants like Josie’s, Drake’s, Malone’s, Winchell’s, and Ramsey’s. If you’re interested in taking a brewery tour, Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. is offering UGA fans 50 percent off tours with the online coupon code 2022GAKYGAME.

Keeneland is a great stop if you want to learn more about the history of racing and Thoroughbred horses in Lexington. The city is the Horse Capital of the World, so there are plenty of farms that offer tours. You can find others on the City of Lexington’s website.

Not making the trip to Lexington and looking to connect with Dawgs in your own area? Find your local UGA alumni chapter and cheer on the Dawgs with fellow alumni at a game-watching party near you.

Alumni collaborate with Bulldog Basics for G-Day tailgate

The Athens Area Alumni Chapter began a new tradition during this year’s G-Day. Before the big game, the chapter organized a tailgate to reconnect with UGA fans and alumni from all over the state.

The chapter held the tailgate at The Intersection at Tate. The chapter provided free food to the attendees from The Flying Biscuit Café, gave away UGA swag and fostered a fun environment where people could enjoy themselves before the scrimmage began.

Bringing in Bulldog Basics

Beyond engaging with their fellow alumni, the Athens chapter wanted to make a positive impact on the Athens and UGA community. They partnered with Bulldog Basics—a nonprofit that provides donated, unused toiletry and personal-care items to UGA students—and hosted an item drive in tandem with their tailgate.

“I know our event was some people’s first exposure to the great work Bulldog Basics does,” said Carrie Campbell (AB ’99, ABJ ’00, MPA ’18), vice president of the Athens chapter and senior public relations specialists with University Housing. “Spreading the message about how they support students was a big part of why [we] wanted to partner with them.”

The chapter encouraged guests to bring supplies or to purchase them ahead of time from Bulldog Basics’ wish lists. With over 130 registrants for the event, the chapter collected around 10 standard-sized moving boxes worth of items—enough to fill a truck! This doesn’t even include the items that were pre-purchased.


Bradley Erbesfield (BSFCS ’07, MSW ’10), one of the co-presidents of the Athens chapter and senior coordinator at UGA’s Disability Resource Center, recalled a special moment that happened within the first hour of the event.

Three alumnae approached him and asked him about the chapter, the item drive and Bulldog Basics. Bradley sat with them and explained the event and the impact it had on students in need.

“I love to see people feel comfortable enough asking us questions and showing interest,” he said. “I could really tell that their hearts came out to help others.”

Looking back

While this marked the first G-Day tailgate the Athens chapter ran, this was not their first time holding an item drive. In December of 2020, the Athens chapter partnered with Bulldog Basics again and hosted a donation drive virtually.

Though this was during the pandemic, the Athens chapter still wanted to find ways to support the UGA community. By hosting an online drive, the chapter was able to work with Bulldog Basics without the need for person-to-person contact.

Those who participated could purchase items from Bulldog Basics’ online wish lists or donate money directly to the organization. No one had to leave their home to take part in the drive.

“We wanted to engage with the community and push forward despite the difficulties,” Bradley explained. “It was tough, but the drive ended up having this great impact.”

Looking ahead

While both saw amazing results, shifting from a virtual item drive to their in-person tailgate allowed for the Athens chapter to physically see the UGA community come together. The amount of people who showed up—lugging heavy items like detergent or shampoo for the drive—exceeded expectations.

“The event mixed fun with engagement and philanthropy. Those are sometimes hard to bring together,” Bradley said.

With two successful donation drives done, the chapter is already looking ahead and hoping to do more with Athens-based organizations moving forward to support UGA students and the Athens community.



Alumni chapter rallies support for local food bank

The Forsyth County Chapter recently hosted a virtual Dawg Day of Service in support of The Place of Forsyth, which provides financial assistance, clothing, food and more to those in need. UGA alumni helped to stock their food pantry in May with emergency supplies during the pandemic. Normally, Dawg Days of Service are in-person events, but instead of waiting until public gatherings can be held again, the chapter decided to re-organize the event using food drop-offs and online orders.

Hear more about the event from Katie Hildreth, UGA Forsyth County Alumni Chapter board member:

Leading up to its day of service in May, Forsyth County Chapter leaders posted regularly on social media to raise awareness for the initiative and emailed local alumni and friends. The work paid off, and on May 16 more than 450 items were donated with another 100 on the way from Amazon, all attributed to 40 Forsyth County alumni who answered the call.

The Place was specifically in need of 100 boxes of Hamburger Helper. Through the chapter’s food drive alone, The Place collected 120 boxes, putting it well ahead of its original goal.

Donated food and a chalk image of Hairy Dawg.

Food on its way to The Place of Forsyth.

May is usually when alumni chapters across the country hold Dawg Days of Service, events that rally alumni to give back to their community. Due to COVID-19, in-person Dawg Day of Service events were postponed. Kudos to Katie and the rest of the Forsyth County Chapter board for re-imagining a safe way to continue supporting the needs of an important nonprofit organization in the area. Learn more about getting involved with the Bulldog community on our COVID-19 resources page.

Since March, The Place of Forsyth has served more than 1,000 families with more than 3,000 bags of staple and kid-friendly foods, providing more than 23,000 meals total. Visit their website to learn more about The Place of Forsyth.

2019 Welcome to the City: A Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.