Spotlight on UGA students

Make history at 1785 Day

The Student Alumni Association (SAA) has issued a challenge to the entire campus–to get 1,785 student donors to give $17.85. This will all lead up to 1785 Day which will take place in Tate Plaza on August 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event will include free t-shirts, food and photos with Hairy Dawg for students who donate. 

The SAA is an association for UGA students to network and engage with alumni. The SAA is governed by the Student Alumni Council (SAC) who promotes UGA traditions, cultivates student philanthropy and connects students to alumni.  

This is the first event of its kind that the SAA is putting on and Nash Davis, the president of the SAC, could not be more excited to start the school year off with a strong campaign.  

“We want to celebrate the institution that we know and love and try to help everyone realize how lucky we are. We also want everyone to know how much SAA and SAC can impact a student’s experience,” Davis said. 

Davis joined the SAA his freshmen year after a search of how to be more involved on campus. Once he found out what the SAA does, he knew it was a place for him.  

“I stress the opportunities that our organization can give these students and how we truly enjoy setting them up for success, and we’ll do anything in our power to help them be successful,” Davis said.  

When students donate as a part of 1785 Day, they will automatically become a member of the SAA and will receive exclusive benefits such as professional development, spirit days, involvement opportunities and a free SAA t-shirt. The SAA hosts events throughout the school year such as Freshmen Welcome and ghost tours of North Campus. Members of the SAA also get exclusive opportunities to network with UGA alumni at events such as the monthly Advice from the Big Dawgs lunch and Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs.  

Usually membership dues are $20, but in honor of the event, every donation of $17.85 includes membership. Davis looks forward to 1785 Day because it means that more students will be members of the SAA early in the year so they can participate in the events all year long. 

Ja’Kyra Austin is the SAC’s Vice President of Membership, and she joined the SAA after she transferred to UGA.  

“A phrase we often hear in the council  is ‘planting a tree, even if we don’t get to enjoy its shade’ and it has been something we remind ourselves of not only when we donate but also when we are encouraging others to donate,” Austin said. “We shouldn’t wait to donate until after graduating, when our small gift could change a life or improve our campus today.” 

Austin is passionate about helping others students find what they are passionate about because she knows from personal experience the struggle of finding out what to do after college. She donates to the Career Center so that they can help other people find their way during college and afterwards.  

Student philanthropy helps to support need and merit-based scholarships, experiential learning opportunities and any other area of campus students designate when they make their gifts. Of the $17.85 students donate, $7.85 will go to the Georgia Fund to support the student experience at UGA and $10 can be designated to a school, college, department or program the student is passionate about.  

Join Davis and Austin in honoring UGA’s history by making history with the SAA at 1785 Day!

Catching up with Oxford scholar Mitra Kumareswaran

UGA student Mitra Kumareswaran spent her junior year at Oxford University in England taking scenic bike routes between classes, enjoying the views of the parks and studying everything from genetics to Shakespeare at the university’s historic libraries. The biology and English double major is passionate about both science and the humanities, and hopes to combine them some day in order to better the lives of children with autism. As a recipient of the Alumni Association’s Oxford scholarship, by the time Mitra returned to UGA she had walked the same halls as Oscar Wilde and saw the blackboard that once displayed Einstein’s equations.


“I majored in biology and English because I’m interested in neuroscience and learning development,” Kumareswaran said. “Since I am also passionate about arts, the idea of taking only science classes just wasn’t enough. I hope to use my knowledge in these different areas of study to open a school that works with autistic kids’ language development, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

Kumareswaran knew early on that she wanted to study in Oxford, and the UGA at Oxford program immediately captured her attention during her college search. As an Oxford Scholar, she experienced an intimate classroom setting in courses with no more than three other students. The organizations she joined there let her brush shoulders with renowned scholars and hear researchers from around the world talk about new developments such as sheep cloning and DNA manipulation.


In addition to the classroom experience, Kumareswaran says that studying at Oxford helped her to step outside her comfort zone and become a more analytical thinker.

“Through my experiences at UGA and Oxford, I understand the world much more than I ever thought I would,” she said. “I learned the importance of being passionate and going forward when something is scary because the worst someone can tell you is no.”

She thanks the Alumni Association scholarship she received for making her dreams of studying at Oxford a reality. She says that the scholarship made it possible for her to have the financial ability to study for two semesters at Oxford University, experience the centuries-old traditions there and make life-long friendships overseas.

“It feels great to know that donors and alumni at UGA support my education, not only in Athens, but also abroad,” Kumareswaran said.

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

Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars Fall 2016 Welcome Reception

The University of Georgia’s newest cohort of Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars was introduced on Wednesday, September 7th, at an on-campus welcome reception in the Miller Learning Center. These 12 first-year students proudly join 37 current Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars who each receive $5,000 annually in scholarship support from The Coca-Cola Foundation. Funding for this scholarship is renewable for up to three additional years, provided that the student maintains a 2.8 GPA during his or her first year of enrollment and a 3.0 GPA in subsequent years.

2016-2017 First year scholars

2016-2017 First year scholars

The Coca-Cola Foundation has provided $3 million and funded scholarships for 126 students since its inception at UGA in 2007. The program is housed in the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, and scholarship recipients are selected by the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Students selected for this scholarship have already been accepted to UGA and do not apply for the awards.

In addition to providing annual scholarship support to students, the program also connects the newest cohort of scholars with other Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars and to a UGA faculty or staff mentor. A total of 16 mentors are available this year for first-year scholars to choose from as they begin their college career. Many of these mentors were in attendance at the reception on Wednesday evening.

Two Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars, senior marketing major Shanteria Hines (Hinesville, Ga.) and sophomore international affairs major Gina Ford (Loganville, Ga.), provided brief remarks and “words of wisdom” to the newest class of scholars at the event. Ford encouraged students to take advantage of all opportunities and experiences in college, while Hines made a strong case for pushing outside of one’s comfort zone and befriending peers in areas all across campus.

“Being a Coca Cola First Generation Scholar has been a tremendous honor,” said Hines. “I have been able to explore opportunities on campus that I wouldn’t have even known about, like the Student Affairs Academic Advisory Board, thanks to the support and mentorship from this wonderful fellowship. From the fun socials to the informative workshops to an amazing cohort, I can definitely say that being a Coca-Cola First Generation Scholar has been an important and impactful part of my college career.”

All scholars

 All scholars

UGA strives to provide a program environment where Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars will experience support and encouragement in college which paves the way for a successful transition into post-graduate career plans. Previous UGA alumni of the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars program have utilized their collegiate degrees to pursue careers in areas such as software engineering, research, certified public accounting, editing and blogging, and marketing. Alumni Scholars have also pursued post-graduate studies in law, engineering, international affairs, and clinical social work.

Class of 2020 Freshman Welcome Recap

On Wednesday, August 10, the eve before fall classes started, members of the Class of 2020 (w0w!) gathered in Sanford Stadium for Freshman Welcome. Hosted by the Student Alumni Council and Student Government Association, this event formally welcomes the new students into the Bulldog family and offers them the opportunity to hear from President Jere Morehead (JD ’80) and Coach Kirby Smart (BBA ’98), learn gameday traditions, and form the iconic Power G on the field at Sanford Stadium.

Students were treated to entertainment from their peers before entering Sanford Stadium

Students were treated to entertainment from their peers before entering Sanford Stadium




Selfies with President Morehead on the field!

Selfies with President Morehead on the field!

The Class of 2020

The Class of 2020

Coach Kirby Smart welcomes the Class of 2020 to the Bulldog Nation at Freshman Welcome!

Posted by UGA Alumni Association on Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Scholarship recipient visits Spain on study abroad

Charles Orgbon III, a repeat recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship and member of the Class of 2017, took advantage of UGA’s incredible study abroad opportunities and traveled to Spain this summer. Charles wrote about his trip for Huffington Post in “3 Learned Lessons from Studying Abroad in Spain.”

By choosing to study abroad in Spain, I agreed to be open-minded about the people and the place where I would be living. Yet, when I landed in Spain this past May, I was mentally unprepared for the many differences between American and Spanish culture. Having grown up in the South, I am familiar with fried green tomatoes, wide open spaces, pick-up trucks, and a slow-talking drawl. Seemingly, everything I could have imagined was different in Spain.

Language was of course the most profound difference between America and Spain. One must understand that Spanish is not uniform from one Spanish-speaking country to another, and often times, Spanish, or language in general, can be spoken with multiple distinct accents within a country’s borders. At times, I would be corrected for using a word that was popular in South American Spanish, but not popular in European Spanish, and many times my American way of pronouncing words became a roadblock for comprehension.

In the city of Seville and the surrounding community of Andalucía, the culture were more noticeably influenced by Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula between 711 and 1492. This Muslim influence has also created a sweeping effect on the Spanish language around the world. Words such as tarea (task) come from the Arabic word ṭaríḥa, taza (cup) comes from Arabic’s tasa, and zumo (fruit juice) comes from Arabic’s zum.

Another fascination of mine was the similarities between European English and European Spanish for common phrases. For example, in Spain, the signs for the bathrooms would translate directly to toilets. Similarly, in England, the English signs for the bathrooms had also read toilets. Yet, in America, we label bathrooms as bathrooms, and use the Spanish translation for bathrooms (baños). Moreover, in America, if we must order food and we do not want to dine at the restaurant, we usually order to-go or take-out, but in England, they say to carry and in Spain, the English translation is the same: to carry (para llevar).

When it comes to cultural differences, you may be wondering: what are some tips for navigating a new world?

Embrace the difference. When I first arrived in Spain, I could not stop thinking about how everything was better in America, and by the time I had come back to America, I could not stop thinking about how everything was better in Spain. Better is not the best word to use when traveling abroad. Different is the more appropriate word. The sooner you can embrace this difference, the sooner you can begin the process of learning and feeling more like a global citizen.

People are different, but sometimes they really aren’t. While in Spain, you may wonder why people are dining so late in the evening, why fewer people own Apple products, why restaurants rarely provide indoor seating, why the men enjoy wearing jeans and closed-toed shoes in 100-degree summer heat, why WhatsApp is more popular than GroupMe, why the milk and eggs are left unrefrigerated, why they use two-pronged sockets instead of three-pronged sockets, and so much more. Instead of getting caught up in the human condition of always asking why, sometimes it can just be comforting to just recognize that we are all humans. We are motivated and influenced by very similar desires, ideas, and even fears.


Separate yourself from American culture. It was remarkable that I had traveled 4,000 miles away from home, and on a 2-hour bus ride from Seville to the beach, the Spanish motor coach played a 2003 DVD of “Destiny’s Child – World Tour.” If you’re looking to find Americans, you’ll find them in Spain, but why would you choose to study abroad and then not fully immerse yourself in the culture? Beware of when you are judging or even rejecting the culture, and understand when to remind yourself of the purpose for the trip.

Having lived with a family that does not English, taken classes with professors who do not know English, and made many friends with Spanish speakers and learners, my Spanish language proficiency greatly improved. I was changed insofar that now I feel more confident and resilient when placed in situations where nothing feels familiar. I have a greater respect for individuals who immigrate to America, and English language learners, because they have to also overcome the same potential barriers I had to overcome.

This experience would have been impossible for me without the support of my university, the University of Georgia, the Gilman International Scholarship, and my language program partners, Spanish Abroad, CLIC (el Centro for Lenguas and Intercambio Culturas), and Brookhaven Community College’s Multinational Academic Program (MAP).

Interested in learning more about how you can support students like Charles through the Black Alumni Scholarship? Email Realenn Watters (AB ’04).

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Dawg Camp Fusion

The transition from high school to college life can be daunting for incoming students. This is why the Dawg Camp program was created. Dawg Camp is an extended orientation program designed to assist students with their transition into the University of Georgia community. These programs allow participants to meet other incoming students and connect with current campus leaders in the spirit of UGA’s history and traditions over the course of multiple days. Dawg Camp provides a foundation for a successful college experience by exposing participants to student life, exploring common transition topics, and engaging in fun and dynamic activities. This is also an opportunity to develop close friendships and meaningful skills to thrive in the first year of college.

Dawg Camp Fusion, held in mid-June, is one of four Dawg Camps held throughout the 2016 summer. Fusion immersed incoming students into the diverse culture of UGA and Athens and taught them about the history of the Classic City. Life beyond the UGA campus influences a student’s time at the university, and thanks to Fusion, these students will enter freshman year with an extensive knowledge about the local community.

fusion 2

Dawg Campers enjoying Your Pie

During Fusion, students toured some of the Classic City’s most historic locations, including the Morton Theater, the Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt Club and Nuci’s Space. They also enjoyed a visit to the State Botanical Gardens and had breakfast by Athens’ favorites Jittery Joes and Ike and Jane’s Donuts. On June 23, the students volunteered as ushers at the Morton Theater for the Flagpole Music Awards. Students concluded the week with AthFest, an Athens tradition that many alumni will fondly remember!

fusion 3

Hearing from Athens Bagel Company owner David Asman

It wouldn’t be a trip to Athens without great local food! Stops included breakfast at Athens Bagel Company, owned by alumnus David Asman (BS ’08), lunches at Sauce House and Your Pie, and dinners from Tazikis, the Georgia Theatre rooftop, and Cali & Tito’s . Two of these restaurants, Athens Bagel Company and Your Pie, have been honored on the UGA Alumni Association’s Bulldog 100 list in previous years. During these meals, students met with local alumni to talk about their time in spent in Athens, their businesses, and other spots that are unique to Athens. While eating at Your Pie, met owner and alumnus Drew French (BBA ’05). In addition to owning a Bulldog 100 business, Drew was a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2015. After talking to the students about his experience Drew said, “I really enjoyed meeting with the Dawg Camp Fusion campers at Your Pie.  I’m glad to see that incoming freshmen have the ability to see a different side of Athens than what most experience in their time at UGA.  It is good to see that they are already focused on things that they are passionate about, and that UGA supports this passion by providing access to what makes Athens a great place.”

Want more information on Dawg Camp Fusion and the other Dawg Camps? Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more!


Meet the Summer Interns

This summer, the Division of Development and Alumni Relations is excited to have several UGA students on board as interns on its communications team. Throughout the summer, these students will gain valuable experience in the world of communications, applying skills learned in their classes to real world situations, like public relations, digital marketing and video production. Without further ado, meet this summer’s communications interns!

Deja White, Communications Intern

Deja White, Communications Intern

Deja White ’17 wants to live in a world where positive stories supersede the negative ones. As a senior mass media arts major and theatre minor, she’s learning how to craft these stories. In the future, she hopes to work behind the scenes and produce life-changing films and television shows. When she’s not crafting stories, you can find her going on fun adventures. Her latest adventure — attending the 2016 Cannes Film Festival— allowed her to be surrounded by intriguing stories, experience a new city, and learn firsthand what it takes to be successful in the industry. Click here to learn more about Deja’s Cannes study abroad adventure.

Emily Middleton, Digital Communications Intern

Emily Middleton, Digital Communications Intern

Emily Middleton ’18 is a third-year student pursuing a journalism degree with an emphasis on digital and broadcast journalism from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is originally from Cumming, Georgia. Emily is an active member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and is president of the DiGamma Kappa Chapter at UGA. DGK is the nation’s oldest broadcast society still in existence today. In addition to her internship with UGA, Emily also interns with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. She hosts and produces a radio show at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta for the hospital patients and their families. Emily loves to travel and has spent the previous two summers in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest building a school and teaching children English. Emily is passionate about improving other people’s lives and knows her degree from UGA will help her achieve this goal.

Meagan Alford, Multimedia Intern

Meagan Alford, Multimedia Intern

Meagan Alford ’17 is a mass media arts major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Hailing from the tiny town of Pavo, Georgia, the Classic City was initially a big change from the corn fields and dirt roads that Meagan grew up with, but it’s become her home away from home. After graduation, Meagan hopes to obtain a job in the entertainment industry for film or television. Outside of the classroom, she plays the piccolo for the Redcoat Marching Band. Meagan looks forward to gaining hands-on experience with the Division of Development and Alumni Relations this summer.

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UGA debate teams win Vanderbilt college debate tournament

The Georgia Debate Union, which organizes and fields competitive policy debate teams at the University of Georgia, emerged victorious at the 2015 Vanderbilt intercollegiate debate tournament held in Nashville, Tennessee. The tournament featured over 50 teams from nearly 20 colleges and universities. Two teams representing the Georgia Debate Union “closed out” in finals, meaning they won each respective side of their elimination round brackets and tied for first place at the tournament.

Teams from the same school typically do not debate each other.

The team of Tucker Boyce, a junior from Alpharetta, and Nathan Rice, a freshman from Roswell, won every one of its debates at the tournament, including wins over Emory University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida. Boyce earned first speaker at the tournament, while Rice earned second speaker.

The team of Swapnil Agrawal, a freshman from Chamblee, and Advait Ramanan, a freshman from Columbia, Maryland, won all but one of its debates, including wins over Emory, Kentucky and Florida. Agarwal earned eighth speaker at the tournament, while Ramanan earned ninth speaker.

From left to right, Tucker Boyce, Nathan Rice, Swapnil Agrawal and Advait Ramanan of the Georgia Debate Union at the University of Georgia pose with their trophies after winning the 2015 Vanderbilt intercollegiate debate tournament.

“The Vanderbilt tournament has typically featured tough competition from the Southeast—Emory, Florida, Wake Forest—and this year featured teams from the Midwest like Michigan and Minnesota, which added to the quality of the field,” said Hays Watson, head debate coach at UGA. “Our young squad had a very productive few weeks preparing for the tournament—completing research assignments, giving practice speeches, leading squad strategy discussions.”

The Georgia Debate Union will be attending intercollegiate debate tournaments at Harvard University, Liberty University and Wake Forest University over the course of the fall semester.

“The Georgia Debate Union has been one of the more successful debate programs in the country for many years,” said Edward Panetta, professor and head of the department of communication studies. “Dating back to the 1950s, students have learned both research and advocacy skills in a program that has been a successful laboratory and has trained generations of business and public leaders.”

The UGA program has qualified teams for the National Debate Tournament—the equivalent of the NCAA basketball tournament—for 26 consecutive years, Panetta said. “The 2015-2016 team is a young squad that is representing the university with distinction.”

UGA Miracle Rivalry Week

Think back to your college days when the easiest way to make new friends outside of your residence hall was to get involved in a student organization. Through these small groups, you were able to make friends and shape your college experience. And although each student at UGA is different, they’re all brought together by a shared desire to beat Florida at the annual UGA vs UF football game. But this year, one student organization is taking the rivalry off the field.

This year, UGA Miracle has embraced the UGAvsUF rivalry and has turned it into something good. After a lot of planning and collaboration, UGA Miracle and the University of Florida’s Dance Marathon (DM) will compete against each other to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network and their respective Children’s Hospitals. Both organizations are competing with the same goal: to beat the other team “off-the-field.”

Since 1995, UGA Miracle has worked to raise money for the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Beyond fundraising, students make hospital visits, plan events for the organization’s adopted “Miracle” children and families, and raise awareness for the hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. What started out as 300 members raising $20,000 in its first year has grown to 1,600 students raising $683,251 in 2015! Today, UGA Miracle is the largest campus organization at UGA. It will host its largest event, Dance Marathon, on February 20, 2016. For 24 hours, students and families will dance for those who cannot and help raise funds for Miracle children.

To kick off Rivalry Week, UGA Miracle hosted a Car Smash on Memorial Plaza. For a small fee, students could purchase the opportunity to smash a UF-themed vehicle. Today, UGA Miracle is hosting a series of percentage nights on St. Simons Island. Locations include Chick-Fil-a, Brogan’s, and Gnats Landing. The week’s events have raised funds for Children’s Miracle Network in the hopes of beating the University of Florida’s Dance Marathon. The winner will be revealed on Saturday, and there will be a surprise featuring one of the Miracle families during the first quarter of the game.

Alumni play a critical role in supporting UGA Miracle’s success. From the numerous donations to being involved in UGA Miracle as a student, there is no doubt that alumni have helped build the organization into what it is today.

By holding this week-long competition, the students of UGA Miracle hope to blow last year’s fundraising total out of the water and beat the Gators twice in one weekend. Interested in helping UGA Miracle reach their goal? Click here.

As their motto says, everything is “For the Kids,” so this week, help these students change the lives of the children of Children’s Healthcare.

Grady grads give back, help hire students

Every year, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication hosts ADPR Connection, a student-run networking event organized by members of UGA PRSSA and Ad Club. This annual event invites professionals from Atlanta and the surrounding area to Athens to network with the best and brightest that Grady has to offer. For many of the participating employers, coming to Athens is a trip home, as many are UGA alumni. Being able to give back to UGA and help foster the future generation of communications professionals by providing internships and jobs is seen as an honor.

“When I arrived at Grady, it was obvious that there were opportunities at every corner. All I had to do to be successful was take advantage of them. I benefitted from the network of Grady alumni supporting students through PRSSA, the UGA Alumni Association and the Career Center. I’m grateful for my Grady experience, and that’s why I stay involved as an alumna. It’s important to give back by offering yourself as a resource to students who can benefit from your experience.

Also, it’s honestly rejuvenating to return to campus and interact with students who have fresh ideas and optimism. It’s nice to get out of the office and return to a place where people are excited about the future.” – Alyssa Stafford (MA ’15), Communications Specialist at Piedmont Healthcare

Even those who did not graduate from UGA understand the value of a degree from Grady and the caliber of students the college produces, which is why many employers make an effort to participate in ADPR Connection year after year.

“We are so proud to be affiliated with Grady College and the programs surrounding it. I can’t say enough about how thrilled we are to be able to tap into the graduating students every year. nearly 25 percent of our employees are Grady grads, and each one of them is extremely qualified to play a role in our agency for many years to come.” – Brad Dodge, CEO of Dodge Communications

Kudos to you, Grady College, for creating an opportunity for your alumni to mentor current students and stay connected with their alma mater!