Spotlight on UGA students

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!

UGA student honors grandfather with charity golf tournament

The following guest post is from Cole Calfee ’17, a student at the University of Georgia. Cole is a member of the Student Government Association and the Order of Omega. He co-founded Bowtie Brand, Inc., which was sold in 2014 after three successful years of operation. 

My name’s Cole, I’m a third-year business student at UGA, and I’m organizing a charity golf tournament on Friday, October 2 in Athens.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had October 3 marked on your calendar for quite some time. No loss is easy, but watching the clock tick to zero in the Georgia Dome in 2012 hurt more than most. Alas, the Bulldogs face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in what is the most hyped SEC crossover game of the year on the first Saturday of October.

My thought for the golf tournament arose this past Easter, when I was in the room when my grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s disease, forgot my mom’s name. It tore me apart. A day later, I had the idea for this event and started working from there. Knowing how many folks would be coming into town for the big game, I thought it sounded like something that had the potential to raise a lot of money and ultimately do a lot of good in fighting a disease that affects so many of us.

The tournament is a 2-man scramble, and every penny we raise will go directly to The Alzheimer’s Association. I’d love for you and a partner to join us as we bring together alumni and students from both the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia for a morning of golf before the game the next day.

UGA students row for hemophilia research

In June 2016, UGA students and avid rowers Jacob Pope ’17 and Chris Lee ’16 will be rowing 2,400 more, from California to Hawaii, in the Great Pacific Race. The campaign is called Row for Hemophilia and is designed to raise money and awareness for Hemophilia of Georgia (HoG). The UGA Alumni Association invited Jacob to guest blog about his upcoming adventure.

HoG, a local-non-profit pharmacy, exists so people affected by bleeding disorders may live as normally and productively as possible. The only agency of its kind in Georgia, HoG sponsors outreach programs for the bleeding disorder community, such as Camp Wannaklot, leadership opportunities for those interested in community advocacy and legislative issues, as well as social support and services.

Jacob and Chris didn’t pick HoG simply because it was a good cause: they knew if they were going to take on a challenge as great as the Pacific Ocean, that they could also make lasting changes to a community that is close to their hearts. Jacob was born with hemophilia and has firsthand experience with the services HoG provides, like outreach nursing, attending Camp Wannaklot and participating in an exchange program to Germany to learn more about hemophilia across the globe.

L-R: Jacob Pope and Chris Lee 

Row for Hemophilia hopes to raise $125,000 in total, which would be enough to gain access to the safest rowing boats and navigational equipment necessary to make the journey, as well as enough to fully sponsor Camp Wannaklot in 2016 – an impact that would provide more than 100 young children with hemophilia the opportunity to experience a great adventure.

To learn more about Jacob and Chris, the Great Pacific Race and Row for Hemophilia, visit www.rowforhemophilia.com and follow the guys’ story on Facebook.

As always, Row Dawgs!

UGA Majorette is No. 1 College Twirler

While Nicole Jensen ’15 has lit up Sanford Stadium with her flaming batons and show-stopping gymnastics moves as a UGA feature twirler on game days, she is also making her mark on the national stage. She has garnered attention for UGA and continued the legacy of national champions after winning the highly coveted title of Miss College Majorette of America. This is the highest award given to a college twirler at the National Baton Twirling Championships, held each year in South Bend, Indiana.

Nicole has been a UGA feature twirler for the past four years. This is highly sought after position among top twirlers in the nation. Nicole, a senior marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa, was selected through an intense audition process and has enjoyed every minute of her time twirling between the hedges at UGA.

Nicole is no stranger to success. She was on the USA World Team, where she was a silver medalist, and has traveled and performed in Peru as an ambassador. She has won hundreds of awards and titles in her twirling career, including the Collegiate Women’s Solo National Champion in 2012.

Representing UGA as the reigning top college twirler, Nicole has been touring the country this spring and summer, performing at events and competitions as an ambassador of her sport. This past weekend by performing at Notre Dame in the National Baton Twirling Championships, Nicole performed her final duties as College Miss Majorette of America. Make sure to check out Nicole, in her final season, and the rest of the UGA Majorettes at every home football game this fall!

UGA mascot Hairy Dawg joined Nicole for her final performance at Notre Dame

Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg

“Mine was the best seat in the house at the 2015 UGA graduation exercises last Saturday in Sanford Stadium.  Not because I was a special speaker or honored guest but because I was sitting next to my youngest daughter as a member of the graduating class of 2015.”

Bulldog 100 business owner Frank Raiford’s (BBA ’15) story is a bit unique. Originally a student in the late 1970s, Frank left UGA to start his business career – just three credits shy of graduating. He intended to return and finish his degree, but months turned into years and the family (Frank’s wife, Melanie, is a member of UGA’s Class of 1984) and business continued to grow.

Flash forward to the fall of 2011. Frank’s youngest daughter, Meredith (BFA ’15), is a freshman at UGA and tells her father how much it would mean to her if they could graduate together.

“I had promised Meredith that I would “finish” the last class that I needed to graduate and walk with her during her graduation. I will always remember this brief and unique time spent with “my” graduating class. I could feel the energy of youth and sense their expectations as they moved across the field and transitioned from being students to graduates.”

After graduation, Meredith said “I was so proud and honored to graduate with my dad. It’s because of his hard work and dedication over the past 30 years that I have been able to succeed today. It was only fitting that we got to celebrate our accomplishments together Between the Hedges. We both enjoyed every minute of it.”

Earlier this year, Frank’s company, Police & Sheriff’s Press, Inc. was recognized by the UGA Alumni Association as a member of the Bulldog 100 Class of 2015. The business was also recognized in 2014.

Frank had this to say about this unorthodox path to a degree, “Graduation was a long time in coming. My peers from ’76-’82 are ordering senior coffee, receiving letters from AARP and showing off pictures of grandchildren. My new peers have the world before them and are ready to begin their journey. My hope for each of them is to dream big, work hard, cherish the friends they have made at UGA and enjoy the journey.”

Whether you consider him a member of the Class of 1982 or 2015, we know that Frank, as well as Meredith, will represent the Bulldog family with pride wherever they go. Congratulations on graduating!

Spotlight on UGA’s recent award recipients

Recently, several UGA faculty and students have been in the spotlight for receiving prestigious scholarships and awards. The UGA Alumni Association is proud of these outstanding individuals as they further the university’s mission and enhance its reputation.

Torre Lavelle ’16 has been named a 2015 Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Scholar which is awarded to an undergraduate pursuing a career focused on environmental or Native American policy. Lavelle is a third-year student majoring in ecology and plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental management as well as a Juris Doctor in hopes of becoming a conservation policymaker. Read more.

Juanita Johnson-Bailey (MED ’93, EDD ’94), director of the Institute for the Women’s Studies at UGA, is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award, an honor given by the American Association of University Women for outstanding contribution to equality and education for women and girls. Johnson-Bailey has authored and co-authored more than 100 journal articles, book reviews, book chapters and monographic. She has also delivered nearly 120 conference presentations and chaired nearly 30 completed doctoral dissertations. Read more.

Kathleen Wilson ’16 was named a 2015 Truman Scholar receiving a $30,000 scholarship to attend graduate school. Wilson is pursuing bachelors’ degrees in economics and international affairs. She plans to earn a master’s in public policy and Middle Eastern studies after graduation in 2016. Read more.

Megan Ernst ’15 was awarded the James Madison Graduate Fellowship which provides up to $24,000 for individuals who desire to become outstanding teachers at the secondary school level. Ernst will graduate in May with Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Bachelor of Arts in political science, and a Master of Public Administration from the School of Public and International Affairs. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in teaching from the UGA College of Education. Read more.

Lauren Dennison ’15, Erin Hollander ’15, and Karishma Sriram ’15 received 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, exclusive undergraduate scholarships in the field of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. All three students are enrolled in Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and plan to earn doctoral degrees related to biomedical research. Read more.

Ayan Hussein (BS ’12) is one of the recipients of the 2015 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. This fellowship supports the graduate education of students who were born abroad but have become permanent residents or naturalized citizens of the United States. Hussein, a 2012 UGA graduate, is now earning a Ph.D at Yale University studying biological and biomedical sciences. Selected from a pool of 1,200 applicants, she will receive tuition and stipend assistance up to $90,000 in support of her graduate education. Read more.

Sixteen UGA students have been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The highly competitive awards recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.These fellows were selected from more than 16,000 applicants nationwide for the 2015 competition. Read more.

Shabbat 500 creates home for UGA students

Recently, Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00) had an opportunity to attend the Shabbat 500 dinner. 

Thanks to generous Georgia Fund gifts, University of Georgia student organizations are able to apply for sponsorship dollars from the UGA Alumni Association. This is an important way for alumni to support the diverse student groups on campus, including UGA’s student Jewish center, The Rohr Chabad House.

Since 2011, the UGA Alumni Association has been a proud sponsor of the Shabbat 500, an annual free dinner for UGA’s Jewish community in celebration of Shabbat. As a sponsor of Shabbat 500, we help fund the 500-person event hosted by The Rohr Chabad House.

The Chabad House is located near the Spec Towns Track and is a home-away-from-home for Jewish students that offers fellowship and an opportunity to celebrate the holidays. Rabbi Refson and his wife, Chana, have five children, yet they are still able to provide unparalleled hospitality to UGA students through their work with The Chabad House. Every Friday evening, the couple welcomes approximately 60 students for a free dinner in their home. The UGA community is lucky to have individuals like Rabbi Refsen and Chana who provide such special moments for students to gather and celebrate Judaism.

I was able to attend this year’s Shabbat 500 with UGA Alumni Association Vice President Ruth Bartlett (BBA ’76). I witnessed a number of UGA’s student leaders participate, enjoyed seeing the special connections these students have with one another, and loved hearing the prayers, blessings and singing that took place! The students’ energy reminded me how wonderfully diverse the University of Georgia student body is and it made me proud that the UGA Alumni Association sponsors this program.

I greatly admire Rabbi Refson’s family and appreciate the role they play in building a welcoming community for students on campus. I am proud to call them my friends and hope the entire Athens community knows how lucky we are to have them as a resource for students. I invite students, parents and alumni to investigate Chabad of Georgia and The Chabad House to find their role in supporting Rabbi Refson and this special organization on campus.

Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00), Student Alumni Council Member Reed Turry ’17 and Vice President Ruth Bartlett (BBA ’76)

I look forward to our team sponsoring this event, which promotes campus diversity and inclusiveness, again in the future. Thank you to The Chabad House for hosting Ruth and me!

Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00) is the executive director of the UGA Alumni Association.