Spotlight on UGA students

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. 

Amazing Student: Sarah Huber ’15

From the moment she stepped foot on the campus, Sarah Huber could tell that UGA was the perfect place for her. Nearly four years later, the future dentist calls the journey an “extraordinary experience.”

Throughout my four years at UGA, I have experienced significant development in my character and drastic change in my approach to life. I entered college with an outlook that was enthusiastic, yet full of uncertainty in my surroundings and in my hopes for the future. Today, my recent acceptance to dental school and each of the incredible relationships I have formed at UGA serve as reminders of the extraordinary experience that this university has provided me over these past four years.

Read more about Sarah’s incredible four years at UGA.

UGA’s Amazing Students: Colby Ruiz

Colby Ruiz ’15, a senior majoring in biological sciences, has successfully focused on his research since stepping foot on campus and has his sights set on becoming a physician.

University highlights, achievements and awards:

As a student of the Honors Program and a recipient of the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Honors Scholarship, I began participating in undergraduate research in my first semester. I am studying a family of proteins that includes Ras, which is mutagenic in 30 percent of all human cancers. I have presented my research numerous times including at the UGA CURO Symposium and a regional research conference within my field. While I’ve made a very small contribution to the scientific community, I can’t begin to convey the value of my work to my learning experience; this project has taught me to manage my time, approach complex problems and communicate complicated ideas to audiences with a range of scientific understanding. The lessons I have learned though my research involvement couldn’t have been taught in a classroom, and I am forever thankful to CURO for providing such a valuable learning experience.

My extracurricular involvement has been focused on recruiting talented students from rural areas of Georgia for UGA and particularly the Honors Program. As an Honors ambassador and a member of the Georgia Recruitment Team, I have traveled to high schools to speak with potential applicants and met with dozens of potential students on campus to discuss my experiences at UGA and help connect them with academic programs that fit their needs and interests.

In the summer after my junior year I was selected to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at New York University; three out of the 35 participants in this program were from UGA, chosen from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. I spent the summer at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York where I worked on developing a protocol for processing biological evidence samples from crime scenes.

After three of the best years of my life, I’m excited to see what my senior year at UGA holds. I can say with confidence that I could not have chosen a better university, and I plan to be involved on campus in a significant capacity for many years to come.

After graduation, I plan to: 

Become a medical student. I’d like to be trained as a surgeon. The one UGA experience I will always remember will be: Every Saturday between the hedges is a Saturday I’ll never forget. Go Dawgs.

Click here to learn more about Colby.

Brothers make business a family affair

How do two brothers from tiny Hopeful, Georgia, manage to take Atlanta’s entrepreneurial spirit to a new level? Well, ask the Shirah brothers, Benjie (BSFR ’07, MFR ’10) and Jamey (BBA ’10). Since leaving Athens, the business-savvy brothers have embarked on a number of successful endeavors, including The Ivy Buckhead and Atlanta-based companies Kill Cliff – The Recovery Drink™ and Vida-Flo: The Hydration Station. Now, the brothers are heading in a new direction – your feet.

This fall, Benjie and Jamey launched their latest project, JL The Brand, a flair-filled sock company. Together with friends, the brothers are working to add a little jazz to the mundane black and blue men’s suit with top-notch socks.

Designed with unique patterns and colors, JL The Brand offers affordable high quality socks that add a subtle yet sophisticated pop to any outfit. JL The Brand socks are the perfect gift for any guy this holiday season!

With the Shirah brothers’ keen eye for business development, these young alumni are sure make a lasting mark on Atlanta’s entrepreneurial scene.

Keep up with the Shirah’s businesses on social media:

@theivybuckhead
@govidaflo
@jlthebrand