Honoring UGA’s first African American four-year students

Last week, the highly anticipated film Hidden Figures starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae was released in theaters nationwide. The film tells the story of African American women engineers and mathematicians who helped John Glenn to become the first American to orbit Earth.

For black alumni at UGA, we have some hidden figures in the form of the first three African American first year students to enroll at the University of Georgia and graduate four years later– Harold Alonza Black, Ph.D. (BBA ’66), Mary B. Diallo, Ph.D. (AB ’66, MA ’73) and Kerry Rushin Miller (BS ’66). UGA will officially recognize the 50th anniversary of their graduation at an event titled “Conversations with the Class of 1966: UGA’s First Black Freshman Graduates” on Thursday, January 12 at 5 p.m. in the UGA Chapel.

Black and Diallo recently spoke with the Black Alumni Leadership Council about their experiences breaking barriers.

Diallo is an Athens native who is currently an associate professor at Florida A&M University. The French major said her high school band teacher encouraged her and three other students to apply to UGA. When asked about the people who influenced her the most at Georgia, she said, “I don’t want to name one person because many people made a significant impact on me—some professors, a few college friends, my family, people in my community, as well as people in other cities, states, and countries.”

Mary Diallo, Harold Black and Kerry Miller

Black is an Atlanta native who originally planned on following his older brother to study at Purdue, but after UGA’s desegregation he applied because the school offered more scholarship opportunities. The economics major said his most memorable college experience was befriending six fellow freshman at orientation. As the only black male student to live in a residence hall in 1962, he recalled his room windows broken into at night and the segregated bathroom he used was repeatedly vandalized.

“Given that I knew my great grandmother, who was a slave, I can marvel at the changes that have occurred in this country and especially in this part of the country,” Black said. “I actually thoroughly enjoyed my UGA experience and would not change it for any other.”

Now, as a retired finance professor emeritus at the University of Tennessee, he encourages students to “follow your dreams and never let mere mortals dissuade you from your goals.”

(L-R): Yvette Daniels (AB ’86, JD ’89), Malena Cunningham Anderson (ABJ ’80), Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’71) and Myrna White (ABJ ’81) at the Women of UGA Holiday Luncheon in December.

In celebration of the desegregation of the university, UGA Black Alumni thank the first freshman graduates Harold Black (BBA ’66), Mary Diallo (AB ’66, MA ’73) and Kerry Miller (BS ’66), as well as the first black graduate Mary Frances Early (MMED, 62, EDS ’71), and the first black undergraduates Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton E. Holmes (BS ’63) for their courage. Thank you all for being our “hidden figures.”

Written by Bridgette Burton (AB ’11, ABJ ’11)

Winter Warm-Up: Black Alumni Scholarship Fundraiser

Written by Realenn Watters

The UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group hosted “Winter Warm-Up: An Evening of Soul, Spirits & Scholarship” on Thursday, December 1 at American Spirit Whiskey in Atlanta. Attendees enjoyed touring the distillery and learning about the whiskey making process from owners (and Georgia graduates) Charlie Thompson (AB ’99, MBA ’03, JD ’03) and Jim Chasteen (BBA ’98). A portion of the ticket price supported the Black Alumni Endowed Scholarship.

The scholarship is 35 years old, and UGA Black Alumni plans to increase the endowment significantly over the next five years to support more outstanding Black Alumni Scholars. There are currently five scholars who receive the renewable scholarship every year to help to underwrite the cost of their educational pursuits. They are: Charles Orgbon III, April Davis, Khadar Haroun, Orobosa Idehen and JaKari Goss.

Since July 2016, nearly $2,000 has been given to support outstanding students of color at UGA, with $900 raised at the December 1 event. If you would like to make a gift to the Black Alumni scholarship, please click here. All gift amounts are appreciated and help students like Charles, April, Khadar, Orobosa and JaKari reach their goals!

Check out photos from the event.

Feature photo by Carole Kaboya (AB ’10)

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.

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“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.

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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. 

Meet Dominique Holloman, president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council

Last October, the UGA Alumni Association launched the UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group, which is led by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. Dominique Holloman (BS ’01, AB ’01, MED ’04, JD ’04) is president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council. In this role, Holloman leads strategy and determines how best to engage graduates and connect them back to the university and its mission. We recently interviewed Holloman to learn more about her UGA experience and what drives her to stay connected to the University of Georgia.

Dominique Holloman

Dominique Holloman

When did you graduate from UGA and what did you do after college?

I graduated from UGA in 2001 with degrees in Psychology and Sociology. I then attended Georgia Law where I completed a dual degree program earning a JD and a Master of Education in Sport Management in 2004. I have previously worked in collegiate athletic administration and Nonprofit. I am currently in a career transition. 

How did you get involved with the Alumni Association?

My road to my involvement with the Black Alumni Leadership Council and the Alumni Association is almost a decade long. I volunteered to be on the planning committee for a Black Alumni Weekend that was held in February 2008. Following that experience, I joined the Multicultural Alumni Steering Committee. I was a member of that committee until it was folded into the Black Alumni Leadership Council this past Spring. 

What Black Alumni event are you most proud of?

The event I am most proud of is the Minority Admitted Student Reception we co-host with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in April where we meet with incoming freshmen and share all things Georgia. It is wonderful to reconnect with fellow alumni who come to share their experiences with these incoming students. It is fun to reminisce about the great times I had at Georgia and share my amazing memories with the students and their parents. I always leave in awe of the current students who are doing remarkable things on campus and inspired by the unlimited possibilities of the newest members of our Bulldog Nation.

How has serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council benefitted you?

Being a part of the Black Alumni Leadership Council has benefitted me in ways I do not think I have even begun to see or will feel the impact of for some time to come. It has been an unbelievable experience to be president of the council. I have learned in great detail about how our university continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of the students it serves while continuing to be a standard of educational excellence. I have reconnected with old friends and classmates in ways that have assisted me professionally. I have been able to develop relationships with professors, staff and administrators, which has allowed us to make very tangible progress in our first year as it relates to our goals to recruit, retain, engage, donate and serve. On a more personal level, leading the BALC has made me a better leader as it relates to implementing vision by laying the foundation for something so much bigger than me or the council as a whole. Very few people have the opportunity to be a part of something from the ground up and I am grateful for the experience.

 

Bill Thomas (AB '88) and Dominique Holloman (AB ’01, BS ’01, MED ’04, JD’04) and current UGA students working together to bring in new Bulldogs.

Bill Thomas (AB ’88) and Dominique Holloman (AB ’01, BS ’01, MED ’04, JD’04) and current UGA students working together to bring in new Bulldogs.

What is the most important experience you learned as a student?

Say yes.

What does it mean to you to be a black graduate of the University of Georgia?

I am proud to be a UGA alumna. Everyone who knows me knows I bleed red and black. To be a black graduate enhances that feeling of pride because I am representing a legacy of academic excellence established by Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes. It means that I am making wider the path walked by Mary Frances Early and Chester Davenport. It means that I am an example to future UGA grads of how Georgia allows you to fulfill the dreams you have for your future and those you did not even know you had. Georgia allowed me to shape my life in a way that I do not think would have been possible many other places. I dreamed it and I was able to do it.

What is one piece of advice you would give to UGA students?

Be curious about everything all the time. Doors do not open to those who do not knock. I am so jealous of the opportunities available to students now. There are so many programs I am interested in and definitely would have taken advantage of if they had existed during my time in Athens.

The university of Georgia is committed to its students and mission as a land-and sea-grant university. What is your commitment? 

My commitment is to give my treasure to UGA and to get others to do the same. I have given much of my time and my talent since I have left Athens. I am now in a place personally and professionally where my dollars can make the impact I want to see. I was blessed during my time as a student to only have to worry about my next assignment or exam. There are students who are hungry, who are unable to purchase needed books and supplies, who cannot support themselves in addition to completing final requirements like an unpaid internship or student-teaching, or are unable to participate in life-changing experiences like study abroad. That is disappointing and unacceptable to me and I hope it is to other graduates as well. My commitment is scholarships.

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

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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

Two Brothers, One Booming Pecan Business

Rob (BSA ’96) and Eric Cohen (BSA ’00), two University of Georgia graduates, have uncovered one of Georgia’s best kept secrets – the pecan. The roots of the pecan in Georgia originates from Savannah, Georgia. The tree nut has been a staple item for Georgia landowners since the late 1800’s, which has led to the state becoming one of the country’s top pecan producers.

The brothers developed farming skills at an early age while working on their family’s farm in Brinson, Georgia. They learned the tricks of the trade from their father, who farmed pecans part-time. Throughout college, both brothers used the knowledge that they gained from their agriculture courses to assist on their family’s pecan orchard. Ultimately, Rob received his degree in plant protection and pest management, while Eric pursued agriculture economics.

The Cohen brothers would have never imagined that they would be running a successful business when they purchased their first pecan orchid back in 2000. Their farm, Pecan Ridge Plantation, spans across five counties, encompassing land in Thomasville all the way to Lake Seminole. Along with selling to international markets, both brothers began to expand their pecan knowledge by working on their own projects within the industry. Rob offers pecan consulting services, while Eric runs Truffles by Tate, a pecan truffle business.

Photo: Garden and Gun

Photo: Garden and Gun

Eric’s business is unique, in that his trained dog, Tate, finds concealed pecan truffles. After Eric realized that pecan truffles were difficult to find, but were a hot commodity, he turned to Dr. Tim Brenneman for assistance. Dr. Brenneman, a University of Georgia plant pathology professor, served as a mentor, and helped Eric find markets for his product. Now, Eric sells his product to both local and non-local high end restaurants, as well as food enthusiasts, who are looking to experiment with the truffles.

The limits for their pecans are endless. In 2014 the Cohen brothers started their own pecan oil business, and in 2016 became the first business to sell pecan truffle oil on the market. Recently, Eric was named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2016.

Read more about these Bulldog brothers in Garden and Gun.

2015 40 Under 40 honoree Arthur Tripp, Jr (AB ‘09) named assistant to the president

UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) will welcome Arthur Tripp Jr. (AB ’09) to his staff on November 11 as assistant to the president. Tripp currently serves as senior policy adviser for Rep. David Scott, who represents Georgia’s 13th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

“I am very pleased that Arthur is joining our staff,” Morehead said. “His extensive involvement as a student leader at UGA and his significant professional experience on Capitol Hill have prepared him well for this important position. He will be an outstanding addition to the president’s office, and I look forward to his contributions.”

In his new role as assistant to the president, Tripp’s primary responsibilities will be focused on student affairs and diversity relations. He also will serve as the liaison to the Staff Council, Retirees Association and Board of Visitors, as well as represent the Office of the President in the planning of several annual campus events.

“It is truly an honor to join the Office of the President,” Tripp said. “There is no greater privilege than to serve the administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni of UGA as assistant to the president. I look forward to supporting President Morehead and his vision for this great institution.”

Arthur Tripp, Jr/ (AB '09) and former UGA football player Rennie Curran

Arthur Tripp, Jr/ (AB ’09) and former UGA football player Rennie Curran

As the senior policy adviser for Scott, Tripp has managed Scott’s assignments on the Financial Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee, has overseen legislative processes for House bills and has coordinated a congressional hearing that brought together presidents from every 1890 African-American college to testify before the House Agriculture Committee for the first time in history. Prior to serving as senior policy adviser, Tripp was legislative assistant for Scott for five years.

While in Washington, D.C., Tripp served as a member of the UGA School of Public and International Affairs board of directors and as president of the Georgia State Society board of directors.

Earlier this year, Tripp was named a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2015 by the UGA Alumni Association, an honor given to alumni under the age of 40 who have made a significant impact in business, leadership, community, educational or philanthropic endeavors.

Continue reading this story.

Alumnus Spotlight: Jack B. Hood (AB ’69, JD ’71)

Jack B. Hood (AB ’69, JD ’71) is a Georgia Bulldog fan, lawyer, author and banjo player – and a proud Double Dawg. After graduating from Georgia Law, he went on to earn a degree in international law from the University of Cambridge (Darwin College) in 1972. He is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, and is a member of the Georgia, Alabama and District of Columbia bars.

Earlier this year, Jack returned from an American Bar Association (ABA)-sponsored trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom to attend the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. Jack is descended from Saer de Quincey, the first Earl of Winchester and one of the 25 barons that forced King John to seal the document in 1215. Saer de Quincey was also a Templar Knight who “took the Cross” and later died on November 3, 1219, while on the Fifth Crusade at the siege of Damietta in Egypt.

The ceremonies at Runnymede on June 15, 2015, were attended by British royalty and dignitaries from around the world, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, William, the Duke of Cambridge, Princess Anne, Prime Minister David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Hubbard, president of the ABA, and Loretta Lynch, attorney general of the United States.

Jack and his grandson Walkin 

Jack, his daughter, and grandson attended exclusive events for ABA members at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley at Deerfield in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and at U.S. Ambassador to the UK David Barzun’s residence at Winfield House in London.

England’s Prince William 

They visited Darwin College at the University of Cambridge, attended formal dinners and enjoyed Darwin’s annual formal ball. They also managed to tour Royal Air Force Bases at Duxford, Mildenhall, and Lakenheath with the assistance of a current USAF JAG officer living in Cambridge.

Jack’s time at UGA led to his successful career as a lawyer, professor and author. Several of his undergraduate and law professors took a personal interest in his education and motivated Jack to become a productive member of the legal profession. Those inspirational professors at Georgia included Ed Best, Perry Sentell and Dean Rusk.

Learn more about Jack Hood.

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!

Welcome back, students!

Today is the first day of the 2015-2016 academic year and the energy is palpable all over Athens! This past week:

–  Hunker Down for Housing moved in thousands of students into UGA residence halls

–  Sorority recruitment took place up and down Milledge Avenue

–  Moving vans were spotted across town as returning students moved into new apartments

–  Construction on downtown additions sped up to completion

–  The Class of 2019 Freshman Welcome took place in Sanford Stadium (more to come on that later)

President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) has a special message for the UGA community, including the university’s outstanding alumni and friends who help make all that UGA offers a reality. Check it out:

And don’t forget to follow along with the entire week’s action at welcome.uga.edu – you can even submit your own content using #welcomeUGA!

Athens Alumni Office
Wray-Nicholson House
298 S. Hull Street
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-2251 | (800) 606-8786

alumni@uga.edu

Atlanta Alumni Center
Live Oak Square
3475 Lenox Road NE, Suite 870
Atlanta, GA 30326
(404) 814-8820

ugaatl@uga.edu

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