Q&A with UGA Alumna Ebonie Medious

Alumni Spotlight: Ebonie Medious (AB ’17, AB ’17)

My name is Ebonie Medious and I graduated from UGA in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications studies from Franklin College and a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs from SPIA. I also minored in global health. I’m originally from Hampton, Georgia, and almost attended LSU. However, I ultimately chose the University of Georgia after spending a weekend with Georgia Daze, an overnight campus visitation program. I loved every moment of being on campus so I had to come to UGA! I started getting involved with the Alumni Association while I was still a student by donating to the Student Alumni Association.

I currently live in San Francisco and work for LinkedIn as an associate program manager in inclusion recruiting. I’m thankful for UGA and the Alumni Association as it’s given me opportunities to stay connected and feel at home in a brand-new city. When I moved to California, I sought out the Bay Area Alumni Association as a way to meet new people who had something common with me.


Q&A with Ebonie

  1. What was your favorite class at Georgia?

Foreign Policy Decision Making

  1. What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Be open to all opportunities that come your way and connect with your classmates on LinkedIn!

  1. Describe Athens in three words.

Southern, Hospitality, Charming

  1. Describe UGA in three words.

The Arch, Tailgates, Tate

  1. What is your favorite thing to do in your current city?

Visit the wineries in Napa Valley.  

  1. What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that?

I thought I was going to be a corporate attorney. But, I don’t think I have it in me to go through another round of school again.

  1. What is the most important lesson you learned in college?

Getting a C in a class is not the end of the world!

  1. What do you know for sure? What will you never understand?

The University of Georgia is by far the best institution to attend! I will never understand what makes other institutions’ alumni think that their school is better than UGA!

Sock Fancy: The Most Subscribable Bulldog 100 Company

The UGA Alumni Association interviewed Stefan Lewinger (AB ’11), CEO of Sock Fancy, the “Most Subscribable Bulldog 100 Company.” The Bulldog 100 celebrates Dawgs on top by recognizing the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni each year.

  1. Tell our readers a little bit about your story. How did you end up starting Sock Fancy?

Our story starts almost six years ago, 2013, in a house that my co-founder and I shared. We were each other’s springboards for ideas, and we were just a few years out of Georgia. We were navigating a challenging job market at the time, and we found it annoying that we couldn’t find durable and good-looking socks. Everything could be delivered to your door, but we were still traveling to department stores and waiting in lines to buy socks. We wanted to change the way people talked about socks. I built our first version of the website, and I cobbled a site together. We wanted to get to market as fast as possible and we knew it would take a while to develop our own line. We started as a curation service and that allowed us some time to learn what customers liked or didn’t like about different styles, etc. We did seven different factories and 20 fabrics before we found what worked. Everyday crew socks that didn’t have the compromises found in the market at the time. We knew we needed to have a really great product.

  1. We know you offer an innovative monthly subscription service; can you elaborate about what other services you provide?

Subscription is our main focus – we wanted to change people’s minds about socks. We get that there are people that won’t subscribe but want to buy in packs or customizable. We do also offer custom corporate boxes – we have created some for companies like Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola. We really like dealing with different companies, their stories, and why they might be interested in this product to show off their brand. They can show off their personality which is really important to brands right now. We had people who were subscribers and asked if we could make a custom version for them. You could say we kind of got pushed into this world and started our own program.

  1. What has been the most surprising part of running your own company?

I think the most surprising part has been the fulfillment or satisfaction from employing really good people. For the first 2-3 years it was just me and my partner. We were nervous to start bringing on employees but it has been nothing but the greatest experience to be able to provide salaries, a great work place, and fun for others. We have seven full-time employees and eight part-time employees – helping them pay for their house and car is one of my proudest achievements.

  1. What’s the number one thing you learned at UGA that has prepared you for what you are doing now?

I really learned the idea of sharpening my networking skills; a lot of it has to do with my experience at Georgia and that it is such a large community. Georgia was a microcosm of the entrepreneurial world where people are all looking for their place and role in the world – it’s allowed me to connect and build community with other entrepreneurs.

  1. What’s your favorite pair of socks right now?

My favorite pair is planetariums; it has a bunch of stars and planets on it – so I am nerd at heart.

  1. What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?

I love being able to employ hard-working and talented people, and I love the idea of being able to create something that people love, use, and enjoy. That you can really shape your own future and brighten other peoples’ lives along the way is humbling and exciting.

  1. What do you think are some of the values that have made you successful or what do you value as a company?

Our motto and our words to live by are “elevate the everyday, every month.” We want both our members and our employees to have a great experience – we strive to make the everyday extraordinary. We aren’t saving the world, but we are making really great socks. And if we can make everything a little bit better, that’s our goal. We really strive to make the mundane a little more magical.

  1. Do you have any advice for future Bulldog entrepreneurs? 

Luckily, you have a leg up if you are going to the University of Georgia. I want to borrow from Nike and say “Just Do It.” There are risks and you’re going to have convince yourself, but you just have to start. Starting is the hardest part. Odds are you will fail, but you can’t let it stop your dreams. Focus on the bigger pictures and get going – if you’re smart and a savvy, hungry person, you will make it work.

Maria Taylor shares her experiences with future leaders

Maria Taylor (ABJ ’09, MBA ’13) is an alumna who models what it means to be committed to the University of Georgia. Most recently, Maria participated in the Terry Leadership Speaker Series where she shared her wisdom and experiences with UGA students 

A breakthrough reporter on the national stage, Maria became the first black female to co-host ESPN’s College Gameday, and she is currently in her second season. Maria has a passion for developing leaders–whether it is through her charity, The Winning Edge Leadership Academy, or by serving on the Grady Society Alumni Board 

As a double Dawg, Maria earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast news in 2009, and her MBA in 2013. She was a student athlete in two sports: basketball and volleyball. During the Terry event in the UGA Chapel, Maria was interviewed by Kendall Kazor (BBA ’19), a fellow UGA volleyball alumna.

Opportunities are nearly endless for graduates to return to campus–like Maria–and share their advice and experiences with fellow students. Interested? The UGA Alumni Association can help connect you with the right person on campus.

UGA named No. 13 Best Public University by U.S. News & World Report

As University of Georgia alumni and friends strengthen their commitment to UGA year over year, the world is taking notice—U.S. News & World Report named UGA No. 13 on its list of 2019 Best Public Universities.

This ranking (up three spots from last year’s ranking) represents the power of the ever-increasing support UGA has received in the last several years, particularly from alumni—in fact, a “loyal alumni participation number” factors into the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

Our alumni’s support is critical to UGA’s success, and the stronger UGA becomes, the more accomplished and engaged our alumni become. Yvette Dupree (BBA ’03, MAT ’07, PHD ’12), a member of the Young Alumni Council, is an example of our motivated alumni who understand this well.

“The Young Alumni Council wants alumni to realize that their gifts are vitally important to the university’s ranking and our reputation around the world,” said Yvette. “The better the ranking, the better it is for alumni. It’s a win-win.”

“The Young Alumni Council wants alumni to realize that their gifts are vitally important to the university’s ranking and our reputation around the world. The better the ranking, the better it is for alumni. It’s a win-win.”

Alumni organizations like these empower our alumni and, in turn, empower the university. Our alumni chapters are ready to welcome Georgia Bulldogs all over the world, help them stay connected to UGA, and make sure they never bark alone.

To those who have made a gift to UGA in the last year, thank you for your continued commitment to your alma mater. If you have not already made a gift, please learn more about the Commit to Georgia Campaign and consider making a gift today to count in upcoming rankings.

Alumni spotlight: Chuck McCarthy

We caught up with Chuck McCarthy (AB ’03), artist, actor and founder of The People Walker, to talk about how his UGA experience led him to an unexpected, but satisfying, career path. McCarthy’s one-of-a-kind business is a combination of the services provided by a personal trainer and a dog walker. The People Walker’s mission is to connect people who want to go on a walk with walking partners.

Chuck McCarthy, The People Walker

What did you want to be when you grew up?                      

I wanted to go into medicine because my grandfather was a doctor. I originally started school as a pre-med major but then went into the art school. I didn’t know what I specifically wanted to be, but I knew I had to do something creative. Art school prepared me for life because it was so subjective. There was no right or wrong answer for most things in the art world. That’s true for a lot of things when you graduate.

Walk me through the foundation of your business, The People Walker. Tell me about the very first moment this brilliant idea came about.

At first, the idea came up as a joke. I was looking for a way to make money while getting more exercise, so I thought about being a dog walker. But I didn’t want to pick up dog poop. There’s a lot of personal trainers and dog walkers in Los Angeles, so I thought maybe I’ll just start walking with people.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were people who would want or need this service. People could use my company for two services: motivation and safety. We know that we need exercise but it can be hard to motivate ourselves to walk. Even the most motivated people need someone to hold themselves accountable. Then, safety was also an essential service. A few years ago, my mom went on a walk alone in the woods and fell. She broke her leg in about seven different places. People need safety from falling down, being alone, being cat-called or being bothered by others.

Chuck McCarthy, The People Walker

What is your favorite thing to do in Los Angeles?

I love to go on hikes. Even with all the walking I do, I still find myself finding new paths in the park that I live next to. You feel like an explorer when you find new places by yourself. There’s a book about a lot of the secret stairs here in L.A. but I’ve been reluctant to read it because I want to find them myself.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Find a job and don’t be scared to do something that isn’t exactly what you want to do. But, don’t feel like you have to stay in that job. A lot of times, people discover that they are working at a job that can lead to other opportunities. Get your foot in the door, but don’t get your foot stuck in the door. That sounds like a good saying, right?

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken that resulted in the most rewarding outcome?

Moving to California was a pretty big risk. It led to the life that I live today.

What do you know for sure?

There are always gonna be problems in life. But life is really about trying to deal with those problems. It’s always easier to deal with those problems if you have the help and support from other people.

What will you never understand? 

Why someone would go anywhere other than UGA.

Is there anything you wish you could change when looking back at your career decisions? 

No, because I think that everything you do leads to the next part of your life. You can’t be in this moment right now in your life without having made the mistakes that you’ve made, the wins that you’ve had and the right decisions you’ve made – you went to the high school, you went to and played whatever sports you did as a kid. Whether or not you won or lost a game, passed or failed the test, or lost money or made money that has led up to where you are in your life. You can’t really get rid of one thing without getting rid of everything else.

Brandon Stewart (BBA ’06) dishes on becoming a Jimmy John’s franchisee

Written by Liz Powell (BS ’06, ABJ ’06), a member of the Young Alumni Leadership Council.

Brandon Stewart had big plans of becoming a pilot before starting school at UGA, but after arriving in Athens he decided to become a lawyer instead. However, a critical piece of advice from Earl Leonard, the namesake of the Terry College of Business Leonard Leadership Fellows program, changed everything.

He asked Leonard about his tips for success after law school even though Stewart wasn’t sure he wanted to be a lawyer. Leonard replied, “Brandon, if you don’t want to be a lawyer, for goodness sakes, don’t go to law school.”

From that moment on, Stewart stopped following the path he felt he should take and instead, created his own. That path originally led him to pursue a career in finance, but after several years of working in investment banking and private equity, Stewart determined that he wanted to work more closely with people.

This led him to Jimmy John’s, where he became a franchisee, and opened his first store in Birmingham, Alabama in 2011. Today, he owns 52 Jimmy John’s locations across the Southeast. He credits his success to this mantra: “My employees are the most important part of my business and I will always treat them with respect and fairness.”

Brandon with his wife, Elizabeth, and son, George.

Stewart resides in Birmingham, and when he’s not traveling for work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, and his 2-year old son, George. He also makes time to give back to the local community by volunteering with the Phoenix Club of Birmingham, Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama and Birmingham Zoo.

We caught up with him and asked a few questions about his time at UGA and how he’s making an impact in his community, today.

Favorite class at UGA
“Lessons in Leadership,” taught by Pat Pittard, executive-in-residence at Terry College. He taught me to read the Wall Street Journal every day. He also showed me that I want to, and should, teach to inspire others after retirement.

Most memorable college experience
The first time I walked out of my dorm on football Saturday. I had no idea.

Athens in three words
Southern, nostalgic and easygoing.

The importance of UGA
UGA means so much for me and completely changed my life. I’ve reinvested about every single dollar I have made in my business and employees, but giving back to UGA is on my mind all of the time. I cannot wait for my business to reach a mature point to enable additional giving.

Advice to graduating seniors and recent graduates
Build a network, read often and never stop learning.

UGA gardens recognized as some of Georgia’s most charming landscapes

One of the finest things about UGA is its breathtaking landscapes. The book “Seeking Eden: A Collection of Georgia’s Historic Gardens” features three of UGA’s most recognized green spaces — the President’s House and Garden, the Founders Memorial Garden and North Campus.

Seeking Eden Authors

“Seeking Eden,” written by Staci L. Catron and Mary Ann Eaddy, takes readers through the rich history and current appearance of 30 Georgia gardens in detail and alongside beautiful imagery, photographed by James R. Lockhart. The highlighted landscapes were first recognized in the early 20th century publication, “Historic Gardens of Georgia, 1733-1933,” published by Peachtree Garden Club.

Seeking Eden book cover

The publishing of “Seeking Eden” was supported by a $75,000 gift from the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation in Columbus, Georgia. All proceeds from the book sales will benefit the Garden Club of Georgia’s Historic Landscape Preservation grants and scholarship program.

Order your copy of “Seeking Eden: A Collection of Georgia’s Historic Gardens” on UGA Press today.

Godfrey Powell takes hold of technology

This post was contributed by Bridgette Burton (ABJ ’11, AB ’11), marketing and communications chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council.  

Atlanta native Godfrey O. Powell, Jr. (BBA ’00), who leads product strategy for media partnerships at Facebook, delivered a talk at the TEDxUGA event on March 22. Powell majored in finance and management information systems at Georgia, and prior to joining the team at Facebook, he worked in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase, held leadership positions at Samsung and launched a film studio at Marvel Enterprises. His talk, titled “Taking Hold of Our Technophobia,” was about the intersection of media and technology.

Powell spoke about grappling with excitement around new technology and the fear of not being able to control the rate at which we are receiving information. He examines public opinion around technologies of the past, like the printing press and the automobile, to contextualize our fear of and relationships with technologies today. He also offered tips about how Wakanda, the fictional country in Black Panther, can serve as a model for how Americans can use technology as a tool, rather than forming unhealthy dependencies on smartphones.  

We caught up with Powell and asked him a few questions about his favorite things about the University of Georgia.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia? 

I wanted a large state school with a combo of good brand name, strong academics, and great sports programs. The deciding factor was I got a full HOPE Scholarship.

What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that? 

I always loved the idea of being a businessman and entrepreneur growing up.  The specifics I never knew.  Due to the current state of tech, I am fascinated to be in it and feel a high degree of entrepreneurship. At a certain point in the future, I may explore starting my own business.

What did you learn from your TEDx experience? 

I loved, and was quite challenged by, the creating and delivering a TEDx Talk. The basics of this process are obvious but worth mentioning: getting the right topic that matches your credibility and educates the audience, structuring the talk and then being (hopefully) entertaining. UGA was quite impressive in the way they organized the event, making it a large community event, and providing tons of tools and institutional knowledge to guide me in crafting the talk. I know from talking to the other presenters they felt the same way.   

I spent the first six weeks ideating on what topic I wanted to speak on, and how it could resonate. Then, I spent the next three weeks writing an outline, getting feedback from the team and putting together visuals. Then, I spent the last three weeks writing out the full draft and in the process memorizing it. The last week, I practiced it six times a day and each day made slight tweaks. Along the way, I shared it with trusted friends and family for feedback, which was a critical step in mastering the tone of piece and making it my own. I finally felt good the day before after dress rehearsal and getting feedback from the TEDx Talk curator. 

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates? 

Throughout my career I’ve used this same thesis: I pursue things that just seem interesting and unique to collect experiences. Each step, I thought about the potential for growth and learning. Am I joining an area that has industry growth? When you look at industry growth, it matters less the exact role, but just getting involved.  


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)