The UGA Alumni Association is proud to spotlight Kelly Smith (BSPH ’92, PHARMD ’93), dean of the UGA College of Pharmacy, who returned to her alma mater in late 2018.
Kim Metcalf’s (BSEH ’93, MS ’96) reputation preceded her. I’d recently witnessed her receive the title of Most Engaged, an award created just for her, during an Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting. UGA Development and Alumni Relations staff members had described her as outstanding, awesome, incredible and every other raving adjective. Well … she exceeded every accolade.
Beginning her UGA involvement
Kim joined the environmental health science club during her second year of college, then represented the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the University Council. Kim helped found Epsilon Nu Eta, the Environmental Health Science Honor Society. Her favorite extracurricular activity, though, was Arch Society, a student organization that serves as official hosts and goodwill ambassadors on behalf of the university. As a charter member, she still feels immense loyalty and connection to UGA because of it.
Mentee to mentor
Kim graduated with a Bachelor of Science in environmental health in 1993. “I always stayed in touch with my professors,” Kim mentioned. In fact, she had the opportunity to earn her master’s degree because of Phillip Williams, her professor and mentor who later became the founding dean of the UGA College of Public Health. He asked her to be the “guinea pig” for a new academic program. In 1996, UGA awarded her its first ever Master of Science in environmental health. Williams also opened doors to help launch her career. In describing their friendship, Kim said, “He came to my wedding. He’s always been a constant in my life.”
Since graduation, Kim has found herself on the other side of many mentorships with UGA students. “Sometimes kids just need someone to be there,” she said, “It’s not always about career paths and internships. Sometimes they just got dumped and need a new perspective! I love being a port in the storm for kids.”
One of her mentees is now considered a “bonus brother” to her four children. They met during an alumni luncheon and she discovered his family had recently moved away. “I gave him my card and told him to call me for a home-cooked meal. Now he’s like my fifth child.”
I’d guess most of Kim’s mentees feel like part of her family.
Kim runs her own environmental consulting business, Riverbend Environmental, a four-time Bulldog 100 honoree. It’s safe to say she doesn’t have a ton of free time and yet she spends it volunteering; she considers it her “me” time. She speaks to UGA classes regularly and she has served as vice president for the Athens Alumni Chapter for several years. At the time I spoke with her, Kim was planning an Arch Society reunion, too.
Perhaps one of Kim’s greatest volunteer roles at UGA has been with the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors. She was a member in the early 2000s for four years, and then came back to serve again in 2015. When we met, she had just finished her second two-year term. Being on the alumni board is prestigious and time-consuming – serving twice speaks volumes about Kim’s commitment to her alma mater.
Predictably, Kim has said the most rewarding experience during those terms has been working with the other board members. “They are all selected for a particular reason and they all bring unique leadership perspectives. It’s given me the opportunity to form foundations of friendship that will last forever,” she said.
When asked to describe the work they’re doing, Kim said, “We are a working board that is actually making a difference. We are ‘friend-raising’, guiding decisions, bringing people in, reengaging them and networking.” UGA will only continue to improve with exceptional board members who are dedicated and excited–people like Kim.
A love for people
Kim’s passion for UGA cannot be overstated. Her fourth child was baptized at the Chapel on campus. While planning an Athens visit from Atlanta when her first child was just a few months old, the hotel asked if her reservation was for a prospective student. She answered without hesitation, “Absolutely!” But Kim’s consistent involvement is cultivated by a deeper love for connecting with others.
“People always say everyone has a talent,” she told me. “I just love people. I love helping people.”
Meeting Kim was delightful. She lived up to her reputation of being truly outstanding, awesome, incredible and more. Her commitment to the University of Georgia is impressive and I’m sure anyone she’s met would agree!
One might say she’s a #DGD.
JIT (just in time) for Mother’s Day, we’re spotlighting Helmsie, a Georgia-based lifestyle brand that offers “nostalgic and Southern goods for momma and babe.”
Helmsie is the dream child of Sarah Howell (MS ’10), who graduated from UGA’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences with a degree in biological engineering, and her BFF Karla Pruitt, a licensed wallpaper, fabric and greeting card designer. The pair was interested in merging the South’s “rich, timeless culture” with the “renewed interest of uniquely Southern design.”
Today, their business focuses on being well-designed, yet functional–all in an effort to serve today’s “style-conscious momma.” They pride themselves on producing goods that will “add a little whimsy and joy to your day-to-day.” Here are just a few of the products available at helmsiebaby.com/shop:
Not Your Momma’s Alphabet Cards ($15)
I’m MOMMA Necklace ($30)
Bee Earrings ($20)
Pink Bee Poster ($34)
Sarah graduated from UGA in 2010 with a master’s degree in biological engineering (her undergraduate degree is from Furman University) and is an associate adjunct professor at Ashford University, teaching courses in health care ethics and medical statistics. In 2017, she added co-founder and CEO of Helmsie to her resume. This engineer-turned-entrepreneur manages the business side of house for the brand from her home in Atlanta. The wife and mother of two admits to also being an avid collector of vintage jewelry.
Interested in supporting UGA students seeking to follow in Sarah’s business-running footsteps? Consider making a gift to UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program Support Fund.
We all have favorite destinations: the sunny Miami beaches, the picturesque Grand Teton Mountains, The Great American City of Chicago, charming Savannah and the buzzing Big Apple. We want to share these places we love with friends and family, and incorporating sustainability into our lives ensures we will always be able to do that.
Megan Reeves (AB ’18) grew up with Stone Mountain in her backyard. She and her family spent weekends hiking, visiting national parks, and enjoying the outdoors, all of which sparked an interest in sustainability. The value of sustainable practices solidified for Megan when, as a communication studies major, she worked towards earning the Certificate in Sustainability at the University of Georgia.
The Sustainability Certificate, created in 2016, was a response to requests by students for more sustainability education in the university’s curriculum. The program aligns with UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan that declared leadership in sustainability research, education and service would become “hallmarks” of the university.
“The Certificate in Sustainability provides students with foundational knowledge and leadership skills to create systemic change, add value to businesses, and improve the world. Our students learn by doing: working in interdisciplinary teams to develop sustainable solutions to real-world challenges and community needs,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability at the university.
In Megan’s opinion, the uniqueness of the Sustainability Certificate program comes from the diverse coursework and the differing educational backgrounds of students united by a common passion for sustainability. The interdisciplinary approach of the certificate, supported by 10 schools and colleges, provides a holistic education for students, who take courses in three spheres of sustainability—ecological, economic and social—taught in an array of departments. At the program’s conclusion, students complete hands-on capstone projects that tackle a variety of sustainability challenges.
Megan has had the privilege of watching the program flourish from the first small cohort of 20 students to 160 current students. The program opened many doors for Megan. The most influential experience Megan had during the program was working as the Sustainability Certificate Intern alongside Dr. Ron Balthazor and Melissa Ray, both of whom oversee the program. During the internship, Megan met with a wide variety of students, spreading the word on the new program, and she worked alongside people she calls “the most uplifting and outstanding individuals.”
Dr. Balthazor says Megan “embodies the very best of what we hope for in students in the Sustainability Certificate program.”
“Like so many of our students, she sees the challenges we face with clear eyes and diligently and enthusiastically works toward solutions,” said Dr. Balthazor. “Her interesting mix of sustainability-focused course work and her experience in internships and our capstone project all give her perspectives and skills that she brings to her ongoing work in sustainability.
“She is, in every way, an inspiration to me, and I know she will accomplish so many good things. She gives me great hope.”
Today, Megan works on the Recycling and Waste Division team at Cox Conserves. This branch of Cox Enterprises focuses on enhancing sustainability within all extensions of Cox and the communities they serve. The division, launched in 2007, has ambitious goals, including being zero-waste-to-landfill by 2024 and carbon- and water-neutral by 2044. Megan believes her time in the Sustainability Certificate program prepared her to be successful at Cox Conserves.
Dr. Balthazor and Melissa remind their Sustainability Certificate students to “remember the why” behind sustainability: people. As a part of the sustainability industry, Megan now sees the value of this wisdom. It’s easy to get caught up in debates around sustainability, but we must remember the end goal: preserving the places we love for the people we love.
Because of her experience in the Sustainability Certificate program, Megan has two pieces of advice to others hoping to follow a similar path. The first: don’t be afraid to pick people’s brains, because doors will open when you ask questions and show your curiosity. The second: always go back to the “why.”
If you are interested in giving to advance sustainability initiatives at the University of Georgia, please demonstrate your commitment to Sustainable UGA.
Award-winning correspondent and University of Georgia alumna Deborah Roberts has committed $100,000, matched by the UGA Foundation, to establish a need-based scholarship through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program.
“We are thrilled that such a distinguished alumna has committed to supporting need-based aid at UGA,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Her generosity is an example of the tremendous alumni support that continues to move our university into the future. Deborah’s gift will open the door to higher education for students today, tomorrow and in perpetuity.”
Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline” and “Good Morning America” to name a few.
“I feel honored, privileged and, indeed, blessed to be able to offer a student who’s dreaming of success the opportunity to make those dreams come true,” said Roberts. “Growing up in small-town Georgia, I know the value of education and embrace this opportunity to change lives and futures.”
Roberts’ scholarship will provide aid to graduates of Perry High School, which she attended, as well as other high schools in middle Georgia.
Through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, the UGA Foundation matches—dollar for dollar—any gift in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students. The scholarship is awarded within a year of the donor making their gift, and from that point forward, the endowment grows—increasing the size of the scholarship award over time and helping student after student earn a UGA degree.
Since the matching program’s creation in 2017, over $54 million has been dedicated to new need-based scholarships, with over 265 donors giving to the program. Scholarship recipients also benefit from academic support in the form of tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and more.
Born in Perry, Georgia, Roberts began her post-UGA career at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and her connection to the university has remained through her many positions since then. In 1993, she received the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award, presented annually to high-achieving young alumni.
In 2006, Roberts delivered UGA’s Holmes-Hunter lecture, and in 2016 she presented an Alumni Seminar. Earlier this year, she participated in a panel discussion entitled “Grady Greats: A Conversation on the Enduring Values and Power of Journalism.” She will deliver UGA’s spring undergraduate Commencement address on May 10.
As a major component of the Commit to Georgia Campaign’s effort to remove barriers for students, the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program has been a critical element of UGA’s fundraising success over the past two years. To find out how you can contribute to that success, visit give.uga.edu/georgia-commitment.
Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Kelly Kautz (AB’ 99, JD’02), in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
What year did you graduate from UGA? What was your major?
I was a double dawg. I graduated in 1999 as a political science/criminal justice major, then I graduated from the School of Law in 2002.
Why did you choose to attend UGA?
I knew I wanted to go into law and possibly politics. If you look at the leaders of our state in that time, everyone was a University of Georgia graduate. If you looked at the governor, justice on the supreme court, secretary of state or speaker of the house, all of them were UGA graduates. It was the most influential university in our state, so I chose to come to UGA.
What path led you to establishing your own law firm/practice?
At the time, I wanted to run for elected office. I opened up my own practice so I could have the time and flexibility to do that.
How did you get involved with the Women of UGA Leadership Council?
I’m passionate about the University of Georgia. I’m a huge fan of not just sports, but the university itself. I wanted to give back to the university in ways that would continue to touch peoples’ lives, even after they have left school. When I heard that Women of UGA was being formed, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do what I wanted to do.
What are you enjoying most about serving on the Women of UGA Leadership Council?
I think there is a great group of women on the council. Everyone is equally passionate about our school. I’m chair of the events committee, so I work on planning and events, such as our Cookies and Cocoa, event we having coming up. Just being able to have outreach with not only women on the council, but other alumni coming back is really exciting.
What is the most valuable piece of career advice someone gave to you?
In the 8th-grade I had an attorney say, “If you take away one person’s rights, what’s to stop you from having the domino effect on others?” Another time, someone told me, “you can’t say anything about things unless you’re willing to make a difference.” That’s when I decided to go into criminal law and politics.
What advice would you give to graduating seniors or recent college graduates?
I would tell them that it’s difficult out there. It’s a different place and especially finding a job can be difficult sometimes. However, you all (students) have a great network of alumni, and you can’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You can’t give up. You have to keep trying.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you visit Athens?
As funny as it sounds, I really love coming back to Athens to eat. There are so many great restaurants in Athens. I love going back to the different restaurants. I really love to come back and have Cecilia’s Cakes. I think they sell them in a couple of restaurants, but they have a location on Milledge Avenue that I love to visit when I come back to Athens. I have a little 3-year-old who just got to ring the Chapel bell last time we visited Athens, so I can’t wait to start making these same memories with him.
How has being part of the Women of UGA Leadership Council benefitted you?
It has helped me reform a connection and attachment with the university. I feel like a lot of times when we leave the university, we lose that connection we had with the university. I have loved coming back to where I belong and feeling that attachment with the university.
What is your favorite UGA memory?
I spent eight years in Athens, and I don’t have any bad memories. I met my husband in Athens. I made lifelong friendships there. They’re all great memories. I used to be in charge of parade for homecoming in Athens. Working with the older cheerleaders that come back for the games, parade and pep rallies was such a blast and always a great time. Sharing that enthusiasm was them is one of my fondest memories.
Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Terri Polk (BBA’86) in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
In what year did you graduate from UGA and what was your major?
I graduated in 1986, and my major was finance.
What are you up to now?
As the director of brand development at The Coca-Cola Co., I help to drive brand awareness of our tea and coffee portfolio brands across the U.S. The tea and coffee brands include Gold Peak Tea, FUZE Tea, Honest Tea and Peace Tea.
What is the most important thing that you learned in college?
I ran track at Georgia, so I would say the most important thing I learned was time management. Time management in terms of being able to accomplish my academic and athletic goals, manage friendships, have time to be student (as in being crazy), have fun and be a kid. So, the greatest thing I learned was how to manage my time to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish. I was also able to add on additional skills in being persistent, relentless and hyper-focused. Those traits help me now.
How did you get involved with the Women of UGA Leadership Council?
You know, it’s so random how things happen. I wasn’t engaged with UGA for a number of years. About five years ago, I ran into Yvette Daniels, the current secretary UGA Alumni Association (AB ’86, JD ’89) and she asked if I was ready to get engaged with Georgia. I asked to think on it a little bit. I thought on it for about a year, and I called her back about it about four years ago. I started just attending events that were sponsored in Atlanta and seeing exactly was the university was up to from an academic perspective. Then, I became involved a little later.
Why is the Women of UGA Leadership Council important to you?
You get to a point in your life when you want to start giving back for what you have received. That point has come for me in terms of being able to serve the university in a way that’s helpful for future students. Doing work to support the scholarship that Women of UGA has endowed is one way to do that for me. Being able to help students with an academic need was really intriguing for me.
What is your favorite UGA memory?
One of my professors gave me absolute support and was actually interested in my success. He would even come to track meets! It meant the world to me to see a professor at our track meets. That was phenomenal and a good memory for me. Another good memory for me was going to all of the sorority and fraternity parties in Memorial Hall back in the day. It was really hot, but fun. It was the only thing going on so if you weren’t at the party in Memorial, what were you doing?
What about the Women of UGA Leadership Council excites you the most?
The fact that the council includes women with diverse backgrounds and interesting things that they do. From their experiences at Georgia to what they do professionally now, that is quite motivating. From a separate perspective, being able to look around the room and see the success that these women bring to the table. Overall, it’s the ability and excitement to create programs that bring alumni together and bring opportunities to raise funds for the Women of UGA Scholarship Fund. That really excites me.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at UGA since you were in school?
The way the campus has expanded, the majors being offered and the competitiveness of getting into the school. I also like the emphasis on global education and experiences. Seeing the opportunities to study abroad makes me happy. When I was going to school, the thought of going abroad was out of reach to even think about. Now to see it as generally part of the curriculum to go out of the country and get a global perspective is awesome and one of the best changes I’ve seen.
Where was your favorite place to eat when you were a UGA student?
I was a poor student, so my favorite place to eat was O-House. I lived at O-House. I ate at O-House. I studied at O-House. I swam at O-House. I walked out the door and went to Sunday brunch at O-House. My food was already paid for, so I went to O-House. The food was really good!
Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Alissa Vickery (BBA ’01, MACC ‘01), fundraising chair for the Women of UGA Leadership Council in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
What kind of advice would you give to a current UGA student?
Work hard and appreciate the fact that, whether you’re paying for it or your parents are paying for it or you have scholarship money, that what you’re doing day-to-day matters, embrace what you’re doing, the classes you’re taking and what they’re trying to teach you because the more immersed in the content you can become the more relatable it will be. Your grades matter!
The other thing I would say is to figure out something other than school to become a part of because when you come out of school, you don’t want all you have on your resume to be your GPA. People are looking for someone well-rounded, especially with the current job market. If you want to set yourself apart, figure out how to make sure you’re a well-rounded individual.
What’s the most important thing you learned while at UGA?
I was that kid in high school who never had to study that hard so I think I came to Georgia not really knowing how to study as a result, and I got slapped in the face pretty hard my freshman year first quarter. I failed my first test. It was a calculus test and I thought “I had this class before. It’s fine.” It wasn’t fine because I just didn’t know how to be a student, but I turned it around pretty quick. I figured out how to study, and I did come out of that class with an A even though I failed that first exam. So I learned how important hard work and perseverance are, whether you get the A or the B.
How did you get involved with Women of UGA?
A women I had met through work had mentioned that the Alumni Association was looking to create a new women’s affiliation group similar to young alumni and black alumni, specifically geared towards women, and she thought that I would be great so I applied.
For me, UGA continues to be a part of who I am and what we do in our free time. We come up for football game, come up for gymnastic meets occasionally. We love the town and try to come back every chance we get, and this was just sort of one more way to still be engaged with the university and at the same time giving back my time and trying to make a little bit of a difference.
What about the Women of UGA Council excites you the most?
For me, it’s all about outreach to the alumni community. It’s a lot of networking and getting to know new people but through that our end goal is that we want to raise money for scholarships for students in need. We want to close the gap for students who need a scholarship to be able to attend UGA. You can really make a difference in someone’s life that way. We want alumni to feel engaged and impacted enough that they’ll want to give back.
So what’s your favorite memory from UGA?
My freshmen year we played Auburn at Auburn, and it was a really cool game. It was the first time any game had gone to four overtimes with the new rules. It was at Auburn and some of my friends from high school went to Auburn and obviously, I had friends at Georgia too. We were all together and sitting in the second row, in front of the band with the students. It was the game that Uga actually leapt up at the Auburn player and tried to bite him because the Auburn player was taunting him. I’m actually in that picture that you see everywhere of Uga jumping up at the guy! We also won that game so Georgia fans rushed the field afterwards. It was one of those things that looking back at is such a cool experience! Go Dawgs!
Every year, the UGA Alumni Association recognizes top businesses owned by UGA graduates through the Bulldog 100 program. These outstanding businesses range from financial firms to barbecue restaurants and even interior design companies.
This year, Women of UGA Council Member Amber Gizzi (BSFCS ’14) from Pineapple House Interiors in Atlanta and Charlotte Lucas (BSFCS ’05), owner of Charlotte Lucas Interior Design in Charlotte, NC made the list.
We had the opportunity to talk with Charlotte and Amber about their time at UGA and their experiences with Bulldog 100.
Charlotte and Amber both graduated from the furnishings and interiors program in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS). They described the program as influential to their development as interior designers and as business owners.
“They required summer internships so I was really able to kind of get my feet wet for two summers in between school,” said Charlotte. “That really helped me to understand and get some experience.”
Charlotte’s company, which specializes in “providing perfectly proportioned rooms and one-of-a-kind, customized designs,” made the Bulldog 100 list for the second time this year, coming in at spot number 15. Her company placed fourth on the list last year and was the first time a graduate from Family and Consumer Science made it in the top 10.
“I was so thrilled and so excited to be included and so excited to have a connection back to Georgia again,” Charlotte said. “It makes me proud that I have grown my business the way I have and that I am being recognized by my school. I think that just being on it is a thrill and an honor.”
Amber, whose business Pineapple House Interiors made the 2018 list at number 56, shares that sentiment.
“I was so excited and proud when I found out we made the Bulldog 100 list,” said Amber. “We work really hard, so it felt good to get some recognition and validation amongst impressive peers. Being honored by UGA feels like something I love loving me back. I want to make my school proud and represent it the best I can.”
Pineapple House Interiors works globally on projects ranging from decorating, to renovations, to new construction. Amber credits her UGA education with preparing her to take on a partner role at such a young age. Still, she says nothing beats real world experience.
“School gave me a great foundation in design, but I couldn’t have told you where to buy a sofa when I graduated, let alone pulled together a cohesive design plan,” said Amber. “Even if your goal is to eventually start your own company, you need to go work for an experienced designer or business owner first.”
Nominations for the 2019 Bulldog 100 are open through May 31, 2018.
Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Anne Beckwith (BBA ’90), secretary for the Women of UGA Leadership Council in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
Tell me about your time as a student here at the University of Georgia and what role the university played in preparing you for your future.
The University played such a large role in my life; it’s hard to narrow it down. It’s fall football Saturdays since I was 10, it’s my friends, it’s my husband, it kicked off my career, it gave me opportunities to reach beyond the skills I learned at home. Some of it is little things, like attending a large reception at the President’s home, so that the next time I was at a large gathering where I only know a limited amount of people, I was better prepared. Some of it was larger things, like finding out what I was good at–I ultimately enjoyed a major that was not on my radar as a freshman.
Do you have a cause that you are passionate about? If so, how do you pursue this in your personal and professional life?
After my family and my dogs, UGA is actually one of my passions! I think it is an incredible resource for the State of Georgia and helps and binds people throughout the entire state. Personally, I want to help UGA students to experience the entirety of college – attending a university is more than just going to class, which you should go to class!! It’s socializing with your peers but also with adults. It’s making good friends. It’s learning to give a hand to those who need it. I personally feel strongly that as a successful UGA graduate, I should try to help others to have the space in their college lives to do those outside things, which I can do by increasing UGA’s ability to address financial need. It’s hard to do more than go to class when you are worried about your next meal or where you will sleep next week.
Why is the Women of UGA Leadership Council important to you?
Women of UGA has been personally enriching because I can see how we have raised money for an endowed need based scholarship and how we are creating events that keep women alumni in touch with their university. I think the new Cookies & Cocoa with Hairy Dawg was an amazing event that I can see being a family staple for decades. Meanwhile, our new Mentorship Monday series is personally and professionally enriching our more recent graduates.
What parting advice do you have for students who are trying to determine the best career path for them while at UGA?
Be open minded and don’t be afraid to be bad at things the first, the second or the umpteenth time you try something. Go to events, even if you don’t know any or many people there; you already know everyone in your dorm room or apartment. Talk to people and ask questions; this can be professors, the Career Development Center, people you meet at the events, etc.