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Alumni Podcast Spotlight: Waitin’ Since Last Saturday

Born in Five Points in Athens, Waitin’ Since Last Saturday is a podcast focused on UGA athletics helmed by two Dawgs—Scott Duvall (AB ’00) and Tony Waller (BSA ’90, JD ’93)—and an Illinois grad who quickly developed his own Bulldog fandom, Will Leitch. We asked the three of them about how the podcast came to be, their personal UGA-fan “origin stories,” favorite moments from the pod, and more.

How did you all meet?

Scott: Will and his wife moved to Athens and we hung out for a couple years. He got to experience his first-ever Georgia game-watching party with me and my friends in 2013. The Dawgs lost against Clemson, but he was sold on the fun and passion of being a Georgia fan.

I met Tony through Will. He introduced me to Tony at a Georgia basketball game and I remember asking Will, ‘Hey, is he that famous Georgia blogger?’ He was indeed that. The next couple of times I ran into him, it was like we had hung out for years.

What was your UGA experience like?

Scott: My UGA experience was fantastic. As far as football goes, there were many ups and downs and a lot of losses to Florida. But the years I spent as an undergrad in Athens caused me to fall in love with the city—and fall in love with my girlfriend, whom I married a year after graduation. I graduated with a BA in Speech Communication and have used those skills to help develop my talent as a filmmaker, photographer and podcaster.

Tony: It was an interesting time in the University’s life. We were transitioning from the Davidson to the Knapp years, downtown was transitioning from mom-and-pop stores to more student focused businesses, parking was still out on the other side of the railroad tracks near the loop. I was fortunate to live in my fraternity house for three years after a year in Russell, so I was always close to campus—a great thing because I was very involved in campus activities.

Will: My wife is an alum, and we met in New York City in 2007. I knew she loved football—how could you go to UGA and not?—but I didn’t quite realize how much until the 2012 SEC Championship Game. We were living on the 22nd floor of a high-rise apartment building in downtown Brooklyn, watching the game with our new infant sleeping in the next room. When Chris Conley came up just short at the goal line, I was legitimately afraid my wife was going to throw an office chair out the window and onto unsuspecting New Yorkers hundreds of feet below. I wanted to be a part of anything that would make someone so passionate. When we moved here in 2013, with our kids going to school just across the street from Butts-Mehre, it was impossible not to get sucked in.

When did you know you were a Bulldog?

Scott: I was playing in a high school baseball game my senior year, and my mom held up my acceptance letter to UGA while I was in the on deck circle. I have no idea what I did during my plate appearance that day, but I was as excited as I could be. A few months later, I moved into Creswell Hall.

Tony: In 1978, when I was listening to Munson call the Rex Robinson FG to win at Kentucky while riding back from a rec. sports playoff football game in Port Wentworth.

What was the inspiration behind Waitin’ Since Last Saturday?

Scott: We were at Grindhouse Burgers on Lumpkin Street talking Georgia football, of course. I remember Will casually saying, “I’d do a podcast with you two.” Tony and I looked at each other and basically in unison, said, “Oh, we’re so doing this.”

Tony and I thought it was cool to have Will as a co-host. He wasn’t from here, didn’t grow up a Georgia fan and didn’t even attend Georgia. It would be a journey for him to learn in real time, during shows, the little nuances of why we do things a certain way in Athens.

Tony: I’ve had two different UGA Athletics-focused blogs over the years. I’ve always liked talking more than writing, so I’ve been doing podcasts in my head for years. Given the chance to work with a talented producer like Scott and a smart writer like Will just gave me an excuse to do so out loud.

How did you get started?

Scott: Our first show and the majority of our shows for the 2015 and 2016 seasons were recorded at my house in east Athens. Why my house? Well, I had one condenser microphone. I remember we had a hard time getting the sound just right. You could imagine three guys talking into one mic. But that’s what we did for the first few episodes. Then Tony bought two more. We still use those same three mics today.

How has the podcast grown over the past 6 years?

Scott: We just hit over half a million downloads. But, in all honesty, we gauge our growth on interactions. When someone stops us at a football game, or at a restaurant and lets us know how much they enjoy the show, that means so much to me. I especially love it when it happens when my family is around— my kids usually just roll their eyes.

We have sponsors during the football season and that helps validate the hours we put into the show. Growth is good, but the three of us would probably still do it only if 50 people listened.

Was there a moment where you felt like the podcast really took off?

Tony: We had fortuitous timing, in that we started a podcast in August of Coach Richt’s last season. Having a coaching transition and the excitement of Coach Smart’s first season helped us grow, but 2017 really gave us legs.

Scott: Some of the best shows we did coincided with the Dawgs’ 2017 season. It was the “revenge tour”—that’s how we kept referring to it—and the response on social media and download numbers shot up dramatically as Georgia kept winning games.

How do you balance the podcast with other commitments? When do you find the time to record?

Scott: I’m always editing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a corporate video for the University of Georgia or a local non-profit, or if I’m going through a photoshoot for a client. I’m always editing, and I love it. Having said that, there are times where I have a huge deadline and Will and Tony are great to understand that I either can’t join them or won’t be able to edit the show.

Tony: We just have to be intentional about carving out time. My wife gets that talking with these two is my personal counseling time. The fact Scott hits record is just a bonus.

What has been your favorite moment in creating the podcast?

Scott: My favorite moment is anytime Tony goes off on one of his crazy stories about his trip to Columbia, South Carolina or smoking meats, or throwing shade at opposing fans and coaches. I’m convinced Tony could be a stand-up comic.

Which guests have stuck out to you?

Scott: Georgia beat writer Seth Emerson is always a good one because he has the pulse of the team and it’s great to provide that kind of insight to our listeners.

Tony: The two Australians I spot interviewed in the stands during the break at the start of overtime at the Rose Bowl. These guys picked a heck of a game to get their first American college football game under their belts.

Any new, exciting content that listeners can anticipate this season?

Scott: Yep, I gazed into the future and Georgia’s going to win the national championship this year.

This one’s for Will. You’re an alumnus of the University of Illinois, but having been in Athens this long and in this specific era, do you now consider yourself a bigger fan of UGA or Illinois?

Will: Fortunately, these teams have yet to play each other—other than in women’s college basketball—since I moved here, so I don’t have to face this often. But I grew up right next to Champaign and have orange and blue (the good orange and blue, not the Auburn orange and blue) in my blood. If Illinois ever plays at Stegeman, you’ll see me in my season ticket seats wearing the Illini colors, I’m afraid. But I won’t be a jerk about it.

The real question: Who would my CHILDREN cheer for? Let me know when you know the answer so I can update my will.

Travelin’ tips from UGA grads for World Tourism Day

The COVID-19 pandemic has assuredly thrown a wrench in–or entirely squashed–the travel plans of Bulldogs across the country. For those who work in the travel industry, it’s been an especially difficult year. So today, on World Tourism Day (Sept. 27), we checked in with a few travel-savvy alumni to see what tips they have for those looking to adventure beyond American borders. We also asked them where they hope to visit someday.

Europe Scene

Favorite Place to Visit Outside the U.S.

“I studied abroad in college–once in London and once in Verona. There’s a special place in my heart for both the UK and Italy, and I can’t wait to return!” –Jessica Drew (BSFCS ’09, MS ’12), travel advisor, SmartFlyer, Jessica Drew Travel

“Hippo Lakes African Safari Lodge outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s a temperate climate year-round, beautiful, relaxing, and full of wildlife in their natural habitats.” –Stephanie Donlan (ABJ ’03), owner/travel planner, SJL Travel Co.

“Europe! I toured Germany, Austria, and Hungary with Adventures by Disney and Ama Waterways in 2018 and it was like sailing through a fairytale. It was a beautiful, educational and luxurious adventure.” –Christy Shadday (BSED ’93), co-owner and travel advisor, FTM Travel

“South Africa! I’ve been fortunate to visit twice and am so excited to visit again in the future.” –Lindsey Epperly (AB ’11), founder and ceo, Epperly Travel

“London is one of my favorite places. I was a history major at UGA and love how much history there is in London and that there are so many amazing things to experience!” –Elisabeth Alston (AB ’13), luxury travel advisor, Monarch Travel Team

“The Caribbean and its stunning sunrises and sunsets, fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, and great people. The list goes on!” –Eric Bowman (ABJ ’10), executive editor, TravelPulse.com

“Barcelona, Spain. The food and culture are amazing!” –Kim Hector (BBA ’06), owner and travel concierge, K. Hector Consulting LLC

Greece

Tips for Those Planning To Travel Abroad in 2021-2022

“Plan your trip at least six months in advance and remember to purchase travel insurance!” –Kim Hector (BBA ’06), owner and travel concierge, K. Hector Consulting LLC

“With recommendations and rules changing daily, it’s important to remain flexible and have the most up-to-date information.” –Jessica Drew (BSFCS ’09, MS ’12), travel advisor, SmartFlyer, Jessica Drew Travel

“Use a travel advisor. They can help plan, find amazing deals, and you’ll have someone in your corner should something happen on your trip.” –Eric Bowman (ABJ ’10), executive editor, TravelPulse.com

“Remaining flexible is key! When a travel expects the unexpected—whether a delayed flight or a change to COVID protocols—flexibility allows them to turn on a dime.” –Lindsey Epperly (AB ’11), founder and ceo, Epperly Travel

“Look into vendors with flexible date change policies.” –Stephanie Donlan (ABJ ’03), owner/travel planner, SJL Travel Co.

“Use a travel advisor! We are here to advise and guide clients so that costly and disappointing travel hiccups due to ever-changing travel protocols don’t happen.” –Christy Shadday (BSED ’93), co-owner and travel advisor, FTM Travel

“Check your passport expiration date! There is a backlog for renewals right now and we’ve had clients have to postpone or cancel trips because they didn’t get their passport back in time.” –Elisabeth Alston (AB ’13), luxury travel advisor, Monarch Travel Team

Africa

Where Would You Travel with an Unlimited Budget?

“I like to see new places, so right now, Italy is at the top of my bucket list. The food, the wine, the history … Venice, Rome, Florence, Lake Como, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany … I’d love to spend an entire month exploring it all!” –Eric Bowman (ABJ ’10), executive editor, TravelPulse.com

“It would be a dream to hop on the Four Seasons private jet and hop around the globe at their hotels.” –Lindsey Epperly (AB ’11), founder and ceo, Epperly Travel

“I would love to visit Africa. There is such a stigma about this beautiful area and I would love to explore everything!” –Kim Hector (BBA ’06), owner and travel concierge, K. Hector Consulting LLC

“I would love to visit Greece for an extended vacation. The culture, landscape, and food seem like the perfect combination for an idyllic getaway.” –Jessica Drew (BSFCS ’09, MS ’12), travel advisor, SmartFlyer, Jessica Drew Travel

“Paris because it’s a magical city that has history, art, food, wine and Disney.” –Stephanie Donlan (ABJ ’03), owner/travel planner, SJL Travel Co.

“I would charter a luxury yacht and sail the Western Mediterranean with my family. I’m a fan of unpacking once and waking up in a new destination each day.” –Christy Shadday (BSED ’93), co-owner and travel advisor, FTM Travel

“Africa is at the top of my bucket list. I would love to start in Kenya or Tanzania and do a safari, and then end in the Seychelles for some island relaxation.” –Elisabeth Alston (AB ’13), luxury travel advisor, Monarch Travel Team

Thanks to these globe-trotting Bulldogs for their insights. Wherever you travel next, snap a photo in your UGA gear and tag @UGAAlumni and use #AlwaysADawg. If you’re looking to plan your next getaway, check out the incredible tours offered through the UGA Alumni Association’s official travel partners.

Betting on Bulldogs: John Shurley’s legacy of entrepreneurship at UGA

Each year, the University of Georgia Alumni Association unveils the Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrated organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software.

Powered by the expertise of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, the program celebrates Dawgs on top and demonstrates the incredible value of a degree from UGA.

There is one unforgettable member of the Bulldog 100 community: John Shurley. Without his early commitment to the program and dedicated leadership ever since, Bulldog 100 would not be possible. John has supported the program with his facts, figures and insights for over a decade.

Joining the Bulldog 100 community

John is a proud Bulldog, earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from UGA in 1977. As a student, he was an active member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

John Shurley

John Shurley (third from right) with his fraternity brothers in 1977.

The UGA Office of Alumni Relations first approached John with the idea of starting a program to celebrate successful alumni entrepreneurs in 2007. John was an early backer of this startup idea. His love for UGA – and his support for hard-working business leaders – were invaluable in getting the Bulldog 100 off the ground.

John and his Atlanta office of Warren Averett have been Bulldog 100 partners since the program began in 2009. Warren Averett verifies financial information submitted by each company to determine the 100 fastest-growing, alumni-owned businesses. Bulldog 100 would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of John and his team.

Leaving his mark

From the beginning, John and the associates of Warren Averett provided pro bono accounting work, verified applications and finalized a ranked list with sound calculations. His leadership perfected the Bulldog 100 verification process and fostered development within the Office of Alumni Relations.

John values the Bulldog 100 mission to lead and serve. He appreciates the diverse backgrounds of alumni who make the list, from pharmacy to forestry resources, and always highlighted them at the annual Bulldog 100 ceremony.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the trust he placed in our team and for helping us realize our vision. His dedication has touched the lives of so many and put wind in the sails of countless alumni,” said Meredith Johnson Gurley, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association.

John’s legacy

John announced his retirement from Warren Averett last year. Though this year was our last with John helping lead Bulldog 100, his voice and guidance will be evident in the legacy of the Bulldog 100 for years to come. As an alumnus, champion of students and mentor to staff, John remains an integral member of the UGA family.

David Crabtree (BBA ’04), member at Warren Averett and fellow UGA graduate, will be assuming John’s position as a leader of the Bulldog 100.

“We look forward to working with David Crabtree at Warren Averett, who has been mentored by John these last few years – and what better preparation could he have?” said Meredith.

Where is John now?

John retired with his wife in St. Simons Island, Georgia. But no matter where John calls home, he will never bark alone. From Sanford Stadium to St. Simons, we’re ringing the bell in celebration of John’s impact on UGA.

Isakson gift caps $4.5 million fundraising effort for Parkinson’s research chair

The University of Georgia’s campaign to create the John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar position reached its goal of $4.5 million in private commitments, and the final contributor was the former U.S. Senator for whom the chair is named.

“We are deeply honored that Senator Isakson (BBA ’66) has made this commitment to the university. His decades of service to our state and nation and his support of UGA and higher education inspired this entire effort,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We also are very grateful for the generous gifts from additional individuals and organizations that are supporting this endowed position.”

The Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar position will help UGA attract a leading authority on brain disorders—with an emphasis on Parkinson’s, with which Isakson was diagnosed in 2015—to engage in teaching, research and public service. Fundraising for the chair attracted a variety of donors including individuals, businesses, foundations and more.

“I’m very proud to play a part in this effort,” said Isakson. “Of course, I’m honored that this position would carry my name, but more than anything, I am glad to see so many willing to give so much for this important cause. My deepest gratitude goes out to everyone who gave.”

A major supporter of the Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar position is the Georgia Research Alliance. GRA grows Georgia’s economy by expanding university research capacity and seeding and shaping startup companies around inventions and discoveries. UGA currently has 18 GRA Eminent Scholars on faculty, and a 19th is set to join the university in fall 2021.

The Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar will also be the director of UGA’s forthcoming Center for Brain Science and Neurological Disorders. Fundraising efforts are underway for the center, which will leverage UGA’s broad, comprehensive strengths to create an interdisciplinary program that will expand opportunities for collaborative and innovative solutions.

“I think the supporters of both the Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar and this new center understand the unique position UGA occupies and the potential for great work that comes with that,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “It’s very exciting, seeing these things come together and knowing that all the great work to come will honor a great man.”

Johnny Isakson

Isakson graduated from UGA in 1966 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in real estate. He met his future wife, Dianne, while both were UGA students, and they married in 1968. The year prior, he began working for Atlanta real estate firm Northside Realty, eventually serving as its president from 1979 to 1999.

His political career began in 1976, when he was elected to the first of seven terms in the Georgia House of Representatives. He was Republican minority leader in the Georgia House from 1983 to 1990. In 1993, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate, serving there until he was appointed chair of the state Board of Education by Gov. Zell Miller in 1996.

Isakson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 and served as a U.S. representative until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2016. Among his duties in the U.S. Senate, he served as chair of the Committee on Veterans Affairs and chair of the Select Committee on Ethics.

After his 2015 diagnosis with Parkinson’s, Isakson continued to work in public service until his health compelled him to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, 2019. In 2017, Isakson received the Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s Advocacy Award for his work to improve the lives of people living with the disease and for his advocacy in funding new treatments.

National Weatherperson’s Day: Q&A with Alex Wallace (ABJ ’04)

Alex Wallace (ABJ ’04) is an on-camera meteorologist with The Weather Channel. After earning a degree in broadcast news from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Alex earned a master’s degree in geosciences with an emphasis in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University. Since joining The Weather Channel on-camera in 2006, Alex has worked in both the studio and the field. He earned the 2012 John Drewry Award for Young Alumni Achievement from the Grady College.

In recognition of National Weatherperson’s Day (February 5), this weather-loving Bulldog shares what it’s like being an on-camera meteorologist and reflects on his time at the University of Georgia.

After studying broadcast news at UGA, what led you to pursue a career in meteorology?

I had a fascination with weather going back to when I was a little kid. Along with cartoons, I made sure to catch the local news and tune into the Weather Channel every day. So, I always knew I wanted to do something in broadcasting but wasn’t exactly sure what. Would it be behind the scenes or in front of the camera? At UGA, I combined my interest in broadcasting and weather to pursue a career in meteorology.

What lessons did the Grady College teach you that you still use today?

At Grady, I learned the different parts that come together to make a news broadcast. Before I did anything in front of the camera, I gained experience with everything from operating a teleprompter to directing. This was a great help for when I finally stepped in front of the camera. It allowed me to understand each person’s contribution to the show and how important they were. That understanding continues to this day. I appreciate all the people that come together to produce TV.

 

headshot of Alex

What is the most interesting weather event you have reported on?

Hurricane Florence in 2018. I was positioned in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It came in and decided it didn’t want to leave. It dumped a ton of rain on the region. I was out covering the storm for more than a week. It ended up knocking out power for several days so it was “fun” being in the dark and taking cold showers for a few days. The moment power came back was one of the greatest moments of my life. It was fascinating to see one of the rivers that flows through the city slowly rise while we were there. I’m talking about a 40-foot rise in a few days. Of course, that led to flooding, which made getting around impossible because so many roads were closed. More importantly, people’s homes were inundated and this was the sad part about the whole experience: knowing we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

What is a part of your job that many people may not know about?

I think people might be surprised to know that 90% of everything I say on-air is ad-libbed. Sure, there are a few things that are scripted like introducing an interview or weather story, but otherwise it is mostly ad-libbed.

 

Alex Wallace and friend pose with Harry Dawg on a game day

Alex Wallace (ABJ ’04) and Thomas Goodhew (ABJ ’05) pose with Harry Dawg on a Saturday game day in Athens.

What is your favorite UGA tradition and why?

G-Day! Being out of school, Georgia football is a great excuse to get back to Athens and enjoy some time in the Classic City. I’m looking forward to when I can bring my son out to enjoy some time in Sanford Stadium.

Do you have any advice for students seeking a career in meteorology?

The best advice I have is to make sure you truly love it. That advice can be applied to any career choice. The No. 1 reason you should choose your career is because you have a passion for it. It’ll make going to work so much more enjoyable and engaging. This is especially true when it comes to being an on-camera meteorologist. You can’t fake it. People watching can tell if your heart is in it. When they see that it is, they feel they can trust you. Trust is super important when it comes to weather forecasting.

Your support today will help prepare tomorrow’s trustworthy news broadcasters and meteorologists.

GIVE TO THE GRADY DEAN EXCELLENCE FUND GIVE TO UGA’S ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES SUPPORT FUND

UGA athletics director pledges $100K to need-based aid

Josh Brooks (MS ’14), the newly named J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics at the University of Georgia, recently pledged $100,000 to create a need-based scholarship that will support UGA students from Athens-Clarke County.

“This generous gift reaffirms Josh’s commitment to the success of University of Georgia students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am very excited about the future of UGA Athletics with Josh at the helm, and this scholarship gift is a terrific start to his tenure. Need-based aid is a vital tool to improve our university, so we are grateful to Josh for his support in that area.”

Brooks’ pledge came less than a week after he became UGA’s 12th director of athletics, his seventh post in 11 years working for the university’s athletic association.

“I love this town, this community, and I want to help make a difference here locally,” said Brooks. “I have three children who go to school here in Athens-Clarke County, I live here in Athens, and I’m aware of how many kids are in need in this county, so it is important to me to help these students find a pathway to the University of Georgia.”

Brooks’ gift will create a Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS), adding to the more than 550 endowed, need-based scholarships created under the GCS program since its launch in January 2017. These scholarships will be awarded in perpetuity and provide recipients with support through special on-campus programming in partnership with the Division of Academic Enhancement.

“Our new director of athletics has only been in the role a week, and he’s already making a positive impact at UGA,” said Kelly Kerner, UGA vice president for development and alumni relations. “Josh’s belief in the power of a UGA education—and the support he’s demonstrated as a result—will open doors for generations of students.”

Marlise O. Harrell, 1969

The scholarship, which will be named the Marlise O. Harrell Georgia Commitment Scholarship, honors Brooks’ late mother-in-law.

“Education was always important to her, it was something she always stressed with my children, her grandchildren,” said Brooks. “She had a heart of gold, and she was someone who always put other people first in everything she did.”

This gift is the latest example of Brooks’ support for the Athens-Clarke County community. He was heavily involved in the creation and implementation of the “Dawgs for Pups” initiative benefitting Athens-Clarke County students. The initiative has, to date, provided Wi-Fi hotspots and organized food and coat drives for grade-school students.

“For me, charity starts locally,” said Brooks. “So, when I was blessed with the opportunity to become director of athletics, I felt the responsibility to give back. The University of Georgia has done so much for me, and I felt it was important that I give back in a way that supports the university and the community I love.”

UGA helped Kaitlin Miller to “serve well and wholeheartedly”

Kaitlin Miller (AB ’13, AB ’13, ABJ ’13) is passionate about the people in her life. They inspire her, they guide her and they even helped her become a Bulldog.

“UGA was a natural choice for me for several reasons,” said Kaitlin. “It was close to home. My older sister went there, and I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Some colleges are so specialized, but UGA had so much breadth that allowed me to test, try and experience.”

Kaitlin triple majored in International Affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs, Public Relations in Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Economics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, enjoying the variety of coursework offered by all three schools.

She also participated in the Honors Program and the Student Government Association, and she was a tour leader at the UGA Visitor’s Center and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Palladia, Sphinx Society, Dean William Tate Society and Blue Key. All along the way, she built friendships that she maintains and treasures to this day.

Kaitlin’s favorite memory at UGA is homecoming week of her senior year. She was on the homecoming court and remembers feeling that Bulldog spirit all over campus all week long: everywhere she went and in every meeting she attended. She was amazed to see generations of alumni coming home to Athens to attend the game.

As an official ending to her college career, she gave a speech at graduation. An avid runner, she recalls running through campus, weeks beforehand, with her speech on a loop in her head. She hoped to honor those who invested in her. She recalls it was one of those moments where God carried her through.

Kaitlin’s advice to current students, “Humble yourself enough to seek counsel from those wiser than you.”

Everything that the Triple Dawg learned in her studies, through balancing extracurriculars, classes and leadership roles and by surrounding herself with people she looks up to has paid off. Kaitlin has worked at Chick-fil-A since she graduated and has served in several roles along the way: Digital Marketing, Hospitality Trainer, International Learning Designer and, currently, the Menu Team.

“I get to work with phenomenal people who are wise and kind with a strong sense of purpose and significance,” said Kaitlin.

Today, she serves as leader of Chick-fil-A’s UGA Alumni Corporate Chapter. There are currently 300 UGA alumni either on staff or operating Chick-fil-A restaurants. They like to invest in students through the connect-hire-give initiative by both mentoring and giving to Let All the Big Dawgs Eat program, a need-based food scholarship program.

“We’re a restaurant; it makes perfect sense for us to feed hungry kids and let them focus on school and leadership,” said Kaitlin.

She just finished graduate school in May. When asked what’s next, she said, “I just try to make the most of each day; serve well and wholeheartedly.”

Isobel Mills (BFA ’12) made her passion her profession thanks to a UGA education

Isobel Mills (BFA ’12) is always eager to try new things. As a child, Mills was interested in puzzles, building with Legos and drawing. She was always drawn to texture and she found a way to bring texture to life through ceramics.

She knew she wanted to major in art, but once she was accepted into the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, she discovered the parallels between ceramics and fabrics. Once she learned to sew, there was no turning back.

“When I see a picture or a painting, I think of how to make it textural. I always see pleats,” said Mills.

She moved to New York a month after she graduated and spent the next eight years working and learning.

“My UGA degree prepared me to do many different things, and I tried many different things—from interior design to jewelry design—but I never worked as a fabric designer, so I continued to create my own fabric designs when I wasn’t working,” said Mills.

“I decided to quit my job at the end of 2016. I then made it my job to learn the business. Consequently, I made a pattern a day, learned new skills by watching YouTube videos, got certified in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and met with everyone I knew to network and pick their brains. Turns out people really and truly want to help, so don’t ever be afraid to ask—that one took me a while to learn.”

She officially launched ISOBEL in May of 2018 in NYC because she lived up the block from her dream showroom, Studio Four NYC. She knew that was where her line belonged, and she wasn’t moving until that dream became a reality. Once she got accepted into that showroom, the first domino fell: Other showrooms began reaching out, and her line slowly grew. She moved back to Georgia nearly two years later once she felt that her line had a presence.

Mills stayed in close contact with some of her UGA professors who gave her invaluable advice along the way on how to get started. One of her professors, Clay McLaurin, was five years into his launching his own brand as well, and he happily shared his experience and wisdom with her.

Her hard work eventually paid off. In addition to her online presence, her fabrics are featured in seven showrooms across the country.

Mills’ favorite memories at UGA are the times she spent with classmates and friends. She recalled the many hours outside the classroom that she spent working on projects and the enduring friendships that were born out of those long hours. For years, she’s met up with friends she met through her sorority for one football game a year, even when she lived in New York.

Her advice for current students: “Listen to your internal voice. Always do what you love, don’t give up and you will find a way to make your passion your profession.”

These days, Mills serves on the Board of Visitors at Lamar Dodd. She feels honored to sit on a board with people who have so much experience and for whom she has so much respect. She feels called to give back to the school that gave so much to her.

Calculus tutoring, broken teeth and California: the Aikens have a one-of-a-kind UGA story

Andrew (BS ’97) and Ashley Aiken (BS ’97) are an impressive pair. Andrew is one of Atlanta’s top oral surgeons, with a private practice regularly named among the city’s best. Ashley is a nationally recognized educator and researcher in neuroradiology. But this power couple can trace their origin to an ecology course and calculus tutoring at UGA.

Ashley was always a very motivated student and knew early on that she wanted to go to medical school, so she pursued a biology degree at UGA while in the Honors Program.

Andrew’s undergraduate course was set after conversations with an advisor. He didn’t have Ashley’s singular purpose, but he did know that he liked sciences and the outdoors, so he became an ecology major.

Ashley and Andrew met each other through mutual friends early on in their time at UGA. They hit it off, but it wasn’t until their third year that someone made a move.

“I signed up for an ecology class he was in, which was… let’s say it wouldn’t have been a class I’d normally look into,” said Ashley.

It wasn’t long before Andrew reciprocated: “I asked her to tutor me in calculus, which, if I’m honest, was really more about spending time with her than the calculus.”

After some nudging from their friends, the pair finally started dating. They both graduated in 1997, and while Ashley was ready to head to medical school, Andrew took some time to figure out his next steps. A clear path forward wasn’t coming to him, but a need for new veneers on three teeth that were broken a decade earlier playing tennis led Andrew to a life-changing visit with his dentist.

“I started talking with my dentist about what I wanted to do, and he started telling me about dentistry,” said Andrew. “I had been going to him for about 20 years, so we knew each other pretty well, so based on that and everything we talked about during these visits, he said he thought I’d be a good fit for it.”

So, Ashley enrolled at the Medical College of Georgia in 1997, and Andrew followed suit two years later to attend dental school.

After two years in Augusta, Andrew and Ashley married, in 2001. The newlyweds faced a difficult decision soon after. Ashley finished her internship in 2002 and was ready to begin her residency, but Andrew was still in the process of completing his dental degree.

They both wanted to attend The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which had highly ranked programs in both of their areas. But to stay on track, Ashley would have to go a year ahead of Andrew. Seeing this as a chance they had to take, the Aikens decided to spend a year apart after having been married for just one year.

Andrew and Ashley at Andrew’s dental school graduation in 2003

This sacrifice would prove worthwhile. At UCSF, Ashley found her calling and was able to work with mentors who helped her set the course of her career while she completed a residency and fellowship. Once Andrew joined her, he earned his medical degree and completed an oral & maxillofacial surgery residency program at UCSF.

The Aikens also welcomed twin daughters, Frances and Olivia, while in California. And even though they were on the other end of the country, on fall Saturdays, they would gather with other Bulldogs at a bar called The Bus Stop to cheer on the Dawgs.

As Ashley was finishing up her fellowship in 2007, she knew she wanted to stay in academia, and thanks to several UCSF connections, she was able to find an opportunity at Emory University. Over the next two years, Andrew finished his residency while Ashley worked as junior faculty at UCSF and kept her Emory connections open.

In 2009, the family of four moved back to Georgia. Since then, Ashley has become director of Head and Neck Imaging at Emory and program director for the Neuroradiology Fellowship in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. Andrew is in private practice at Oral Surgery Specialists of Atlanta. The Aikens also added a son, Walker, shortly after moving back to Georgia.

With their return to Georgia, the Aikens were also able to return to the friendships they made while at UGA, and they found those connections were just as strong as they had left them.

“We still have so many close friends from UGA,” said Ashley. “Some that are in Albany, some in Athens, some in Texas, a lot that are in Atlanta, and those connections are some of the biggest reasons that I’m so thankful we made the choice to attend the University of Georgia.”

Their renewed connection to UGA includes the school itself, by way of a shadowing program Andrew participates in. UGA students interested in dentistry and oral surgery go to his office and follow him throughout the day to explore the work of an oral surgeon.

“I’m happy to give back and let people come back and see if they like oral surgery because it’s a really wonderful profession,” said Andrew.

The Aikens’ story begins at UGA. And though they have achieved so much beyond Athens and staked an impressive claim out in the world, it’s clear that the Classic City never left their hearts.

“My time at Georgia was the best four and a half years of my life,” said Andrew. “I met my wife, I met good friends, and I created shared experiences with people that I’m still in touch with 20 years later.”

Bob and Jalena (ABJ ’96) Bradley’s support for UGA is unshakable

Bob and Jalena Bradley’s support for UGA runs strong and deep. Even when COVID-19 turned the world on its head, that support never wavered. In fact, it increased.

For Jalena (ABJ ’96), a Georgia native and graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, pride for UGA comes naturally. Her husband, Bob, had to grow into Georgia fandom: he grew up in Florida and attended Quincy University in Illinois, where he was a student-athlete on the baseball team.

Upon returning to Florida following graduation, Bob met Jalena, who had relocated there following her time at UGA. Bob began to discover the extent of Jalena’s fandom when, as he was trying to plan a date for the two of them at Epcot Park in Orlando, Jalena responded, “It’s Saturday. We’re watching the Dawgs!”

Now married with two daughters, Taylor and Abby, many Saturdays have passed for the Bradleys, all spent the same way: if the Dawgs are playing, they’re watching, without fail. Bob has even dubbed himself “the biggest die-hard non-UGA-graduate fan you’ll ever meet.”

That support extends beyond game day. In 2018, the Bradleys pledged $1 million to the Georgia Excellence Fund, which supports UGA Athletics Association facilities projects. That considerable investment in the improvement of student-athletes’ educational experiences was followed up by another gift in July 2020.

When many were re-evaluating so much in their lives—to say nothing of their charitable giving—the Bradleys’ support was unshaken.

“We just want to help UGA gain momentum during this very challenging time,” said Bob. “When we talked about giving back to the University, we felt compelled to give a gift that helps the rest of UGA’s supporters to jump in and help out, too. We want UGA to be able to continue in the direction that they are headed, and not have to stop anything or slow the momentum down.”

The Bradley’s passionate support comes from experiences that have impacted their personal lives. Now retired from his work in the human capital and staffing business, Bob claims that much of his professional success stems from lessons he learned while he was an athlete himself.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for athletics,” said Bob. “I can’t be more thankful for the experiences and opportunities baseball gave me.”

Bob and Jalena are also first-generation college graduates. As they express feelings of gratitude for their current position, they look back on their humble beginnings and consider how they can affect positive change in the lives of others.

“I came from a low-income family, and if I didn’t get a baseball scholarship – I wouldn’t have been able to go to college,” Bob said. “Being able to give back to a school that we are so passionate about, and being able to give back to something like sports that gave us so much is really important.”