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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.”

Hannah Jones (AB ’12) helps Haitian communities with nonprofit Light from Light

Hannah Jones (AB ’12) planned to teach after graduating from UGA with a degree in French. However, her time as an executive board member with UGA Miracle, a student-run philanthropic organization, opened her eyes to the world of nonprofits and helped her decide to use her career to do social good.  

Hannah had been in the nonprofit space for seven years before becoming the executive director of Light from Light in 2019, a role in which both her French major and background in the nonprofit sector are fully utilized. Hannah had made a trip to Haiti in 2016 with her husband Tram Jones (BBA ’10), an internal medicine physician, and saw an opportunity to improve lives through the outpatient clinic Lespwa Timoun (“Hope for Children” in Haitian Creole). The couple fell in love with the clinic and with Haiti and made the move after Hannah was appointed executive director.  

Light from Light is a nonprofit organization focused on supporting health care, nourishing children, empowering local leaders and strengthening infrastructure in Haitian communities. The seeds of this work were planted in 1987 when Haitian priest Rev. Fritz Valdema and Episcopalian church volunteer TJ Johnston discovered that they had a common call to alleviate suffering for the poor. Light from Light continues this important work today; last year alone, the organization provided 1,293 infants and children life-sustaining care through an intensive nutrition program at the Lewspa Timoun clinic.  

Light from Light serves Haitian communities, especially women and children.

“Women and children are the heart and soul of the clinic,” Hannah said. “We provide care to everybody, but women and children are the pillars of our work.  Especially when food imports/exports have been affected due to COVID-19 and, thus, the price of food has nearly doubled, the ripple effects of the virus are most felt in the communities where we work. We see an increased number of cases of malnutrition on a daily basis.”  

In Haiti, and more specifically in the communities where Lespwa Timoun works, Hannah said “63 percent of mothers have lost at least one child and nearly 20 percent of children die before their fifth birthday.” These statistics display the harrowing reality of Haitian children and families. But miracles happen within the clinic. Through the malnutrition program, Jones and her husband watch children recover and rebuild their health.  

“The world isn’t fair. You see that so clearly in Haiti. By moving to Haiti, we wanted to step outside of our comfort zones to help make the world a better place,” Jones said. “What can we do to make the world a more just place for people?”  

Lespwa Timoun employs approximately 50 staff members and 12 community health workers. The clinic is completely Haitian-led; Hannah and Tram are the first Americans to be there full time. 

Mobile clinics, which are the core of Tram’s work in Haiti, are provided twice a month to mountain communities. He directs all of Light from Light’s medical efforts and leads mobile health work in some of the most rural and underserved communities in Haiti.  

Building trust within the communities in which Light from Light works can be difficult. For Hannah and Tram, it took about eight months for people to accept that they were in Haiti to stay.   

At a meeting in September 2020, a community health worker told Tram, “I don’t think of you as a foreigner anymore. You’re Haitian.” It was a beautiful moment for the couple who now feel embraced by the local community.  

“In order to be effective in our roles, you have to be able to walk in both worlds comfortably. You have to be okay in the U.S. and you have to be okay in the rural mountains of Haiti,” Hannah said.  

Light from Light seeks to improve health care offerings to children in Haitian communities.

With the trust they have built over time, Light from Light uses its resources and community health workers to train and educate mothers on identifying the warning signs of malnutrition—especially as the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic take hold. Today, about half of the children that the clinic sees are malnourished, and food prices have nearly doubled. 

Starting this fall, UGA students can participate in Light from Light’s mission as well. The nonprofit established its first collegiate chapter to engage more young people in its mission and to spread awareness about the work that it’s doing in Haiti. Light from Light College will help students to recognize and educate themselves about their personal health needs in order to understand the health needs of women and children in Haiti. 

“My experiences in Athens as a student were formational for me,” Hannah said. “Getting real-world experience with nonprofits as a student was what ignited my career trajectory. I can only hope that I might have a similar impact on students who get involved with Light from Light College. 

To learn more about Light from Light, email info@lightfromlight.me or follow Light from Light on social media.

 

Vivian Greentree (ABJ ’00, AB ’01) leads through service

The University of Georgia has a rich tradition of public service and outreach. As the state’s land- and sea-grant institution, UGA has established outreach programs in almost every Georgia county and provides numerous service programs that benefit the region. It is this mission and the university’s pillar of service that attracted Vivian Greentree (ABJ ’00, AB ’01) to help cultivate a relationship between her employer, Fiserv, and UGA.

As an alumna, Vivian credits the university for instilling a service-oriented mentality in her everyday life, as well as in her career. As Fiserv’s Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Fiserv Cares Foundation, Vivian is charged with cultivating a high performing, culture of belonging while building meaningful community partnerships. By leveraging Fiserv’s resources as a private sector business, she creates purposeful opportunities for the betterment of the community—and the world—in which Fiserv interacts.

Vivian recalls that her time as a student made her realize the amount of resources the state and its citizens were investing in Georgia students. She understood the importance of the HOPE Scholarship in affording her the opportunity to attend UGA with financial assistance and valued the state’s ability to provide Georgia students with scholarships. By interning with Georgia Governor Roy Barnes’ administration, her appreciation for public service grew. After graduating from UGA, she demonstrated her passion for service by joining the U.S. Navy and serving in the Supply Corps.

Vivian served as a Naval Supply Corps Officer on both active duty and in the Reserves before founding Blue Star Families, a network of volunteer-based chapters committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors – individuals and organizations – to create vibrant communities of mutual support and advocacy. At the same time Vivian worked to help this network support, connect, and empower military families, she utilized her GI Bill to earn a doctorate in public administration and urban policy from Old Dominion University while her husband was stationed out of Naval Station Norfolk.

Vivian was leading Research and Policy for Blue Star Families when she was recruited to First Data Corporation. She was tasked with creating a comprehensive military community engagement program that would eventually be named First Data Salutes. It focused on helping transitioning service members find meaningful careers within fintech or as entrepreneurs.

As the head of Military and Veteran Affairs at First Data Corporation, Vivian worked with the University of Georgia to establish a lounge in the UGA Student Veterans Resource Center and support the UGA chapter of Student Veterans of America. The First Data Student Veterans Lounge provides a place for veterans at UGA to network, study, relax, and access valuable resources to help them succeed at the university and in their careers afterwards.

Vivian’s success with First Data Salutes garnered national recognition and awards for First Data. They were ranked at the top of the Military Times’ Best For Vets: Employers list for 2017, 2018, and 2019 and created an Office of Corporate Citizenship, coordinating associate and community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and strategic philanthropy across the enterprise. And, when Fiserv and First Data merged in July 2019, she was given a larger platform to carry out the mission of doing good while doing well.

Service remains at the heart of her commitment to her alma mater—she knows both Fiserv and UGA’s missions are committed to excellence in service. In the fall of 2020, Vivian and Fiserv will be supporting UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program, working to provide resources and opportunities for the university’s next generation of Bulldog leaders that will make an impact in the state of Georgia long after graduation.

Vivian is an exemplary Bulldog: She served on the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2013-2019; she is currently serving on the School of Public and International Affairs Alumni Board of Directions; and she approaches every interaction through the lens of service and models her work on Georgia’s three pillars of wisdom, justice, and moderation.

As she reflects fondly on her time at UGA, she encourages students to be consciously inclusive and to go out of their way to be an includer. She strongly believes higher education is a place for diversity to take root and provide opportunities for people to learn from one another.

“Business should be and can be a force for good and we have the opportunity and the obligation to use our space and place to create and expand access, so we can be better together,” said Vivian. “I’m so proud of my UGA affiliation and will continue to earn the opportunity that was afforded to me through the HOPE scholarship by paying it forward to today’s students in every way I can!”

UGA led Ben Desper (BS ’09) to experiences around the world

Ben Desper (BS ‘09) is a fan of flexibility and sharks, two things he became well acquainted with as a result of his University of Georgia experience.

Desper knew that the rigor of the academics UGA provided coupled with the entertainment in the city of Athens was the ideal combination for him.

Additionally, majoring in biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences had him attending classes with a group of people from all over the world. He believes that the education he received, enhanced by those multicultural classroom experiences, prepared him for a 2012 internship in South Africa. While there, he studied, extracted DNA, and sometimes even swam with Great White Sharks.

“It was like shark week every day,” said Desper. “Living on another continent for that internship, in many ways, prepared me for working with people from other countries in my current role. Additionally, working with sharks taught me how to resist complacency, problem-solve, and handle stress.”

Although Desper focused on environmental pollutants and genetics while in school, his flexibility ultimately led him to Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Athens, a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. Desper is a Senior Quality Assurance Specialist at Janssen and is currently on a developmental rotation that has him working closely with other small molecule cluster sites in Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland.

He enjoys working at Janssen because the company makes such a large impact on people’s lives by manufacturing life-saving drugs. He also appreciates the cutting-edge technology that is part of his everyday work.

His favorite memories at UGA come from gameday Saturdays, walking through North Campus and smelling the food cooking at the various tailgates. He laughingly admits to also occasionally missing late-night study sessions with friends.

Desper’s advice to UGA students centers around the flexibility he has come to prize in his own life: “Treat every experience like a classroom and always absorb everything you can because you never know where you will end up.”

Today, Desper keeps saltwater fish tanks in his home, he travels all over the world to scuba dive with and photograph sharks, and he works at a world-class pharmaceutical company: an example of what can happen when you stay flexible.

Former UGA football star Matthew Stafford pledges $1.5 million to alma mater

Photo: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass over the defense of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 14, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Former University of Georgia quarterback and current Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford and wife Kelly, a former UGA cheerleader, have committed to a gift to the university totaling $1.5 million.

The gift benefits a variety of areas and is highlighted by a significant contribution to an ambitious new social justice program launched by the UGA Athletic Association.

“Kelly and I have thought a lot about how we can improve our society and make a meaningful impact on the current social situation. Each and every time, we came back to education, and there’s no better place to create that kind of positive change than UGA,” said Matthew Stafford. “When we learned more about this program and others across campus, we were happy to lend our support.”

The primary goal of the new program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in the areas of areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice for all of the Association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.

“We are incredibly grateful to Matthew and Kelly for their support of this important program and the university as a whole,” said J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “Their generosity will create positive experiences for many students across multiple areas at UGA and will ensure our student-athletes continue to enjoy exceptional experiences on campus.”

In addition to helping launch UGA Athletics’ social justice program, the Staffords’ gift includes a donation to the Magill Society to support the Butts-Mehre Expansion Project. The project will add a greatly expanded weight room, locker room, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and sports medicine facility, as well as a number of other improvements for the football program.

The Staffords’ pledge will create two Georgia Commitment Scholarships as well. These scholarships will provide critical support to students who are unable to afford the full cost of attendance at UGA even when they have financial aid, such as a HOPE or Zell Miller scholarship or Federal Pell Grants.

The UGA Spirit Program Operational Endowment also will receive a donation as part of the Staffords’ commitment. The endowment provides general support for UGA Cheerleading.

“Matthew and Kelly Staffords’ pledge demonstrates the commitment of our alumni to their alma mater and to making a positive difference in the world,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I deeply appreciate their support of UGA’s efforts to nurture a diverse and inclusive campus culture and to promote academic access and success for all students.”

Vision and generosity grow for generations

Today, we celebrate Dan B. Franklin (BSC ’38, BBA ’62, BLA ’63) and the way his vision and generosity demonstrate how investing in the future can keep your hard-earned money working for generations. A bequest from his estate established the Dan B. Franklin Distinguished Professorship in the College of Environment + Design.

Who was Dan B. Franklin?

Franklin first received a degree in Economics from the University of Georgia in 1938. After a successful career working for the R.C. Cola Company, he returned to the university and, in 1963, earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with a concentration in landscapes and gardens.

A prolific and celebrated garden designer in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast, Franklin received numerous awards during his long career, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). He was also inducted as a Fellow with ASLA, the organization’s highest honor. In 1991, he received the UGA College of Environment + Design’s Distinguished Alumni Medal.

Franklin’s love of UGA and for the profession of landscape design led to the creation of a lasting gift. The professorship named in his honor is intended to help a scholar/educator who shares his passion for plant life promote education, research and service excellence in landscape architecture, garden design and horticulture in particular. Meet the current Dan B. Franklin Distinguished Professor, Brad Davis, and learn more about the positive impact Franklin’s gift continues to have.

Discover how easy it can be to leave a legacy that counts.

Because of Tatiyana Sinkfield’s scholarship, ‘this is only the beginning’

Tatiyana Sinkfield (BSA ’20) has a lot to celebrate these days. She is one of the University of Georgia’s newest alumni, having graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Biological Science from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She also graduated as a first-generation college student and a proud alumna of the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program.

Through this program, Sinkfield was one of five students to receive a scholarship from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The foundation established the scholarships to support, in perpetuity, students from Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods.

Sinkfield was both surprised and grateful when she learned that she was the recipient of a Georgia Commitment Scholarship supported by the Angela and Arthur M. Blank Scholarship Fund, and her family and friends were equally as thrilled.

“This scholarship program provided me with on-campus resources, educational support and motivation. The staff members were so encouraging and kind,” said Sinkfield.

In addition to the financial resources and on-campus support offered through this scholarship, Sinkfield also enjoyed the unique opportunity of meeting Arthur Blank in 2018 over a small dinner on campus with the other Blank Foundation scholarship recipients. She recalls the group’s inspiring discussion on success after college, community engagement and setting and achieving important life goals.

One of her biggest life goals is to become a pediatrician, and Sinkfield plans to take a gap year to study and gain additional hands-on experience in the medical setting before attending medical school next fall. She believes that the rigor of her coursework at UGA has prepared her for medical school and equipped her with important skills like time management and accountability. Additionally, Sinkfield says that interacting with people from different places and different backgrounds at UGA has really strengthened her interpersonal skills, which she asserts are essential to becoming a good doctor.

The impact of her Georgia Commitment Scholarship extended beyond the classroom, as she emerged as a natural leader on campus during the last four years. Sinkfield served as a resource to several fellow Georgia Commitment Scholars pursuing the pre-medical route and volunteered with numerous organizations including Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and Georgia DAZE, an overnight campus visitation program for talented high school seniors from historically underrepresented areas that have been admitted to UGA.

Like so many students, Sinkfield points to a nighttime football game under the Sanford Stadium lights as one of her favorite UGA memories. She vividly remembers the energy and school spirit that filled the stadium and said the feeling of camaraderie among the Bulldog Nation was utterly surreal.

Sinkfield plans to carry that same feeling of camaraderie into the next chapter of her life, remaining forever proud of her time at UGA and grateful for her Georgia Commitment Scholarship.

“The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation scholarship has helped me achieve not only my goals at UGA, but laid a foundation for my future successes. This is only the beginning.”