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Inside the life of Will Carr (ABJ ’06), an ABC news correspondent

Each year, UGA’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes 40 young alumni who are leaders and change-makers. We spoke with one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, ABC News Correspondent Will Carr (ABJ ’06), to get a look into the high-speed life of a national broadcast journalist.

What has been your career path since graduating from UGA?

I was in Grady’s Newsource 15, and through that program landed my first on-air job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there for about 2.5 years, and then secured a job in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I broke a couple stories at the border, and amazingly, ABC reached out to me. At the same time, FOX News reached out to me as well. In 2012 or 2013, FOX offered me a job as a national correspondent, where I could travel to cover big news stories, so I joined FOX News in their Los Angeles bureau for five years.

At that time, ABC came back on me and said, “we’ve been following your career, we love what you’ve been doing, we’d like to fly you to New York.” Since that’s the place that I’ve always wanted to work, it was like a dream come true. It didn’t happen exactly right when I wanted it to, but ultimately things played out the way they needed to. FOX gave me a lot of experience with national stories that helped me hit the ground running when I got the job at ABC.

When did you realize you wanted to go into news?

During my freshman year at Georgia, I walked on the football team. This was not a big deal because I was basically a tackling dummy. When I realized that my football career had fizzled out, I decided to go into the broadcasting program. I wanted to be an athlete, but I felt like if I can’t keep playing, then I’d like to at least cover sports. 

Newsource 15 forced us to rotate in the position every day. Through that experience, I fell in love with hard news, not even meaning to. From there, sports became sort of entertainment for me and I pursued hard news as my passion professionally.

When asked about your “typical day,” how do you respond?

My day is the antithesis of a nine-to-five. I have four cell phones: my personal phone, two work phones with two different providers in case I don’t have service for one. I also have a satellite phone that I carry with me at all times. Basically, I’m on call 24/7, even if I’m on vacation. 

It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes you cancel vacations, you work weekends, you work holidays. When the news calls, you go. But there is downtime where you can chill at home, catch up on errands, exercise or knock out anything you need to do when you’re not physically in the city you live. It’s not boring!

What is the most important story you’ve ever covered?

I’ve covered so many, I don’t know that I can name the “most important.” A recent story that jumps out was last year, one one of the more crazy days of my career. I got woken up at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles, and was told, “There’s been a mass shooting at Thousand Oaks,” which is a Los Angeles suburb. We went to the shooting location and worked for eight hours, and then I was called and told, “A massive fire has broken out up north in California.”

So we jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, and then drove two hours to Paradise, California. When we arrived, the entire town was burning. It was the most swift-moving wildfire I’d ever seen, and we saw neighborhood after neighborhood just burn to the ground while we were there. 

We ended up staying in Paradise for a week and a half. It is probably the worst devastation I’ve ever seen; the entire city was wiped off the map. It was really something to see and experience. 

How do you stay prepared to travel and break a story?

I have three or four bags packed at all times. I have a large bag that would be checked if I’m covering an international-type story that would keep me on the road for a week or two. You want to take as much as possible since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into on the ground or what you’ll be up against. 

Other than that, I have a carry-on bag that I keep ready at all times, and also a wildfire bag. That bag contains the gear that you would see firefighters wearing, since basically we are in the fire just like the firefighters. I actually train with them so that we can do our job safely. I have a bag full of miscellaneous items that I can just sort of pick and choose from depending on the situation I’m going into. 

I have three younger sisters, all of whom went to UGA. When I pick them up from the airport, I can never put their bags in my trunk because it’s always full. They’re always frustrated by that, but I think they understand the gig. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming a news correspondent?

It’s really important to make sure you feel like the news is in your DNA. Of the people that I stay in touch with, a lot have ended up changing professions and/or going into public relations. A lot of people wanted to go into news, but then they realized the grind of it.

I also feel like a lot of people have a passion for the news, but are talked out of going into it because they’re told “you’re not gonna make any money, you’re gonna have to work holidays, weekends, you’re not gonna have a life.” I don’t really feel like that’s fair. People just need to have their eyes wide open about what they’re getting into and ensure that it’s something they’re really passionate about. Because trust me: you don’t want to work weekends, holidays and 20-hour shifts in the worst elements if you don’t really love what you’re doing. 

What were you involved in as a student at UGA?

I think a lot of kids in college have an idea of what they want to do because they’ve been pointed in a certain direction or learned something about themselves along the way that they wanted to do. I needed a major. I knew I needed to do something, and getting into Newsource ignited that passion. That program and the professors I had equipped me with the tools to enter this profession and hit the ground running.

Coming out of Newsource, I felt like I had a jet-pack propulsion device on my back that helped me take off from the beginning It gave me so many amazing tools. We were doing newscasts across Athens, so transitioning into local news wasn’t difficult. 

 

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Which UGA professors influenced you most?

Michael Castengera and Steve Smith, who taught Newsource 15, were like a ying and yang. I felt like they were family, and I’ve stayed in touch with them. They not only had an impact on me while I was at Georgia; they had an impact on me throughout my career. I find it to be rare to stay in touch with two of your college professors so intimately, and I think that’s the beauty of the program at UGA. 

They’ve retired, but the journalism school is run by some top-notch people. Dean Davis is amazing, Parker Middleton in great, Dodie Cantrell does a great job. So I know that even though my mentors have retired, the journalism school is in very good hands. 

What is the most important experience you had as a UGA student?

It was my first day of Newsource, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to cover sports. I talked Castengera into letting me be the sports anchor. Apparently one of the reporters didn’t show up or called in sick, and he said “Well, you know, you can’t do sports. You have to be a reporter.” There was a story about a student living in a house with guys who had overdosed on heroin. One of the professors said, “we want you to go down to the zoning director for the city and ask him how often they enforce the single family housing ordinance where you have to be related to live in a house.”

We sat outside his office for an hour or two, and finally he came out. We went into his office and I pulled out my notepad. I asked the first question. The zoning director had three note cards on his desk. He looked at the first note card and read verbatim off that note card. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him. 

I clerked for my dad, who was an attorney, and so I was in trials a lot. I saw my dad react to people when he felt they were not being truthful on the stand, and I felt a similar feeling in this moment. When I asked him the second question, he went to the second note card and the same thing: nothing to do with what I asked him. I had no idea what I was doing except I felt like this guy was lying to me. I couldn’t figure out why, so I said something to the effect of, “are you going to keep reading off these note cards or are you gonna actually answer any questions?”

He jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me out of the room. He said, “this is over,” and slammed the door. So we went to the professor and I said, “Sorry, I still can’t do the story, I didn’t get any information from him.” My professor said, “No, this is the story.”

We ended up reporting what happened, and the local paper ended up doing an expose on the zoning director. A week or two later, one of the reporters for the newspaper said, “Hey, we saw your story. We’re digging into this guy and he hasn’t been enforcing a lot of things he’s supposed to have been enforcing. Really great job of digging that up.” That was the moment for me where sports became more fun and entertainment, and I fell in love with hard news. 

Do you have any other favorite UGA memories?

I always think about the memories with my close friends, some of whom were in the journalism school, some who weren’t. I’ve stayed in close contact with a lot of them over the years. In college, there were four of us who watched the HBO show called “Entourage,” and we felt like we were our own entourage.

It’s been amazing over the years to see what they’ve done, and several now have families and kids. It’s really cool to have developed strong friendships with people and feel like they were fortified over the years coming out of Georgia. They really have developed into lifelong friendships. 

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldawg when ______.

I’m the most proud to be a Bulldog when I see other Bulldogs succeed.

Throughout the years, I’ve had members of the UGA community reach out to me, especially within journalism, and I try to help as much as possible. When you see people from Georgia do well professionally and personally, I love that. I get excited about Georgia because it had such an impact on me. I know it’s had a similar impact on others.

It’s ironic actually: I’m sitting on a patio in Wyoming and there’s a house two doors down with a Bulldog flag outside. I haven’t seen the homeowners yet, but I’m waiting for them to come out so I can give them a big “Go Dawgs.” When you move further and further away, you don’t run into people who went to Georgia very often. So it’s a special moment, like a nice bond. You see each other and want to hug.

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Check out “Where the Crawdads Sing” on National Book Day

For many of us, reading is a pleasure, but one too often forfeited for a Netflix binge or Instagram scroll. But September 6 is National Read a Book Day: a reminder to pour a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite reading nook.

When I fall out of the habit, the fastest way to reestablish my reading routine is a good book. A page-turning, can’t-put-down, just-one-more-chapter book. I found one. This novel comes with a bonus: it’s written by fellow Georgia Bulldog and best-selling New York Times author, Delia Owens (BS ’71).

Owens’s debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation.

I fell in love with the main character, Kya Clark. As Owens puts it: “Kya is every-little-girl and one in a million.” She inspired both pity and awe and forced me to question my own survival instincts. Kya’s deep love of the natural world sets her apart from typical fictional characters and urges readers to appreciate the nature that surrounds them. As one line of the story reads, “… Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” Her journey to fulfill basic human needs, like companionship, pulls the reader along and satisfies through the end.

I finished the book on a flight. My airplane neighbor caught me wiping away tears. My failed discretion got more embarrassing when the tears (good tears!) kept free-flowing, yet I remained buckled into a middle seat. I told him the truth—that the book was really good—but also avoided eye contact until we parted ways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Reviews

Do yourself a favor: read this book. If my recommendation isn’t enough, please see below for critics’ reviews.

New York Times Book Review Quote“The wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in Where the Crawdads Sing, a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…”
—New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and hauntingly beautiful … An astonishing debut.”
—People Magazine

“Reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver, this Southern-set period novel unfurls a whodunit against a typical coming-of-age tale, when a mysterious “Marsh Girl” becomes the primary suspect of a grisly crime.”
—Entertainment Weekly

An Evening with Delia Owens (in Athens!)

On Friday, September 20, join alumni and friends for an evening with Delia Owens in the UGA Special Collections Libraries on campus. The auditorium in which Delia will speak is sold out, but an overflow room down the hall will live-stream her remarks. All attendees will have the opportunity to meet the author and have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” signed ($25/person). The talk and Q&A will take place from 4-5 p.m. and the reception and book signing will be from 5-7 p.m.

More Bulldog Authors

Once you’re back in the habit of reading, check out these Georgia Bulldog authors to find your next book:

  • Stuart Woods (AB ’60) has won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America and had more than fifty best-sellers, including the successful Stone Barrington series.
  • Mary Kay Andrews (ABJ ’76) is another New York Times best-selling author of 24 novels including “The Weekenders,” “Beach Town,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Summer Rental.”
  • Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) is not only a former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, but also a successful author whose foundation helps children discover a love of reading.
  • Michael Bishop (AB ’67, MA ’68) is in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 books, including “The Quickening” and “No Enemy But Time.”

Chip Caray: Family Ties

This story was written by Eric Rangus and was originally posted to UGA Today on August 30, 2018. We’re sharing it today in recognition of National Radio Day.

If you are a baseball play-by-play guy and your last name is Caray, it can be a lot to live up to. Preceded in the booth by his legendary grandfather Harry and father, Skip, Chip Caray learned long ago how to navigate the complications of his name.

In 1997, after seven years as the voice of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Caray was hired to work alongside Harry, the much-beloved Hall-of-Fame voice of the Cubs. Caray was excited about the role for many reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to close a familial loop with his famous grandfather, whom he did not know well.

Sadly, the pairing wasn’t meant to be as Harry died just before Spring Training in 1998. That meant Chip, who had a decent amount of experience (albeit in basketball, not baseball), was stepping into the shoes of a man who was arguably the most famous person who’d ever done the job, in a new city with an unfamiliar (and passionate) fan base, almost cold.

“My first game, I’m sitting behind Harry’s desk, with his microphone, his producer, his director, his partner, his fan base, and his last name trying to make my own name for myself in a business that’s very personality driven. That was hard. Really hard,” Caray says with understatement. “My dad said later, ‘You know, in hindsight, there were only two people in the world who could have done that job: you or me. And you did a helluva job.’”

Chip Caray recalling May 13, 1991, the day he, Harry, and Skip broadcast a Cubs-Braves game together, becoming the first (and only) three-generation booth in MLB history: “It was the first time Harry, who was an orphan, understood that there was a living, breathing lineage here. I look at the pictures now and think about how meaningful that had to have been for my grandfather.”

That acknowledgment from his father has long meant a great deal to Caray. The familial loop he was unable to close with his grandfather was made whole after Chip moved to Atlanta in 2004 to broadcast Braves games with his dad, with whom he remained close until Skip died in 2008. Since that time, Chip has made the Braves job his own.

The way he’s done it also doubles as advice he’d give to any young broadcasters just starting out: Be yourself.

“There are so many people who want to sound like Vin Scully or Gary Thorne or Skip Caray that their soul and personality gets ripped out of the broadcast,” he says.

“I sound like me, warts and all. Have the confidence to put yourself out there in a medium where you being you is going to generate a lot of love and sometimes a lot of not-so love. Have the strength and character to be able to withstand that.”

Caray, fortunately, doesn’t have to withstand it alone. Since Scully’s retirement in 2016, every MLB booth contains at least two people. For FOX Sports South, Caray’s partner for the last 10 years has been former major league outfielder Joe Simpson. Over that time, Caray’s energetic delivery has blended nicely with Simpson’s been-there-done-that straightforwardness to create an easy chemistry that wasn’t necessarily easy at the start.

“Chemistry is different with different people,” Caray says. “I’m hyper. I’m fired up every day. I got that from my grandfather. Joe is more like my dad. ‘OK, this is exciting, but calm down, son.’ Our relationship has evolved the last couple years and it’s turned into a tremendous partnership.”

Bear Hug Honey makes downtown Athens a little sweeter

Bear Hug HoneyBear Hug Honey is a specialty honey and bee-themed shop located on College Avenue in downtown Athens. Since opening in August 2017, Bear Hug Honey has offered specialty honey, beeswax candles, lip balm and other bee-themed goodies. UGA alumnus Sam Johnson (BSA ’06) is the owner of Bear Hug Honey and a graduate of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Celebrate the honeybees by visiting Sam the next time you’re in town, and make sure you check out our Instagram tour of his shop!

Bear Hug Honey sign

The future of space exploration

This story was written by James Hataway and was originally posted to UGAToday on July 15, 2019. 


Fifty years ago this month, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon – the first time human beings set foot on another celestial body. As the nation and the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the University of Georgia is taking an in-depth look at this historic milestone and the future of space exploration. 

As people around the world prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the extraordinary technological achievements that made human space exploration possible, one burning question still remains: What is next?

NASA project manager and UGA alumnus Roger Hunter discusses the legacy of the Apollo missions and how the same pioneering spirit that compelled humans to walk on the lunar surface will ultimately drive the next great chapter in human discovery.

Hunter was project manager for NASA’s Kepler mission, which used a space telescope to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. He currently serves as program manager for NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

We’re now 50 years out from the moon landing. As you reflect back on that achievement, what strikes you as the most enduring impacts of the Apollo program?

“In my life, I know of two events where time stood still for the human race: Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. I remember how the world seemingly paused from its routine to revel in its imagination; to celebrate, what was once deemed impossible. The ‘Earth-rise’ photo, taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts is reputed to be the most reproduced photograph in human history. My first glimpse of that photo was on a black and white television in my parents’ living room. I was awe-struck even though the image was not in full color. We felt reconnected to the one only planet, so far, of all the ones that we know exists, that harbors life in such abundance and diversity. To date, venturing to the Moon was our greatest adventure; it reminded us of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.”

Why do you think it’s important for us to continue to explore space?

“We are, by nature, explorers. We are descended from those who dared to leave the caves, and to see what was beyond the horizon. Our cave-dwelling ancestors painted, among other things from their world, the heavens on their cave walls.  Thousands of years later, our curiosity led us to better understand our world and those points of light in the night sky beyond that graced those crude drawings. Exploring brings out the best in us; it also represents, in my mind, a willingness to leave something behind for our descendants. I recall reading an article by a former NASA administrator who was also answering a similar question. He spoke of ‘deferred gratification’ as a compelling notion that drives exploration. There may not be an instant realization of ‘return on investment’ but the investment, intuitively, answers a call from our nature—to leave behind something better and to advance our civilization.”

 What do you think the future holds for space exploration?

“We’ve come far since 1957, the year many say is when the space age began. Launching satellites is now a routine activity. Once the province of just the two cold-war superpowers, many companies around the world are exploiting space. There are private companies now thinking of extending their operations to the moon, to asteroids, to the planets.

“The future of space exploration is set on the next horizon; to better understanding our solar system; to understanding the many mysteries of the Cosmos that are yet unexplained; to understanding the prevalence of life in our solar system and beyond. The Kepler mission affirmed what many believed: that there are billions and billions of planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. Many of those billions of planets are Earth-size planets and they orbit in the so-called habitable zone of their host stars—where water might pool on the surface of the planet. Some explorations are going to be aimed, with newer breeds of telescopes, at determining the extent of life on those newly discovered worlds.

“The ‘cave wall paintings’ we leave behind for our descendants will be more sophisticated than what our ancestors left us. Yet, we still are faced, despite all of the explorations that we have accomplished, with more unanswered questions than we have answers. So far, we know of only one life-bearing planet, Earth. We still want to know more about how the Universe works. We want to know more about how we got here. We want to know if we are alone. We explore because the next horizon still beckons; the next artists are yet to frame their paintings.”

More about Roger Hunter

Prior to joining NASA, Roger was with the Boeing Company as Site Manager in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In that position, he directed the efforts of over 250 Boeing engineers and technicians in sustaining the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation and the Air Force’s GPS command and control system.

Before joining Boeing, Roger served in the US Air Force, and retired after 22 years of service. Colonel Hunter’s assignments included Commander, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Deputy Operations Group Commander for the 50th Space Wing, and Program Manager for the XSS-10 microsatellite technology demonstration for Air Force Research Laboratory. He also had assignments with HQ US Air Force Space Command, and HQ US Air Force at the Pentagon.

He holds a bachelor of science in mathematics from the University of Georgia; a master of science in space operations and physics from the US Air Force Institute of Technology; and a master of airpower art and science from the US Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies. He is also a graduate of the US Air Force Air War College, and US Air Force Air Command and Staff College.

Talking Nature Photography Day with Eric Bowles (BBA ’79)

UGA alumni can be found doing amazing things all over the world, so we were delighted to find Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) on the board of directors for the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), which established Nature Photography Day (June 15)A professional photographer specializing in the Southeast United States, Eric’s work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and commercial publications.  

Why did NANPA create Nature Photography Day?  

Nature Photography Day was created by NANPA to enhance awareness of the power of nature photography in telling important stories. June 15 would be a time to invite family and friends outside and to learn about the natural sights and places in their neighborhoods. Why not look to local scenes, where you can see and appreciate nature even in your own backyard? 

What are some of your favorite places to photograph nature? 

The diversity of nature in the United States is quite amazing. We’re very lucky to have so many places to go to see and photograph nature. One of the best known parks is Yellowstone National Park. The geysers are the icons of the area – and Old Faithful is the most famous.  

Yellowstone National Park

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

Closer to home, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places to visit. Wildlife thrives in the Okefenokee – alligators, snakes, and a tremendous variety of birds. But what people don’t think about are all the beautiful wildflowers that are found in the Okefenokee. 

Alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

How has being a UGA graduate influenced your career? 

My undergraduate degree is in finance, and I spent more than 20 years in banking with what is now Bank of America. The foundation I received in business and finance has helped me with roles on boards and leadership roles throughout my career.  

UGA also has a tremendous research program, and photographs are part of many research initiatives. I’ve photographed several research projects through UGA.  One project involved counting and photographing birds at the edge of the Gulf stream to document migration. Sometime you get the unexpected – such as a sea turtle that decided a scientific instrument was a toy – resulting in the measuring equipment being many miles off course. 

What’s the story behind one of your photos? 

One of my favorite photos was made in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This particular photo idea started with just a small plant on a mossy rock. I returned to the area at least a half dozen times over the next four weeks working on compositions and watching the plant begin to bloom. We had just enough rain for the stream to rise and create just the shot I wanted, but it continued to rain every day over the next week and the water continued to rise.  By the end of the week, a torrent of water was flowing rapidly through the quiet stream and the blossoms were gone.  

Waterfall in the Smokies

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

What’s your best tip for a Bulldog looking to get into nature photography?

Photography in general requires some degree of specialization. If you choose what you love and are truly passionate about your photography, you can build a successful career. It’s not just about making good photographs–that’s a given. It’s about spending the time and effort to find projects and work that you truly enjoyYou may not be ready to specialize right away, so it’s fine to explore different areas. Take a look at all the places you see still photography and short videos to get an idea of the opportunities available.  

 

College of Pharmacy dean, alumna is committed to success of others

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.

An Interview with ‘Most Engaged’ Kim Metcalf

Kim-Metcalf-at-Alumni-WeekendKim 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.

Kim Metcalf Most Engaged Sash and Scepter

In recognition of her outstanding commitment to the University of Georgia, Kim Metcalf was presented with a tiara, sash and scepter during a UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting in 2019.

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.”

Kim Metcalf and her mentee Briana Hayes

Kim Metcalf meets with her mentee, Briana Hayes, during the pilot phase of the UGA Mentor Program.

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.

“Me” time

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.

Kim Metcalf at Bulldog 100 in 2015.

Kim Metcalf’s company, Riverbend Environmental, was recognized as a 2015 Bulldog 100 fastest-growing business owned by a UGA graduate.

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.

Kim Metcalf at UGA Alumni Board of Directors Meeting

Kim participates in a strategic brainstorm session during a UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors Meeting.

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.”

Kim Metcalf laughs with fellow attendees during the 2019 Alumni Weekend

Kim Metcalf laughs with fellow Bulldogs during the 2019 Alumni Weekend in Athens.

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.

Megan Reeves (AB ’18) is working to preserve the future

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.

Megan Reeves and colleagues

Left to right: Dr. Ron Balthazor, Megan Reeves, and Melissa Ray

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.

Megan and Hairy Dawg

Megan and Hairy Dawg pose for a photo on North Campus.

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.

Karin Lichey Usry reflects on her time as a GymDog

Karin Lichey Usry (BSED ’00) is a former GymDog who currently works at the Division of Development & Alumni Relations at the University of Georgia. In her days as a collegiate gymnast, Usry was a four-year letter winner, won five All-America honors, won the 1998 national title on floor and earned 11 All-America citations. In addition to this, she won the 1999 Honda Award as the nation’s top gymnast. Did we mention that Usry was also part of the undefeated and national champion 1998 and 1999 GymDogs teams? There’s no wonder she was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor for athletic greatness!

The current GymDog team has gone 10-4 this season, and after placing 2nd in the final of NCAA regionals will compete in the NCAA national championship this weekend. We asked Usry for her thoughts on her time as a GymDog, as well as the current GymDog team.

What is your role for the UGA Alumni Association? 

I am the Secretary to the Board of Trustees at the University of Georgia Foundation. I also manage the Emeriti Trustees and the Board of Visitors.

What does it feel like to see the GymDogs competing for a championship when you’ve been in their place?

It’s exciting, very exciting! We’ve had some ups and downs over the last couple years, so it’s really exciting, fun and rewarding to see this team – and last year’s team – have so much success and really kind of rise to the occasion. It’s good to see that … I guess, UGA gymnastics has always been the pinnacle of college gymnastics, and we had a little bit of a dip there for a couple of years, and so it’s good to see those traditions and that legacy continue.

Do you go to most of the meets?

I do, I’m still pretty involved. This year, because my kids are getting a little older, it’s been a little more difficult. But in the past, I’ve always been very involved.

What’s it like to see a former GymDog, Courtney Kupets, coach the team?

It’s very exciting because she knows the legacy and the history and the expectations of the program. I think that’s what was missing the last couple years, is that we have such a tight bond of former gymnasts. All of our GymDog alumni are like sisters because we’ve been through the same experiences, even though it was at different times throughout the history of the Georgia gymnastics program. It’s exciting to see someone who went through that, be able to bring that back and instill some of those traditions and some of those expectations into the current team.

What’s your proudest achievement athletically and since you left gymnastics?

So, athletically it was definitely being part of the ‘98 and ‘99 national championship teams, being part of a team that went undefeated both years, and then won the national titles. I think that was pretty amazing. Each year, ‘98 and ‘99, the teams were very different. So it was neat to see how we adjusted to be able to win national titles. Since graduating, I would say my marriage and my two kids are my biggest accomplishments.

Suzanne YoculanWhat was it like to be coached by Suzanne Yoculan? What lessons did she teach you?

Suzanne was amazing, she is very loyal to her athletes. She loved us like daughters, but she taught us how to be adults. When you come into college, especially college gymnastics, you’ve been such an individual your whole life …We didn’t have team camps as much as they do now. When I came onto campus, it was a whole new world, I was teammates with 15 other girls, all at different levels in our life. She very much respected us as individuals but also gelled us together as a team. She taught us many other things like responsibility and how to speak in front of a crowd, and she would always encourage us and push us. She was just a great mentor, even to this day, she’s still a great person to reach out to and ask for advice. She was a great person to lead you when you’re in that period of life where you’re going through so much, like trying to figure out who you are as a person, and so to be a student-athlete it is even another level of trying to figure out who you are, how you want to accomplish things, and what you want to do with your life. It was great to have someone like Suzanne push us, because she did push us, and was also our biggest cheerleader.

 

“I think just having the pride of being a University of Georgia athlete, especially a gymnast, because it nationally was recognized as one of the top programs. I think just having that pride of wearing red and black and competing.”

-Karin Usry

 

What was it like to be a student-athlete in the ‘90s at UGA?

Gosh, I have to think about that, that was a long time ago. I was an elite gymnast, so I trained 35-40 hours, and then I’d go to school on top of that. When I came to college, we were only allowed to train 20 hours. For me, it was a really easy adjustment going from high school to college, because I felt like I had more time, which was crazy. I went from training 40 hours a week, going to school full time, trying to be a high school student, to coming to college and only having to train 20 hours. While that was an adjustment in itself to cut back, it was a good adjustment. Suzanne fought for us on a lot of different levels. For example, she took the resources at the university, even though they weren’t provided to all the athletes like they are now, and offered them to us if we wanted them.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UGA?

I think just having the pride of being a University of Georgia athlete, especially a gymnast, because it nationally was recognized as one of the top programs. I think just having that pride of wearing red and black and competing. I think that’s probably the best memory.

Finish this statement, I am most proud to be a Bulldog when _____.

I am most proud to be a Bulldog any time I see the super G, I know we’re supposed to say The Arch, but the super G is so well-known, and that was such a big part of my career. I’m proud because I know what the G stands for, and I know that it stands for both academics and athletic success and excellence.