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Erika Parks Headshot

Where commitment meets community: Erica Parks (MPH ’11) advocates for veterans

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) refers to herself as a “vetpreneur.” The UGA alumna leverages her experiences with the armed forces, public health and entrepreneurship to advocate for veterans through Camouflage Me Not.

The seed of advocacy was planted in Parks as a young girl, but her experiences in the United States Army Reserve and as a veteran helped the seed grow. When Parks deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2003, her leadership roles and a near-death experience taught her the importance of speaking up for herself and others.

“That time in Afghanistan means so much to me,” Parks said. “The unity I have with my comrades is unmatched.”

When she returned from deployment, Parks earned an undergraduate degree from Kennesaw State University and then applied to UGA’s Master of Public Health program. The program exposed her to health policy and the idea of working with veterans.

Parks founded Camouflage Me Not in 2018 to increase social awareness around veterans’ transition to civilian life. Through the advocacy nonprofit, she shares a specific message on behalf of veterans: “Don’t hide me.”

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) served as a medical supply sergeant with Fort Gillem’s 427th medical logistical battalion in the United States Army Reserve. Parks served almost nine months of active duty in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2003.

The need for support

After earning her master’s degree, Parks experienced 38 months of chronic unemployment. She felt that as a woman of color and a veteran, that she was overlooked and undervalued.

“The song says, ‘And the Army goes rolling along,’” Parks said. “And it does.”

The armed forces offer housing, training, and employment services to members. When veterans transition to civilian life, many of those services are no longer available, Parks said. Women and minorities may feel the challenges of the transition into veteran status even more deeply—as Parks knows from her own experience.

“There is so much training to prepare a soldier, but not the same training when they leave,” Parks said. “Transition programs need a serious overhaul.”

 

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) was honored at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural Veterans in Business Awards with the Veteran Owned Business Award. The audience listens to a video of Parks discussing her military service, lessons learned from service, Camouflage Me Not and her transition from the military to the business world.

Starting conversations

Through advocacy, research, and collaboration, Camouflage Me Not ignites conversation around veterans’ transition and uses public health initiatives and current issues to start a conversation around veteran transition. Since founding the organization, Parks has brought veterans non-veterans to the table while partnering with communities and local governments. But Parks isn’t stopping there.

Her next goal is to attain 501(c)(4) status, which transform Camouflage Me Not into a social welfare organization. With this status, Camouflage Me Not can extend the conversation about veteran transition to legislative assemblies through lobbying.

“Camouflage Me Not means don’t hide me and don’t throw me away,” Parks said. “I’m committed to people who deserve support but might not know what they need.”

Camouflage Me Not presents “Food for Thought – Mental Nourishment for Everyone.” In partnership with Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Lotus Family Wellness Clinic, Radio One, Mental Health America, Erica Parks (MPH ’11) and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Christian served as co-hosts.

Advocating for the next generation

After UGA prepared Parks to launch her nonprofit, Parks dedicates time to UGA’s next generation of change-makers. She helped establish the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council and was named a Class of 2016 40 Under 40 honoree. She is also a member of the College of Public Health Alumni Working Group dedicated to connecting and uniting alumni of the College of Public Health.


WHERE COMMITMENT MEETS COMMUNITY

Whether life takes them to new cities or to the neighborhoods where they grew up, Georgia Bulldogs do more than get jobs – they elevate their communities. Bulldogs lead nonprofits, effect change and create opportunities for others. Wherever people are suffering, wherever communities are looking for effective leaders and whenever the world cries out for better solutions, Bulldogs are there to answer the call to service. It’s more than our passion. It’s our commitment.

Caroline Odom, an intern with UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, brings you a spring blog series that celebrates Bulldogs who embrace that commitment to helping others in their communities thrive.

Want to read about other Bulldogs impacting their communities?

From locker room to board room: UGA helped Chuck Kinnebrew learn to get around any block  

Written by: Charles McNair

Most Bulldog fans need no introduction to Georgia trailblazer, Chuck Kinnebrew (BSED ’75) 

They already know that, in 1971, he lined up with Larry West, Clarence Pope, Horace King and Richard Appleby to play football between the hedges of Sanford Stadium – one of UGA’s first five Black college football players. 

Fifty years later, Chuck’s office in Smyrna, Georgiahas a wall of fame – a floor-to-ceiling display of UGA memorabilia. His Bulldog letter jacket hangs there. So do postgraduate achievements, awards and photos. He’s proud of his diploma. 

“I received a degree in education,” he says. “I didn’t want to be the kind of former athlete that ends up with nothing to hang his hat on. I wanted to leave the university with something tangible, something to use. I wanted to be an alum.” 

He played nose guard, though small even for that football era (6-foot-1, 260 pounds). What he lacked in size, he made up in strength, toughness and quickness. And, like every Black Bulldog on that first integrated team, he held himself to impeccable standards of performance, behavior and discipline. He and his Black teammates felt they had something to prove. 

If one of us started slipping up, the other four would get on him and make sure he got headed in the right direction again, Chuck explained to UGASports writer Patrick Garbin in a February 2021 interview. We had a tight bond and nothing was off-limits, be it football, academics, dating. We knew how important it was that we succeed. We weren’t going to let one another down.  

Because they successfully blazed the trail, others would succeed. The Bulldog Nation would come to marvel at hundreds of Black football players in years to come, including legends named Herschel Walker and Champ Bailey and Hines Ward. 

Those football heroes followed Chuck as he buckled his chinstrap and trotted onto the field. 

Servant leadership

Yes, most Bulldog fans know about Chuck’s football career. But they don’t know the rest of his success story. Chuck has never stopped blazing trails. 

He first wanted to be a coach. He had it worked out with legendary Bulldog head coach Vince Dooley that he’d get his degree, then stick around to become a graduate assistant and maybe climb the coaching ranks.   

And he did become a coach – of teams in the corporate world.  

While waiting for his UGA whistle, he half-heartedly accepted an interview for a suit-and-tie job. To his surprise, he got an offer. 

“That job paid twice the salary of a graduate assistant,” Chuck says. “I talked it over with my dad. He said, “That sounds like pretty good money, son. I think I’d look pretty hard at that offer.” 

Suddenly, the kid from Rome, GA, found himself managing a team of 30 in a DuPont textile plant in Athens, Ga. 

Now Chuck did start climbing the corporate ranks. He brought along UGA lessons from classes and coaches. 

“My style of leadership is coaching,” he says. “I see myself as an inclusive servant leader. Ever since I was exposed to that concept, it’s made sense to me.”   

The biggest challenge

Chuck gained expertise at DuPont in manufacturing operations, planning, marketing, and supply chain. His achievements there took him to The Home Depot where, in time, he led a department with a $7 billion budget overseeing the supply company’s indirect sourcing purchasing team, part of the supply chain operation.  

Often, he found himself among the first, and only, Black faces in meeting rooms.  

“It was actually no big deal,” Chuck says. “All my life, I’d been in predominantly white environments, from junior high school through UGA and now in the business world. I’d grown accustomed to it. When you’ve been the first one here, the first one there, you get used to it.” 

The biggest challenge?  

“Honestly, it was getting white people accustomed to me. I was familiar with being who I was, comfortable in my skin. I learned to be approachableto help people see Chuck Kinnebrew the person instead of Chuck Kinnebrew, the Black guy.” 

He’s still a trailblazer – in his latest role, Chuck serves as the first DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) officer at Floor & Decor, based in Atlanta. He and his team have responsibility to develop and execute best-in-class strategies to help the growing company become an industry leader in hardsurface flooring and something else hard: diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

He looks back in gratitude at the UGA experience. 

“Georgia and my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, helped prepare me for life,” he says. “They set me up to succeed.” 

Editor’s Note: 

Our Georgia trailblazer series profiles UGA Black alumni who took the first brave steps to create the diverse and inclusive university we are today. Want to know more about other pioneers?   

Charlayne Hunter (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63) were the first Black students to enroll at UGA. Read their accomplishments here: desegregation.uga.edu  

Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’67) was the first Black student to graduate from UGA. The College of Education is named for her.

From midfield to Capitol Hill: Sanford Stadium means the world to Christina Swoope Carrere

Written by: Charles McNair

Christina Swoope Carrere (BS ’11) first stood on the 50-yard line in Sanford Stadium in the fall of 2004The nervous teen from Alpharetta, Georgia was only a junior in high school. 

It was halftime during a University of Georgia football game, and she was conducting the Redcoat Marching Band as it spelled out GEORGIA on the gridironShe had earned this opportunity after winning the UGA Summer Marching Band Camp Drum Major Conducting Competition, representing Atlanta’s Johns Creek High School. 

Christina dreamed of one day leading the splendid UGA troupe, even though she didn’t match the typical profile of a Redcoat Drum Major. “Most notably,” she recalls, “I was not a music major.” 

Three years later her dream came true. She raised both arms at midfield at the head of that same Redcoat Band – the first Black female drum major in UGA’s history. 

In 2009, she once again stood at midfield in Sanford Stadium. This time, she raised a rose bouquet as one of the first Black homecoming queens in UGA historyChristina’s 100-watt smile shone through tears. The Redcoat Band – her Redcoat Band – erupted in celebration.

That was the moment I realized how much of my life has been changed because of this university,” Christina says. “Some of the most special moments in my life took place on that field. 

Marching into a bright career

Christina’s 50-yard line has now moved north, to Washington, D.C.  

At graduation, she was named a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar, working in the office of then U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe. The Jordan program brings talented young scholars to Washington, D.C., to work in congressional offices and learn health policyChristina showed an aptitude for health policy analysis, with a focus on issues affecting underserved populations. She went on to earn a Master of Science in public health at Johns Hopkins University, then became policy analyst at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Today she works in the White House Office of Management and Budget, focused on Medicare and the 60 million Americans it serves. She’s tasked with informing views on complex and sensitive policy areas like Medicare eligibility and prescription drugs.  

It’s meaningful work. Christina led the development of a Medicare prescription drug reform package that produced nearly $90 billion in savings to the Medicare trust funds, reduced drug prices and modernized drug benefits. She also earned recognition for her pivotal role in developing a balanced government policy to reduce the supply and demand of addictive opioids. 

Christina brings the same boundless energy to government work that she brought to UGA. 

“Some people burn the candle at both ends,” she says. “I’m the kind who just throws the whole candle in the fire.” 

This kind of zeal marked her years at UGA. She was Student Alumni Council vice president and Events Committee chairOmicron Delta Kappa secretary, a 2009 Presidential Scholar, UGA Outstanding Senior Leader, INROADS Rising Star (and Intern of the Year), UGA EXCEL Award recipient, and UGA Choice Award recipient.  

And her UGA honors still haven’t stopped.  

In 2020, Christina received UGA’s Young Alumni Award, given to those who attended the university in the past 10 years, and who have embodied the Pillars of the Arch—wisdom, justice and moderation–and provided notable service to UGA. 

View from a bridge 

Christina loves a quote from former United States First Lady Michelle Obama: 

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

“I like to expand on that,” Christina laughs. “Not only do you not slam the door, but you also open all the emergency exits and windows and get a bigger table and pull up chairs.”   

As a trailblazer, it’s my responsibility to make sure I am not the last. A path is only useful if others know it exists, and I’m committed to reaching back to help others find it. 

She’s as good as her word. She stays close to UGA as the immediate past president of the Redcoat Band Alumni Association Board of Directors, the founder and chair of the Redcoat Young Alumni Council, and a 40 Under 40 Class of 2016 honoreeShe returns regularly to speak to UGA students and alumni, building new bridges to her alma mater.  

And on the subject of bridgesSome of my favorite UGA memories are of walking across campus with friends and standing on the bridge looking into Sanford Stadium, Christina says. 

From there, Christina can see the 50-yard line. 

“It’s a really special place,” she says. “So much happened there that made me who I am.” 

Editor’s Note: 

Our Georgia trailblazer series profiles Black students at UGA who took the first brave steps to create the diverse and inclusive university we are today. Want to know more about other pioneers?   

Charlayne Hunter (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63) were the first Black students to enroll at UGA.  

Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’67) was the first Black student to graduate from UGA. The College of Education is named for her. Learn more at: 

Mark Anthony Thomas blazes trails from The Red & Black to the wide world

Written by: Charles McNair

Our steps are all taken in fears― 
our doors open with hands that shiver;  
our microphones echo voices that crack … 

 we tumble into the crowds, 
lessened by life’s fall-downs, 

-From “Self Portrait” by Mark Anthony Thomas,

Copyright © 2011. Thomas has published two books of verse,

As I Look and The Poetic Repercussion: A Poetic & Musical Narrative, along with many articles.

 

Mark Anthony Thomas took a deep breath one morning in 1997 and stepped onto the campus of the University of Georgia.

A change began.

“My time at Georgia altered the whole trajectory of my life,” Thomas says. “It gave me a preview of what was possible for myself.”

At Redan High School in south DeKalb County, Georgia, Thomas had enjoyed the security of sameness – a familiar environment “with safety to it,” he recalls, “where everybody looks like you.” He’d been a NMOC (Nice Man on Campus), lauded as Most Congenial in the Redan Raiders yearbook.

Now?

“I found that UGA,” Thomas says, “created an equal space for everybody; a space for African-Americans and Latinos, and also a space for those who flew Confederate flags. It was a microcosm of society at large. I can’t say it wasn’t a challenge sometimes, but UGA was always a welcoming environment invested in my success.”

Mark Anthony Thomas

Creating his space

Thomas hit the ground writing.

He joined The Red & Black, putting in the long hours of a reporter as he studied for a business degree. After three years mastering his craft, Thomas’s talent, leadership and vision paid off. In 1999, he became the first Black editor in the 122-year history of the student newspaper – a true Georgia trailblazer.

“Growing up in Georgia, I had always taken an interest in people who created their own spaces,” Thomas says. “I admired those who were great at their craft, people like playwriter August Wilson

Mark Anthony Thomas

and basketball player Michael Jordan. I also took pride in the accomplishments of the first Black students to enroll at UGA, Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63), people who took non-traditional paths to reach their goals.”

Thomas is a writer at heart. He’s published two books of poetry and won awards for journalism, editing and publishing. UGA introduced him to a non-traditional path for writers.

The Red & Black was an inflection point,” he says. “We were just evolving into digital media. We had our first website while I was there. My initial engagement with technology actually encouraged me to branch out into corporate communication for my career.”

After graduation Thomas first took work with Georgia-Pacific, the Atlanta-based pulp and paper giant, where he managed economic, philanthropic and environmental initiatives. He went on to compile a growingly diverse  and impressive  resume.

He held a deputy directorship at a New York-based think tank, Center for an Urban Future, relaunching the organization’s magazine, City Limits, and turning it into an influential news source.

He swapped coasts in 2014, serving the city of Los Angeles in an executive role focused on improving the city’s economic development operations. Two of then-Mayor Eric Garcetti’s executive orders and several legislative bills enacted his recommendations.

He returned to the East Coast in 2016 as the first-ever senior vice president of partnerships at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. He helped lead New York’s efforts to woo and win the prized Amazon second headquarters project, although civic protests ultimately drove the multi-billion-dollar project to Arlington, Virginia.

Today, Thomas oversees the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, where he works with the metropolitan region’s leaders to dream into being the Pittsburgh of tomorrow.

He’s created his own space.

Mark Anthony Thomas

Renaissance man

Even with a dazzling professional resume, Thomas has somehow found time, at only age 41, to write his books, pick up master’s degrees from Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and throw his energies into dozens of civic, academic, and philanthropic initiatives.

He hasn’t forgotten what he means to UGA. In 2013, the university called him home as a 40 Under 40 honoree, and he keynoted UGA’s inaugural TEDxUGA conference.

He opened his TEDx talk with a story.

At Redan High, he wrote for the school newspaper about local lack of access to technology. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up the story. County planners contacted Thomas and met him. Action followed.

“When I ride back through DeKalb County now, it brings joy to my heart to know I was officially part of a process that changed things for the better,” Thomas says.

He’s still part of the process. In fact, he’s driving the process now;  the space of achievement he’s carved out, then and as a UGA Trailblazer, just gets bigger.

Editor’s Note: 

Our Georgia trailblazer series profiles UGA Black alumni who took the first brave steps to create the diverse and inclusive university we are today.

Want to know more about other pioneers?   

Charlayne Hunter (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63) were the first Black students to enroll at UGA.  

Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’67) was the first Black student to graduate from UGA. The College of Education is named for her. Learn more at: 

Across the decades: UGA’s 60th anniversary of desegregation

On January 9, 1961, Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63) and Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) enrolled as the first Black students at the University of Georgia. 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of UGA’s desegregation.

The legacies of Holmes, Hunter-Gault and Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’67), UGA’s first Black graduate, sparked 60 years of growth at UGA. Because of these students, UGA now boasts a diverse campus made of numerous nationalities, races and ethnicities. The university is commemorating the anniversary and Black History Month by hosting a series of events this spring. And this week, we’re sharing Pandora photos of Black students on campus since the 1960s. Check them out …

The 1960s

From the classroom and lab to campus organizations, these snapshots recognize Black students who joined the Bulldog family in the 1960s.

The 1970s

Continue to stroll with us down ‘Memory Lane’ to the 1970s and check out these students’ campus moments.

The 1980s

Ah, the 1980s! What a time for fashion, pop culture and continuing to build on a legacy that was established just 20 years earlier when UGA was desegregated in 1961. Black students were continuing to make history on campus as orientation leaders, drum majors and in Greek life. Recognize any of these Bulldogs?

The 1990s

These ’90s throwback photos are definitely giving off Tony! Toni! Tone’! “It Feels Good” vibes. Some of your favorite Bulldogs’, favorite Bulldogs were UGA-made in the 1990s.

The 2000s

Let’s swing back through the early 2000s to see a few Black students sharing the first few “side eyes” and “hard” looks caught on camera … and some fun, too!

 

National Entrepreneurship Week: Q&A with Jasmyn Reddicks (BSA ’18)

Jasmyn Reddicks (BSA ’18) is the owner and founder of VTasteCakes, an Atlanta-based vegan bakery. While studying food industry marketing and administration at the University of Georgia, Jasmyn won the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ 2018 Food and AgriBusiness Entrepreneurial Initiative (FABricate). After graduating, Jasmyn launched her business and has been baking made-to-order cakes, cookies, cupcakes and muffins ever since.

In commemoration of National Entrepreneurship Week (Feb. 13-20), Jasmyn shares how her passion for baking with her family led her to launch a business that has a dessert for every Bulldog.

Before entering the FABricate Entrepreneurship Initiative, did you plan to launch a business after graduation?

Not exactly. I always knew I wanted to start a bakery one day, but I never thought it would be so early in life. I didn’t realize that I was limiting my own abilities by thinking too small until the opportunity to start a bakery presented itself. After my mentor, family and friends convinced me that I had a good enough idea to participate in the FABricate project, I decided to go for it. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

What led you to combine your passion for baking with a vegan diet?

I was inspired by my friends who have food allergies. I grew up baking, but the older I got, the more I realized that many people have allergies to baked goods. After learning about the limited options that existed and consuming a few, I realized there was a big opportunity for improvement. I wanted to create a dessert that is delicious, beautiful and that anyone can eat!

 

Jasmyn Reddicks in front of a VTasteCakes banner

How did FABricate and other UGA programs prepare you to start and operate VTasteCakes?

The FABricate competition sparked my motivation that anything is possible no matter who you are. I transferred to UGA, and FABricate helped me find purpose at a large school. It also gave me many resources that I still use today. The UGA Small Business Development Center has helped me with funding and growing a small business. I also received funding from UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur competition in 2019.

You often cite the influence of your grandma on your passion for baking. Do you consider your business a way of honoring her?

In many ways, I do. I am thankful for my upbringing. Baking was always a way to bond with my family and build community, which are two things I value. This has helped cultivate my view on life and inspired me to bring people together, one dessert at a time.

Have you encountered any challenges as a Black woman owning a business?

I think the biggest challenge is being respected and taken seriously. I don’t get automatic validation without having to prove it. But I have learned to overcome these challenges with grace. When people go low, I do the opposite and go high!

 

Jasmyn Reddicks holds a cake

 

Since graduating, leaving Athens and launching your business, what have you learned?

The biggest lesson I have learned is to enjoy every moment, even the tough ones. As an entrepreneur, there are highs and lows, but it is a beautiful thing to look back on how far you have come and how much you have grown as an individual. It still amazes me all the support I received over the years.

Do you have a preference for baking cakes or cupcakes?

Surprisingly, I am learning that I love to do cakes more. I feel like I am able to express my creative edge in my designs.

Can you share advice for Bulldogs who want to start their own businesses?

My advice would be to go for it and to choose passion over money. This is the perfect time to research an idea, test it out and not be afraid to ask for help. If you put in the hard work, avoid shortcuts and be consistent, it will pay off.

Your support today will help prepare tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and innovators.


DONATE TO THE FABRICATE ENTREPRENEURSHIP FUND

LEARN MORE ABOUT UGA’S INNOVATION DISTRICT


SUPPORT THE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER

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.

Ten tips to ensure an at-home tailgate win

By Shontel Cargill (BS ’10), secretary of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council, and David White (ABJ ’10), member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council.

Tailgating looks different this year. We’re not on campus, we’re social distancing from many friends and family members and honestly, we’re just grateful to have a football season. Still, Bulldogs have never been ones to give up—especially when it comes to spending time with fellow alumni and fans. With Homecoming approaching, it’s time to once again rally our enduring spirit of camaraderie and pride. And there’s one event that is sure to do this …

All Bulldogs are invited to UGA’s annual Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate. This year, we’re taking the reunion virtual. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late. Be sure to order an official Homecoming box (you can always use it for future games if it doesn’t arrive in time) and tune in to our pregame show at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 21.

No matter who you’re with or how you’re celebrating Homecoming this year, you can still plan a winning tailgate with these top ten tips:

  1. Never Bark Alone, but get that mask on!

You want everyone to have a fun and safe time at your tailgate despite the pandemic. So, make sure to limit the number of guests you invite and have your favorite Bulldog masks handy (check these out from the UGA Bookstore—which also support UGA students!). If you’re not eating or drinking, keep that mask on! Alternatively, you can host a virtual tailgate to cheer on the Dawgs with friends all over the country.

  1. Make a grocery list and plan ahead.

You can’t wait until Saturday morning to start planning—and don’t forget the essentials: food, beverages, water, plates, and don’t forget the ‘Ice, Ice, Baby!’ Now, it’s a lot more complicated than just “food” so be sure you …

  1. Create a menu.

Expert tailgaters know that the food can make or break a tailgate. Put in the work on Pinterest ahead of time to create a menu that tastes good and can be enjoyed throughout the game. And remember your vegetarian/vegan friends and others with dietary restrictions. Share your menu on social media and tag us @ugaalumni ahead of the game.

  1. Prep food in advance.

Make sure your food is well-seasoned! Consider marinating your meats (or jackfruit, tofu, etc.) the night before. And hey—go ahead and set up as much as possible on Friday night.

  1. Remember the coolers.

Some Bulldogs focus on the food and drink, but completely forget one essential item: ice! That little cooler that holds three drinks is not going to cut it if you’re hosting 2+ people. Consider ordering a larger one from the UGA Bookstore or your local sporting goods store ahead of time.

  1. Hydrate and hydrate some more!

You can never have too much water. Fill one of your coolers with bottles of water and leave some out for the end of the game. If a guest hasn’t had a sip of water by the second quarter, you might need to throw a flag and call for a water break.

  1. A sensational setup!

Ensure that your TV and speakers are setup for a front-row experience. Provide comfortable seating options with a good view of the game for each guest. Don’t forget the decorations and your best Georgia gear. Bonus points for setting up games like cornhole to enjoy before kickoff and during halftime.

  1. The perfect pregame playlist! 

Make sure to swag when you surf, tote that Georgia-Florida Line and get ready to Hail to Georgia before kickoff. You are welcome to listen to the playlist we created just for this occasion. Maybe even assign someone the role of drum major—it’s their job to queue up Krypton Fanfare at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

  1. Don’t forget to show off your hard work! #UGAHomecoming 

If we didn’t see it on social, did it happen? Share your tailgating talents on social media with #UGAHomecoming and tag @ugaalumni!

  1. Bring your best Bulldog touchdown celebrations!

What is a Bulldog tailgate without celebrations? We expect Bulldog fans of all ages to come ready with a touchdown dance. Need an easy one? Just channel your inner Sony Michel. 🤗

 

We wish you a happy Homecoming and hope to see you for the virtual Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Nov. 21. As always, Go Dawgs!

UGA Alumni Association welcomes new volunteers to board of directors and leadership councils

The University of Georgia Alumni Association Board of Directors recently welcomed Kevin Abernathy, Elliot Marsh, and Charlita Stephens-Walker as new board members. In addition, 16 new alumni volunteers have joined the Black Alumni Leadership Council, Women of UGA Leadership Council, and the Young Alumni Leadership Council. 

“These graduates reflect the characteristics of a true Bulldog: committed, caring and spirited,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “They are leaders in their communities, and they will bring an important voice to these leadership groups as we seek to foster a supportive and inclusive community for the more than 332,000 living alumni around the world. I’m looking forward to working with each of them.” 

Kevin Abernethy served as president of the Student Government Association before graduating from UGA in 1999. Today, he is an assistant U.S. attorney with the Middle District of Georgia, defending federal agencies and recovering assets for the U.S. Treasury. Abernethy participates in the UGA Mentor Program, was named to UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013, completed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Emerging Leaders program, is on the School of Public and International Affairs Alumni Board of Directors, and serves on the advisory board for UGA’s vice president of student affairs. 


A Statesboro, Georgia, native, Elliott Marsh earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a master’s degree in agricultural leadership from UGA. Today, Marsh is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He has earned several honors, including the J.W. Fanning Distinguished Young Professional Award from the Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, and was named to the 40 Under 40 lists for both UGA and Georgia Trend Magazine. Marsh is a past president of UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association. 



Charlita Stephens-Walker earned an undergraduate degree in public relations from UGA and is now the national director of corporate and cause partnerships for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She is an Alliance Theatre trustee and is on the board of Women in Film and Television Atlanta. She guides students through the UGA Mentor Program and is a charter member of The 1961 Club, a giving society established by the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council. She resides in Decatur, Georgia. 


The following alumni will join the leadership councils for the UGA Alumni Association’s three affinity groups that seek to build relationships with specific alumni populations in the metro Atlanta area:   

Black Alumni Leadership Council  


Ashley Noel Carter (BSA ’10), Army National Guard military officer and contractor, U.S. Army, McDonough, Georgia.  


Stacey Chavis (MSL ’19), managing director, Campaign Academy, Brookhaven, Georgia.  


Corinna Ellis (AB ’92), senior mortgage loan officer in the financial services industry, Sandy Springs, Georgia.  


Extriara Gates (MSW ’11), behavioral health and family support manager, Bobby Dodd Institute; owner, Lavender Grove Psychotherapy, Atlanta, Georgia.  


Sara Hall (BSW ’09, MSW ’11), clinical social worker, hematology and bone marrow transplantation, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.  


Shayla Hill (BBA ’08), assistant director of digital strategy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Tucker, Georgia.

Women of UGA Leadership Council  


Kim Eilers (BSED ’95, MED ’97), real estate agent, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Smyrna, Georgia.  


Cecilia Epps (BS ’08), freelance sign language interpreter, Lithonia, Georgia.


Christy Hulsey (ABJ ’97), creative director, Colonial House of Flowers, Marietta, Georgia.  


Crystal Ivey (MBA ’14), brand manager for Diet Coke, The Coca-Cola Company, Conyers, Georgia.  


Stephanie Jackson (BBA ’13, MACC ’14), land finance analyst, Ashton Woods Homes, Brookhaven, Georgia.  

Young Alumni Leadership Council  


John Bowden (BBA ’13, BBA ’13), associate broker, Harry Norman Realtors, Atlanta, Georgia. 


Maranie Brown (BSFCS ’12), digital program manager, You Are Here, Smyrna, Georgia. 


Morgan Cook (BBA ’15, MBA ’19), senior risk analyst, Beecher Carlson, Atlanta, Georgia.   


Maxwell Mitchell (BBA ’12, MACC ’13), mergers and acquisitions manager, Deloitte, Atlanta, Georgia.  


Pierce Persons (ABJ ’14), director of operations, Room 422, Atlanta, Georgia.  


To view the full list of UGA Alumni Association board members visit alumni.uga.edu/board-of-directors and alumni.uga.edu/networks for the complete list of leadership council members.

Georgia Law’s first Black graduate, Chester C. Davenport, passes away

Chester C. Davenport and UGA Law students

Davenport, center, with law students during a visit to the UGA School of Law in 2016.

The following message was shared by Georgia Law Dean Rutledge. We join Dean Rutledge in expressing our condolences to the friends and family of Chester Davenport, and are proud of the legacy he leaves on campus–and beyond.

It is with profound sadness that I share that Mr. Chester C. Davenport (LLB ’66), the University of Georgia School of Law’s first African-American graduate, passed away this past Friday, August 7.

Mr. Davenport was an incredibly important figure in our school’s history. He was a leader. He graduated in the top five percent of the Class of 1966 and served as a founding member and Executive Editor of the Georgia Law Review. He was a successful attorney, public servant and businessman. Mr. Davenport was also a regular supporter of the School of Law and the university throughout his life. The UGA chapter of the Black Law Students Association bears his name, and he received the law school alumni association’s highest honor — the Distinguished Service Scroll Award — in 2016. These are only a few highlights of his life.

We are in communication with Mr. Davenport’s family and will share information about memorial services as it becomes available. In the meantime, please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts during this time of mourning.

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge
Dean & Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law

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