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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!”

Finding a home as a first-generation student

Written by Jasmin Severino Hernandez (AB ’13, AB ’13), UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council Vice President

I am a first-generation college graduate, born to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Growing up, my family did not have a lot of resources. I grew up in a very low-income household and there were times when my parents would have to decide whether they were going to skip a meal in order to provide for my brother and myself. Growing up as a first generation American, I did not have a family member who could provide me with guidance as to the process of choosing a university or how to pay for college. I was constantly hearing statistics from others regarding the Latino dropout rate and it felt like I was always pressured to do more and be more to succeed and not be another number.

I transferred to the University of Georgia in 2010, with no idea how the transition would work. I transferred from a small liberal arts college, where I felt like I was a big fish in a little pond. At UGA, I felt quite the opposite. I felt like the world was my oyster, but I also felt lost in the sea of people. As a first-generation student, it felt lonely because I was immersed in a new experience with no idea how to navigate it all. I graduated from UGA in 2013, with a degree in political science from SPIA & another in Spanish from Franklin.

I have amazing memories from UGA.

The first was when my roommate convinced me that pageants could teach me how to be confident in myself. With her help, I competed in various pageants throughout undergrad. My greatest memories are from competing in Miss UGA in 2012 and 2013. I was a runner-up in the 2013 competition and it is a moment I will never forget. My mic went out during my talent routine and the audience only heard the last 30 seconds of my song … ironically where I had to sing the highest note. I received a standing ovation before the judges made me do it all over again!

“Some of our greatest memories involve our similar journeys as first-generation students trying to find a home, a voice, and ourselves in a new and unfamiliar place.”

In 2013, I also found my home away from home. I became a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated, which is an academic sorority. The Delta Alpha Chapter of LTA helped me grow into the professional I am today. The sisters embraced me at a time when I needed support. They taught me the value of hard work and inspired me to always believe in myself and to embrace life’s unexpected twists and turns. I am still very involved with my sorority and I enjoy seeing how our sorority changes the lives of other first-generation Latinas at universities across the country.

Lastly, UGA introduced me to the love of my life. While at UGA, I met a boy who I am lucky enough to now call my husband. For an entire semester, we would casually run into each other on North Campus. One day, we finally spoke, and the rest is history. We took our engagement photos on North Campus, as a sweet nod to the place that sealed our fate. We were married on homecoming day this year, October 19, 2019, and we still enjoy calling the Dawgs on Saturdays. Some of our greatest memories involve UGA and our similar journeys as first-generation students trying to find a home, a voice, and ourselves in a new and unfamiliar place.

Today, I serve as the Vice President for the UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council and I was chosen for the 2020 Class of UGA’s 40 under 40. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this honor and to be listed alongside some of the smartest, brightest and most innovative of our alumni. Although my time at UGA was challenging in many ways, it also helped me grow immensely. I strive and continue to give back to both the University of Georgia and younger bulldog generations because I truly believe that when you have the opportunity to make it where you want to be in your journey, it is your responsibility to hold the door open for those that come after you. It really is my hope that other students read or hear my story and feel encouraged to push forward and to extend a helping hand whenever they can to those around them.

Somewhere along the way, UGA gave me everything I needed. Somewhere along the way, I found a home.