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How Computer Science became one of UGA’s most popular majors

Journalism, business administration, pharmacy, computer science: believe it or not, these majors are in ascending order of total enrollment at the University of Georgia.  

In fact, computer science has the fourth highest enrollment among all majors at UGA. And the graduate degree computer science program is the fastest growing program on campus, having seen a 60 percent enrollment increase from fall 2013 to fall 2018. 

Combine that with the undergraduate program’s 153 percent rise in enrollment in the last five years and you have, undeniably, one of UGA’s most popular departments. We talked with several CS alumni to ask them about their experience and find out more. 

Established in 1984, the Department of Computer Science in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA has expanded to include more than 195 enrolled graduate students and over 1,100 undergraduates. Lori Kittle (BS ’86) was among the first graduates with a degree in computer science.  

“I simply felt like the future would be all about the computer, although I certainly did not envision all the advances that have occurred,” said Kittle. Along with the coursework, Kittle said, “One of my favorite memories at UGA is making lifelong friendships with my fellow CS classmates.” 

Kittle attributes her successful career, including a stint as the Chief Information Officer at Landry’s, Inc.—a $4 billion restaurant, hospitality, and entertainment businessto her education at UGA. She demonstrated her appreciation of the department when she created a scholarship fund for computer science students. Kittle also serves on the department’s advisory board, which provides industry input that helps guide curriculum for the program.  

Like Kittle, Maja Culum (BS ‘19) chose to study computer science because she knew “coming into the university that technology was becoming prevalent within every field,” and there was no way around interacting with it. Culum, who was hired full-time in the UI/UX department at NCR Corporation, believes studying computer science at UGA allowed her to “choose a role within the tech industry that suited her strengths and interests.” 

“That’s what I like most about Computer Science: it’s never limiting, and there’s so much to choose from,” said Culum. My experience in the Department of Computer Science at UGA was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. The professors are knowledgeable and always willing to help, which encouraged me to stick with the major despite the challenges. 

The comprehensive coursework and faculty expertise Culum credits have also led to the growing recognition of the department. Dr. Thiab Taha, UGA Computer Science department head, believes the diversity in research expertise and the increasing number of courses provides students the opportunity to choose the path they are most interested in.  

Students interested in engaging in technology-centric extracurricular activities can join one of many clubs and groups, including Data Dawgs or UGA Hacks, which hosts a hackathon every spring on campus. The UGA Computer Science department also houses the Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy, which was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) through academic year 2022. 

Muhammed Ahmed’s (BS ‘18) passion for problem solving drew him to major in computer science at the University of Georgia, but it was the countless opportunities available within the department that he loved most about his studies.  

“Majoring in computer science helped me secure my dream job,” said Ahmed, a data scientist at Mailchimp. “The program provided me with a strong technical foundation and the soft skills I need to communicate effectively. I had the chance to learn through clubs, research projects, hackathons and many on-campus events.” 

All of the above are reasons a firm like Forrester Research calls Atlanta one of the US’ five elite tech talent markets. As businesses continue to take advantage of this rich market, UGA CS graduates are reaping the benefits, finding positions in global organizations like NCR, The Home Depot and AT&T.  

There appears to be no slowdown in the rise of computer science at UGA, either. Employers and partners of the university are finding new ways to directly engage students through career and internship fairs, UGA Hacks’ hackathon, student organizations and industry panels. And as UGA CS alumni continue their career progression and become the leaders of those employers and UGA partners, UGA’s tech talent pipeline will only become stronger. 

Connecting the Bulldog Family – UGA Mentor Program

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) is a Double Dawg from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) with a passion for giving back to her alma mater. Derrick served on the FACS Alumni Association Board of directors as president, and this past spring she participated in the UGA Mentor Program pilot. Her mentee, Anna Schermerhorn ‘20, will be a UGA Mentor Program student ambassador this fall.

Did you have experience being mentored or being a mentor before?

I’ve never been involved with a mentor program before – so I had no experience to draw from.

What was your biggest hesitation about becoming a mentor?

My biggest hesitation was that I wouldn’t have any information to share with my mentee or that what I shared would not be of help. I’ve been out of college for some time, so I was unsure that what I had to say and share would help.

What has been the biggest surprise?

My biggest surprise was how much fun I’ve had! Anna, my mentee, has been so wonderful. She has been much more than I hoped, but of course I knew that any UGA student would be beyond amazing! Anna and I just clicked. She is nice and friendly, and always asks for my ideas and thoughts—then she always listens to what I think and what I have to share. She brought flowers to me at our last meeting in Athens, and we’ve kept in touch during the summer with all the things she’s doing. I’m sure we will visit in Athens this academic year, too.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Why has this been so meaningful for you?

This has been such a meaningful experience. I love UGA and FACS, so I had the opportunity to put the two things I love together with an amazing UGA FACS student. I’ve gotten to help Anna make connections with so many people and she’s reached out to others to network. She even obtained an internship program this summer through a connection!

Anna will probably be of help to the UGA FACS Alumni Association Board of Directors this year by serving on the Student Engagement Committee. We have already set the wheels in motion for her to assist, and I just love seeing her make those connections and share her passion for life! She is going to do such amazing things, and she already has, but I have a front row seat just watching her bloom.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

What would you tell someone considering participating in the UGA Mentor Program?

Just jump right in! It’s something that I would love for others to experience, and I don’t want folks to miss out on such an amazing opportunity.

I know how valuable it is for both students and alumni, so I really want others to be involved in such a worthwhile program.

It doesn’t take time away from work or family, and alumni will feel so energized working with a mentee–they just won’t be able to get that smile off their face. Plus, you will make a friend for life. Seeing what others become is one of the most amazing things ever, especially a UGA student. Just knowing that you’ve had a small part in what they’ve become is like nothing else. It’s what the UGA family, especially the UGA FACS family, is all about! Family.

‘Moon Rocks!’ marks Apollo 11 anniversary

This story was written by Sara Freeland and was originally posted to UGA Today on July 7, 2019.


Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon–the first time humans 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. 

Fifty years ago, people around the world stopped what they were doing to watch Apollo 11 land on the moon.

Today, most of the world’s population wasn’t even born when the moon landing took place.

But the significance of this historic milestone still resonates.

“It is fascinating that people feel such a connection to the moon landing and it still inspires curiosity,” said Sarah Anderson, a University of Georgia graduate student in history. “Everyone has a story about their viewing experience.”

Anderson curated “Moon Rocks!,” an exhibition hosted by UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Anderson previously worked for two years at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Space inspires a sense of adventure and excitement. Astronauts were portrayed as All-American, hard-working, accessible heroes—a person that children could aspire to be. Astronauts provided hope of advancement and achievement for average Americans,” Anderson noted. “The exhibit explores this a little more, as well.”

Ultimately, what she hopes to accomplish with the exhibition is to bring generations together—those who witnessed the moon landing and have their own story of watching it on the television while holding rabbit ears with those who were born afterward and grew up with astronauts live-streaming space station experiments.

“Bringing in an exhibition that can provide that intergenerational experience is really important,” she said. “Something that people can reminisce and visit with their families and learn from their families is really important to do as an institution.”

On display in the galleries in the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library through December, the exhibition features magazines, political cartoons, satellite models and photos taken from space of the Earth and the lunar landing. The display also includes a piece of the Apollo 9 spacecraft and a medallion that went to the moon and back.

The “Moon Rocks!” exhibition is on display at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries through December. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Moon rocks on display

On July 16, 50 years after the Apollo 11 launch from Cape Canaveral (formerly known as Cape Kennedy), the libraries will host an event with moon rocks on loan from the Georgia Capitol Collection for one day only. The rocks, along with a state of Georgia flag that went to the moon and back, were given to Georgia by former President Richard Nixon, who gave every state moon rocks and small fragments from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar missions after the landing.

The event will also show archival footage of the July 20, 1969, moon landing and have space-themed snacks, including astronaut ice cream and Tang.

To create the exhibition, Anderson found artifacts related to space travel in two collections: the Richard B. Russell Jr. Collection and the Herman E. Talmadge Collection.

Russell, namesake of the libraries building, was on the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences from its conception in 1958 until his death in 1971. The collections include gifts to Russell, magazines he collected, photographs, political cartoons, and letters between Sen. Talmadge and NASA. The exhibition also includes satellite and spacecraft models that Russell displayed in his office. Talmadge was the main advocate in bringing moon rocks collected on the Apollo 16 mission from the Lunar Stone Mountain to Stone Mountain in Georgia.

The Moon Rocks! exhibition features magazines, political cartoons, satellite models and photos taken from space of the Earth and the lunar landing. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Anderson, a UGA graduate student. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Behind the scenes

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the Access and Outreach Unit of the Russell Library wanted an exhibition related to the historic event. Anderson, who was interning there, had experience handling spacecraft artifacts from her work at the Air and Space Museum.

A graduate student in the museum studies certificate program, Anderson graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2013 and then worked at both the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware.

A history buff, she initially took the National Air and Space Museum job to learn about World War II and Air Force history. Family history was part of the inspiration—her grandfather served as a radio operator on a B-17 in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

At the Air and Space Museum, she worked command module hatches that went into space as well as spacecraft models. She worked with the parachutes deployed for landings after the Apollo command modules reentered Earth’s atmosphere and slowed the modules down to lessen the impact of the water landing. Working with these objects made her want to learn more about the history behind the space race and space travel.

Along with other staff at the Air and Space Museum, she began watching Space-X launches on NASA TV and watch NASA send cargo to the International Space Station.

“Seeing these objects that went into space gives you this connection to history that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It makes history more tangible and relatable. It makes you want to learn more about them,” she said. “I had the opportunity to see a multitude of objects that had traveled to an area that I will never be able to explore. I get to see and touch artifacts that have been on true adventures and have inspired awe through generations.”

Her internship at the Paul E. Garber Facility turned into a job and she also served as lead contractor for the medium artifact team. She learned about archival photography, the care of artifacts and how to maintain the integrity of pieces “so that they can be observed and analyzed for generations,” she said. “We would work with pieces that hadn’t been looked at in a while, and providing a stable housing environment for these artifacts is crucial.”

Her team created custom long-term storage structures for the parachutes, which are 25 meters wide. They also worked on ensuring care of artifacts not on display in the warehouses. Her team was in charge of medium artifacts, which means artifacts between 50 and 5,000 pounds. “I drove a forklift every day, which was a unique skill to learn, one that you don’t expect when you decide to work in museums,” Anderson said. “Collections work is delicate and detailed but moving large objects requires heavy machinery.”

Alumni create a theater experience for the deaf and the hearing

This story was written by Heather Skyler and was originally posted to UGA Today on July 8, 2019.

Have you ever watched a movie with subtitles and gotten frustrated by reading lines of dialogue at the bottom of the screen while you’re missing the action above the text? This is somewhat akin to how a deaf person has to watch a live show with a sign language interpreter. Constantly looking off to the side while the drama takes place on stage can ruin the immersive quality of theater.

Two University of Georgia alumni sought to remedy that problem when they founded a theater in Athens called Hands In!, an educational nonprofit that produces original works in American Sign Language (ASL) with a special interest in theater and jukebox musicals.

Here’s how a Hands In! production works: Both Deaf and hearing actors perform, but everyone signs their lines (a capital “D” signifies deaf culture as a whole, rather than the clinical term “deaf”). Voicers offstage speak the lines as they are being signed, so the hearing audience can understand what’s happening as well.

Christopher Carpenter (AB ’16) and Jordan Richey ’19 are both hearing members of the Hands In! cast.

Hands In! isn’t a new idea. The first Deaf theater company, National Theater for the Deaf, was founded in London in 1967 and others exist around the world, but they are not yet on the radar of most theatergoers and Hands In! is the only theater of its kind in Athens.

Haley Beach (BSED ’19) was earning her degree in communication sciences and disorders at UGA when she and UGA alumna Amara Ede (BSA ’14) co-founded the theater company in March 2018. Beach graduated from UGA in May 2019 and is currently pursuing certification to become a sign language interpreter.

In 2017, Beach and Ede put on their first show, which they wrote and directed, at UGA’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries. When the ministries shut down for renovations, Beach and Ede lost the use of their stage. Despite having no budget, they decided to start their own theater company because they had recognized a need that wasn’t being met.

“There was no community for Deaf arts in Athens,” said Beach. “And they really just needed a platform. And I think the hearing community needs this type of theater experience too. The whole point of what we do is to bring ASL awareness to the hearing community and provide a platform for the Deaf community.”

Beach isn’t deaf, but she got interested in ASL when she interpreted for a dinner theater performance of “The Little Mermaid” at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. “A woman there suggested I be a counselor at Deaf camp. I fell backwards into it really and just fell in love with the language and the culture and the people. I feel privileged to be a part of their community. I took four ASL classes at UGA and joined ASL Dawgs.

Luke Bundrum ’19 is Deaf and is the president of ASL Dawgs, an organization that helps connect UGA students with the Deaf community. He is also an actor in Hands In!’s next show, “Wanderland,” which is based on “Alice in Wonderland.” Luke has two roles: Tommy and the March Hare.

A fourth-year social studies education and history major at UGA, Bundrum helped with the early conception of Hands In! and performed in their first show, “Nottingham.” Bundrum was born deaf and got a cochlear implant at age 3. “Being Deaf is a challenge in life, but with supportive friends and community, I am able to succeed on my own,” he said. “It’s rare for a Deaf student to attend a rigorous liberal four-year college such as UGA, and I have been blessed to get this far in life.”

Most of the performers in Hands In! productions, however, are hearing, such as UGA student Jordan Richey ’19, who got involved when Beach reached out to her about auditioning. After sending Beach videos of past performances, Richey was asked to play the lead, Maid Marian, in the theater’s reinterpretation of “Robin Hood.” She learned ASL while she learned her lines for the show.

Jordan Richey didn’t know ASL when she was cast as the lead in “Nottingham.”

“I would video Haley and Amara doing the signs then I could go home and practice making the shapes,” said Richey. “It was different than how I would normally approach memorizing lines.

“It’s not word-for-word translated to English. A lot of it is context based. For example: ‘Let’s go to the car’ might be changed to be ‘Me, you, go car.’ Four signs. You use your body and face to show the urgency.” She now considers herself conversationally fluent in sign. “By the end I could carry on a conversation with the Deaf kids in the show.”

Richey grew up in Royston, Georgia, and moved to Athens in eighth grade. She began UGA in the vocal performance program at the School of Music but said it wasn’t the right fit for her because she leans toward musical theater.

She switched to the speech therapy program in the College of Education, and realized it was a perfect fit. Currently a senior at UGA, she also teaches voice lessons at Oconee Youth School of Performance.

Hands In! has an ASL consultation board comprised of Deaf members only, and they strive to incorporate Deaf actors in their shows. Their next show, “Wanderland” will play July 11, 12, 13 and 14 at UGA’s Cellar Theater.

UGA Mentor Program – LeBria Casher

Photo of student typing on computer with mentor.

Mentors and mentees communicate via email, text messages, phone calls and in-person meetings.

The UGA Mentor Program is the first comprehensive mentorship initiative at the University of Georgia. It will launch publicly on Wednesday, June 12. Alumni, including staff and faculty, are invited to create a profile at mentor.uga.edu if they are interested in mentoring a student. When students return to campus in August, they will begin pairing with alumni so that mentoring can begin this fall.

LeBria Casher

A successful pilot of the program was executed this spring with over 115 mentor pairs, including LeBria Casher, a rising senior majoring in English and comparative literature. LeBria’s mentor was Allison Ausband (ABJ ’83), who graduated with a journalism degree, serves on the UGA Board of Trustees and is the senior vice president of in-flight service at Delta Air Lines. LeBria shared a little about her experience piloting the new UGA Mentor Program…

What made you want to be a mentee?

When I heard about the UGA Mentor Program, I knew without a doubt what a wonderful opportunity it was and that I should apply immediately. Various organizations at UGA have shown me what it’s like to be a student mentor or mentee, but the UGA Mentor Program offered me a chance to connect with an alumnus on a personal level. I was able to choose a mentor that would share my major, interests, or experience at UGA. Also, I wanted to have a mentor who would support my goals and help me develop them.

What was your biggest fear?

I was scared that I would have a mentor who didn’t care, but I was quickly put at ease. My mentor, Allison, genuinely supported my ambitions and talked me through my goals. Also, I’ve seen and heard how the alumni who participate in the UGA Mentor Program want to see students succeed.

What has been the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise was the flexibility of the UGA Mentor Program. It wasn’t time-consuming. It didn’t interfere with my class schedule, work, or any other obligations. I got to establish how frequently I wanted to communicate with my mentor, and we communicated monthly via email, telephone, and in-person.

Why has this been so meaningful for you?

I enjoyed having someone in my corner who wants the best for me. Despite the official mentoring relationship ending, I feel comfortable contacting my mentor and knowing she is still willing to offer me advice.

Describe the UGA Mentor Program in three words.

Investment. Significant. Worthwhile.

What would you tell someone considering UGA Mentor Program?

Don’t hesitate to apply! It really is a great program because there’s a mentor and commitment that’s right for everybody. Having a mentor is a great chance to look at someone else’s journey from UGA to where they are now — especially if it aligns with your interests. Mentors are a valuable source of information, and you get out of the mentoring relationship what you put into it. You never know what good will come from the relationship. Everyone should take the time to look at the website, the FAQs, and contact the UGA Mentor Program team if they are unsure of anything.

 

Interested in learning more about the UGA Mentor Program?

Class of 2019 sets Senior Signature record

For the third year in a row, UGA’s graduating class has set a Senior Signature giving record.

Senior-Signature-Record-2540-Donors

2,540 graduating seniors collectively donated $127,000 to the university through this fundraising campaign spearheaded by the UGA Student Alumni Association. Each student donor’s name has been engraved on a plaque in Tate Plaza in honor of their commitment to UGA.

“I gave to the Senior Signature campaign because of those who have come before me and given, as well as for those who will come after me,” said Nash Davis, a member of the Class of 2019 and president of the Student Alumni Association. “Giving to UGA provides opportunities that I myself will never have the opportunity to gain anything from and I think that’s what makes giving so important.”

Senior Signature was established in 1991 with just several hundred donors in its first year. Since that time, over 35,000 students have donated more than $1.5 million to UGA through the program. Each year, graduating seniors are asked to “make their mark” on UGA by donating $50. Of that gift, $20 is directed to the Georga Fund and the other portion can be designated to a specific school, college, department, program, or scholarship that the donor wishes to support.

Join us in congratulating (and THANKING) the Class of 2019 for this record-breaking effort. RING THE BELL!

A Student’s Perspective on Thank a Donor Day 2019

When it comes to Tate Plaza, students are used to passing some pretty strange things on their way to class. A camel, a cow or just a bunch of extracurricular flyers are not out of the ordinary at all on any day of the week. However, a Tate Plaza event so spectacular that it requires the presence of President Morehead, Miss University of Georgia, Hairy Dawg and hundreds of students only happens once a year. The eighth annual Thank a Donor Day 2019 was on April 11th, 2019, and the student body is better because of it.

Hairy Dawg and a student

Hairy Dawg took photos with students who attended TADD, including the author.

Thank a Donor Day, simply put, is a day where students and faculty members thank university donors for all they have contributed to the University of Georgia. All of our colleges, campus facilities, certificates and student programs are what they are because of the university’s generous donors. Thank a Donor Day is a celebration of those donors, while also being important for educating the student body about what goes on behind the scenes at a university.

A student signs a banner dedicated to thanking donors.

A student signs the banner thanking donors.

Thousands of students depend on and benefit from scholarships – those are thanks to donors. All of the state-of-the-art new facilities on campus, like the Terry expansion or the new Veterinary Medicine building, have been built thanks to donors. Programs like the Public Affairs Professional Certificate program at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication have been founded thanks to the generosity of a donor. See? There’s a lot to be thankful for as a University of Georgia student, because at least several aspects of all our educations are made possible because of donors.

It’s important to take a day to give back, while still making that show of appreciation simple for a student on the go. More than 900 students expressed their gratitude through signing the community thank-you card, writing a note and decorating posters. It was easy to genuinely thank donors in a time-efficient manner. Plus, no student can resist the lure of a free t-shirt and a Chick-fil-A lemonade and cookie in exchange for their act of thanks.

A photo of the t-shirt table at TADD.

Students who completed all three of the tasks on their card received a free t-shirt, and a Chick-fil-A cookie and lemonade.

It was a beautiful day, filled with students smiling, saying thank you, and becoming made aware of all the ways others have contributed to making their time at the University of Georgia a worthwhile and excellent experience. While Thank a Donor Day is only once a year, hopefully it encourages students to remember every day to be grateful for all the things we are so lucky to have here.

Before and after Thank a Donor Day, Athens faced some pretty terrible weather. On the day of the event, the sun was shining and the conditions were perfect for an outdoor event. Maybe that’s a sign that we are better on days that we are thankful.

Check out our Instagram story here.

The Student Tour of Georgia: Not Your Average Spring Break

Spring break is a time when strangers and university faculty group together to get on a bus and learn about agricultural sustainability, economic development and every other aspect of the state of Georgia that the University of Georgia impacts.  

That’s not actually a traditional spring break, but it was spring break for the 25 students and various faculty members on the inaugural trip of the Student Tour of Georgia. Put together by the President’s Office, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the Student Tour of Georgia was an experiential learning opportunity based off the longstanding New Faculty Tour created to teach students about what it means to be a land and sea grant university. 

Students went on a boat ride at UGA's Marine Extension.

Students visited UGA’s Marine Extension and went on a boat ride at sunset.

On the first morning of the trip, students heard from University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and Vice President of Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum about the importance of the trip ahead. With 25 students from various majors across campus as well as supervising faculty, the bus loaded up and headed out at 8am on Monday morning. 

Day 1: 

The tour’s first stop was Jaemor Farms. An hour outside of Athens, we learned about the multi-generational history of the farm from UGA alumna Caroline Black Lewallen (BSA ’11). We were each treated to a delicious fried pie or homemade ice cream. From there, the tour headed to Amicalola Falls to visit one of Georgia’s state parks, and the students climbed around 600 stairs to the top of the falls. At this point it was raining pretty hard, and everyone was thoroughly soaked and ready for a nice hot coffee or tea as we all got to know each other and participated in trust-building exercises at the Amicalola Falls Lodge.  

Day 2 

The second day of the trip started and ended in Atlanta. We started off the day by visiting the Capitol, and it was many students first time entering the building. We sat in on committee hearings and met the Incoming Vice President for Government Relations Toby Carr (BSAE ’01, BBA ’01), as well as put our photography skills to good use on the staircase. 

Students on the steps of the Capitol.

The second day of the tour started at the Capitol in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of the Office of Public Service and Outreach.

From there, we went to the Georgia Experience Center and heard from employees of Georgia Power about how they pitch the state of Georgia to companies who potentially want to open offices or factories here. After that, we went to the Center for Civil and Human Rights and individually toured the three floors of the museum. It was a moving way to remind ourselves of the injustices against human rights that are still happening across the world, as well as reflect on Atlanta’s role in the civil rights movement.    

Our final academic stop of the day was Ebenezer Baptist Church where we got to sit in the pews of the church where Martin Luther King Jr.’s family preached. We were told that the church had been made to appear how it looked on the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last sermon, which was played for us. It was a surreal experience to hear Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermon in which he says what he would like his eulogy to be like, considering that sermon became his own self-eulogy. You can listen to that sermon here.   

We enjoyed a great dinner with UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council members Daniella Singleton (BS ’08, AB ’08), Shayla Hill (BBA ’08), Anna Reddish (BSA ’08, MADS ’09) and alumni Ryan Reddish (BSFR ’08, MFR ’10) and Black Alumni Leadership Council member Jacinta Smith (BS ’01, MS ’04, DRPH ’21) and past president Raymond Phillips (BS ’12, MBA ’18). 

Day 3 

Day three kicked off in Fayetteville for a tour of Pinewood Studios. Though we didn’t see any celebrities (and we couldn’t tell you if we did), it was cool to see where the Marvel blockbuster movies are filmed, and learn about the Georgia Film Academy and the “new urbanism” movement in nearby community Pinewood Forest. 

Students inside a sound stage at Pinewood Studios.

Students got to enter a sound stage at Pinewood Studios. Photo courtesy of the Office of Public Service and Outreach.

After that, we traveled to Macon for a lunch-and-learn. We heard about the economics behind Newtown Macon, an effort to revitalize the city, as well as the Ocmulgee National Historical Park. Our next stop was in Hawkinsville, where we learned about UGA’s Archway programs, and a Youth Leadership Program called LIFE League. From there, we traveled to Albany State University’s campus for a dinner where we learned about their disaster recovery progress in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Although Albany State’s students were also on spring break, we enjoyed meeting students from Howard University in Washington, D.C. who were there helping with recovery efforts on their own spring break “impact” trip. 

Day 4 

On the fourth day of the trip, we visited UGA’s Tifton Campus and learned about what students there are focusing on studying, including going on a tour of an incredibly energy efficient home as well as seeing a demonstration of a drone that can tell farmers how much water their fields need. We also visited UGA’s dairy research facility and pet baby cows, which was a really great time. 

Students pet baby cow at UGA's dairy research facility.

Students got quality time with baby cows at UGA’s dairy research facility.

At the Okefenokee Swamp, we learned all about alligators, including one named Crazy. We got to pet a baby alligator named Tiny, and then took a small boat tour through the swamp, followed by a train tour of another area of the swamp. 

Our last stop of the day was UGA’s Marine Extension on Skidaway Island, where we were greeted by none other than Uga X. Remember how petting baby cows AND baby alligators was really fun? We then got to pet and pose for photos with the best dawg, and that’s certainly a lot of students’ favorite memory from the trip.  

Day 5 

On the fifth and final day of the tour, we woke up in Savannah and went to the Georgia Ports Authority and learned about their work and took a tour of the ports. Next, we went to Gulfstream Aerospace and saw the process behind the construction of $60 million-dollar jets, as well as the creation of simulators for pilot education.  

Finally, we stopped in Washington County and enjoyed Dairy Lane milkshakes as we heard from UGA alumna Conni Fennell-Burley (BSHE ’88), an Archway Professional. It was, no pun intended, a sweet finish to the week.   

This summary doesn’t even begin to mention the time we spent as a group reflecting on what we had learned that day, starting snack delivery chains on the bus or playing silly bonding games. By the end of the week, we had perfected our group photo pose. While it wasn’t a traditional spring break, I believe an alternative spring break where we got to see so many places in Georgia made us all the more grateful to be at the University of Georgia. UGA is and will continue to be a landgrant and seagrant university that is committed to making a positive impact on not only the state, but the world.  

 

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Make history at 1785 Day

The Student Alumni Association (SAA) has issued a challenge to the entire campus–to get 1,785 student donors to give $17.85. This will all lead up to 1785 Day which will take place in Tate Plaza on August 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event will include free t-shirts, food and photos with Hairy Dawg for students who donate. 

The SAA is an association for UGA students to network and engage with alumni. The SAA is governed by the Student Alumni Council (SAC) who promotes UGA traditions, cultivates student philanthropy and connects students to alumni.  

This is the first event of its kind that the SAA is putting on and Nash Davis, the president of the SAC, could not be more excited to start the school year off with a strong campaign.  

“We want to celebrate the institution that we know and love and try to help everyone realize how lucky we are. We also want everyone to know how much SAA and SAC can impact a student’s experience,” Davis said. 

Davis joined the SAA his freshmen year after a search of how to be more involved on campus. Once he found out what the SAA does, he knew it was a place for him.  

“I stress the opportunities that our organization can give these students and how we truly enjoy setting them up for success, and we’ll do anything in our power to help them be successful,” Davis said.  

When students donate as a part of 1785 Day, they will automatically become a member of the SAA and will receive exclusive benefits such as professional development, spirit days, involvement opportunities and a free SAA t-shirt. The SAA hosts events throughout the school year such as Freshmen Welcome and ghost tours of North Campus. Members of the SAA also get exclusive opportunities to network with UGA alumni at events such as the monthly Advice from the Big Dawgs lunch and Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs.  

Usually membership dues are $20, but in honor of the event, every donation of $17.85 includes membership. Davis looks forward to 1785 Day because it means that more students will be members of the SAA early in the year so they can participate in the events all year long. 

Ja’Kyra Austin is the SAC’s Vice President of Membership, and she joined the SAA after she transferred to UGA.  

“A phrase we often hear in the council  is ‘planting a tree, even if we don’t get to enjoy its shade’ and it has been something we remind ourselves of not only when we donate but also when we are encouraging others to donate,” Austin said. “We shouldn’t wait to donate until after graduating, when our small gift could change a life or improve our campus today.” 

Austin is passionate about helping others students find what they are passionate about because she knows from personal experience the struggle of finding out what to do after college. She donates to the Career Center so that they can help other people find their way during college and afterwards.  

Student philanthropy helps to support need and merit-based scholarships, experiential learning opportunities and any other area of campus students designate when they make their gifts. Of the $17.85 students donate, $7.85 will go to the Georgia Fund to support the student experience at UGA and $10 can be designated to a school, college, department or program the student is passionate about.  

Join Davis and Austin in honoring UGA’s history by making history with the SAA at 1785 Day!

Five reasons the University of Georgia is an academic powerhouse

As the Bulldogs head into the SEC championship, see why UGA is winning both on the field and in the classroom.

This story was originally published by the Division of Marketing and Communications..

1. Our students love it here. Four students apply for every spot in our first-year class and 96 percent return for their second year, well above the 61 percent return national average rate. Oh, and for those four out of every 100 who don’t return, we wish them well because that’s the kind of place we are.

2. Our students love it even when they do leave. A whopping 95 percent of our graduates are either employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation, well above the national average (that makes moms and dads happy, too!).

3.  We’re a trend-setter in higher education. We’re the largest public university nationwide to provide every undergraduate student a hands-on learning experience and we’ve launched more than 100 “Double Dawgs” degree programs where students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years or less and save money.

4. Our students are smart and they thrive. This year, our enrolling first-year students averaged a straight “A” GPA (yes, that’s 4.0), a 1344 SAT score, and 30 ACT score (there’s really nothing average about any of that). In the past 20 years, we’ve been one of the top three public universities producing Rhodes Scholars because of our dogged focus on enhancing the learning environment — for all our talented students.

5. We’re strong academically and athletically. Forbes ranked us No. 17 in its 2017 list of top colleges that dominate academically and athletically.  We’re ranked as the 16th best national public research university by U.S. News & World Report. We are one of only 10 public universities ranked in the top 20 among Division I schools in both academics and athletics.