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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.”

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.

JIT for Mother’s Day: Alumni-owned Helmsie offers “modern Southern goods for momma and babe”

JIT (just in time) for Mother’s Day, we’re spotlighting Helmsie, a Georgia-based lifestyle brand that offers “nostalgic and Southern goods for momma and babe.”

Helmsie is the dream child of Sarah Howell (MS ’10), who graduated from UGA’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences with a degree in biological engineering, and her BFF Karla Pruitt, a licensed wallpaper, fabric and greeting card designer. The pair was interested in merging the South’s “rich, timeless culture” with the “renewed interest of uniquely Southern design.”

Today, their business focuses on being well-designed, yet functional–all in an effort to serve today’s “style-conscious momma.” They pride themselves on producing goods that will “add a little whimsy and joy to your day-to-day.” Here are just a few of the products available at helmsiebaby.com/shop:

Not Your Momma’s Alphabet Cards ($15)

Helmsie-Alphabet-Flash-Cards

Photo: Helmsie

I’m MOMMA Necklace ($30)

Helmsie-Momma-Necklace

Photo: Helmsie

Bee Earrings ($20)

Helmsie-Bee-Earrings

Photo: Helmsie

Enamel Pins

Helmsie-Enamel-Pins

Photo: Helmsie

Pink Bee Poster ($34)

Helmsie-Bee-Poster-Print

Photo: Helmsie

Helmsie-Sarah-Howell-Americas-Mart-Booth

Photo: Helmsie

Sarah graduated from UGA in 2010 with a master’s degree in biological engineering (her undergraduate degree is from Furman University) and is an associate adjunct professor at Ashford University, teaching courses in health care ethics and medical statistics. In 2017, she added co-founder and CEO of Helmsie to her resume. This engineer-turned-entrepreneur manages the business side of house for the brand from her home in Atlanta. The wife and mother of two admits to also being an avid collector of vintage jewelry.

In late 2018, Helmsie announced its wallpaper debut with Hygge & West–another woman-owned business.

 

Interested in supporting this entrepreneurial alumna? Visit helmsiebaby.com to order online or inquire about wholesale purchases. Or follow them on Instagram.

Interested in supporting UGA students seeking to follow in Sarah’s business-running footsteps? Consider making a gift to UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program Support Fund.

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.

Georgia Women of Achievement Announces 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees

Leila Denmark

94-year-old pediatrician Dr. Leila Denmark on the front porch of her office in Forsyth County. Dr. Denmark is a graduate of the UGA medical school (now Medical College of Georgia). Denmark enrolled in the Medical College of the University of Georgia, now the Medical College of Georgia, receiving her M.D. degree there in 1928.

Two women who made significant contributions to Georgia’s history were inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame on March 7, 2019, at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.

The Georgia Women of Achievement Induction Ceremony is an annual event held during Women’s History Month. This year’s event was held at 11:00am in Pierce Chapel on the Wesleyan Campus and will be followed by a reception and seated luncheon in the stately Anderson Dining Hall, Wesleyan.

Georgia Women of Achievement recognized the contributions of two women whose contributions were extremely noteworthy, courageous, and impactful.

Dr. Leila Alice Daughtry Denmark (1898 -2012) of Atlanta and Athens was a pioneer in pediatric medicine, research and an advocate for the pediatric community. She was a co-developer of the pertussis vaccine. Until her retirement in 2011, she was the world’s oldest practicing pediatrician.

Mary Dorothy Lyndon (1877-1924) of Newnan was the first woman to receive a degree from the University of Georgia in 1914, four years before women were admitted to the University as regular students. She helped organize the first sorority at UGA and made significant contributions to the Athens community.

Medical College of Georgia (MCG) Executives meeting with alumna Dr. Leila Denmark

Cathy Cox, Dean and Professor of Law at Mercer University, was the keynote speaker for this year’s Induction Ceremony. Cathy began making her impact on Georgia’s political landscape in 1993 as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. She went on to have a successful tenure as the first woman to serve as Georgia’s Secretary of State. After her time in office, she became president of Young Harris College where she oversaw the College’s transition from a two-year college to a four-year institution. Since 2017, she has served as dean of Mercer University’s School of Law. Her contributions to the state are evident from her involvement in numerous philanthropic and civic organizations.

Georgia Women of Achievement was created in 1990 to honor women of Georgia’s history who contributed extensively to the community through their professional and personal lives. Honorees must have exceptional accomplishments, be a continuous inspiration, and deceased for a minimum of five years. The two 2019 inductees will be among the almost ninety other women previously honored by Georgia Women of Achievement.

Clementine Creative: Marketing Agency Brings Juicy Storytelling

Clementine

Sometimes big stories start in small places. One of those places: Clementine Creative Agency, a boutique marketing agency based from the first floor of a century-old building on the edge of bustling Marietta Square. Founded in 2015 by Jennifer Minton Nilsson (BBA ’00) and Merissa Corbet Davis (BFA ’03), Clementine Creative has become a wellspring of creative branding, dauntless design and authentic storytelling for a diverse and growing list of clients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

The agency initially sprang from the decade-long professional history of its two founding partners who worked together as part of an in-house corporate marketing and creative team for a prominent Atlanta-based homebuilding company. “I was the Vice President of Marketing and Merissa was our Art Director. We were lucky in that the company placed a value on branding and creative visioning that a lot of others may not. We rode out a lot of challenging times in the industry, but we learned a lot in the process too,” says Jennifer. “As we collaborated, we began to focus in on how powerful our craft could be in terms of creating a brand and a vision and then communicating that story in a way that was unique and genuine, something that people could connect with. That kind of storytelling makes things happen. It is not only fulfilling to create, but it makes a real impact on the business, even in the hard times.”

Clementine

“So much of it became about just taking those extra moments to be thoughtful,

Clementine

having the courage to take a step back and think creatively, look for the fresh approach – then the persistence to follow through the details and get it right,” adds Merissa. “Doing what, in a lot of cases, others wouldn’t take the time to do. Ultimately, we knew we wanted to create an environment built around that way of working and really honor the craft with great design that had an impact on people. And that was the seed of Clementine.” As Clementine’s reach has grown, so has its team – currently rounded out by two more UGA alumnae, Rachel Regal Melvin (BBA ’12) who heads up social media and engagement and Emily Noles (AB ’18), the agency’s client account and marketing coordinator.

With a select team for support, Clementine has been busy bringing stories to life from logo and branding packages to websites, social media campaigns, retail experience centers and more.

Clementine Creative

Highlights of Clementine’s recent work include two national award winners: a creative branding implementation (complete with onsite, web and social media components) for Marietta Square Market, the city’s anticipated new food hall destination opening this spring, as well as a brand experience center for Pratt Stacks, a new condominium destination in Atlanta’s Grant Park. Located in The Beacon Atlanta, the center is defined by a full wall mural, commissioned from a local artist, and combines everything from street art to architecture with video and interactive presentations for an immersive lifestyle experience. “We’ve had the opportunity to work with a growing list of clients from all walks and that’s a part of the challenge and the fun for us,” says Rachel. “We get to create these things and then see them come to life out in the world. When our clients see success, we get to celebrate with them. Everyone has a unique story to tell, so there’s always a new creative challenge for the team.”

And, at least for now, that team is red and black through and through. “There’s always room for another Dawg in the office,” jokes Rachel. Emily, the team’s most recent alum, adds, “When you think about it, it’s fun to have this team where you can see all these different facets of UGA working together. Merissa studied on the fine arts side in Lamar Dodd. Jennifer and Rachel both have a background in marketing from Terry. I was in advertising at Grady. We all have a common ground in the Georgia community, but we also all have different training, different specialties, different experiences that we bring to our work as a team and I think that collaboration really shows in the finished work.” Sounds like the makings for a great story.

Want to see more? Get a taste of Clementine’s work on their website at clementinecreativeagency.com.

Female Run Bulldog 100 Company: A Signature Welcome

In 2013, Lindsay Bissell Marko (BBA ’07) was moving from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina, to join her husband in the South. She was soon to be the maid of honor for her best friend, Emily Howard Slater (BS ’07). Lindsay was given the opportunity to help create welcome gifts for the wedding guests. As she collaborated with Emily to create those gifts, a unique business idea was born.

In 2014, A Signature Welcome emerged as a luxury wedding welcome gift company. Five years later, A Signature Welcome is now a thriving gifting company that curates gifts for any celebration, domestically or internationally.

“We curate gifts that celebrate,” said Lindsay, “We like to say, anything wedding, corporate, or everyday, we’re here to help with any gifting need.”

A Signature Welcome packaged and sent more than 6,000 gifts in 2018. It continues to grow in gifting numbers and clients. Some of the company’s most notable gifting projects have included custom gifts for the Carolina Panthers, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin’s wedding, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration and the wedding of Martha Stewart’s niece. A Signature Welcome has recently been chosen to curate VIP welcome gifts for the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte. A Signature Welcome also has been named a 2019 Bulldog 100 company, meaning it is one of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by a UGA alumnus this year.

Relive your glory (Glory) days!

Emily claims the experience and lessons from mentors are a large reason their business has been successful.

“Working under inspiring managers in the past, seeking mentors, and both of us having seven years of work experience under our belts were important things that we brought to A Signature Welcome,” said Emily. “Lindsay’s corporate experience blended with my small business background provided a unique dynamic to developing our company’s culture.”

After serving on the Terry Young Alumni board, Lindsay praises the Terry College alumni network as an aid for learning how to successfully run their company. “Through those four years on the board, I met so many incredible people,” said Lindsay. “I still keep in touch with some, both personally and professionally.”

As their gifting company continues to grow, these alumni encourage students and future entrepreneurs to understand what it means to be an entrepreneur and not to be discouraged about making mistakes. “It is super important to let your mistakes empower you,” said Emily. “Never take for granted the opportunity a mistake makes for you to grow as a business and as a leader.”

Looking to give a special someone a gift? Check out A Signature Welcome’s website to start the process of a finding that special, curated gift. Check out the Bulldog 100 website to see what other alumni-owned businesses made the list this year.

Q&A with UGA Alumna Ebonie Medious

Alumni Spotlight: Ebonie Medious (AB ’17, AB ’17)

My name is Ebonie Medious and I graduated from UGA in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications studies from Franklin College and a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs from SPIA. I also minored in global health. I’m originally from Hampton, Georgia, and almost attended LSU. However, I ultimately chose the University of Georgia after spending a weekend with Georgia Daze, an overnight campus visitation program. I loved every moment of being on campus so I had to come to UGA! I started getting involved with the Alumni Association while I was still a student by donating to the Student Alumni Association.

I currently live in San Francisco and work for LinkedIn as an associate program manager in inclusion recruiting. I’m thankful for UGA and the Alumni Association as it’s given me opportunities to stay connected and feel at home in a brand-new city. When I moved to California, I sought out the Bay Area Alumni Association as a way to meet new people who had something common with me.

 

Q&A with Ebonie

  1. What was your favorite class at Georgia?

Foreign Policy Decision Making

  1. What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Be open to all opportunities that come your way and connect with your classmates on LinkedIn!

  1. Describe Athens in three words.

Southern, Hospitality, Charming

  1. Describe UGA in three words.

The Arch, Tailgates, Tate

  1. What is your favorite thing to do in your current city?

Visit the wineries in Napa Valley.  

  1. What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that?

I thought I was going to be a corporate attorney. But, I don’t think I have it in me to go through another round of school again.

  1. What is the most important lesson you learned in college?

Getting a C in a class is not the end of the world!

  1. What do you know for sure? What will you never understand?

The University of Georgia is by far the best institution to attend! I will never understand what makes other institutions’ alumni think that their school is better than UGA!

Science for the benefit of humanity: Dr. Cori Bargmann

When Dr. Cori Bargmann (BS ’81) graduated from the University of Georgia in 1981 with a degree in biochemistry, she had no idea she would one day lead a $3 billion initiative dedicated to eradicating disease by 2100. Dr. Bargmann explained she was a typical freshman in Mell Hall who lived off Ritz Crackers and Oreos, but she began to get hands-on lab experience thanks to her favorite professor, Dr. Sidney Kushner. A genetics professor, Kushner was also Bargmann’s undergraduate advisor, who “paid me to work in the lab even though I mostly broke things.”

Bargmann is currently the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor at The Rockefeller University in genetics and neurosciences. She studies animal neurology, specifically that of round worms, as it relates to genetics and environment. In 2016 she became the Head of Science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), an initiative co-founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician and teacher. The mission of the initiative is to build a better future for everyone, which in Bargmann’s words, means to “find new ways to leverage technology, community-drive(n) solutions, and collaboration to accelerate progress in Science, Education, and within our Justice & Opportunity work.”

Bargmann’s favorite UGA memory is gathering with her friends every Saturday night at IHop on Baxter Street to rehash the week. Her friends and she followed that ritual regardless of other social plans. Ultimately, her college friends became like family. She says the No. 1 thing she learned from UGA was how many different subjects people are passionate about and how they all bring different backgrounds and experiences to the table.

Bargmann doesn’t claim to be an early riser or a night owl, rather responding with “what is this thing called sleep?” Which makes sense with the list of problems facing her. She says this generation has a lot of challenges, from solving disease to making education more accessible to removing barrier to success, and she agrees with Zuckerberg that these goals need to be ambitious. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was started in 2015, and Bargmann is excited because it is “starting something brand new” where they are “solving today’s challenges today.”

The UGA grad’s proudest achievement isn’t a research discovery or one of the awards she has received. She is most proud of her graduate students who have gone on to do great things. She says “they were great to start with, but I didn’t stand in their way.” Seeing them succeed gives her work meaning.

Her work will gain even more meaning as she continues to pursue solutions to some of society’s great challenges through the CZI. But, of course, we all want to know: what was it like meeting Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg? She was impressed by how young they were–just like her graduate students–and how committed they are to giving back. Bargmann says that like Chan and Zuckerberg, she wants to give back, and her hope is that her research is more than scientific discovery, she wants it to be “science for the benefit of humanity.”