Alumna Spotlight: Ailsa Von Dobeneck (BS ’07)
Ailsa Von Dobeneck (BS ’07) has built a career on communications and world travel. She’s traveled to locations such as London, Singapore, and Washington, D.C. for her developing government and international relations career. Most recently, however, Ailsa traveled to Los Angeles to display her passion for cooking on the Fox's MasterChef.
UGA staff member Erin Miller recently spoke with Ailsa regarding her experience on appearing on MasterChef sixth season, her global travels and memories of UGA.
What motivated you to pursue cooking as a passion? Have you always spent a lot of time in the kitchen?
You know how there are some people that live to eat and some that eat to live? I am the former, through and through. After graduating, I took a semester off before I pursued a master's degree at King’s College in London and decided to spend the time learning to cook. After all, if you love to eat, it is great to know your way around a kitchen. I enrolled in the advanced beginner’s class at the Le Cordon Bleu in London and learned the basics. I have been experimenting ever since and enjoy traveling in search of new and exciting flavors. My career took me to Singapore, where I worked in shipping, and I was able to travel extensively throughout the region. I now work in government affairs in Washington, D.C. I spend my free time looking through old White House cookbooks at the Library of Congress. It is amazing the kind of gems you find in there. Next month, I will be starting a weekly column on presidential recipes in my blog, The Curious Tastebud, which will run through to the election next year.
On your MasterChef contestant page, you described yourself as a “unicorn” because no other contestant possessed your unique set of skills. What are some of the unique skills that you acquired at UGA?
I think UGA was the place where I truly started to learn about myself. I discovered what I’m great at, good at and need to work on. I think the skill that I focused on developing first was time-management. Like in the kitchen, you need to be prepared to pace yourself and use your time wisely at UGA. As an out-of-state student, my experience at UGA encouraged me to put myself out there: to introduce myself to people and take risks.
What is a positive MasterChef experience that you’d like to share?
I had so many positive experiences on the show. One of the highlights was getting to prepare a filet for Gordon Ramsay in his own restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak, in Las Vegas. I had never been to Vegas and the razzle dazzle of the whole experience was really special. Though my filet didn’t get me to the next round, I was proud of my dish. I also really enjoyed meeting the other talented contestants. One of my favorite fellow contestants went to LSU, so we had some great football banter. Go Dawgs!
You’re an extensive world traveler. What countries have you visited and would recommend based on their cuisine?
I’ve been lucky with my travel options, as both of my parents are from Europe and I lived in Asia for a time. I am completely in love with Vietnamese cuisine and would recommend a trip to Ho Chi Minh City for anyone who enjoys street food and isn’t afraid to try bold flavors. Italy will always be close to my heart when it comes to edibles. My family spent a lot of time in Venice when I was a kid, where I learned the joy of a big bowl of pasta. For those who aren’t as adventurous, the Italian menu will give you familiar classics made with the best ingredients possible. Gelato anyone?
When you’re at home, what are some of the dishes you like to prepare?
My absolute favorite part of cooking is seeing people enjoy what I have made. I host dinner parties at my house and focus on making dishes you can prepare ahead of time so you have time with your guests. There is nothing worse than an absent hostess. Risotto is a favorite; it is refined and can come in a host of different varieties. I make a gorgeous manchego risotto with chorizo, red peppers and arugula.
What is your favorite memory of UGA? Are there any places in Athens that you remember?
With enough amazing memories to last a lifetime, I am struggling to pick a “favorite.” Watching the Dawgs win Between the Hedges was always amazing. We won the SEC championship my freshman year against LSU in Atlanta. I remember being over the moon that I had chosen the “best university ever.”
Athens also has so many places that stick out in my mind. The Pi Beta Phi house on Milledge brings back a lot of fun memories, from getting ready for formals to decorating the front porch for every holiday imaginable. If we are talking foodie memories, I still dream about the grits from Last Resort. Hugh Acheson from Five and Ten is a real talent and always dished out the tastiest Southern dishes every season. I ran to the bookstore when Acheson's book, A New Turn in the South, was published.
Is there anything else regarding your career that you’d like to share?
In both my careers (government relations and cooking), my education at UGA has held in me in amazing stead. My time in Athens gave me access to some of the best and brightest professors and allowed me to really channel my energy in positive ways. It is amazing the amount of UGA alumni I have met across the world. It seems Georgia alumni are all connected by a lifelong love of learning and I am really proud to forever be a Bulldog.
To learn more about Ailsa and to see examples of her culinary work, please visit her blog.
UGA Majorette is No. 1 College Twirler
While Nicole Jensen ’15 has lit up Sanford Stadium with her flaming batons and show-stopping gymnastics moves as a UGA feature twirler on game days, she is also making her mark on the national stage. She has garnered attention for UGA and continued the legacy of national champions after winning the highly coveted title of Miss College Majorette of America. This is the highest award given to a college twirler at the National Baton Twirling Championships, held each year in South Bend, Indiana.
Nicole has been a UGA feature twirler for the past four years. This is highly sought after position among top twirlers in the nation. Nicole, a senior marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa, was selected through an intense audition process and has enjoyed every minute of her time twirling between the hedges at UGA.
Nicole is no stranger to success. She was on the USA World Team, where she was a silver medalist, and has traveled and performed in Peru as an ambassador. She has won hundreds of awards and titles in her twirling career, including the Collegiate Women’s Solo National Champion in 2012.
Representing UGA as the reigning top college twirler, Nicole has been touring the country this spring and summer, performing at events and competitions as an ambassador of her sport. This past weekend by performing at Notre Dame in the National Baton Twirling Championships, Nicole performed her final duties as College Miss Majorette of America. Make sure to check out Nicole, in her final season, and the rest of the UGA Majorettes at every home football game this fall!
UGA mascot Hairy Dawg joined Nicole for her final performance at Notre Dame
Alumna Spotlight: Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ '08)
Alumna Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ '08) is one of the newest members of the 11Alive Atlanta team. A native Atlantan, Jennifer graduated from UGA with a degree in broadcast news and a minor in Spanish. Her career began in Macon, Georgia, where she worked for 13WMAZ as a reporter, producer, and fill-in anchor. She then joined News19 in Columbia, South Carolina, as a general assignment and political reporter. Jennifer was later promoted to weekend anchor.
Earlier this year, Jennifer was recognized by the 2015 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for Outstanding Local Television Investigative Reporting as a part of the News19 team. She also received a South Carolina Broadcasters Association STAR award for her coverage of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services.
11Alive is home to many Georgia alumni and the UGA Alumni Association is thrilled to see another graduate join its ranks. Congratulations, Jennifer!
Meet the UGA alumna behind the Georgia Trail Summit: Tracie Sanchez (AB '88, MPA '11)
The Georgia Trail Summit is excited to announce the schedule for its second annual event, which will take place in Athens, Georgia, June 4-6 at The Graduate. Continue reading to learn more about Georgia Trail Summit's founder, Double Dawg Tracie Sanchez (AB '88, MPA '11), and the inspiration behind this organization.
I’ve been riding bikes, hiking mountains and paddling rivers all my life. Being on a trail makes for wonderful escapes, new adventures and challenges, new friends, staying healthy and connecting with nature. And great photo memories.
Earning my Masters of Public Administration at UGA late in life allowed me to focus on which public policy I wanted to champion. Being part of the effort to build a world-class network of connected trails in every corner of Georgia is a cause I believe in deeply.
The first thing I did as an undergrad in 1985 was sell my car and become a bicycle commuter to campus. I still had that bike 24 years later when I returned to UGA for my masters’ in public administration. I caught trail fever in Athens biking the greenway, helping the Firefly Trail incorporate as a non-profit, and collaborating on a graduate project in Hartwell that led to inventorying regional greenspaces with UGA landscape architecture students.
Clearly, alternative transportation solutions involving active living are my passion. Eight years at UGA as a program coordinator for the Leonard Leadership Scholars and one-on-one chats with mentor Earl Leonard taught me a thing or two about leading an effort. So with a background in graphic design, leadership development, a public policy degree, and spare time during the job search, I reached out to all the trail hounds I knew in Georgia, and began to build a network.
Research in 2011 revealed there are 82 trail and greenway projects proposed or underway in Georgia. I was familiar with many of them from my own explorations and serving as a mobility manager for a regional commission. I learned of others while attending Smart Growth conferences, Transportation Camp, the Georgia Bike Summit and transit and mobility workshops. But something was missing. No one knew about anyone else’s project; no one seemed to be sharing lessons learned. Why wasn’t there an easy opportunity to convene Georgia’s entire community of trail experts in one place?
The Department of Natural Resources admitted they didn’t have staff capacity to update a 15-year-old comprehensive trail plan. With so much to learn from each other, I felt compelled to connect the dots…and the people.
The solution came when attending the National Bike Summit in DC. While visiting Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s development director, Kelly Pack, she inspired me with great advice, “Round everyone up and hold a Georgia Trail Summit.” I pitched the idea that spring and have been recruiting and collaborating with trail, greenway and blueway partners ever since. The time was right and I visualized myself as the champion for the effort. UGA taught me how and now I'm on a roll.
Today, I lead a dedicated team of volunteer trailblazers planning the second annual Georgia Trail Summit. So far, we’ve raised $20,000 with 35 sponsors, including UGA College of Public Health, UGA Office of Sustainability, UGA Warnell School of Forestry, Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department, Athens-Clarke County Mayor’s Office and Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau. More importantly, we're connecting people.
The Georgia Trail Summit has seen a drastic increase in presenters since its creation. You all know Athens is an ideal, walkable city with hotels right on the Greenway and other nearby trails for biking, hiking and paddling, which will be featured during 10 mobile workshops.
I remain committed to my vision for Georgia’s trail movement to grow into an established and influential organization helping non-profits, governments and communities focus on connectivity, conservation and comprehensive planning.
UGA alumni are personally invited to attend this timely conversation on the future of Georgia’s trails June 4, 5 and 6 in Athens at the Graduate Hotel. For a closer look, stroll on over to georgiatrailsummit.com.
Alumna Spotlight: Christina Sass (AB ’02)
Since graduating from UGA, Christina Sass (AB ’02) has led a successful career in the for-profit and nonprofit world. Her passion for empowering others inspired her to co-found Andela, a global talent accelerator that produces world-class remote developers and connects them with top employers. Andela finds the brightest young people in Africa and gives them the training and mentorship to thrive as full-time, remote developers for companies around the world.
The UGA Alumni Association’s strategic communications intern, Emilie Clarke ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna:
Tell me a little bit about Andela. Where do you see the company in five years?
Andela began as a pilot of a model that I’ve been dreaming about finding for years — a scalable way for brilliant young people living in places where economic opportunities are scarce to receive training and employment that leads to lifelong careers without debt and without leaving home.
At Andela, we find and train these young people - starting in Lagos, Nigeria - to be world-class remote web developers. We are unlocking the world’s untapped human potential and creating a talent pipeline for global industries, most of which struggle to find tech talent. With more than 10,000 applications coming in from across Africa to participate in the program and with 100 percent client retention so far, I'd say we are onto something!
Walking into the Andela office in Lagos, Nigeria and seeing 70 people (25 percent young women) who have a new career path and who feel like a family because of Andela -- that is my proudest career accomplishment.
In five years, we plan to scale, scale, scale. I foresee us having centers in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and others across Nigeria. I foresee companies viewing us as the go-to place for world-class software developers. They can feel great about hiring through Andela because of the social impact.
Christina Sass (AB '02) at an Andela exposé
How did your time at UGA help you achieve your goals? Did you have a favorite professor or class?
I met a group of friends in Myers Hall that are still some of my closest friends in the world. We all spent the millennium New Year’s Eve together and have spent every single New Years together since 1999. You read that right - 15 years of dear friends who meet annually to watch UGA bowl games and to ring in the New Year together. Individuals from that group are now teaching literature at top high schools. They are teaching media and communications at UNC and philosophy at Purdue. They are city planning for Los Angeles. They are professional musicians who got their start in Athens. They are dear friends who have shaped me personally and professionally since we were all at UGA.
My favorite professors were Dr. Loris Magnani in Astronomy and Physics and Dr. Edward Halper in Ancient Philosophy. Both are still st UGA. If you are a student, stop what you are doing and sign up for their classes immediately. Dr. Magnani's classes left me in awe of the universe. Dr. Halper made Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Maimonides come alive and showed how their work can guide our everyday lives. Personally, his own life exemplified how unity and purpose in one's thinking and one's action shape a life well-lived.
You are being honored by the New York Business Journal for its Women of Influence Award. Who are some influential figures in your life? Where do you draw inspiration?
My father, Jurgen Peter Sass, is the greatest inspiration in my life. He left post-war Germany at twenty-two with only a suitcase and $200 and built a meaningful life. He instilled in my brother and me, the way that only a German can, that education would be the greatest determining factor of the quality and richness of our lives. We had Aristotle and FDR quotes on our fridge. We debated literature and politics over long dinners. We traveled and studied the geography and history of new places as a family. He fueled my endless curiosity about the world and gave me the initial courage and street smarts to travel everywhere!
I have also had the privilege to meet and work with vibrant young people across the globe who fight to get an education. From my first campers at the YMCA in Athens to my current Fellows at Andela who are teaching me to code, young people who hustle and succeed against all odds inspire me every day. At Andela we call this #allheartallhustle.
What advice would you give to future graduates or young alumni looking to create global impact?
Find the overlap between what you are passionate about and what the world needs most. Start with the Millenium Development Goals or focus on job creation in areas of highest unemployment. Doing what feels good is not enough. Don't side-step the hard work of researching what really works: what is scalable and sustainable, what is safe for local communities, and what is aligned with what local communities need and want. Do the research and then go apprentice with those who are doing it best. Listen when you are out in the field. Have hundreds of cups of tea and just listen. Never stop asking yourself if this is truly the best (most efficient, most effective) way to solve the problem you are trying to solve. And no matter where you go - even to the farthest corners of the earth- never stop loving the Georgia Bulldogs.
The UGA community is proud to call Christina a member of the Bulldog family.
Visit Andela's website to learn more.
Alumnae Work to Save our Hearing
Athens, a town where music flourishes, is packed with music venues and sold-out shows. However, two of Athens’ biggest fans , alumnae Katie Carmody (BSED ’08) and Caroline DeCelles (BSED ’08, MED ’10), realized that most people were unaware of the long-term, damaging effects concerts can have on hearing.
Inspired by their undergraduate studies in music business and communication sciences and disorders and by their passion for music, the two graduates started We’re hEAR for You, a non-profit organization that raises awareness for hearing conservation. We’re hEAR for You supplies free earbuds to concert-goers in Athens and across the nation.
Earbuds provided by We're hEAR for You
In an interview with the Red & Black, Carmody and DeCelles shared their passion for hearing protection.
“We’re trying to break the stigma of hearing protection. People think that hearing protection will decrease the quality of a show, but it actually filters out damaging frequencies. We’re hEAR for You focuses on education. Once people understand the science on why they need to protect their hearing, they are so much more likely to use hearing protection,” said Carmody.
We’re hEAR for You has established chapters in Atlanta, Nashville, Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, but the group’s largest chapter is in the Classic City.
In Athens, the organization’s major effort is to supply music venues, bars and other music-related operations, such as Nuci's Space, with free ear buds and hearing protection resources. The public is taking full advantage of the earbuds because they have to be restocked frequently.
DeCelles and Carmody are working in collaboration with the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music and to encourage students to get involved in advocating for hearing protection. The organization takes part in the annual International Hearing Awareness Day on campus, too.
As the organization continues to grow, it will work with musicians nationwide to promote hearing conservation. Currently, We’re hEAR for You has recruited 25 bands to carry its earbuds on tour. Carmody operates as a liaison with these artists and ensures the bands remain stocked. The organization even coordinates with music festivals to provide the earbuds to fellow music lovers.
Visit We’re hEAR for You online to partner with them or learn more about their cause.
Source: This was originally published in the Red and Black.
Alumna Spotlight: Sara Alread (BFA ’09)
Sara Alread (BFA '09) of Saint Simons Island, Georgia successfully launched her business, Little River Designs, in April 2013. The web-based business features rustic hand-crafted, wooden designs for the Southern home. Litter River Designs is a family business in every sense of the word. Sara's father is a carpenter, while her mother and sister serve as constant inspirations for new designs. The idea to create Little River Designs came in the form of a new family member.
Sara shares how Litter River Designs got its name, "On November 30, 2011, my nephew, River, was born. He became our inspiration and official mascot. We were already making signs, planning weddings and building furniture for ourselves when friends became interested in what we were creating. Soon after River was born, Little River Designs began."
Little River Designs centers around a timeless family tradition: tracking grandchildrens' growth-spurts on the wall at grandma's house. Little River Designs' most popular item is the wooden Grow Chart Rulers.
Grow Chart Rulers by Litter River Designs
Today, Little River Designs continues to develop its online business and clientele. A recent expansion includes a line of wedding signs and the personalization of all Litter River Design products. As Sara and her team grow the Little River Designs line, they have gained the attention of a few big crafting and design websites. The business has been featured on SwissMiss, Sweet Peach, 100 Layer Cake, Rustic Wedding Chic, Golden Isles Magazine, and in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
To learn more about Sara and Little River Designs, check out the website and Facebook page.
Sisters Rethink “Something Borrowed”
Sisters Ashley Steele (ABJ ’06), of Charlottesville, Virginia., and Cali Brutz (AB ’08), of Athens, Georgia., own and operate two businesses that are modernizing the wedding industry. Steele and Brutz began working together in 2008 at the ages of 24 and 22, respectively. At the time, Steele was planning her own wedding and Brutz was a photographer. During the wedding planning process, the pair identified a number of issues that arise for the soon-to-be brides. Looking to solve those issues sparked several entrepreneurial projects.
The duo's latest venture, Borrowing Magnolia, uses a concept similar to that of Rent the Runway and Warby Parker in that brides will be able to rent wedding dresses for their big day directly from Borrowing Magnolia. The dresses available for rental will be provided by former brides who are interested in earning extra cash by lending their gown to another individual. Borrowing Magnolia ensures that the dresses are in good quality by limiting each dress to three rentals annually and five total. Sizes range from 0 to 24 and alterations are available as long as the changes are reversible
Borrowing Magnolia lives to serve the bride. The sisters ensure the brides-to-be that, "Borrowing Magnolia is committed to helping you find your dream gown, the way the modern bride does the dress. We make it easy for you to buy or borrow a designer gorgeous gown at a fraction of the retail cost, while still having a white-glove personalized boutique experience from start-to-finish. Look fabulous in your dream dress, save some cash, go green, and focus on what really matters on your wedding day. That’s what we’re all about."
The sisters have obviously been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and show no signs of stopping. This year, Borrowing Magnolia is expected to have over 800 dresses in their collection by the end of the year; the business was featured in the New York Times’ Style Section; and reality show producers are in talks of covering their business endeavors.
Congratulation to Ashley and Cali on their stellar sucess and best wishes as they continue to help women live their dream weddings.
Alumna Spotlight: Keysha Lee (ABJ '97)
Keysha Lee (ABJ '97) is an award-winning broadcast video production instructer, former 40 Under 40 honoree and proud Bulldog. Since earning her degree from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Keysha's career has led her to places she never imagined, including covering the story of a dying man whose last wish was to take his wife to the Masters Tournament, reporting live from the Greensboro Airport following the September 11th attacks and interviewng living legends at the reenactment of the Selma to Montgomery March. After working in three television markets, Keysha made the transition to teaching, a job that combines her two passions: broadcasting and working with students to help them realize their dreams.
With assistance from an all-student production crew, Keysha stars in her own television show, "Lessons with Mrs. Lee." She interviews exceptional guests who share life lessons and career tips. Her first guest was Connie Seacrest, mother of media mogul, American Idol host and former UGA student Ryan Seacrest. Other notable guests have included:
-- Judge Glenda Hatchett of the Emmy-nominated show Judge Hatchett
-- IronE Singleton (AB '98) from AMC's hit show The Walking Dead
-- Artist/musician Eshe from the 90's group Arrested Development
The show's audience is students in grades 6-12, parents, teachers and community leaders. It gives students an opportunity to gain production skills, practice interviewing techniques, and experience a professional work environment. Watch past episodes of the show.
When not teaching, Keysha shares her broadcasting expertise across the Southeast at a variety of teaching and speaking engagements.
Alumna Spotlight: Amy Robach (ABJ '95) receives Distinguished Achievement Award from UGA
Journalist Amy Robach received the Distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and Cable Award from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication's national broadcast society, DiGamma Kappa.
The award was presented on January 23 at DiGamma Kappa's annual awards banquet at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.
Robach, a 1995 Grady graduate, serves as the news anchor for "Good Morning America" on ABC.
"Amy follows an American and Grady tradition of news anchors who are also great journalists, who care about what they report and how their stories influence audiences," said David Hazinski, an associate professor in the Grady College and one of Robach's instructors when she was in school. "They insist that information is factual and balanced. We're proud to have her as an influential graduate."
Since joining ABC News in 2012, Robach has traveled nationally and internationally to cover major news events ranging from the campaign to free captive school girls in Africa and reporting on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, to covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. She has also anchored "ABC News" and "20/20" on multiple occasions.
Prior to joining ABC, Robach worked at NBC News as the co-anchor of Saturday TODAY and an NBC national news correspondent. She was an anchor for MSNBC from 2003 to 2007 following her start at local news stations WTTG in Washington, D.C., and WCBD in Charleston, South Carolina.
Robach was last in Athens in October when she was the featured speaker for the Suits and Sneakers fundraiser, which generates awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society, a cause of special significance since she fought her own battle with breast cancer in 2013.
The Distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and Cable Award is presented by DiGamma Kappa and co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters and Grady. Previous winners include Steve Koonin (M '79), Gale Anne Hurd and Monica Pearson (MA '14).
View more photos from the awards banquet.
Alumna Spotlight: Brooke Anderson (ABJ '00)
Interviewing celebrities on the red carpet, attending prestigious award ceremonies and covering movie premieres - it's all in a day's work for Bulldog Brooke Anderson (ABJ ’00), who is a correspondant for "Entertainment Tonight." After studying Broadcast Journalism at UGA, Brooke worked her way up the ranks at CNN, eventually becoming co-anchor of HLN's "Showbiz Tonight," before heading to "The Insider" and eventually landing her current position at "Entertainment Tonight."
Brooke describes her professional journey:
I had no intention of working in front of the camera at CNN. My goal was to become the best writer and producer I could be. I really enjoy the creativity inherent in those aspects of the job. I worked in general news and hard news initially and worked my way from VJ to production assistant to associate producer to associate writer to writer. I was deeply affected by 9/11 and the death and heartache associated with that tragedy. Soon after, I pursued something lighter—the entertainment side of news! I have always been a fan of film, TV, music, and theater, so I thought it was be a good fit! I worked as an entertainment writer/producer/booker and one day the president of the network asked me to fill in for the correspondent I produced for because she was sick. After she took a job at E!, I was offered the position of correspondent while initially writing, producing, and booking for myself, and ultimately I also became co-anchor of HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight”.
An award winning journalist, mother, full time correspondent and avid blogger, Anderson provdes hard work and Bulldog Spirit can take you anywhere in life.
Source: The Every Girl
UGA alumna explores success of minorities in media
After earning her degree from UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Tracie Powell (ABJ '93) spent years working in newspaper ad sales and circulation, including a stint in Detroit during the 1995 Detroit Newspaper Strike. Eventually, Tracie realized she belonged in the newsroom, not out on the street pushing ad sales.
She launched All Digitocracy in 2013. The site delivers national and international news and information on technology, policy and politics and how communities access information.
Currently, All Digitocracy is trying to raise money to produce a series of video interviews titled “How’d You Get That (Media) Job?" It will focus on women and journalists of color explaining how they got to where they are in their careers.
During an interview with Poynter, Tracie said "One of the things I hear constantly from journalists of color is they don’t understand how you get from Point A to Point B." Hopefully, this new video series will help solve this problem.
Powell was inspired to create the series after interning with Cox Media’s Washington bureau, where she witnessed the career success of TV One host Roland S. Martin, the series’ first subject.
“I saw how he took off in his career, and others don’t have the benefit of that knowledge,” said Powell. She hopes the interview series will help to share such knowledge with a larger audience.
The UGA Alumni Association wishes Tracie the best of luck on her newest endeavor!
Click here to learn more about "How'd You Get That (Media) Job?" and watch the first video.
Alumna Spotlight: Antonina Lerch (MFA '06)
You’ve most likely seen Antonina Lerch’s (MFA ’06) work on TV. No, she’s not an actress, but the Belarus native is one of Hollywood’s leading costumers. Her designs have been featured on "Dexter" and "Mad Men" and the film "Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian."
UGA Alumni Association communications intern Bernadette Green ’15 had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna. Read below to find out more about Antonina’s impressive career.
How did you get into costuming?
I grew up in Belarus. Out of financial necessity, my mom taught me to sew and repair my own clothes. As an undergraduate at Brenau University, I realized I could leverage my skills and aim for a career in costuming. One of my professors at Brenau, Janet Smith Morley, encouraged me to work in the music, theater and dance departments. With her help, I got a job at the Gainesville Theater Alliance. I furthered my training in costume design and technology at UGA’s graduate school. After completing the program, I landed a job in Los Angeles.
How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?
At UGA, I was exposed to everything that relates to theater: costume, lighting and scene design, as well as directing and makeup. UGA offered me enormous resources, which helped develop my costuming and research skills. The library and research facilities are world-class. UGA’s Hargrett Library contains more than 6,000 original costume design renderings from Broadway shows and more. My major professor, Sylvia J. Hillyard Pannell, encouraged and facilitated my efforts to get internships, and I interned with the Georgia Museum of Art, Alliance Theater, Seaside Music Theater and Perpetual Motion Films.
What advice do you have for others wanting to get into costuming and fasion design?
You need to meet as many people as possible who are in the business. Connections can be made through internships, professors, or even reaching out directly to people in the industry. Persistence is important. Keep trying and don't be discouraged by rejection. Determination is viewed favorably and not seen as a sign of weakness. Do as many internships as you can. Be flexible about specializing, as there are many careers within the costume world: fabric artists, agers, dyers, costume illustrators, patternmakers, supervisors, etc.
What is your favorite part of your job? And what is your favorite memory so far from your career?
My favorite part of my job is building bespoke (custom-made) costumes. This requires expertise in a vast number of costume-building techniques, which can be complicated. You need to build multi-dimensional forms, make complex mathematical calculations and understand the chemical properties of all fabrics. It is incredibly challenging and rewarding to build bespoke costumes that are functional and beautiful. My favorite memory of my career was working on Joss Whedon’s show, Dollhouse. Joss and his team were incredibly nice, professional and respectful.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
Due to the project-to-project nature of the entertainment business, it is very difficult to maintain a stable career as a costumer. My greatest accomplishment thus far has been continuously securing work on great productions with great people.
You currently spend your time between Los Angeles and Tokyo. What is your favorite part of working internationally?
My favorite part is meeting interesting people in my field and learning new techniques from local artists, costumers, designers and manufacturers. I find Japanese artistry and craftsmanship superb, very intricate and incredibly unique. I met a world-renowned Japanese artist, Noriko Endo, who developed a unique quilting technique called Confetti Naturescapes. I met Seiji Naito, a fifth generation craftsman who makes traditional Japanese sandals called Zori. I visited Seiren Corporation’s state-of-the-art clothing production facility, which embraces all elements of manufacturing including research, fiber and fabric production, printing, pattern making, cutting and building.
Do you have a favorite memory or experience from your time at UGA?
My favorite memory at UGA was spending time in my small office on the third floor of the Drama Building. It was at the very end of the long corridor next to the fire exit. I spent many hours doing my research or other homework there, and would prop the fire exit door that led outside to breathe some fresh air and listen to the birds in the huge trees outside. It was my favorite place on campus - I loved being there.
Introducing Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS '00)
The UGA Alumni Association is excited to announce that former Interim Executive Director Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS '00) has been named executive director effective December 1.
In this role, she oversees all alumni engagement activities and services, including student programs, young alumni outreach, regional programs, special events and collaborative projects on campus.
"In her capacity as interim executive director, Meredith has shown the leadership, vision, creativity, spirit and energy necessary to take the university to the next level in our efforts to closely engage our alumni and parents alike,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “After conducting a national search, it was clear that Meredith is the right leader for this time in our history.”
In 2001, Johnson joined the UGA Alumni Association as its first Atlanta programs coordinator based out of the new Atlanta Alumni Center in Buckhead. In 2006, she was named director of the Atlanta Alumni Center and managed the facility, Atlanta-area programming and special projects relating to alumni in Metro Atlanta. Seven years later, Johnson became associate director of alumni relations, the position she held prior to being named interim executive director.
Prior to joining the UGA Alumni Association, Johnson served as coordinator of annual giving and alumni relations for the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Since joining the UGA Alumni Association, she has helped launched various signature programs, including Bulldog 100 and UGA Days. In 2014, Meredith was awarded the Georgia Education Advancement Council’s Award for Excellence in Alumni Relations for her work at UGA.
“It is an honor to be selected as executive director of alumni relations for the University of Georgia. As a graduate of UGA, I have never been more proud of the hard work put forth by the administrators, faculty and students that make this place so special,” said Johnson. “I am thankful for the alumni and friends who support this university, and look forward to energizing my peers and the UGA community as we advance the institution together.”
The UGA Alumni Association looks forward to Johnson's continued leadership!
Click here to read the official press release.
Alumna Spotlight: Cheri Leavy (BSED '97)
After a childhood of frequent visits to Athens, Cheri Harden Leavy (BSED ’97) couldn’t resist the pull of the Classic City. During college, she transferred to UGA from Ole Miss and has been bleeding red and black ever since. Today, she is the founder of Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie, three publications that cover the modern South.
UGA Alumni Association Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) spoke with Cheri about her experiences at the university that helped shape her career:
You started college at Ole Miss. What are your connections to UGA and what made you return to Georgia?
My father, Mac Harden (BBA ’77), graduated from UGA and his mother grew up in Watkinsville. We spent a lot of time on the family farm in Oconee County when I was growing up, so I have always loved the area and cheered for the Bulldogs. Generations of our family bleed red and black. I loved my time at Ole Miss; my father says I built my resume on classes that were interesting, but didn’t fit a degree (like "Anthropology of the Blues" and "Faulkner Studies"). I transferred to UGA and got serious. I stayed on the Dean’s List until I graduated from the College of Education, where I participated in the pilot year of the Collaborative Inquiry Teacher Education Program. I taught high school for several years, then joined The Brunswick News where I launched a Newspaper in Education program to showcase local student writing.
Along with your husband Vance (AB '94), you’ve started Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie. Explain a little bit about what those are, the inspiration behind them and how your time at UGA prepared you for an entrepreneurial career.
Vance and I created Bulldawg Illustrated, a print newspaper and website that covers UGA sports and the Bulldog lifestyle. Now in its 12th year covering the South’s beloved tailgating and football, it is still a ton of fun. Six years ago, we created Guide2Athens. The pocket-sized square book and blog captures the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich. We have loved getting involved in the Athens community and have had a home here for the last five years. When Athens isn’t beckoning, you can find us at home in St. Simons with our two golden retrievers.
I founded The Southern Coterie with my friend Whitney Long; it is a resource for the entrepreneurial South. Designed to offer a community of passionate business owners the opportunity to connect, collaborate and create, the “Southern C” network is capturing the South’s entrepreneurial renaissance one post at a time. The Southern C Summit brings the online content to life with a unique multi-day conference where attendees network and connect with the best and brightest names in Southern business and branding.
What is your most memorable UGA experience? Favorite UGA sports experience?
Meeting Herschel Walker for the first time at Vince Dooley’s home was pretty surreal. The Leavy Family/Brunswick News Publishing endowed a scholarship and we had brunch at the Dooley’s before the game. Vance, his brother, his brother’s wife and I went on the field that day to be recognized. Since we are all UGA graduates, that whole experience was pretty incredible. Herschel was on our Christmas card that year!
Since graduating, you and Vance have stayed involved with the university. Why do you think it’s important for alumni to stay connected to UGA once they’ve graduated?
Staying involved with the university provides you with an invaluable resource of connections to continue to support your growth personally and professionally. Vance and I enjoy supporting the philanthropic side of UGA. I attended the UGA Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy, and now serve on the Georgia Museum of Art friend’s board. We also support our vibrant athletics programs.
I give back to students that are up-and-coming at the university. We have 15 interns from Grady. They bring me a tremendous amount of joy and I learn from them as much as I hope they do from me. I give them a great deal of responsibility and I have high expectations, but if they work hard, they can count on me after graduation.
I traveled recently to the West Coast and to Memphis, where I spent time with former interns. One even visited on her “engagement tour,” where she was introducing her future groom to family. We felt honored to be a stop on her travels. They turn into amazing friends as they get older and I couldn’t be prouder of their successes. The internships certainly feed the teacher side of me that was fostered while studying at UGA. I may not formally be in education any longer, but I am still using that skill set.
Can you give us a hint of what’s next for you?
Oh my goodness, there is no telling.
Vance and Cheri Leavy with Uga IX
San Diego Chapter president leads successful career in medical illustration
By Elizabeth Elmore (BBA ’08, ABJ ’08)
Director of Communications
UGA Alumni Association
My first day working for the University of Georgia, I was asked to write a blog post about Robert “IronE” Singleton (AB ’98), an actor on AMC’s hit drama, The Walking Dead. That small assignment, to this day, illustrates why I love my job: you never know what incredible things Bulldogs are doing!
Since that time, I have enjoyed countless opportunities to learn about alumni who are, pardon the colloquialism, rocking out in their respective careers. So when asked to write an arts feature for the November Discover UGA section of the university’s website, I wasn’t surprised when I found myself interviewing a Bulldog in an exciting – perhaps unexpected – career field: scientific illustration.
Diantha LaVine (BFA ’03) is the president of the San Diego Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association. Even before enrolling at UGA, she knew that scientific illustration, using artwork as visual tools of communication solely for the service of education, was her primary career interest. Today, as a biomedical illustrator, she supports clients who are conducting research in academic and commercial capacities.
Perhaps I’m the only one, but I never considered who was behind those cross sections of body parts and blood cells in textbooks. Turns out, there are talented artists who enroll in seemingly unrelated college coursework (phlebotomy and figure drawing?) and are able to exercise both the right and left sides of their brain at the same time. Who knew?
I won’t go into detail about Diantha’s career path or the exceptional scientific illustration program at Georgia, (you can read all that in the full Discover UGA feature, but, I invite you to consider whether there are Bulldogs in your life doing especially interesting things. Email me a lead (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he/she may just end up right here on this blog, in Georgia Magazine or on www.uga.edu.
Thank you to Diantha for opening my eyes to such an interesting career field – and congratulations from the UGA Alumni Association on welcoming a new Bulldog to the family last month! We understand your husband, David (BS ’03), is a doctor; we’ll be interested to see what the newest member of the Class of 2034 will select as a major!
Read more about Diantha here.
There’s no business like show business
Bonnie Gillespie (ABJ ’92, MA ’97) lives her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Pulling from her own audition, production and casting experiences, Gillespie has become the go-to source for advice for young actors looking for success in the entertainment industry.
She has transformed her knowledge and know-how into four books about show business: “Casting Qs: A Collection of Casting Director Interviews,” “Acting Qs: Conversations with Working Actors,” “SMFA: The Ninja Within” and her most successful book “Self-Management for Actors: Getting Down to (Show) Business.” Bonnie facilitates seminars based on this top-selling book and travels internationally -- to demystify the casting process and the business side of pursuing an artistic career -- as a guest instructor at colleges, universities, actors' unions, and private acting studios.
Gillespie provides additional insight in in a weekly column, "The Actors Voice," which runs ay Actors Access and in a podcast, "The Work," which is available on iTunes.
With Bulldogs popping up in movies and television shows, it is no surprise that many Bulldogs are making a name for themselves behind the cameras, too. Alumnus Christopher Todd Wells (AB ’93) is no exception.
As a filmographer specializing in visual effects, Wells has contributed to countless films as visual effects supervisor.
In 1998, Wells was part of the Emmy-winning animation team behind the documentary “Superstructures of the World.” In the years that followed, Wells has continued to be a part of award-winning visual effects teams, working on movies such as “300,” “Toy Story 3,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Avatar.” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 2009; “Avatar” won the same award in 2010; and “Toy Story 3” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2011.
In 2012, Wells was honored at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Awards ceremony. That same year, Wells returned to Athens to participate in a panel about careers in film animation and production.
Keep your eyes peeled for Christopher Wells' name the next time you're watching a movie!
Alumna Spotlight: Christy Hulsey (ABJ '98)
Bulldog 100 and 40 Under 40 honoree Christy Hulsey (ABJ ’98) lives a busy life as owner and creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia.
Hulsey’s work, inspired by her grandmother, is self-described as “timeless elegance that is ethereal and moody.” The majority of her designs feature unusual materials, such as pinecones and berries - something that caught the attention of both Pottery Barn and White House staff. Hulsey’s shop was selected to launch Pottery Barn's 2014 summer brand, and her floral designs were displayed at the White House in 2013.
A regular on Pottery Barn’s Have and Hold wedding blog, Hulsey informs brides-to-be on the art of creating flower girl halos, cake stand centerpieces and seashore-inspired tablescapes.
Hulsey enjoys opportunitues to work with fellow UGA alumni. She began her relationship with Pottery Barn after the floral arrangements she designed for friend and fellow Grady graduate Linsay Cheney Rudd’s (ABJ ’08) wedding were noticed by the blog. Hulsey also uses her friends in various photo shoots for Pottery Barn, including one for a driftwood lantern centerpiece tutorial that features Lea Lanier (BSED ’99).
In 2013, Colonial House of Flowers, generously donated flowers to UGA Day in Statesboro. She also gifted each 2014 40 Under 40 honorees with a red rose after the awards ceremony.
Congratulations on your success, Christy! The UGA Alumni Association looks forward to many more years of your beautiful designs.
Five questions with wedding planner Maren Clarke White (AB ‘09)
Maren Clarke White (AB ’09) may be Athens-bred, but she is taking the Golden Isles by storm, one wedding at a time. After growing up in Athens and graduating from UGA with a degree in English, Maren packed her bags for St. Simons Island to work with the Sea Island Company’s esteemed wedding planning team.
Maren has been with the Sea Island Company for over four years and currently serves as the company’s wedding manager. As the wedding manager at this exclusive 5-Star Resort, Maren has the opportunity to plan high-end wedding events for an elite group of clients. Throughout her time at Sea Island, Maren has planned over 200 weddings and events and has worked with celebrity planners and couples. Maren will always hold Athens and her alma mater close to her heart as she is the daughter of Rebecca White, Dean of UGA’s School of Law, and Dan White, Director of Production at UGA’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and sister to Brendan White (JD ’11), a 2011 graduate of UGA’s School of Law.
Recently, Margaret Sullivan (BSFCS ’11, MA ’12) had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna. Read below to find out more about Maren’s amazing career.
How did you get into the wedding planning business?
My first job after college was at a boutique hotel, and my favorite part of the job was working on weddings and events. So when I saw the opening for a wedding coordinator at Sea Island, I knew that was the right move for me.
What advice do you have for others wanting to get into wedding planning?
Planning weddings, particularly at a resort like Sea Island, is in many ways a glamorous job. But what many people don’t realize about wedding planning is that you must be highly focused, able to pay close attention to detail, be very organized, able to adapt quickly to changes, as well as being able to think creatively and stylishly. And you need to be prepared for some blistered feet from long wedding days!
How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?
As an English major at UGA, I learned the true strength of written and verbal communication. I have found this knowledge to be vital in communicating with my brides. Every bride has her own vision, and through words we find a way to translate her dreams into reality!
Have you planned many weddings for your friends or other fellow UGA alumni?
We do have a number of UGA alumni weddings, and that is always special to me! While I may not have known some of my UGA brides in college, they become fast friends during the planning process due to having UGA in common with one another! Sea Island’s wedding clientele comes from throughout the entire country, not just the southeast.
What’s your favorite wedding tradition?
When the groom first sees the bride. It brings tears to my eyes every time.
UGA alumna is on fire
In 2006, Disney produced a huge hit with Cars. It was a family-friendly, fun-filled animated adventure that led to a sequel and the successful spin-off Planes. This summer, a related film will grace the silver screen, Planes: Fire and Rescue, and in it, a successful UGA alumna.
Corri English (ABJ ’00) is well-known in her field as the star of numerous films, guest on iconic television shows, and lead singer for country band Brokedown Cadillac. Though her career began when she was quite young, hosting children’s shows on TBS in the 1980s, it really took off after graduating from UGA.
English has made a name for herself in horror films, winning Best Actress at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival for her role in Unrest. She also generated quite a following for her voice-over work in popular video games such as Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age: Origins and Star Wars: The Old Republic. These character voicing skills were brought to life during Planes: Fire and Rescue.
Her character, Pinecone, along with four other smokejumpers, bravely leaps from planes to put out fires. "Working alongside actors like Dane Cook, Ed Harris, and Regina King was a great experience," said English.
The alumna is excited about the release of the film and hopes it leads to further voice acting opportunities in the future.
Truly, for this star Bulldog, the sky is the limit.
Five Questions with Richmond Chapter Vice President Taylor Jacobson (BS '09)
The UGA Alumni Association regional programs team had the chance to catch up with Richmond Chapter Vice President Taylor Jacobson (BS '09). Take a minute to learn a little more about Jacobson and her involvement with the Richmond Chapter.
RP: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what brought you to Richmond, what do you do here?
TJ: I'm originally from Albany, Georgia. After graduating from UGA, I moved to Virginia Beach and from there pursued my Masters of Surgical Assisting at Eastern Virginia Medical School. I accepted a job at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond in June of 2013!
RP: When, and from what program, did you graduate at UGA?
TJ: I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from UGA in 2009. I graduated with the minor miracle of never changing my major and finishing in four years!
RP: What are your favorite things about Athens and the University of Georgia?
TJ: I worked for the Visitors Center at school and used to give tours - that was one of the best experiences of my four years at UGA. Because of that job, I'm absolutely obsessed with my alma mater!
A few things I love(d) about Athens/UGA: Tailgating in the fall, Pauley's restaurant downtown, naps in front of the physics building, the meal plan and the forever friendships!
RP: What made you take an active role in the Richmond Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association?
TJ: I wanted to get involved in this chapter because it has led to friendships in a new place and it reminds me that I'm not alone in my fanaticism! When I moved to Richmond, I knew one person and through this chapter I have explored and experienced this city with people that are crazy, but bonded to me by our common interest in UGA.
RP: If you could describe UGA in only one word, what would it be and why?
TJ: Tradition. There is so much tradition within the university itself, but I believe that once you graduate you start to form your own traditions centered around UGA; i.e. Walk/Don't walk under the Arch, ring the Chapel Bell, call the Dawgs, network with alumni, watch games with other alumni, bleed red and black!
Atlanta Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Bradley Franklin
While at an Atlanta Women of UGA Luncheon recently, I had the chance to meet and chat with alumna Jennifer Bradley Franklin. Jennifer is a 2002 graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady School for Journalism and Mass Communication. Self-described as a “writer, traveler, lover of life and endlessly curious,” Jennifer gets the opportunity to write about everything from food and travel to celebrity weddings. Fascinated by her stories, I was inspired by how she developed her passion into a fulltime career as a freelance writer. Jennifer was kind enough to answer some additional questions for me to share for this UGA Atlanta Alumni Spotlight!
FB: How did you start your career as a freelance writer?
JBF: I've known that writing was my passion since I was a child. But, the terror attacks on 9-11 happened during my senior year at UGA, so it was challenging to find a job in journalism after graduation. I spent almost nine years in marketing for some of Atlanta's most acclaimed restaurants (it was a great education in both the culinary world and business), but breaking into writing professionally was always my goal. I started doing some freelance writing on the side and by the time I broke out on my own in 2011, I had a full roster of clients - both magazine and corporate - to keep me busy. Since then, I've written for People, Time.com, American Way (for American Airlines), Alaska Airlines Magazine, Vacation Agent, The Atlantan, Southbound, Flavors, Simply Buckhead, Southern Seasons and for brands like Newell-Rubbermaid (Graco), Warren Averett Turnaround Advisors, Bella Cucina and others. It's fun and I love being my own boss!
FB: You have written for some very well-known and established publications. In your opinion, what has been the most exciting assignment you have had?
JBF: It's been cool to help break celebrity stories for People - including being on the ground reporting Princes William and Harry's visit to Memphis this year and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds' Charleston wedding. Truly, though, my favorite stories to work on are travel features. In the last several years, I've had the privilege to visit Morocco, Mexico, England, Scotland, the Canadian Rockies, Switzerland, The Dominican Republic and others. It's hard to pick a favorite!
FB: When you think back on your world travels, what has been the most memorable and why?
JBF: It's hard to choose! One of the standouts from the last year was a visit to La Mamounia in Marrakech, Morocco. The resort is steeped in luxury, has a storied 90+ year history (it was a playground for President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Sophia Loren and Alfred Hitchcock, to name only a few) and sits in the shadow of the High Atlas Mountains. I'm heading to Shanghai in July - I can't wait for the next adventure!
FB: Let’s take a look back at your days at UGA. How do you think your degree from UGA has benefited you in your profession?
JBF: I feel like my entire experience at UGA was so rich. Certainly, I think that my journalism training at the Grady College has been invaluable - the professors are terrific and the opportunities to get real experience (like writing for UGAzine and The Red & Black or working at WUOG and around Newsource 15) definitely helped me lay a foundation for a successful career. Beyond that, though, I think being in a place that made it easy to pursue a wide variety of interests - like ballroom dancing, for instance - has helped propel me on my way.
FB: Who was your favorite professor while attending UGA?
JBF: My time in Dr. Ann Hollifield's classes at Grady always stand out in my memory. I took her media management class my junior year, and as a journalism major, it was one of the only business-oriented classes I was able to take. She is so smart, strong and passionate about teaching. I learned so much from her!
Want to learn more about Jennifer? Check out her website at www.jenniferbradleyfranklin.com or follower her on Twitter and Instagram @JennBFranklin.
Frances Beusse (BS '06)
Interim Assistant Director of Alumni Programs
We are our Sisters’ Keepers
In 2011, while studying fashion merchandising and marketing, UGA alumna Michelle Blue (BBA '13) studied abroad in Ghana. While visiting textile workers and taking in the incredible, vibrant clothing, she was inspired.
Upon returning, Blue contacted her now partner, Sasha Matthews, and together they founded Bené, a company with much more to offer than amazing style.
Bené is an online store that allows users to create their own customized scarves from a number of styles, patterns and features. The scarves are gorgeous and versatile additions to any wardrobe. The real story, however, is behind the scenes.
The scarves themselves are created by the women of the Refugee Sewing Society in Atlanta from unique patterns and textiles that Blue discovered on her trip abroad. The Refugee Sewing Society is a non-profit organization that supports women who have fled their home countries for many reasons including ethnic cleansing and war. The organization teaches women to sew and provides an outlet to help sell their items. The money raised goes directly to provide for their families.
In addition to visiting textile workers while in Ghana, Blue was introduced to many local organizations that work to provide young girls with a secondary education and skills to engage in the world of entrepreneurship.
A portion of all Bené sales goes to the Stay-In-School Tuition Assistance (SISTA) Program and specifically to the SISTA Scholarship program. Built on the goal of increasing female education and business knowledge, SISTA Scholarship funds the secondary education of young Ghanian women. Through each educated girl, the cycle of poverty grows weaker and empowerment spreads throughout the community.
Blue and her partner have made it very clear that at the heart of Bené is giving. They believe that, "as global citizens we are responsible for each other, connected by the similarities and differences that tie us together. We must not simply placate the situation, but empower women by making investments into their lives, natural abilities and gifts to enable them to be self-sufficient."
Click here to learn more about the Bené mission!
Photo credit to www.benebyyou.com.
Spotlight on Young Alumni: Angelique Jackson (ABJ '12)
Weeks after graduating in May 2012, I packed up and drove 2,460 miles across the country to chase my dreams of working in entertainment news. Fortunately, I had some support in making this big transition. I was part of the inaugural class of students to participate in Grady L.A. – an eight week program led by Dr. Jennifer Smith, where students work as interns and take classes in Los Angeles. I had two internships lined up with Entertainment Tonight and The Insider and Hollywire.com, so I knew it was going to be a busy summer!
Once the eight weeks were over, though, my safety net was gone and I was on my own. I spent a month continuing to work as a contributor to Hollywire and living on the couch of a few fellow Bulldogs that had made the trek to L.A. The rest of my free time was spent looking for a full-time position and a permanent place to live. There were many moments where I wondered if I had taken too big of a risk and I needed to head back home. I will never forget the phone call offering me a production assistant position at Entertainment Tonight and The Insider and I knew everything was going to be okay.
Okay turned out to be quite the understatement!
I started my job as a production assistant on Emmy Sunday 2012, logging incoming footage from the field; it was an overnight shift – from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Four months later, I became an assistant photo editor. My daily responsibilities include providing still photographs for the show from our subscription services and press sites, as well as working with paparazzi agencies. I also work for both shows as a field producer. Under that title, I’ve had the opportunity to interview celebrities ranging from Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart, Hugh Jackman and Lupita Nyong’o to icons like Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman and Betty White. In little more than a year, I’ve worked at 100 red carpets, after-parties, backstage tours and press junkets.
One of the highlights of my first summer in L.A. was venturing off on my own to the premiere of Savages at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, hoping to see some of the action. From the patio of the Starbucks across from the theatre, I watched Blake Lively, Penelope Cruz and the rest of the cast walk the red carpet and sign autographs for screaming fans. One year later, I was back at the same theater in Westwood. But this time I was holding the microphone and interviewing Vin Diesel for his new movie Riddick. It’s nice when everything comes full-circle.
Moving to a new city is hard. Moving to a new city without a job or a place to live is even more difficult. Some might call it crazy, but crazy worked for me. On June 6, I celebrated the two-year anniversary of my move to Los Angeles. My life has changed in ways I dreamt about, but couldn’t possibly imagine, all because of the University of Georgia!
Angelique Jackson (ABJ '12)
Assistant Photo Editor
Entertainment Tonight/The Insider