UGA Alumni Association:



Interview with Ted Barco, director of the Student Veterans Resource Center

Today, the UGA Alumni Association is honored to recognize those Bulldogs who have served in the military. To highlight how UGA serves its student veteran population, Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) interviewed Ted Barco, the founding director of UGA's Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC).

Tell me about the history and mission of the SVRC. 

The SVRC was established in 2013 and is organized under the Office of the Dean of Students. Its mission is to serve as the go-to location for sensemaking, wayfinding and entry into an array of services provided by UGA and the surrounding community. We facilitate opportunities that enhance a student veteran’s ability to transition, perform, persist, graduate, and access a meaningful career path. The SVRC does this through a variety of methods and activities as shown in our operating model. 

What are some barriers to success that veterans might encounter in school and how does the work of the SVRC assist in breaking down those barriers?

According to the Veterans Administration, only 48 percent of student veterans graduate from public universities and those that do take up to two years longer than traditional students. As non-traditional students, veterans face a myriad of obstacles to their success. Student veterans are:

  • More likely to be a first-generation college student
  • Less likely to participate in co-curricular activities
  • More likely to have responsibilities outside the classroom
  • Less likely to participate in experiential learning opportunities
  • More likely than not to run out of VA benefits before they graduate
  • More likely to perceive themselves to be more self-reliant than traditional students

The confluence of these factors creates a wickedly complex set of challenges to student veteran success that cannot be untangled by traditional stove-piped approaches.  


How many student veterans do we have at UGA and what are the services they expect the SVRC to provide? 

Currently, we have more than 200 student veterans at UGA. The SVRC balances its role of being both a service provider and a facilitator of services. As a service provider, we offer specialized veterans orientation and activities, mentoring programs, work-study opportunities, awards, scholarships and more. As a facilitator of services, the SVRC offers connections to most services provided on campus and off, including admissions, financial aid, health care and career services.  


UGA student veterans with President Jere W. Morehead (JD '80)

How does private support help the SVRC?  

Financial support directly helps our student veterans succeed at UGA and beyond. About 65 percent of our student veterans are former enlisted service members who are using limited-duration VA educational benefits to pursue their degrees. About half support families while attending school, and a similar number work full- and part-time jobs. Many face the daunting challenge of exhausting their VA benefits before completing a degree, or managing an insufficient level of benefits that may not cover the cost of attending UGA. Others struggle to find a viable career path that includes financial aid, mentoring and job placement. Private support, which can also mean a donation of time, is able to bridge the gap created by these situations.

In response to these challenges, we are establishing a two-tier approach to private support. The first is financial. The SVRC offers many opportunities for naming rights of key SVRC spaces, establishment of scholarsips/programs and one-time awards, or contributions to support the SVRC's emergency and/or operating funds. The second is experiential, which includes connecting students to meaningful summer internships and full-time career opportunities.

The SVRC recognizes every donor, regardless of the size of their gift, on a wall outside its facility. We can effectively leverage contributions ranging from $100 to $1,000,000 to assist in the success of our student veterans.

Finally, what are you most proud of about the SVRC and its students?

To their credit, our military-affiliated population competes on par with the general UGA population in terms of course load, GPA, completion rates and graduation rates.

In the last two years, UGA has been nationally recognized as Best for Vets, Military Friendly, and a Top Military College/University. This fall, for the first time, UGA gained national recognition as being in the top 15 percent of the nation’s student veterans programs. 

To learn more about the SVRC, please visit its Facebook page. To support the SVRC, click here

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Recent Entries


Double Dawg Maxine Burton Honored With Her Own Flower

Whenever you go out to look for flowers that can add a pop of color to your home or garden this spring, be sure to keep your eye out for the “Maxine” Dianthus, named after alumna and founder of burton + BURTON, Maxine Burton (BSED ’72, MED ’78).  

In European culture, queens and heads of state have had flowers named after them in their honor. Because of this esteemed tradition, the International Floriculture Exposition (IFE) has only awarded 6 people, including Maxine, with their own flower.

With the help of her family, Maxine and her husband founded their company, burton + BURTON, in 1982. Today, it has grown into one of the largest distributors of balloons and coordinating gifts in the world and has helped the floral industry to flourish as well.

The “Maxine” Dianthus is a fun, solid pink colored dianthus, making it the perfect fit for a bright, go-getter who has dedicated 33 years to the balloon, hard goods, and décor industry.

The award was presented to her at this past year’s International Floriculture Exposition in Chicago. The award was kept a secret in order to surprise her at the exposition.

In light of receiving the award, Burton said, “To be recognized by people with whom I have so much history and so much respect is an incredible honor, not just for me, but for our entire burton + BURTON family.”

Congratulations Maxine on this outstanding honor!

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Alumna Spotlight: Dr. Kimberly Osborne (PHD '06)

Digital Specialist Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) recently interviewed alumna Dr. Kim Osborne (PHD '06). Osborne is a professor at Purdue University and was named the inaugural C-SPAN Endowed Chair at Purdue's Brian Lamb School of Communications.

You were named to the C-SPAN Endowed Chair at the Brian Lamb School of Communications at Purdue. Can you tell me a little bit about that position? 

The C-SPAN Chair is a new position at Purdue in 2015-2016, and I am honored to be selected as the inaugural recipient of this prestigious endowment. It is a terrific fit for me because of my background in both public affairs and communication, which are areas central to C-SPAN’s mission. As a scholar, my academic expertise includes cultural studies, program planning, power/hegemony and media literacy.

Before I started at Purdue, I worked for two Cabinet-level federal agencies, in domestic and international roles, and I also have more than two decades of experience with corporations, nonprofits, top PR agencies, and media outlets worldwide helping to shape public opinion and public policy. At Purdue, I speak and teach, I serve on national boards, and I mentor the next generation of public affairs and strategic communications practitioners. It is rewarding to help guide young people whose skill set will impact decision making – from the U.S. Congress to statehouses to corporations nationwide.

Your resume boasts a variety of accomplishments. What are some accomplishments of which you are most proud? 

It seems like I have lived many lifetimes in one, and this has made my life interesting. Professionally, my recent assignment as the Chief Strategic Communications Advisor to the Afghan National Security Forces made me proud. I was the U.S. Department of Defense’s top civilian communications advisor to Afghanistan’s defense ministries in Kabul. In addition to my day-to-day duties mentoring senior leaders in the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, I was tasked with “fixing” the “broken” communications function in the Afghan National Army. (Did I mention that I had never worked in a war zone before?) My plan provided recommendations for major organizational improvements, identified training needs and remediation, and proposed more proactive and strategic messaging focused on the end of Operation Enduring Freedom, the upcoming presidential elections, and other major high-stakes, high-visibility endeavors.


Additionally, I guided senior military personnel in the development of the first strategic communications plan for the Afghan National Army, and I led efforts by ISAF’s Ministerial Engagement Team and the U.S. Defense Department’s Ministerial Advisory Group. For my part, the Afghan National Army’s Director of Strategic Communications called me “the best advisor I ever had … in spite of being a woman.”

Personally, I have done a lot of things that make me proud. One of them is saying yes when a woman asked me if I believed in her dreams. She approached me at a speaking engagement in Los Angeles, and she told me she wanted to start a leadership development program to send young adults to Ethiopia to do service work. She asked if I thought she could do it and if I would give her advice. Today, she is the executive director of a start-up nonprofit organization called Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship. In the first year, EDF sent five young people from the Ethiopian diaspora – including one UGA graduate -- to Addis Ababa for six months where they worked with community partners to build capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. In a recent meeting, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs asked if EDF could expand their program and model to other western nations and bring even more help to Ethiopia. I am officially the organization’s “strategic advisor,” but I am always introduced as the “person who said yes.”

You earned your Ph.D. in adult education at UGA. What attracted you to UGA? Do any particular memories of your time in Athens stand out? 

After I executed the public launch of Kelly Educational Staffing, which became the fastest-growing, most profitable business unit in (Fortune 500 professional services supplier) Kelly Services’ history, I’d become tired of Michigan’s winter weather. UGA’s Office of Public Affairs offered me a job in which I would help elevate the institution’s profile in the national media, and I did not hesitate to move south. In the decade that I worked and studied at UGA, I have more fond memories than I can recount in this space. Academically, I am grateful for the opportunity to study with several of the most esteemed scholars in the field of adult education and to have graduated from the top program in the discipline. Professionally, I enjoyed starting the Amazing Student feature on UGA's website with my colleague, Janet Beckley, because I got to learn about and showcase so many talented Dawgs. I also enjoyed working as the first coordinator of the joint program between UGA’s Office of External Affairs, the Office of the President, and the Athletic Association where we featured UGA’s top teaching, research and service faculty on the field during home football games - which helps remind the Bulldog Nation that there is a university attached to its football team!


If you could give one piece of advice to UGA students as they prepare for internships and graduation, what would it be?

Be bold. Dare to dream. Take chances. Live the life you wish for. Think outside the box. Color outside the lines. Blaze new trails. I think back to when I was graduating from college, and I want to take that 22-year-old version of myself and hug her. I want to tell her to worry less and risk more. I want to tell her it will turn out to be more amazing than she can imagine. I want to tell her not to be so concerned about what other people think. And I want to assure her that it’s okay if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. Try one thing, and when it’s time to try something else, then do that. You only have all the answers when you look back at your life, never when you look ahead. It blows my mind to think about what a pivotal and transformational time this is in human history. What incredible opportunities we have to influence the course of events-for ourselves, for other people, for societies and for humankind! Do something positive. Inspire others. Make the world a better place.

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Alumna Spotlight: Mariah Domenech (BSED ’15)

The UGA Alumni Association welcomes Mariah Domenech (BSED ’15) as today’s guest blogger. Mariah is a Georgia Fund scholarship recipient who studied abroad this past fall in Spain. The Georgia Fund is the annual giving program to support academic and alumni initiatives at UGA. Georgia Fund gifts enrich the lives and experiences of students, faculty and alumni, wherever they are engaged in advancing the University's mission - on campus, around the state or abroad. For Mariah, this trip would not have been possible without generous support from alumni and friends. 

"Teaching in Spain was a lifechanging experience. Being completely submerged in such a different culture was nerve-wracking. I wasn’t sure what mannerisms were appropriate or how to ask for things without coming off as rude; it took a lot of observing my surroundings in order to find out the proper way to interact with others. It also took a lot of me asking my host family a ton of questions whenever I didn’t know or understand something. The school system is so different from what I am used to in the United States. The teachers were more affectionate and open with their students; there was more physical interaction than what I was used to. Seeing new, beautiful landscapes and interacting with new people and gaining such an amazing experience is something I may have never been able to experience if it was not for the OIE - Alumni Association Study Abroad Fellowship. I am beyond thankful for receiving this scholarship that made it possible for me to study abroad in Spain."

In December, Mariah graduated from UGA with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree from the College of Education. To learn more about Mariah’s study abroad experience, click here.

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