THE GRADUATION ISSUE APRIL 2013 | A PUBLICATION OF THE RED & BLACK
CONTENTS 2013 6
Stop Here Before You Go
New Places, New Faces
Cheers to Classy Drinks
Degree in Hand, Plans In the Air
Food: A Taste of Athens
Music: Move On or Move Forward
Fashion: Bright Futures
Failure to Launch
In-Town Alumni Give Back
COVER SHOT WHO: Darien LaBeach– homecoming king, visitor’s center guide and jack of all trades.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON:
BANDING TOGETHER AFTER GRADUATION PAGE 22
ONLINE: Read about LaBeach’s time at the University, his plans for the future and advice to everyone left in Athens at redandblack.com/ampersand. BUBBLE BOY: It took five squares of Bubblicious Bubblegum– and lots of persistent chewing– to capture the picture you see on the cover. COVER PHOTO SHOOT BY MAURA FRIEDMAN
PHOTO BY EMILY SCHOONE
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EXECUTIVE EDITOR MAURA FRIEDMAN EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR DARCY LENZ SENIOR EDITOR CHARLES HICKS DESIGN EDITOR LOGAN PORTER
ASSISTANT DESIGN EDITOR SARAH LAWRENCE PHOTO EDITOR LYRIC LEWIN RECRUITMENT EDITOR JESSIE MOONEY ONLINE EDITOR STEPHANIE TALMADGE FASHION EDITOR MARGARET HARNEY ASSISTANT FASHION EDITOR KIMMY KESLIN FOOD EDITOR GINA YU MUSIC EDITOR ANDY BARTON COPY EDITOR SARAH ANNE PERRY
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS ANDY BARTON KATE DEVLIN GRACE DONNELLY CHAD HERRMANN LAUREN LOUDERMILK SAPNA MISTRY SARAHANNE PERRY DIONDRA POWERS RACHEL ROGERS ANNE RUTLEDGE AEPRIL SMITH GINA YU PHOTOGRAPHERS ERSTA FERRYANTO PATTY MIRANDA BRITTANY ROBERTSON EMILY SCHOONE KENDALL THACKER
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR NATALIE MCCLURE
FASHION TEAM ASHLEY LONG TUKIO MACHINI DESIGNERS ABBEY BOEHMER CHRISTINE BYUN JORDAN CONNER SARA DELGADO MAD DWORSCHAK LAUREN FOSTER JAKE GREEN KARLA SCHOTT
PUBLISHER HARRY MONTEVIDEO
STUDENT AD MANAGER DANA COX
EDITORIAL ADVISER ED MORALES
ACCOUNT MANAGER WILL WHITE
OPERATIONS ASSISTANT ASHLEY OLDHAM
AD ASSISTANT LAUREL HOLLAND MARKETING COORDINATORS CLAIRE BARRON JOSEPHINE BRUCKER JUDSON PARSONS ALI REZVAN KATHERINE RIVAS CAMILLA SEALS JORDAN THOMAS KELSEY TURCHI CLASSIFIEDS MANAGER NATALIE LETT
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JENNIFER POINTER DISTRIBUTION BEN BOWDOIN JOHN BERRIGAN
PRODUCTION CREATIVE DIRECTOR DAN ROTH CREATIVE ASSISTANTS CHRISTINE BYUN VICTORIA NIKOLICH
PROMOTIONS STAFF ASHTON MCDONALD DINA ZOLAN
COPYRIGHT 2013: NO PORTION OF THIS MAGAZINE MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PUBLISHER. THE RED & BLACK RESERVES THE RIGHT TO REFUSE ADVERTISING FOR ANY REASON. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY WRITERS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE OPINION OF THE RED & BLACK OR THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA.
FROM THE EDITOR I keep having the same dream. At least once a week this semester, my last at the University, I’m at the edge of a diving board with nothing beneath me. Just black. I’m anxious because I know I have to jump– I feel my heart pounding in sync with people calling and chanting for me to do so below. I can’t be sure, but I get the impression I’m high up. And just as my toes curl over the edge of the board, I wake up panting. What strikes me is the scary part isn’t stepping off the diving board– it’s the vast, dark unknown beneath that’s terrifying. Welcome to graduation. I know it’s time to leap. I’m proud of the diverse knowledge and skill base I’ve developed in the past four years, thanks to the opportunities and mentoring afforded me. Something lies beneath that diving board, but we have the know-how to tackle the fall– or at least ask the right people the right questions. Before you skip town– for the summer or forever– check out our advice for new opportunities, both personal (pg. 8) and professional (pg. 6). Take in new experiences (pg. 7) and savor old tastes (pg. 18) exclusive to Athens. And there’s no shame in a little more of the same. If you’re posting up with the parents (pg. 26) or kicking around the Classic City (pg. 29), read about people doing great things in familiar places. Where are you going and what’s taking you there? What are you ready to leave behind in college and what do you wish would never end? Share some parting words with us at @ ampersand_uga. And whether this was your last lap or your first go-around, raise a glass with me to crossing this semester’s finish line (pg. 12).
ads of UGA undergr ol do not feel alcoh xier. makes people se
Most UGA students make low risk decisions about alcohol.
Here’s to the dive,
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Send us feedback! We want your input on our publication. Send an email to magazine@randb. com or tweet us @ampersand_uga with thoughts, questions, comments or criticism.
make smart choices. be a
Terry believes business is part of the community.
Finance It’s more than stock trading...
terry.uga.edu/finance For Alcohol Awareness and Education
University Health Center • University of Georgia A unit of the Division of Student Affairs
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6 AMPERSAND APRIL 2013
STORY BY LAUREN LOUDERMILK, PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH LAWRENCE
Athens Bucket List
Thousands of freshmen come to the University each year with high hopes to make the most of their time in the Classic City. But after four years, many students find themselves in their last semester of college with an incomplete Athens bucket list. If you are graduating next month, these are the must-do things that every University student should do before walking through the Arch.
Visit the Tree that Owns Itself
Rockclimbing at Ramsey This one isn’t for the faint of heart: 42 feet of pure adrenaline. Just an initial $10 certification course is required to climb to your heart’s content.
Listen to WUOG
Drop the Top 40 shuffle, and listen to WUOG 90.5 FM, the University’s student-run radio station that broadcasts out of the Tate Student Center. If it’s your first time, you are guaranteed something you haven’t heard before.
STORY BY CHAD HERRMANN, PHOTOS BY BRITTANY ROBERTSON
A landmark of Athens, it is a tree that was deeded to itself by the son of a former Georgia governor. The real tree fell in 1942, but its offspring lies at the same corner of South Finley and Dearing streets. To complete the ultimate bucket list item, you must, in one night, sneak into Sanford Stadium, climb onto Stegeman Coliseum and run the bases at Foley Field. But this item isn’t in the rule books — don’t end your bucket list with an arrest.
FIND A BULLDOG
Maybe you’ve noticed the themed bulldogs outside of local businesses in Athens. Saddle up, and snap a pic. The pictures may seem cheesy now, but you’ll appreciate them when you are telling your grandkids about your Athens glory days.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? What do you think every student should do prior to a University diploma? Tweet us @ampersand_uga
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new friends new places Whether youâ€™re moving across town or across the ocean, after graduation, you will have to meet new people. The thought of trying to mix and mingle with complete strangers is enough to make some want to remain in their new houses or apartments forever. But deep breaths: there is hope. Here are some surefire ways to gain new friends without hovering over your LinkedIn profile or trying to impress your co-worker by awkwardly recapping the entire last season of Game of Thrones.
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STORY BY DIONDRA POWERS, ILLUSTRATIONS BY SARAH LAWRENCE & CHRISTINE BYUN
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UGA project #2012-10452-0 Dr. Adam Goodie, Principal Investigator
UGA project #2012-10452-0 Dr. Adam Goodie, Principal Investigator
This study is being conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia.
Most cities have some form of adventure or sports club that offers activities such as camping trips, snowboarding or mountain biking. The fresh air will do wonders for your attitude and will present a less stuffy and hurried atmosphere than the city, allowing you to connect more deeply with the people around you. Closer to home, adults are learning kickball isn’t just for elementary school recess anymore. Visit gokickball.com to join a team in your area or start your own. There’s a one-time fee that covers all expenses for the entire 8-week season. If you’re feeling particularly brave, skip the traditional gym and head straight for a CrossFit near you. These innovative gyms are known for their 20-minute “WODs” (Workouts of the Day) that will leave you aching for an ice bath at the end. The community that arises both on- and off-line makes the hours of blood, sweat and tears worth it.
The University has local alumni chapters in almost every state. By visiting the University Alumni Association website, you can find out when a chapter is meeting in your area. Just add red and black, and voilà! — instant friends. Chances are you’ll connect with someone you didn’t even know during your time here. A little familiarity, such as a fellow Dawg, goes a long way in a place where everyone’s a stranger. According to Danielle Alexander, assistant director of regional programs, each chapter offers different events and service projects. “[Some] events have an academic focus, there are events like game watching, that have an athletic focus, there are events that have a strictly social networking focus … Bulldogs After Business Hours, the Women of UGA Luncheon, Bulldog Breakfast Club, and Bulldog Lunch Club,” Alexander said. “[Alumni] can really get plugged in at any event that they attend with their chapter.”
SmootH Talker Ditch boring water cooler conversation for an office dialogue even the boss will want to join. Give these tried-and-true topics, suggested by Nicole Younker, director of alumni career services, a shot: Items around your co-workers’ workspace, such as pictures or stickers, can provide “hints about their own personal interests,” Younker said. “Those can be great ways to break the ice and get to know them a little bit better personally.” Revamp the second-grade show and tell by sharing entertaining websites, delicious restaurants or unexpectedly good movies you’ve stumbled upon. “Even if it’s just an app you’ve downloaded on your phone lately or things that you found to be helpful,” Younker said. “Mentioning stuff like that to other people can show you who else has similar interests.”
Local Knowledge Most chambers of commerce offer packets for new citizens that include business directories, maps of the area, nearby places of worship, volunteer organizations and other ways to get involved in their new community. So don’t be afraid to visit the big scary government building for a wealth of information. It would otherwise take you hours of searching the phone book and countless wrong turns to compile all that information.
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here’s no better weekend than graduation to mooch off the ‘rents, especially when it comes to alcohol — it’s time to celebrate. Athens graces us with some of the most revelrous locales of any college town, but here are a few options that may bode well with both you and your parents for the weekend, assuming you’re trying to steer clear of tabletop dancing. And please drink responsibly.
Where It’s Always Saturday in Athens For all your game day needs, gifts and clothing
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12 AMPERSAND APRIL 2013
STORY BY ANNE RUTLEDGE, PHOTOS BY KENDALL THACKER
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LEAD-INS aromas Whether you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of downtown on graduation weekend or just want a little digestif, this Five Points bar won’t let you or your parents down. Aromas’ extensive wine, beer and cocktail lists are first-rate accompaniments to its tapas and artisanal cheeses. Since it’s open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, your parents may find its charm in being able to have an actual conversation!
Must-Have: Pimm’s Cup Aromas’ Pimm’s Cup is a little cocktail glass of England. Pimm’s, a liqueur with a profile resembling spicy citrus fruit, complements ginger ale, cucumber and lemon to create a classy, refreshing and refined libation.
georgia theatre rooftop
trappeze If you’re looking for somewhere relaxed that still offers some of the best food and drink in the Classic City, Trappeze Pub will cover all the bases. With more than 30 craft beers on tap at any given time, this pub may have the most diverse brew selection in Athens. From pilsners to mead, Trappeze has it all. And with a constantly changing menu, you can always try something new. If you’re not a beer drinker, don’t sweat: it also offers wine and cocktails.
The Georgia Theatre, a classic Athens venue, offers a rooftop oasis in the heart of downtown. The drinks aren’t cheap, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. Another plus: with hours from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., it’s ideal for drinks and hors d’oeuvres before or after dinner, especially if you’re eating downtown or catching a show downstairs after. Besides, there’s really no better way to spend a May afternoon than with some live music and an ice-cold drink. Must-Have:
No drink pairs better with spiking Athens temperatures than a mojito. Rum, sugar, lime and fresh mint leaves make it an absolute summer cocktail, and the Theatre does it right. Don’t let the small glass fool you; it packs a punch.
Summer Ruby Vodka
Grapefruit, honey, apricot and melon unite in a cocktail so marvelously reminiscent of summer, there’s truly no better name. Although not one of its many on-tap craft selections, this cocktail is a tried-and-true Trappeze signature.
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without a plan
Students graduate without next steps solidified
Resumes, cover letters, recommendations, interviews, internships, networking, negotiations. The list goes on for miles. How would it feel to just say “no”? Make a decision, intentional or not, to trust that your life’s work and preparation will get you where you need to be, without pouring over every detail about how to get there. More students are taking this route, in turn being led to places and jobs they never even thought of. “I first came across travelers like Kerouac and Guevara the summer before freshman year and got excited to have my own version of their bildungsromans throughout my time in college. I’ve had bits and pieces of that type of adventure, but have certainly not yet had my fill,” said Isaiah Broomfield, graduating senior in international affairs and political science. Following the May commencement of the Class of 2013, Broomfield is heading to Austin, Texas, a place he fell in love with during the South by Southwest music festival. Enticed by the comfort, acceptance and community he found in the area,
Isaiah Bloomfield says he’s in no hurry to tie himself down after graduation.
along with the fact that he would live rent-free with his brother, Broomfield is now ready to throw himself to the wind. Surrounded by peers making plans and holding down jobs has its difficulties, but for the most part, he is not looking back.
“The past 22 years of my life have been more or less planned out — the only free time I’ve had has been between commitments to school,” Broomfield said. “Now that that’s coming to a close, I’m in no hurry to tie myself down.” After moving to Athens with a multitude
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- G Book of misconceptions, Broomfield realized he prefers the type of learning and growing that happens “organically from interaction and happenstance,” versus planning and forming opinions beforehand. Broomfield still understands his fears and anxieties, however minimal they may be. “I’m still very much searching,” he said. “I want to have the sorts of adventures and possibly even fuck-ups that I won’t be able to have with a career, family and whatnot.” As for the future, Broomfield’s journey could consist of doing Americorps NCCC, potentially motorcycling to the World Cup in Brazil and considering grad school in Canada. “My goal is to somehow have experiences,” he said, “that, when tied with a bow or published in a book or whatever, will open more doors for me.” Balancing a part-time job at the Career Center, being news editor at The Red & Black and a 15 hour class load, all while writing a senior honors thesis, Rachel Bunn, a University alumna who now works at The Herald-Times, never intended on facing “the real world” without a plan. It just happened that way. Before graduation, Bunn applied for one job, and by May of 2011, she had gone to two interviews, a number that would run chills up any graduate’s spine. Bunn decided to move to Stone Mountain with the intention of finding a job in Atlanta. She ended up getting freelance jobs with three publications: a newspaper in Rockdale, Flavors Magazine, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. With a free place to stay and a few months to get things together, Bunn took advantage of the opportunity to job-hunt without the usual strain and pressure. She acquired an internship with the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., just outside of D.C. “It was probably the best place I worked,” Bunn said. After, she went back to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for a second internship and stayed there for six months. Bunn now works at a newspaper in Bloomington, Ind. “If someone had told me that it was okay not to have a plan while I was in college, I would have felt a lot better about not having a plan,” she said. “Everything is always going to work out for the best, in the best way that it needs to.”
- Class Ring - Ghost Tour - BEAT Shirts - Founders Week - 100 Days Until Graduation - Senior Signature - G Day Tailgate - Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs - Ring Ceremony
Be a part of the largest, most spirited student organization on campus, the Student Alumni Association. Take part in great events, connect with more than 275,000 alumni, and support your university!
AMPERSAND APRIL 2013
Taking Athens To Go T
here is a point in time when most people say goodbye to Athens — be it next month, next year or further down the road. Though we will always remember the exhilarating oceans of red and black on game days, the clash and clatter of bands on dreamy downtown nights and the hazy vintage look of the Classic City, when it’s time to leave, it’s time to leave. But while you’re transitioning, keep in mind there’s a reason it’s called “comfort food.” To lessen our fears and yours, we’ve come up with a few delicious ways to take Athens with you so the town won’t have to be just a faint memory to your heart — or stomach.
Marti’s at Midday Pimento Cheese Panicking over the thought of being without Marti’s unsurpassed lunchtime favorites? We’ve got you covered. Marti’s famous pimento cheese has long been an Athens staple. Not only is it versatile and easy, but it’s certain to impress any non-Athenians you come across wherever you are. It’s the south in your mouth, y’all. ½ medium sweet white onion, grated 1 cup diced pimentos with juice 1 tsp. ground cayenne (more if you like it hotter) 4 oz. cream cheese, softened ¾ cup mayonnaise 6 cups (1 pound) freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
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1. In a medium bowl, mix the onion, pimentos and cayenne until well combined. Add the cream cheese and mayonnaise and stir until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. 2. Add the cheddar and mix until just combined, keeping the texture a little chunky. The pimento cheese will keep in the fridge for about two weeks. Recipe from martisatmidday.com
BY GINA YU & ANNE RUTLEDGE, PHOTOS BY LYRIC LEWIN
Athens May be Closer Than You Think Look for these brands in grocery stores and markets to buy some nostalgia between trips back to Athens.
No matter where you party, remember your roots. The “Golden Ale” is a well-known favorite and something simple to get you started on the right foot. The “Hopsecutioner” says it all in its name. For a brew made with six different types of hops, pour yourself a glass.
Find these sweet confections all around Athens, from White Tiger Gourmet to Hendershot’s Coffee Bar, but if you aren’t in town, you can order these beauties online. Pick from chocolate covered caramels to lavender truffles to chocolate turtles to espresso bark to truffles.
Productive mornings don’t have to end when you leave the Classic City. “Morning Ride” is the perfect start to any day. This full-bodied, earthy and sweet blend is perfect as drip coffee or in a press. “Tanzania Peaberry” offers a nearly unparalleled depth and complexity — it’s a dark roast that stands up flawlessly to a dash of cream at any hour of the day.
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FOOD Think back to the moment you stepped onto the gravel parking lot of Cali N Tito’s. You saw the (makes 2) string lights, the metal pink elephant, the rusted mini speedboat and, of course, the signature purple rooftop. Enter “El Sandwich Cubano.” This Athens favorite transports your taste buds to a tropical place while offering comforting hints of sweet and savory — and a subtle kick of heat. Satisfy and indulge yourself with our take on this nostalgic dish. Then come back and get an authentic Chipotle one of your own! Mayonnaise
El Sandwich Cubano
4 chicken breasts 1 head of iceberg lettuce 1 tomato 1 large sweet onion swiss cheese 1 jalapeño
1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup sour cream 3 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles in adobo 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice salt, to taste
Take one chicken breast and flatten with a mallet or the bottom of a skillet. Place in medium bowl and season with salt, lemon juice, garlic and onion. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes. Cut lengthwise and toast. Heat large skillet and add canola oil. Add chicken to skillet, including juices, onions and garlic. Cook chicken on both sides until brown, about 7 minutes, on medium-high heat. The chicken should have golden edges, and the onions should be caramelized. Transfer chicken, onions and garlic to bread. Top with cheese, thinly sliced jalapeño, tomato slices and lettuce. For the spread, place mayonnaise, sour cream and lime juice in a bowl and stir. Finely chop the peppers and stir in. Slather on the toasted bread or enjoy on the side!
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Ethan Payne says tackling band decisions about graduation pales in comparison to balancing music and life after the fact.
A FORK IN THE ROAD
here is a force to be reckoned with coming this way, and
it may or may not tear your band apart. This isn’t any Yoko Ono, though. She goes by a different name-graduation. It’s the question on every band member’s mind: what happens after graduation? Ampersand spoke with three Athens musicians to see how graduation affected their music.
Things are on the up and up for blues-rock trio The Woodgrains. Formed by high school friends Evan Amburn, Dylan Crosby and Nick Carroll in Waycross, the trio has called Athens home for nearly four years. In that time, the band has seen its following grow steadily, and it has booked the types of venues that mirror those numbers. And bassist Nick Carroll, who’s set to graduate in the fall of 2013 with a degree in anthropology, is ready to put more time into the project he started years ago with his two best friends. “We’ve been getting busier lately,” he said after playing a South by Southwest send-off show at the Georgia Theatre. “I’ll probably take some time off [after graduation] and hit it hard with The Woodgrains.”
BOOMFOX High-energy rock quartet Boomfox is charging full steam ahead, even with three graduating members. The band is adamant in pursuing its music after graduation, regardless of where in Georgia the seniors will end up, and a meeting wasn’t even necessary to come to that conclusion. For now, though, guitarist Christian Gerner-Schmidt said that they’re just taking it day by day, knowing that either Atlanta or Athens will be home for the band in the coming months. Nick Carroll, bassist for the Woodgrains, says things are on the up and up for his band.
THE CUBS University graduate Ethan Payne began playing in bands his senior year of college and stayed in town after graduation to pursue music. “I remember when I graduated, I’d always planned to leave Athens and go abroad, but because the band was doing really well, and I was doing video work, I had decided to stay,” said Payne, who played bass for indie-garage rockers The Cubs. The band continued for about another year. At that time, the band’s lead guitarist, Ryan Saunders, had been putting off grad school and decided it was time to continue his education. The band decided it wasn’t worth moving on without him.
EASTER ISLAND Now the singer/guitarist for Easter Island, whose sonic landscape runs the gamut between post-rock, shoegaze and dream-pop, Ethan Payne finds the decision he faced after graduation shies in comparison to the decisions he faces with now. Members have greater responsibilities—work commitments, relationships and families. For all the young musicians facing the post-graduate musical dilemma, he says follow your gut. “If you’re kind of half-hearted, if your gut tells you should do something else, go with your gut.” And keep that keytar handy--there’s no telling if later on down the road you’ll want to get the band back together.
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BY ANDY BARTON, PHOTOS BY EMILY SCHOONE
With the “real world” knocking down the door, it’s time to suit up and stand out as much as your agonizingly spectacular résumé. Pull out the color block pieces: bright pants, patterned coats and pop art sweaters that could land you in the corner office — or at least on your way. If you think that walking through the arch means your wardrobe has to shift to white, black and bland in between, you’ve got another thing coming because all the rules still stand: go bold or go home.
On him: Green shirt, $16, Agora. Mustard slacks, $24.99, Kum’s. On her: Orange Lumiere blazer, $28, Pink pants, $40, gold chainmail necklace, $63.75, Suska.
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On him: Plum slacks, $19.99, Kumâ€™s. Blue cardigan, $22, blue sunglasses, $12, Dynamite Clothing. On her: Green brocade jacket, $112.50, fuchsia bow dress, $49, black and gold leaf necklace, $30, crystal drop earrings, $45, Suska. Hot pink clutch, $28, Pitaya. Nude platform heels, $29, Private Gallery.
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On him: Green blazer, $28, yellow slacks, $26, glasses, $12, Dynamite Clothing. Pink shirt, $25, Agora. On her: Royal blue shift dress, $24, coral leather jacket, $60, Suska. Reading glasses clutch, $29, Pitaya.
Special thanks to the Georgia Museum of Art for access to the incredible Sculpture Garden first thing Saturday morning and the killer convenient parking spots. Fashion Editor: Margaret Harney Fashion Team: Kimmy Keslin, Ashley Long, Tukio Machini Fashion Assistants: Surina Harjani, Jessica Meli Photographer: Ersta Ferryanto Make-up: Elijana Cosmetics
Celebrating 35 years in Athens!
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3 ATHENS LOCATIONS
Milledge Ave. (est. 1977) 670 N. Milledge Ave. Athens, GA 30601 10397 706-549-2894
Eastside (est. 1987) 2270 Barnett Shoals Rd. Athens, GA 30605 706-549-5481
Downtown (est. 1992) 247 E. Broad St. Athens, GA 30601 706-549-1446
AMPERSAND APRIL 2013
f you’re a single twentysomething looking for a perfect mate, you’ve probably created your own personal list of deal breakers. For most, “lives with mom” makes the top ten. The mental image of an adult living with his or her parents — a basement dweller playing World of Warcraft while eating Dad’s chicken pot pie — is not a flattering one. It’s called “failure to launch” — the concept that home is where one goes when giving up, messing up or putting off the real world. According to recent studies, an increasing number of empty nests refill with graduates returning home after college, and the media has coined them the “boomerang generation.” Much of the hype began with a statistic stating that 85 percent of college graduates were living with their parents. This number was repeated by news organizations such as Time Magazine and The Huffington Post. But the statistic
was unverified and simply not true. Parents and students alike may find comfort in a much smaller, yet still increasing, figure. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, 40 percent of college graduates ages 18 to 29 now live with their parents. What’s more notable is that of all young adults living with their parents, 83 percent are still optimistic about their future finances, and 68 percent are very satisfied with their family life. Children of the “boomerang generation” may not have their own homes, but they still have their hope.
The reality of paying for rent, utilities and groceries on an entry-level salary — let alone finding an entry-level salary — could send any soon-to-be graduate into a panic. Many college seniors, like Ben Smith, a mass media arts major, hope to find that living at home post-college will provide a much smoother transition into reality. “It made financial sense. And it takes away the stress of having to figure something out for living next year,” Smith says.
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But for some grads, moving back in with Mom or Dad doesn’t mean taking the easy way out. Katie Coon graduated from the University in December and found work in Atlanta. She and her mother decided to move into an apartment just outside the city, where they split rent. Coon comments that despite her situation, the way she thinks about the future remains unaffected — mainly because of her mother’s support. Although the trade-off for home-cooked meals and free laundry service is a newfound lack of privacy, the best perk might be living with your biggest fan when you need one the most. Members of the “boomerang generation” may be more optimistic about the future than their counterparts because, despite the age difference, their new roommates want more than anything for them to succeed. Coon said she believes the key to living peacefully with a parent is to start taking responsibility for yourself — act like an adult, and parents will treat you like one. “You’re not a student anymore, you’re a graduate. You’re a part of the real world. Take pride in being a grown-up,” Coon says. Some say the recent economic downturn is only partially to blame for the influx of boomerangers — their hovering “helicopter parents” may also be at fault. Parents may be
protecting their children perhaps too much and, in turn, fostering a sense of dependency. To a recent grad drowning in student debt and self-doubt, Mom and Dad may be the only chance of rescue. Though this stigma may be changing, its negative effects manifest in the last place they’re wanted — the workplace. Maggie Grimm graduated from UGA in May 2012 and now manages a conference center in Savannah, where she has lived with her family since August. “I get asked all of the time when I am going to move out and why I am living with my parents,” Grimm says. “I sometimes feel that it takes away from my professionalism in a way.”
It may appear boomerangers are purposefully delaying adulthood out of fear, financial irresponsibility or lack of ambition. But it could (and should) be argued that they are not delaying their adulthood, but redefining it. In the past, being an adult may have been marked by the milestones of graduating, moving out and becoming financially independent, but no amount of milestones can make an adult, and no number of nights spent
under a parent’s roof can make a child. Sometimes growing up means swallowing your pride, asking for help and realizing there’s no shame in needing it. Stephanie Kaplan graduated from Harvard University in 2010 and moved back in with her parents to save money while she started her own company. She said she believes that as long as you’re being productive, living with your parents doesn’t have to be negative. “I think some people ... view their parents as a safety net even beyond the age when they should be independent, but for me and many other recent grads, we’re successful and doing something with our lives,” says Kaplan. “We just have the financial good sense to know that we’d rather suck it up and live at home for a year to put some money in our savings account than live on our own and be forced to spend every penny we make.” Two years later, Kaplan was living on her own. And three years later, she is the CEO and editor in chief of Her Campus Media, the number one online magazine for college women. She has been named among Bloomberg Businessweek’s 25 Under 25 Best Young Entrepreneurs, Glamour magazine’s 20 Amazing Young Women and the Boston Globe’s 25 Most Stylish Bostonians. There is life after living at home. And it’s good.
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