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One man’s part-time job turns into a serious career.



The trials and tribulations of living society’s reach.










Rance Nix on his popularity, graduation, and the next four years.





A students changers track from an MRS degree to a masters.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault offers words of advice for aspiring world-changers




EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephanie Talmadge

Managing Editor

Contributing Writers

Lori Keong

Shannon Adams

Section Editor

Emily Dardaman

Gina Yu

Kate Devlin

Kate Devlin

Daniel Funke

Design Editor

Lori Keong

Akshay Gopalakrishnan

Lauren Loudermilk

Assistant Design Editor

Stephen Mays

Jake Green

Stephanie Talmadge

Julie Rodriguez

Elizabeth Vogan

Photo Editor

Kalyn Wilson

Kristyn Nucci


Online Editor

Emily Dardaman

Grace Donnelly

Bobby Dominy

Food Department Head

Jasmine Gainous

Allie Amato Social Director Sapna Mistry Student Ad Manager Josie Brucker Account Manager Zach Jones Will White Ad Assistant Laurel Holland Student PR Manager Stephanie Pham Marketing Coordinators Leah Curl Debbie Feldman

Kylie Woodall

Ersta Ferryanto

Music Department Head

Rachel Jeffs

Danny Jacob

Will Guerin

Kristyn Nucci

Meghan McLynn

Fashion Department Heads

Anna Pence

Alexander Peterson

Meredith Thornhill

Darcy Richardson

Maria Kouninska

John Roark

Copy Editor

Emily Schoone

Stephen Mays

Design Team Sarah Jon Abi Lambert Mary Sommerville Illustrators Betty Huynh Stacey Suss Mandy Le


Promotions Director


Ali Rezvan Dennis Scullin Elizabeth Stowell Kelly Taylor Liliana Torres Kristina Wade

Creative Director Dan Roth Creative Assistants Jessie Bonham Marcella Caraballo Victoria Nikolich General Manager Natalie McClure Editorial Advisor Erin France Office Manager Ashley Oldham Distribution Manager Will Sanchez

It’s never easy for me to write these, to sum up the hard work and the stories that compose an issue of Ampersand. Now, as I’m tasked to pack an entire year of dedication and anecdotes into a few hundred words, I’m a little lost as where to begin. I guess I’ll start with myself and go from there. As I write this, I have no idea what’s in store for me. For the past few months, I’ve been living day-to-day, trying to strike a balance between meeting deadlines and soaking up my last days of collegiate freedom. That hasn’t left much time for job applications, certainly not enough for a second wave after being rejected or cold-shouldered by almost every one I submitted originally. But, I’m at peace with this. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what’s next. The path isn’t laid out for me; I have an opportunity to carve out my place in the world, entirely on my own, and entirely in the way I want. More than anything, though, I feel lucky to be in this position––to be empowered by my education and confident in who I am and where I’m going––even if I don’t know quite where that is yet.

But that’s just me, and if I’ve learned anything these past few months from my peers, it’s that we’re all in different places right now. Some of us are entertaining different lifestyles, out of mainstream society’s reach (pg. 37), while some of us are battling intense, fetal-position educing bouts of anxiety (pg. 24). If that’s you, not to worry because we have answers to combat your uncertainty about the future (pg. 8). Graduation can make couples (pg. 26) and bands alike question whether it’s time to break up or take the next step (pg. 16). It forces some of us to leave passions behind (pg. 28), or pursue them doggedly going forward (pg. 30,34). Perhaps most of all, graduation asks us what we’ve accomplished in the last four years (give or take), so maybe some words from your peers (pg. 12) and one inspirational woman (pg. 42) can help with that. So if I may impart to you, dear readers, any useful advice, let it be this. Embrace the uncertainty, as much as possible, and let all you’ve learned about the world and yourself in these college years, bolster you as you move into your little corner of life. And don’t worry, none of us has any clue what we’re doing. Out-y, and thanks for reading,



Your significant other might like that 5 o’clock shadow you’re sporting, but an employer won’t appreciate you looking like you just walked out of a Judd Apatow movie.

Unless you’re interviewing at Tommy Bahama, for the love of God, put on some pants.

No one wants to see your feet. Not your girlfriend, probably not even your mother, but definitely not your potential employer. It’s time for big boy shoes and socks. Always.



It’s not Christmas, and you’re probably not even Irish. Save the statement ties for the holidays. What you want right now is for every piece of your outfit to blend into one perfectly put-together statement: Hire Me.


Congratulations! You’re one of those women who can pull off a strong lip. That’s something you flaunt on a first date — not around the office.

Bangles are for Coachella and giant cocktail rings are for, well, your high school prom. One simple piece of jewelry, like a necklace or a ring, looks polished, whereas too much jewelry looks like a hot mess, sans hot.

Take a page from Urban Decay and go Naked with your makeup look. Obviously, not completely naked as you don’t want to look like you’re hungover. This is a job interview, not a 10 p.m. trip to Target for chocolate chip cookie dough. Some concealer, bronzer, blush, a neutral eye and a natural colored lip gloss will go a long way.

A nice clean manicure, à la français, makes you look like you have your life together, whether you do or not. It’s a nice, simple way to present yourself as a professional adult. Remember: having chipped nails is like wearing dirty underwear.

Even though we’re all the girl fumbling around in our oversized bags for car keys and driver’s licenses, including your interviewer, don’t be that girl in the interview. Be organized, and if you’re in a profession where you have hard copies of clips or samples of past work, bring a portfolio and and resume to the interview. Even if you have an online portfolio, try to bring a hard copy as well. It looks like you take enough pride in your work to print it out and arrange it in a professional book.



BY KATE DEVLIN, LORI KEONG, STEPHANIE TALMADGE I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y MANDY LE For all my seniors out there, this is for you, because I know you’re getting nervous about the next chapters in your lives. But nobody can deny the temptation to daydream about what the future holds. Put your wandering mind to rest, and take a peek at what Providence has in store for you.



PISCES (February 19 - March 20) Your open, flexible nature works in your favor when you receive multiple job offers, each with respectable companies. (Can you say, stock options?) Conveniently, you meet your other half through eHarmony; obviously you’re so ‘over’ the bar scene. Your kids attend magnet schools, and your Labrador always stays in the luxury pet hotel during the annual Hilton Head trips. Adorably, you and your spouse only ever argue about who loves the other “the mostest.”

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 19) All it will take is a single screenshot to launch a viral campaign of the lewd Snapchat you “intended to send to one close friend.” Your reputation indeed precedes you, Capricorn, and you work out your anger at the cruel world by retreating to the cyber underbelly as a frequent Online Athens troll.

ARIES (March 21 - April 19) They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but after a dry period in your job search, your stringent “99%” mentality will have you literally throwing stones at people in glass houses. Multiple arrests for property damage and civil disobedience will land you in the slammer, where you’ll regret your naturally impulsive nature and your liberal arts degree.



TAURUS (April 20 - May 20) Taurus, your exceptional stubbornness will guarantee your “superior judgement” when friends and family offer unwanted advice on your post-grad plans. You will pick out a desert oasis in the boonies for a life off the grid only to find that what glitters isn’t always edible or a reliable source of income. Go with your gut, though, baby, ‘cause you always know best.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 20) Treasured by your friends for your eternal optimism, you enter the world alongside your romantic partner (and best friend!), hopeful about your impending marriage and job prospects. At first, you’ll happily work weekends without overtime and live in that house with “character.” Eventually your relationship will crumble due to sexual inadequacy, but it’s okay, because you just invested in an electric . . . wine bottle opener. Cheers!

CANCER (June 21 - July 22) Post-grad, you frequently jam to “Started From the Bottom” and “Look at Me Now” because you accepted your dream job with Google (full-time with benefits, dawg). Your friends tire of this quickly. Anyhow, it turns out Silicon Valley ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. 15 years later, you’re still doing data entry. To boot, your roommate still won’t let you have the top bunk, and it becomes clear you will never own a pontoon boat.

LEO (July 23 - August 22) All of your crippling post-grad anxieties will alienate you from your collegiate friends and eventually render you incapable of leaving the confines of your one-bedroom apartment. You will, however, get lucky with a lottery scratch off and use the winnings to purchase your first of many feline companions to come. You live out the rest of your days wondering whether or not you’ve become immune to the smell of cat urine.



LIBRA (September 23 - October 22) Libra, despite your social skills and charm, your tenure as the university’s resident BMOC (big man on campus, duh) will inevitably end. That will not stop you from “calling the dawgs” even in the most inappropriate social settings. Your spouse is only slightly, but still noticeably less hot than you. Let it go, Libra, and let the sleeping dawgs lie.

VIRGO (August 23 - September 22) don’t know want to know, man. You don’t want to know.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 - December 21) A bad night at Bourbon will cause you to drunkenly amble through the Arch, setting off a long cycle of setbacks and misunderstandings (too many words in the syllabus!) that prevent you from graduating. For the next 13-ish years, you will take one to two classes per semester and tell freshmen that you’re “excited about the prospects of your new major” over lunch at Bolton.

SCORPIO (October 23 - November 21) Despite what others deemed “a promising future” and “marketable skills,” you will find yourself unemployed for several months after graduation — your spirit successfully crushed by a string of rejection emails and Skype interviews gone awry. Accept defeat, Scorpio. Wipe away the tears with all those extra copies of your resume, and go put in an application at your local Starbucks.

AQUARIUS (January 20 - February 18) The “silver spoon” was never really an option for you, but that doesn’t mean you think twice when you are offered the room in the basement, free laundry services and Sunday-through-Saturday meals from Ma and Pa. As a carefree Aquarius in your mid-twenties, you understand that life is tough, so why make it tougher? Wait until your rising moon is in the tenth house and the Cows have come Home to consider resuming your life plans.




To My Hapless Freshman Self, I don’t usually make use of this (or any) Southern idioms, but I think I should start out by saying, “bless your heart.” Right now, you’re a bit of a wandering soul, trying to reconcile the path that has been laid for you and the path you wish to create for yourself. For the first time in your life, you have the freedom to make bad decisions and are presented with plenty of opportunities to do so. Staying true to character, you are certainly taking advantage of those opportunities. (But don’t worry, you bounce back eventually). For some reason, I’m still not quite sure why, you’ve lost touch with who you are. Granted, you’re on your own for the first time, free to do as you like, but it’s more than that. This causes you extreme unease for a few years, during which time you are unable to articulate the reasons for your feelings. But throughout your pain, self-discovery, mental breakdowns, and eventual stabilization, you manage to do some f***** hilarious s*** — like accidentally appearing completely naked in front of your boyfriend’s roommate. You also make some great decisions too, the results of which still shape your life three years later. You might not know it yet, but there are people in your life right now who you will grow to treasure above all others. That being said, I’m going to rapid-fire some life lessons at you that will definitely save you some pain and suffering down the road. You don’t want to date frat boys. You only want to be a lawyer because you haven’t yet realized how profoundly Legally Blonde affected you. Your cousins were right; punch is [almost] never a good idea. Throw away your teeny tiny shorts from high school sooner rather than later. You are a master of organization, yet terrible at keeping track of your belongings. Bangs are fun but mostly sweaty. Never stop learning from those you respect, and even those you don’t. You are loyal. You are smart. You are a feminist (who knew?). You are hopelessly addicted to crime dramas. You’re probably not a Republican (sorry mom and dad). You probably don’t have throat cancer even though it’s been sore for a few days. You are definitely a better person since you’ve had the opportunity to learn these things about yourself. So I guess what I’d like to say is, thank you Athens for letting me lose myself so I could find me again, Your Better, Confident, Independent, Senior Self

Dear Lil’ Will, No matter what I say, you’d end up doing the same thing - no one really listens to the advice they’re offered and at any rate, I only know what went wrong. I would tell you to avoid the crutch of all those drunk-texts you’ve shotgunned out over the years (but to be fair, I salute your ability to squint away the blurry glow of your cell phone and compose those condemning, semi-legible texts.) And you probably want to stay away from a certain two unmentionable ladies as well - sure, the horrors of the break-up with the later could fill a novel, but you’ll never write that book anyways. It’s functionality will be limited to circuitous rants on the walk over to Waffle House that your friend group will try and derail - you can’t do the hurt justice anyways. You’ve probably stopped reading at this point, but I haven’t forgotten about you in the course of my belligerent tirade. I dig up these past traumas because I know that no matter the level pain or suffering, nothing I say will change what you’re going to do. You already know the embarrassing futility of messaging “I still love you” to an ex - and I’m guessing you don’t need to review the tape to figure out that leaning in for a kiss postbreak-up didn’t work out so well. I’m powerless to alter your future - it’s never been a matter of what you should do, it’s what you will do. You’re fated to make the same mistakes I did and I can offer no alternatives - I can’t say I’m happy how the last four years turned out, but I wouldn’t know what changes to make. So go ahead and know that there is some meaning behind all the people who hurt you and all the people you hurt. It’s made you into the person you are - for better or worse. You’ll become obsessively hateful, but at least you won’t be boring. You’ll self-depreciate at every turn, but your insecurity is what defines you. You won’t be happy per se, but your self-loathing won’t have you at home on Saturday night either. Your contempt for complacency, for never saying no, isn’t something you choose - but it’s probably what’s kept you up till 5:37 AM writing. You can’t just go and erase the memory of walking on the snowy beach of Lake Michigan with her - the glassy calm of the lake will always reflect the lights of the city back up so faintly.

Executive Editor Music Department Head



Love Letters to Athens is a recurring series of tributes to the Classic City, a place for commnity members to share moments— in prose, poem or art form—that have shaped their experience of this beloved city. For this issue, four graduating editors wrote a letter to their freshman selves, describing defining moments in their college career, imparting advice and even recognizing moments of questionable judgement: “learning,” if you will.

Dear Younger Me, If life feels, like, totally dismal now in your 6x8 dorm room when you’re brooding to Jeff Buckley, it’s probably a valid feeling at this moment. However, it’s important to put things in perspective. In terms of free time, once you’re through with freshman year, you’ve peaked, girl. So it’s worth making the most of it now. There is a wide world out there, reaching further than the distance it takes to cross the parking lot to Bolton, vaster than the views from your favorite top-floor library window. And it starts once you get out to explore by yourself. A series of bad house parties will convince you that Keystone is not your happy medium, but you’ll soon figure out that neither is following someone else’s lead. Coming into your own will mean learning to trust yourself and to value your independence. Places like Farm 255, your yellow house on Macon and the WUOG lobby will become new comfort zones for you to make amazing connections and revel in moments like the sinking sun on Pulaski Street strolls. You will discover that the high school newspaper class you took to horse around with friends was not in vain. Once you enroll in Grady and join a wonderful family at Ampersand Magazine, you’ll realize the true impact of your voice. You will learn, sometimes too late, not to chase the people who run the fastest and instead, to value the ones who have always stuck around. Wanting to feel like the exception is an exceptionally lonely source of pride; don’t trust it. Do what you gotta do to succeed in school, but give yourself breathing room for the things that make you happy, too. Remember that it’s OK to make stupid decisions. You’ll spend too much time living with fear and regret. You’ll expend more energy than you should worrying what other people think. You’ll sob during a finals week Yo La Tengo show because “boys.” You’ll say things you don’t mean and worse things you do mean, but shouldn’t say anyways. You will freeze during the polar vortex, wishing you hadn’t transferred service to Michael Stipe’s house instead of your new apartment. These are all necessary moments of growth, though. They may feel painful or awkward at the time, but will make you all the wiser. You’ll learn more about yourself and more about how to be at peace in these four years than you ever have before. Hold on when things get tough, replay the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song and remind yourself that regardless of what happens, you’re gonna make it after all.

Dear Baby Edith, The past four years, no doubt, have flown by and have been made up of ups and downs. While some graduates would love the opportunity to go back in time and re-do a decision they made or a comment they stated, I have figured out that dwelling on the past and longing to change what cannot be changed is a waste of time and energy. Instead I have learned to embrace a mentality that strives to live in the present moment with santosa, the Sanskrit word for contentment. I now can confidently say that my past—actions and acclamations included— make me who I am today. This is me. Sure, I have a few regrets, but I have forgiven myself. Making mistakes and learning from them has taught me that that builds my character, prepares me for success and strengthens my integrity. Rest assured this awareness and mindfulness has been a process to accept, but I owe it to initially dropping out of Kappa Alpha Theta four weeks after school started, discovering yoga with Debi Garrett, Shannon Frank-Ball and SJ Ursrey at Five Points Yoga and changing my major to magazine journalism—all in my freshman year. So, yes, my past four years of college have literally been constructing my foundation to expand upon as I leave Athens and conquer my passions in New York City come July. Had I not listened to that inner voice, my intuition, as I gabbed with fellow Thetas in the house as we anxiously awaited our first date night with fraternity SAE, I honestly believe I would not be where I am today. I would not have made the decision to piss off my older sister, Vice President of KAT, and to put myself in a vulnerable position to independently seek out a whole new lifestyle, definitely one more fitting of my morals, values and interests. It was my hardest and best decision I initially made in college that would pave my way and set me in the direction I would take for the remaining three years. A place where I learned to go, just a quick walk to Five Points from Brumby Hall, that truly accepted whomever for who they were, was a quaint laundromatturned-yoga-studio in-between The Royal Peasant and Earth Fare. The moment I walked into the warm Tuscan yellow painted studio and met Debi, I knew I had found my sanctuary, my oasis and my peace of mind. And I never looked back. I felt free on my mat. My yoga teachers taught me to love myself and try my best to see the world through love and kindness. Somewhere deep inside told me to continue this practice on the mat because it had the power to translate to my life off of the mat. I am so proud of myself, in my beginning months of yoga, for coming home after practice and writing about it on my blog while I ate my dinner. Recalling my intention and whole experience of an hour and 15 minutes strengthened what would ultimately become my true passion for this benefiting intimate time with myself where I can connect my breath with movement—with a mindful and aware perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of my body. And the blogging aspect I adopted helped me determine that magazine journalism was a better fit for my dreams in life than broadcast journalism. By April 2011, I practiced yoga at least five days a week and switched my major’s emphasis. I was ready for what lay ahead in my college career. I will close this letter by saying that what happened over the past four years happened because it was supposed to. It was what it was then and it is what it is now. I am happy with how things turned out for me in Athens because, as I look back on my freshman self, I knew what I had to do that year—take advantage of the opportunities that come my way because I will never know what will happen if I do not try. Way to go, Baby Edith, you made it. Now go seek out the opportunities in New York City.

With much love,

Bizou, Bizou ++ All My Love,

Managing Editor

Fashion Department Head AMPERSAND | MAY 2014



“What are your plans after graduation?” is a question that every soon-to-be college graduate encounters at some time or another. While some have an internship or big-kid job squared away, many are not able to give a concrete answer. Truth is, jumping into the “real world” can be difficult and a great source of anxiety. Whether or not you know exactly what’s in store for you, show how much of an “adult” you’ve become by mastering the art of the fancy cheese plate. In just a few simple steps, you can be gourmet-by-graduation. 1. Keep It Simple: There’s no need to buy half a dozen cheeses. Three cheeses are plenty. This number can help keep costs down, but still allows for a variety of tastes and texture. 2. Mix It Up: To make sure there’s a good variety on your plate, try to get a firm, semi-firm and soft cheese. Bonus points if you have a goat cheese, sheep cheese and cow cheese. 3. 1/4 Pound Per Person: A good rule of thumb is a 1/4 pound of cheese per person. You can find the amount of cheese in a package listed on the label by weight. 4. Serve with Bread or Crackers: If the following meal will be lite or significantly later, serve with slices of crusty bread, such as French bread. It is more filling than crackers. If the cheese plate is served as an appetizer right before the meal, go with a mild cracker. 5. Garnish with Fruit- Grapes are the easiest. Coat apples slices in lemon to keep them fresh. Dried fruit such as apricots and jams like fig work well too. 6. Have a Savory Taste- Place roasted and salted nuts or olives on the plate as a savory garnish option. Almonds, walnuts and pecans work well. Avoid canned olives, and warn guests if they are pitted or not. Also note guests with nut allergies. 7. Drizzle With Honey- Make honey available for guests to serve with fragrant cheeses. It’s a sweet touch that can’t be beat.



On our plate, Manchego cheese, herbed goat cheese and smoked gouda served with walnuts, crackers, slices of french bread, apple slices, grapes and a drizzle of honey — and like the cheese, you can be totally mature.





You’re right to roll your eyes when you hear someone say, “We’ve even talked to the point where we want Family and Friends to become more than a band.” Out of context, how can such a lazy platitude not make you scoff and picture a group of guys in a dim-lit basement, passing around illicit substances and gesturing in a wild languor? One of them is probably wearing a “Keep Calm” shirt right? But it’s a shot straight from the heart, not a bloated ego, brimming with an enthusiasm that makes you almost want to reach for the door and ask yourself, “Am I interviewing a group of mentally unstable twenty-something’s in the confined stairwell of the Georgia Theatre?” These smiles are too wide. These people are too happy. Hasn’t life been kicking at their shins recently? But as Ryan Houchens, one of Family and Friends’ two percussionists, elaborates, a calm self-awareness tempers his earnest smile. “I know a lot of people throw around that word collective, but that’s what it’s like, a community, a...” As he fumbles for the word, his partner in crime and drumming buddy Jamie Rios interjects — “cult.” Everyone laughs, but it doesn’t seem to be that far from the truth. No, there aren’t cloaked red gowns and mandatory Hawaiian Punch drinking sessions in store for the band. But as their name suggests, it does seem like this family of friends separates themselves from the pack through maniacal camaraderie. It’s a spirit that, over the course of about a year, has taken a patchwork group of veteran Athens musicians and transformed them into the formidable live act capable of roping in 600 Georgia Theatre attendees on a Thursday night. The volatile expansion was just as unexpected as it was sudden.

“We were terrified,” says frontman Mike McDonald of the crowd — he doesn’t even really smile. If you’ve seen the band live, even if you’re not particularly impressed by their brand of Mumford & Sons-eque folk-stomp, you understand. They don’t need a warm-up. They flood the stage within seconds, and the group’s confident enjoyment of themselves is contagious. Guitarist JP McKenzie relates, “It is really fun because our music is fun, watching Tuna dance around is fun, and every aspect of it is exhilarating live.” A buffet served “pot-luck,” as McDonald explains. “The idea is to play the show and have the people, their interaction be part of it, be part of the community.” And when you’re out there in the crowd, you feel that pull. You never get those nervous first songs as the band tries to win the crowd over. The band just starts a show by picking up where they left off. The result is momentum – a word-of-mouth buzz that’s snowballed as Family and Friends readies itself for a summer tour centered around the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. They might be cowering in the small-print at the bottom of the bill, but they’re bumping (alright, maybe it’s more like grazing) elbows with the likes of The Flaming Lips and Paramore. They’re not shy about their ambitions either. They strip away the pretension of artistic integrity when they explicitly state, “making it big has always been the goal.” A radical ideal for a scene that, as of late, has struggled to produce big-names that impress themselves upon the national consciousness. The road they drive down is littered with the wreckage of nearlymade-its, but it doesn’t seem like their cheery optimism is too interested in looking out the window. The idea of falling short is openly discussed and immediately discounted because they say the band will never devolve into a tedious chore of necessity. The band’s desire “to keep creating and moving forward” appears unrealistically limitless, but it’s hard to ignore their stubborn refusal of pragmatism. It’s an overt belief in self that comes from the almost sickening chemistry the band operates within. One minute they’re feeding each other gourmet hot dogs, the next discussing a triage of tandem bicycles. Shouldn’t they hate each other at this point? It’s possible their saving grace is the ability to integrate the mismatched clash of musical influences and backgrounds that each member brings to the band – an unlikely grouping held together by some loose, ill-defined thread of logic. Family and Friends acknowledges this incongruity, but doesn’t bother with any explanations. Backup vocalist Casey Harper knows it’s cheesy to look at the band as the embodiment of the irrational bonds that hold families together. And as McKenzie put it, “We all have different tastes and backgrounds, and we aren’t the same person. I think that’s what makes us dynamic, we express everything in different ways, but somehow it all comes together as a cohesive.” They want to make a career out of sharing something so basic, an off-hand comment from Houchens that succeeds in tying the package together — “I think we’re just good on loving on each other.”





Model Stephen James // Brown Oxfords from Community

Model Madison Trapkin // Wedge Sandals from Private Gallery

Model Stephen James // Red Boots from Agora Co-Op

Model Rosie Taylor // Wedge Sandals from Private Gallery

The University of Georgia has been the foundation to our college experience, while Athens has been our outlet for expressing our passions through creative endeavors. A plain black cap and gown is our uniform on Commencement Day, yet we choose to embellish its simplicity by showcasing our personalities with accessories. We have selected some of our favorite spots — Ciné, Little Kings Shuffle Club and The National — as our backdrop on the following pages to properly bid adieu to a town we love. If anything, Athens has taken on the role of an accessory that we will continue wearing as we depart and pursue our next adventure. AMPERSAND | MAY 2014


Model Madison Trapkin // Sunglasses from Dynamite Clothing



Model Trey Pasqueriello // Sunglasses from Dynamite Clothing

Model Stephen James // Sunglasses from Dynamite Clothing Necklace by Erica Compton

Model Rosie Taylor // Sunglasses from Dynamite Clothing Peacock Earrings from Dynamite Clothing

Model Rosie Taylor // Sunglasses from Dynamite Clothing Peacock Earrings from Dynamite Clothing



Model Rosie Taylor // Cameo Ring from Agora Co-Op


The Graduation Issue: or as our senior staffers refer to it, the Angst Issue. As I write this, I’m in a mental state of anguish. I have a job interview to prepare for, papers due, reading to catch up on and events to cover in the upcoming week. I wish I knew a better way to alleviate stress than frantically refreshing my Twitter feed, but a few clicks from now, I’m sure I’ll feel better. The Stress Monster, as I like to call it, can assume myriad forms in the final countdown to graduation, but it doesn’t have to throw off your productivity or state of peace. At least, amid the struggle to find peace in uncertainty, I know I’m not alone. University of Georgia senior Shandton Williams, a film and English student with an emphasis in creative writing, describes the stress of papers, film projects, personal deadlines with jobs and assignments and detailed productions for Stillpoint Literary Magazine as his primary sources of stress in the past few months. Though Williams appears to take these responsibilities in stride, for many of us, these lists sound all-too-familiar. Dr. Michelle vanDellen, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia and a specialist in self-regulation, says students should remember that during stressful times, accomplishing tasks like these and pursuing goals becomes more difficult. She notes that although naturally occurring life processes like graduation and moving to a new city count among the top 10 most stressful moments in a person’s life, these events are generally positive ones. They are transitional moments that offer room for growth and promise, but they tend to provoke emotional distress because they produce more challenges at once. Consider the logistics of finding housing arrangements in a new place, for example, or the stress of moving back in with the parents. She suggests that people recognize this stress before setting expectations for themselves. They should allow themselves to document their goals and needs to ensure that they are meeting them. For example, “Lists, lists, lists, lists,” Williams emphasizes, were responsible for his high GPA after he began college. Self-regulation could also mean providing yourself with rewards



to acknowledge hard work, tangible or intangible, like small treats or reminders that hard work can lead to a desired outcome in the future. Dealing with stress is not a one-step fix, however. VanDellan also suggests that students surround themselves with supportive people that are successful self-regulators. “They’ll remind you how to do it and why it’s important,” she says. Doing things to sustain a positive mood, vanDellen says, is equally important for increasing self-control. “Maybe reading that funny blog isn’t wasting as much time as you might think,” she adds. For many students about to graduate, anxiety represents more than just a temporary disturbance. A 2008 study by the Associated Press and mtvU found that around 13 percent of all college students are diagnosed with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders; anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. Psych Central editor Margarita Tartakovsky also cites in an article on depression and anxiety among college students that “the average age of onset for many mental health conditions is the typical college age range of 18 to 24 years old.” Sarra Sedghi, a senior journalism student at UGA, has had an anxiety disorder coupled with depression for several years. The two often come paired hand in hand because they affect the same part of the brain. She feels the pressure to perform especially now that graduation is so near. “I’ve come to the point where I have to prioritize my health over school,” Sedghi says. “It’s hard because I’ve always been a perfectionist. I have to tell myself it’s not possible, but I still want to be the best.” Describing UGA as a very competitive environment, she says, “I feel so...average. It’s really hard to go from feeling smarter than a lot of people to not feeling [that way].” Every spring, students will inevitably parade acceptances for internships and jobs on social media. Facebook’s newsfeed in particular can draw out natural tendencies of self-comparison with others, promoting feelings of inadequacy. For Sedghi, these posts inspire a sense of helplessness.


“I don’t like situations where I don’t like the outcome. I don’t like not knowing, and that’s what this time in our lives is all about. So it’s horrible. It’s very provoking,” she says. Music, arts and writing are some of the most powerful methods of personal therapy she’s found to channel negative reactions to this pressure. Singing along to things in her car is her personal therapy, she says, on top of “going to places where I can dance badly.” One of her personal goals as a writer coping with mental illness is advocacy through words. This year, she started a blog called BatShitBabes to comment on issues concerning mental illness. She says she wants others to realize that anxiety and mental illness are not trivial issues a person can “cheer up” from or simply ease with yoga. “I feel like people don’t respect it because it’s not tangible,” she says. Describing the physical pain of living with depression and anxiety to me, she gestures to her head, her neck, her throat, her chest, saying, “I feel it here, I feel it here, I feel it here, I feel it here.” Whether attributed to an anxiety disorder or daily stress, what

may be most important to note is how individual anxiety is, molding itself to a person’s personality and emotional tendencies. What may seem like a small source of stress to one person may be a huge problem for someone else. At the same time, what may be a helpful stress alleviator to one person may not work for another. Williams also notes that the projects which were a constant source of stress throughout college can develop you into a stronger, more balanced person. “I’ve definitely changed a lot,” he says. “I’ve grown and I think taking on all these obligations has helped me a lot in terms of getting a sense of direction. It definitely solidifies things.” Expressing a sense of acceptance with his future, he also suggests the idea that, hey, stress never really stops. Graduation is just the starting point to other avenues in life. “It’s not over yet,” Williams says, noting he still has a summer internship to look forward to and further studies when he begins graduate school at Emerson University in the fall. “I think it’s when I’m doing well and when I’m relatively where I want to be that I’ll smile a lot.”



BY SHANNON ADAMS You go to college, meet someone with whom you fall wildly in love and start your life. It’s the dream, right? Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to make this dream a reality. The idea of graduating and leaving your boyfriend or girlfriend behind while you venture out into the adult world is scary. As is the idea of taking your significant other with you into that world. There are so many decisions to be made. Do you search for jobs near each other? Will you live together? Is it time to start talking about marriage? While there are couples that are mulling over a post-grad marriage, according to an article from the Atlantic, “Getting Married Later Is Great for College-Educated Women,” the average age at which women marry is now 27, up from 23 in 1990. Marriage is still a thought, but many graduatess are looking for other ways to commit as they receive their diploma. Darcy Lenz, University of Georgia alumna and assistant food editor at Cooking Light Magazine, says that even though she and her boyfriend Danny Hurley had been dating less than a year when they both graduated in May of 2013, she had a few moments of wedding panic. “Just witnessing all these people right after graduation getting engaged, and it was like ‘Oh my gosh, am I supposed to be doing this? Are we supposed to be so much more committed than we are?’” she asks rhetorically. “But that was a kind of dramatic two week phase.” After they got over the initial fear of not being committed enough, Lenz and Hurley had to face the fact that their careers were taking them separate places after graduation. Hurley moved to Atlanta, and Lenz headed to Birmingham, Ala. for a fellowship at Cooking Light Magazine. She says the long distance has been tough, but she feels their relationship is even stronger because of it. “It’s been an exercise in appreciating what you have and appreciating that other person and just learning to be strong with and without them,” she says. Hurley and Lenz may be a great example now for couples who are terrified that graduation will break them up, but even they were terrified when it was their turn.

I’ve always entertained the idea of following her wherever she went,



“It was a point of tension for months leading up to it,” Lenz says, but notes that “every couple in every situation and how you function together is unique. You kind of just have to find your own groove.” Not everyone has those pre-graduation jitters, though. Christopher Day, an English major and women’s studies minor from Atlanta, is excited about the opportunities graduation in May will lend to his relationship. Day and his girlfriend, Tess Johnson, started dating in December of 2012, right after Johnson graduated. They didn’t experience any changes as she left school. Despite that, Day says that it has been a struggle being a student while his girlfriend is a working graduate. “We’re both looking forward to us both being out of school in terms of being able to align our schedules,” Day says. “I’m very excited to see where it goes once we’re both in the same place. Me being a student, it’s just a different lifestyle than post-grad.” He says the struggle comes when he is in class all day and then Johnson works in the evenings. Seeing each other can be tough to schedule. He also says that she has been waiting for him to graduate. Since she has a better idea of what she wants to do than he does, they plan to let her career guide them as to where they’ll move after graduation. “I’ve always entertained the idea of following her wherever she went,” Day says. While they are talking about living together when they move, they don’t feel any rush to get married. Shawn Mehrpad and his girlfriend Mary Reuter, both fourthyear wildlife majors, agree. When Shawn graduates in May, and Mary graduates in December, they don’t feel any rush to start planning a wedding. “We’re waiting until we’re more situated to even think about it.” Mehrpad says. “Even if it was something on the table,” Reuter says, “it would not even be something on my mind now.” Instead, the couple are planning their next few years together, including vet school for Mehrpad and graduate school for Reuter. Wherever they end up, they hope to end up together. “I’ve met too many people with a lot of long distance stuff,” Reuter says. “I think we could do it. It’s not the situation I think we would want to be in at all.” She adds that he is bad at returning phone calls and texts, so an in-town relationship works best for them. While the couple is excitedly planning for the time after graduation, Mehrpad says that he isn’t actually looking forward to graduation itself. “I like to not think about it. I’m not looking forward to it,” he says. “I’m anxious to not be in school anymore.” Whether you and your significant other have a break-up pact or are talking about splitting the rent of your new apartment, coping with graduation is a big step and deserves consideration and conversation with your partner.

Featured // Shawn Mehrpad and Mary Reuter





Eat. Sleep. Practice. Repeat every day for four years.

The athlete’s exhaustion is second to none: it’s a cycle of wins and losses that every University of Georgia teammate knows. But what happens when it finally stops? For all of us, leaving the familiar is daunting. Whether it’s as drastic as turning in a uniform or as subtle as slowly forgetting your student ID number, graduation involves a series of losses. But these are growing pains, and they pave the way for a future with the world at your fingertips. Some student-athletes, like equestrian captain Selby Merritt, hope to integrate their sports into their lives even after the final seasons end. While she may not compete individually, Merritt feels confident that horses will always remain a part of her life. Others, however, face a more permanent separation. Cross-country and track runner Lindsey Ebert, who graduated in 2013, says, “It’s hard, emotionally. You do something for nine years, and then it’s just gone.” She remembers exiting the track locker room for the last time after peeling the name tag off her old locker. Walking out, she says, “it felt like a movie. I turned around for one last look.” These days, she’s skeptical that she would even be allowed in the locker room. In the midst of the season, the all-consuming demands of practice seem infinite. Thus, relief, for many student-athletes, tempers the sadness of leaving their teams. Senior Stella Christoforou, who is accustomed to logging 60-mile weeks for track and cross-country training, has — quite understandably — no intention of running that much after graduation. By senior year, most athletes’ bodies have reached the limits of physical endurance. Runners especially, Christoforou says, rarely go a year without injury. Injuries are always disappointing, but when incurred during an athlete’s final season, bruises and sprains can leave a sense of regret. Ebert’s last cross-country season was cut short by a diagnosis of bone marrow edema — inflammatory swelling of the bone. Until that point, the season had been the best of her career. A year later she’s still frustrated to have finished one second short of her target 5k time. Another challenge presented to graduated athletes, counter intuitively, is time management. Collegiate athletes, who skip the normal freshman experience, get it instead in their first



year after college. Many say they feel overwhelmed with free time. Now, they can sleep in until regular working hours and often don’t know what to do with their afternoons. But while confusing at first, in the long run, the efficiency they have learned serves them well. Football senior Greg Mulkey had mastered the athlete’s time-management game. Balancing tight end position with an agricultural engineering major, he was named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll last fall. There were “many nights of no sleep,” he says. “I just learned how to work.” While approaching the end of his football career, a sport he fell in love with at age 7, Mulkey copes by keeping things in perspective. “It’s a part of your life that you know was gonna end soon.” He encourages seniors who aren’t pursuing professional careers to focus on enjoying the ride. By then, he says, you know your position backwards and forwards, and so the best way to spend your final season is to remember why you started playing in the first place. Attitude is everything, agrees Merritt. Her defining moment occurred sophomore year, when she gave herself an “attitude makeover,” wanting to become a better role model after realizing that negativity was only hurting herself and her team. It was always her love for the team and the horses, far beyond personal ambition, that kept her from ever wanting to give up. Christoforou experienced a similar transformation. “I just wanted to do what’s good for myself,” she says about her beginnings. “Now, I do it for the team.” Even though athletes spend about 10 years playing and perfecting their sport in pursuit of individual success, leaving their teams behind can be the hardest aspect of graduation. As they exchange their familiar world for a new one, many student athletes struggle to retain strong ties with old teammates once the common bond of early mornings and afternoon practices is gone. Returning home after graduation, it’s tough to accept that everything has changed. Mulkey admits that next year, sitting as a bystander in the stands will be difficult. “I probably won’t actually go to the games, because it wouldn’t even be the same,” he says.

It’s hard, emotionally. You do something for nine years, and then it’s just gone.




BY ELIZABETH VOGAN Graduating artists, friends, family and art lovers filled the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia to view the array of talent displayed at this spring’s bachelor of fine arts students’ exit show. The following weekend, the master of fine arts students held their highly impressive exit show in the Georgia Museum of Art. In a town ridden with aspiring arts, these shows become a norm, and it’s easy to view artwork as just a product. However, it’s the stories, mindsets and inspirations behind the work that make these works, art.




Nauti Arellano Blamey’s work in the GA Museum of Art

Master of Fine Awakening “I wanted to make something so work intensive that even if you didn’t care about art, you might see it and think, ‘Oh that’s a lot of work!’” says Nauti Arellano Blamey about her recent exhibit in the exit show at the Georgia Museum of Art. Hailing from Santiago, Chile, Blamey received an undergraduate degree in graphic design before she ventured to UGA for a master’s degree in the area of fabric design. Her recent display captures the attention of observers mesmerized by the sheer multiplicity of over 500 miniature porcelain bowls carpeting the ground and hand-woven blue fabrics cascading down the wall. The majesty of the display beckons meditation and self reflection because Blamey had the story of the Buddha in mind during her creation. Born a Prince, the Buddha grew up completely jaded and unaware of the despair-ridden world outside his palace’s walls, until he ventured out and discovered the truth for himself. With each failed attempt at finding inner peace, he died, only to experience a rebirth where he would try again. It took him over 500 lives before he was able to successfully reach the blissful state of Nirvana.

With aspirations of perfection looming so heavily throughout Blamey’s own work, she admits that she could relate to the unfaltering dedication of attaining a seemingly intangible idea. She traces her dreams of perfection to her Chilean upbringing. “I wanted everything to be perfect because I felt like in Chile everything was so out of control,” she says. Coupled with her high inner aspirations, the trials of the graduate program and desire for favorable reactions from her work gave her a self-inclined need for suffering. “I still suffer with the idea of perfection because I love it, but I know its an impossible idea,” Blamey says. “That’s why I fell in love with the Buddha story.” She explains that just as the awakening is the ultimate point in the Buddha’s life, so too the final exit show is the culmination of all the hard work put forth into the program. “Once we leave here, we are like teachers because you learned everything you could. You either run with it or spread your knowledge,” she says. “You’ll never be the same as when you came in.” AMPERSAND | MAY 2014


Two paintings by Maria Nissan

‘You Just Splatter?’ “The inspiration behind ‘Fuck It’ was me mentally going into the piece thinking if this doesn’t work it doesn’t matter…almost an obsession to add more and more and eventually the piece itself was my mental state of being,” says Maria Nissan of her painting in the recent BFA show. Her piece is a nearly self explanatory work of art, if not for the multitude of layered colors and mixed media alone. Nissan started out studying accounting and made her way into the field of art simply searching for something that inspired her. Now, a graduating art education major with an emphasis in painting, she contemplates the difficulties ahead. “You don’t just become a great artist overnight if you’re not putting the time and dedication into it,” Nissan says, whose dream is to be an abstract artist. “My goal is to put the family aside,” she continues. “To not have kids. To not be married. To just have my work shown… and afford to survive and live and paint.” When she first started, her professors urged her to do her best to recreate what she saw. However, staying within the lines



wasn’t something that appealed to Nissan. Her style is much more expressive than the typical classroom setting calls for. The deprecating opinions in regards to her work have caused her great distress. Many of her friends outside of the art school, Maria says, ask her questions like, “‘Why do you do this? Is this the way you paint, you just splatter? You don’t actually look or do shading?’” Nissan confesses that what they don’t understand is that what she paints is what is going on in her head. By immersing herself into a desired mindset she lets emotions guide her efforts against the canvas instead. Whether throwing paint, mixing other mediums, or just letting the paint brush guide itself, the canvas has helped her cope with heavy emotions in daily life. “The only way I know I can channel out all of my anger and frustration and pain and happiness… The only balance I have, is through my paint brush,” Nissan says. “The more I’ve become my stylistic self, I’ve discovered that abstract is my way out,” she concludes.

An Erin Notarthomas photo from Lamar Dodd School of Art’s BFA exit show

Soul Searching One body of work that couldn’t be missed at the recent exit show was that of Erin Notarthomas, a graduating photography major. Her five large format photographs filled the walls, captivated viewers and lured them closer. The selection entitled “Tender” features a series of black and white portraits. Reflective of death, each photograph evokes a highly spiritual mood, whether from stagnant glassy eyes or the draping of shrouds around the bodies. What isn’t seen from just the photograph is everything that goes into the making it, and for Notarthomas, the process itself is very spiritual. “I have this idea of the holy ghost being a part of everybody and everything, and in that moment it’s flowing through both of us,” she says. Many of Notarthomas’s photographs revolve around the idea of shrouds, a concept she’s worked with for a while. She was first inspired by the Shroud of Turin, the cloth that covered the face of Jesus that, when struck with a flash of light, left an imprint of his face.

“I started making the connection that the image of Christ on the shroud is really similar to the grain on a film,” she explains. As she became more interested in this religious connection, it began to weave its way into her conceptual ideas. Witnessing the film create a visual representation of the whole experience is very rewarding for her. “Photography is always this balance between light and dark. You go into the dark room when you’re developing the film and you can’t see anything. You have to trust that when you turn the lights on its going to be there,” says Notarthomas. With her camera, Notarthomas attempts to capture a feeling, to try and make the unseen visible. Despite the complexity of the idea, she was able to successfully convey a depth of emotions with the photographs in the recent exhibit. The subjects of her photos appear neither alive nor dead, but something less tangible. “It’s supposed to be about their eternal make-up. We’re not just flesh, but I have to present the flesh because that’s all that I can capture,” she explains. AMPERSAND | MAY 2014



n the heels of a win at the US Coffee Championship and an exciting new job, Athens native and recent graduate Nathan Nerswick tells how he turned a part-time job into a career. Espresso is coffee brewed under pressure. Call Nathan Nerswick espresso, because he’s feeling the pressure. He’s got 15 minutes to make an espresso, a cappuccino and a signature drink. People scrutinize his every move, down to his ability to talk about his drinks: why he chose the coffee he chose, how it tastes, how the flavors work, the body, the mouth feel, how it works as a cappuccino, what he’s doing in the signature beverage. This is the US Coffee Championships 2014. The Big Southeastern Barista Competition, specifically. Nerswick competes Saturday, January 18. The Thursday before, Nerswick, and two fellow baristas, drive up to Durham, N.C. In true recent-college-grad form, the first night they sleep in their car. The competition shows how a person works as a barista. For Nerswick, it’s a rite of passage into the coffee community. “The barista competition subculture in and of itself is an anomaly,” he says. “Imagine the coolest coffee people nerding out together. It’s cool people wanting to share information, wanting to teach, wanting to learn.”




Nate, The Barista Three months after the Big East, Nerswick’s in Two Story Coffeehouse, in Athens, talking shop with Terrell, who’s behind the counter. An early-morning customer catches up with Nerswick. He asks about his new job in Atlanta. “It’s so weird not working here anymore,” Nerswick says, watching Terrell make a cappuccino. He considers Athens home; it’s where he’s lived longest. He started in coffee at Two Story and later worked at Five & Ten. Originally, it was a part-time job. From surgeon to furniture builder, Nate tried on many different hats all the while working as a barista. “You really don’t need to know what you want to do,” he explains. “You could work full-time at a coffee shop and support yourself.” And then turn it into a career. Nerswick made his connection to restaurateur Hugh Acheson, while working at Five & Ten. Acheson is a chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National.

“We’re pretty much paid to learn, and I love to learn,” he says. A position opened at Empire State South, one of Acheson’s Atlanta restaurants, and Nerswick’s been there for about a month. This morning at Two Story, Nerswick orders a black cup of coffee: his drink of choice. He recommends the cappuccino, though. “When I go places I usually get a cappuccino, maybe an espresso, [and] maybe a cup of coffee,” he explains, in what could be described as a “Do Not Try This at Home” ritual. From fat content to microfoam, Nerswick’s rife with technical information. He can also simply recommend a drink. At Empire, he’s learning the hospitality side of the service industry, and wants to ably bridge the gaps in people’s coffee knowledge in a friendly way. “I want to be as approachable as possible as a barista. I want people to feel like they can ask questions,” he says. “Best case scenario: a customer comes in and says ‘Hey, what do you recommend?’” Nerswick grew up set on becoming a cardiac surgeon. A science decathlon alum and subscriber to Scientific American, he came to the University of Georgia pre-med, and after three years of biology and organic chemistry, he switched to art with an emphasis in furniture. For Nerswick, the change was seamless. “There is creativity in [the sciences],” he says. “Some mathematicians, probably think what they do is creative.”

“I want to be as approachable as possible as a barista. I want people to feel like they can ask questions,” he says. “Best case scenario: a customer comes in and says ‘Hey, what do you recommend?’”



For Nerswick, “barista-ing” combines the “nerdiness from the science and the creativity from the art.” Wait, barista-ing? “I say ‘barista-ing’ and people in the coffee world say it,” he reasons, “I think it’s just ‘been a barista’… I’m trying to sound knowledgeable.”

36th Place In the competition, Nerswick uses a coffee called Baroida, from Papua New Guinea. The Baroida is savory and spicy, but still sweet, fruity and clean tasting. Espresso’s a hard drink to get into for those new to the coffee world. Walking into a coffee shop and ordering an espresso is like walking into a bar for the first time and ordering a scotch straight up. As an espresso, Baroida is something a first time customer could actually love. Before he starts, he pulls the espresso and puts it on ice to chill. For his signature beverage, he highlights his favorite flavors in the Baroida. There’s the spicy note, an apricot sweetness and



a rich molasses. He’s taken dried apricots, minced and soaked them for 24-hours. He cooks them down with ground clove and brown sugar. After straining that, he has a simple syrup. The last thing he does is steep the cascara — the stems from the cherry plant used to make coffee — producing a tart acid, cutting the sweet syrup. He mixes, stirs and serves them in coupe glasses to the judges. He finishes at 15:32, 32 seconds over the time limit. But he had fun and he feels good. At the awards ceremony, Nerswick waits to hear the top six, who will go to Nationals. He hears first, second, third, fourth, fifth and, “At sixth place, from Athens, Ga., Nathan Nerswick!” Nerswick feels like he’s pulled the biggest hoax over the Big East. There’s no way a first-year who went over 32 seconds would place. But he did. He made the score and now he has nothing to prove. Every region took six finalists, making a total of 36 going to Nationals, and of those, Nerswick is in 36th place. “It’s in Seattle in three weeks. It’s gonna be intense,” he says over his coffee in Two Story. “But, I have an opportunity to go to Nationals and play barista a little more.”


As seniors begin their final days at the University of Georgia, the question on everyone’s mind is: “Where do I go from here?” For some, the answer is purposely indefinite, even directionless.




UGA Freshman Alyson Merlin

n junior year of high school, my literature class read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I was immediately captivated by the wild sense of abandon that seems to reverberate throughout the journalistic biography. The novel follows Chris McCandless, a recent college graduate who leaves everything behind on a four-year journey across America’s wild spaces, reshaping his identity in the process. Anyone who has felt anxiety or a lack of control over his or her future recognizes the disillusionment McCandless felt. To confront this chasm of post-collegiate reality, some students consider packing up and heading out to experience the unknown on their own terms, in places that do not require a degree to survive. UGA graduate Seth Urich graduated from UGA much like any other student here, with a promising undergraduate degree in applied environmental spatial analysis. Urich says he never dreamed he would go off the grid after college. Yet, after graduating in May 2012, he realized he wanted to head in a different direction than that of his peers. In July 2012 Urich set out to hike the nearly 2,200 mile-long Appalachian Trail (AT) with his friend and fellow UGA alumnus Ryan Vaughn. For the next eight and a half months, Urich and Vaughn



travelled the span of the AT, all the way from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Urich says the experience was invaluable, and that he learned a lot about himself in the process, far beyond what his college education could afford him. “I realized I could handle a lot more than I thought I previously could, mentally and physically,” he says. “It will test you, it’ll test everything about you. You [will learn you] can push yourself and what you’re actually capable of doing besides just what [you did] in the classroom.” As for being cut off from society, Urich says they often went days without seeing another human being, much less making phone calls or checking Twitter feeds. “At certain points, Ryan and I wouldn’t run into people for two weeks,” he says. “[On the trail], all you do is think. In today’s society, everyone’s so attached to their phone: Instagram, Facebook, what’s going on. It’s hard to get used to, but eventually you pay more attention to what’s going on around you rather than what’s happening on your phone.” Urich’s experience with solitude on the AT is not unusual. Jim Wright, a geology professor at UGA, says his research often takes him off the grid to remote locations where he has no contact with

the outside world. However, he does not purposely seek it out, he says. Rather the wilderness has its way of finding him. Wright has been all over the world doing geological research in some of the most remote regions on the planet. Similar to McCandless, the most unplugged he’s ever been was during his research missions in the far north. “The two most off the grid experiences [I’ve had] were working in subarctic Alaska and far-east arctic Russia,” he says. Of his Alaska trip, he says, “It took two days to hike into our base camp. We had to cross tundra and rivers. We set up a base camp and we were there for a month.” One of the first United States scientists to conduct research in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Wright says he and his team hiked into these remote locations carrying everything they needed for survival. Subsistence living and no contact with the outside world made him appreciate the comforts of modernity. “It’s nice to actually have a roof over your head and not be out in the rain all the time,” he says. “When you look back, it was hard work, but it was fun in many ways because no one else has ever been to these places.” Plus, he adds, “You meet interesting people and you see interesting things.” However, for Urich and others, going off the grid is about a whole lot more than just exploring new places. Alyson Merlin, a freshman ecology major from Johns Creek, says she seeks out solitude in nature to pursue something greater than the monotony of the day-to-day grind. “I think it’s important to understand that there exists a world outside of what we do everyday,” she says. “Some people want to connect to something larger than their daily routine and get a better understanding of themselves and the world before they’re forced into a nine to five [job]. Some backpack, some make a new home, some just try to exist.” Merlin spent an entire semester during high school at the Outdoor Academy in the mountains of North Carolina, where she learned how to farm and live sustainably. Daily hiking fostered her desire to learn more about the world and herself. However, despite their seemingly eclectic experiences, Merlin says those who pursue atypical post-graduate paths share the same fundamental desires as their peers. “I don’t think that the need [to go off the grid] is altogether different from what we all feel,” she says. “We all want a reason to do what we’re doing; some people just don’t find it in material items or societally-defined success.”






MRS. to Master’s



t one point in time or another, we’ve all heard a friend jokingly mention someone they thought was getting an “M.R.S.” degree. For those who’ve never heard this expression, it usually means that the girl in question is studying for an easier degree and planning to marry a man whose major coincides with a high-earning career. In a society where gender roles foster the idea that a husband should be the breadwinner, this is not a completely shocking life plan. Brittney MacDonald, a senior consumer journalism major in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, is one such student. Although she always thought she would be a stay-athome mom, that idea changed during her time at the University of Georgia — thanks to her relationship with current-boyfriend and music major, Thomas Minor. “I definitely had a role model in my mother who stayed home with us for 13 years,” MacDonald says as she sits next to Minor, hand resting on his knee. “Traditional gender roles were a really big part of my family.” The two have been together since August of 2012, so longterm plans naturally arose as graduation grew nearer. During the fall of 2013, MacDonald solidified her plans to attend the University of Mississippi for her master’s degree in the hopes of continuing a career in on-campus residential life and student affairs. “Of course you’d expect someone from FACS to be a stay at home mom,” MacDonald laughs, drawing attention to the preconceived ideas around her college. During the conversations about the immediate future and relocation after graduation, MacDonald says she realized her traditional ideal had changed. She and Minor realized she would be the spouse bringing home the bulk of the bacon. “There was a moment when I just said, ‘I wouldn’t mind being a stay at home dad,’” Minor adds. “I have no expectation of graduating and – boom – getting a high-paying job. I’m a music major,” he laughs.

When it comes to children, MacDonald says that they are going to wait until they are more financially secure before jumping into things. And while there’s nothing set in stone as to who will be staying home with the children, MacDonald says she does want to wholeheartedly pursue her master’s. Then there’s the thought of marriage, which MacDonald says she plans to come before the kids. The transition away from the traditional idea isn’t out of the ordinary, according to a Pew Research Center analysis from March 2013. Only a year ago, “40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family,” according to Pew. Of those women, 5.1 million were married mothers with higher income than their spouses. Despite her early thoughts on how her life would be after college, MacDonald says the changed trajectory doesn’t upset her. She simply sees it as the way their relationship works best. It isn’t about the profession of her partner, she says. “I’ve met people who shunned relationships until they found a job,” Minor says in relation to other music majors. He says that it’s increasingly difficult to find work since it’s a dying profession. It requires an all or nothing mentality, he says. He adds that he felt he had to stop and choose which would be more important to him — his relationship or his career. “I chose my relationship,” he says. MacDonald’s soft laughter caught his attention, and he turned to look at her. Red-faced, a few tears trickled down her face despite her smile. “I’ve never heard him say that,” she comments before mouthing ‘I love you’ to him. “You don’t realize the sacrifices the other person is making sometimes,” she adds. In the end, the presence of women as a major or comparable breadwinner is growing. MacDonald is only one of many women in the country who aren’t staying at home with the kids anymore. “I think Thomas would be great with kids,” MacDonald says with a smile. “Whenever we actually have some,” she laughs.




he sun beams through the shiny glass windows at the Hotel Indigo Athens, illuminating the vibrant colors of the room as well as the beads of sweat on my forehead. Waiting for a living legend to grace you with her presence can be a daunting task, and after just 15 minutes, my nerves are getting the best of me. She is the Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first AfricanAmerican woman to matriculate at the University of Georgia, thereby ending its status as a segregated institution. She is the first African-American woman to study in and graduate from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is one of the most well-known and celebrated alumni of this prestigious university, and I’m just a journalist-in-training. Hunter-Gault walks in with a confident, yet welcoming disposition – her smile providing all the comfort I need for this nerve-wracking situation. She has wisdom and soul written all over her face, answering each question I pose with an elaborate story and meaningful insight. “I learned what I came here to learn,” starts HunterGault when asked about her undergraduate experiences. She reminisces on a day in her favorite class, Greek culture, when the professor recognized her for a paper she wrote comparing Homer’s Shield of Agamemnon to the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. She recalls the professor saying, “Well, it’s one of the finest papers I’ve ever read.” It was the first time he had ever acknowledged her presence, a satisfying break from the series of days she would go without hearing another human voice. This marked a moment where she was able to open up, just as she began to open up to me about her story. Dr. Meg Amstutz, associate provost for academic programs at UGA, incorporates Hunter-Gault’s memoir, In My Place, into the first-year odyssey course she teaches. Amstutz notes that Hunter-Gault’s perseverance was pivotal in history for many reasons. “[Her memoir, In My Place] spoke to a volatile time at the University,” says Amstutz. “It was a time where students played a big role in thinking about how their lives at that critical time could help shape the future of the University.” By seeking the silver lining in her current situation and seizing it, Hunter-Gault began to soak in the world around her. She used this time when she so often felt suffocated by the press to learn about the journalism world. After witnessing reporters falsify accounts of angry mobs surrounding her and misrepresent her friends participating in Civil Rights’ Movement activities, she



realized her purpose. She notes that, during this tumultuous time, there was a gap to fill with reporting positively about African-Americans. “Black people in general were covered only if they were sort of freaks or had done something great in sports, and I wanted to cover ordinary people,” she says. “Almost subconsciously, I made the decision that once I left here, I wanted to be sure that people got covered accurately,” HunterGault says. “I wanted to write about people in a way that is recognizable to themselves.” Hunter-Gault headed straight to New York City following graduation, eager to change the representation of AfricanAmericans in the media. It was there she began what would become 50 years of a trailblazing career. Hunter-Gault recollects her first job experiences as an editorial assistant and staff member at The New Yorker; she experimented in memoir writing and narrative nonfiction. As time progressed and she learned more about her craft, Hunter-Gault ventured into covering a variety of stories, not limited to those of African-Americans, but still for those “who wouldn’t normally get covered.” Hunter-Gault professes that she is an ever-learning woman. She admits to still needing guidance as she writes and speaks. “Find a mentor,” advises Hunter-Gault. “Find somebody that you respect, that you can talk to, and learn from them.”


One person who can attest to this is Valerie Boyd, a Grady College magazine journalism professor who has had the honor of holding the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-inResidence award. Boyd says that a mentor is a necessary source of support essential to handling the stresses of a career. Upon arriving at UGA, Boyd — who had always looked up to Hunter-Gault — finally got to meet and build a mentor-mentee relationship with her. The two maintain contact to this day. “Over time, it becomes a friendship,” tenderly adds Professor Boyd while speaking about an upcoming project with HunterGault, a book compiling the best work of her fifty-year career. Hunter-Gault radiates this gentle compassion. She speaks about how much she enjoys returning to UGA to speak with students, checking on the progress of the social climate and sharing her lessons-learned with anyone willing to listen. “Be willing to take chances,” Hunter-Gault says, our conversation coming to a close. She ends with a call to action for those who wonder about their place in the world. As someone who knew the answers are always somewhere ahead of you, Hunter-Gault left me with one of her favorite quotes: “When you come to the edge of all things that you know and are ready to step off into the darkness, either you will be given something to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” AMPERSAND | MAY 2014








or this issue’s cover boy, Rance Nix, popularity isn’t a new thing. He’s one of the people you see on the University of Georgia’s campus and recognize, whether you know him personally or not. At least that’s how it was for me. Nix’s first stint in UGA’s public eye came his freshman year, 2010, when he was a participant in UGA HERO’s “Hunks for Heroes” event, he said. UGA HEROs is a student organization that works to “improve the quality of life” for children in the state of Georgia affected by HIV/AIDS, according to its website. In the competition, Nix said he took the “People’s Choice” title. “That was a really cool and awesome time,” he says from across the table in Weaver D’s, a local eatery Nix says is his “spot.” This fact is evident in the greetings he received from the owner and another customer when he walked in for our interview. His sophomore year, Nix hosted his first event — the UGA HEROs Date Auction. “I’ve always liked being in front of people – I like to talk – I like to be around people,” he says. In four years time, Nix amassed an image across campus while earning his bachelor’s degree. True to the Bulldawg spirit, Nix says he feels most of the fame came about because of football. “I think the thing that really set me up was the ‘LSU Who?’ video,” he says. That video really put him on the Athens map, he says. The video, for those who don’t know, was uploaded to YouTube on Dec. 1, 2011. The video came in preparation for the Southeastern Conference championship game that UGA was to play against Louisiana State University. With Nix as its star, the video spread like wildfire across the UGA campus. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without UGA and my peers,” he says. From that point on, Nix said he continued to host events and participate wherever he could, whenever he was asked. Surprisingly, that amount of popularity never got to be too much for Nix or his close friends. He says he never really noticed it as a potentially big deal until he was downtown with a friend one night. According to Nix’s account, he and his friend were talking to a girl, when another person walked up. Nix turned to talk to the newcomer, but his ears perked up when he overheard his friend describe what going out with Nix is like, with everyone clamoring to talk to him. “He could’ve really said anything,” Nix says, “But he just told her, ‘Nah, you expect it. It’s not a big deal.’” That made Nix happy, he says. It showed him that while the massive popularity could have been an issue, his friends were there to support him. “I’ve always said my purpose in life is to positively impact anyone who meets me — either directly or indirectly,” he says. He will have people stop him on campus or mention in conversation that they’ve noticed his attitude or he always seems to be smiling. “And a lot of times, I may have been having an off day that day,” he says. “Hearing that just reinforces the fact that I’m doing what I’m here to do.” When asked where his positivity and smiles come from, Nix pauses and wipes his hands on the napkin next to his plate. “I know God put me on this earth for a reason and I’ve got to do it that way,” he says with a nod. It’s not always easy to stay positive though, he says, but he has found a way around it. “If something isn’t going my way, I just got to realize it’s not a part of the plan and keep rolling with the punches,” he says. As for what’s next, Nix says he wants to become an actor. He interned with a PR agency and loved it. The downside, he says is that the position was more of a desk job than what he would like. “I’m a character,” he says with a laugh. “That’s what I enjoy to do! I’ve made so many connections here over the past four years. Who knows where I’ll be in another four.”




Ampersand Magazine: The Graduation Issue  

The May 2014 Issue of Ampersand Magazine, the Lifestyle magazine of The Red & Black.

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