Amazing Students Profiles

John DeGenova

John DeGenova

Law student John DeGenova has brains and brawn. As an undergraduate at UGA, he was a walk-on varsity football player and a recipient of the UGA Foundation Fellowship, the university’s most prestigious scholarship. Now a UGA law student, he is building on his undergraduate experiences. DeGenova believes some of the most valuable knowledge one can bring to the practice of law is knowing there are different sides to every issue. He sees the art of examining each side as an important aspect of the law, and it’s a skill he says he learned while studying abroad during his Foundation Fellowship and through his participation in the Studies Abroad in the Caribbean and South Pacific Program. DeGenova also cites playing football for Georgia Bulldog Coach Mark Richt as instrumental in helping to get ready for the enormous amount of schoolwork required of law students. Being a former Bulldog taught him about perseverance and determination—two much-needed qualities—as well as how to develop a strong sense of self. In his free time, he cooks and plays saxophone. After graduation, he plans to practice international law.


New Orleans, Louisiana

High School:

Jesuit High School

Degree objective:

Juris doctor

Other degrees:

Bachelor of Science, psychology with minors in biology and Latin, University of Georgia

Expected graduation:

Spring 2009

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I count my experiences as a walk-on varsity football player and Foundation Fellow as the highlights of my UGA career so far. The Foundation Fellowship has afforded me tremendous opportunities to travel the world and enrich my education. For instance, my trip to southern Italy allowed me to explore my Italian heritage and study the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum to finalize my Latin minor. As a varsity football player, I was honored to receive the Senior Scholar Award, three All-Southeastern Conference Academic Honor distinctions, and the UGA Block of Granite Award. I would be remiss not to mention my summer internship with Congressman Jack Kingston through the Honors in Washington program, especially since it spurred my desires to attend law school. While an undergraduate, I was also a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies and a brother in Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. Now, as a law student, I am honored to be the recipient of the Law School Association and Ramsey Memorial Scholarships.

Current Employment:

In the spring of 2006, I served as the teaching assistant on the UGA Studies Abroad in the South Pacific Program. For twelve weeks I aided Michael Tarrant in guiding thirty UGA students on the South Island of New Zealand and Queensland, Australia. Incorporating aspects of anthropology, ecology, geography, and international affairs, the program explored the diverse, natural environments of New Zealand and Australia and the human impact on them. Tramping through rainforests, hiking on glaciers, and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef were wonderful experiences; but none of these was as rewarding as the relationships I developed with the students. As far as first jobs after graduation go, I could not have asked for anything more. Last summer, I clerked at the law firm of Troutman Sanders in Atlanta, Georgia.  I have accepted a position to clerk at the law offices of Hogan and Hartson in Washington, D.C. for this coming summer.

Family Ties to UGA:

My younger brother, Matthew, is a freshman at UGA this year.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I made the decision to attend UGA on a weekend visit to Athens in the spring of my senior year of high school. Having just completed the Foundation Fellows Interview Weekend, I was able to unwind at the G-Day spring football game. After I spoke with Coach Richt, I knew that UGA was the perfect place for me. No other school could provide me with the unique combination of travel and academic opportunities afforded by the Foundation Fellowship and the tremendous traditions and brotherhood of Georgia Football.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I enjoy attending baseball games at Foley Field and doing crossword puzzles on North Campus in the spring. Of course, my very favorite thing to do on campus is run out of the tunnel in Sanford Stadium on a fall afternoon in front of 93,000 Dawg fans.

When I have free time, I like…

…books and movies, and especially enjoy books about U.S history and classic American films. I am also passionate about food. I love to cook and am constantly experimenting in my kitchen, recreating my favorite Italian and Cajun recipes from back home. If I still have a spare minute, I like to fiddle around on my tenor saxophone.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

Several summers ago, I was traveling in the Fiji islands on a UGA study abroad program. As part of my coursework, I had to complete a project on a cultural aspect of Fijian society. Having selected indigenous foods as the basis for my project, I proceeded to personally sample everything at the open air market in Nadi including wild taro, fermented plantains, and a unique “delicacy” called sea hair. I quickly learned that for travelers, “delicacy” is a word of caution.

My favorite place to study is…

…the law library. The law library provides an excellent environment for studying and discussing coursework with fellow law students.

My favorite professor is…

…Dan Coenen. Professor Coenen was my Foundation Fellows Faculty Mentor and taught my first semester contracts course. Professor Coenen’s classroom energy, intellect, and compassion for his students are unparalleled. I am indebted to Professor Coenen for the knowledgeable and patient guidance he provided as I applied to law school. Professor Coenen’s concern for his students extends far outside of his classroom as he frequently hosts students and mentees at his home. Also, I can always count on Professor Coenen to beat me handily in a game of Boggle.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…President Theodore Roosevelt. I would love to spend an afternoon discussing the changes that America has gone through in the full century passed since President Roosevelt was in office. I imagine that President Roosevelt would most enjoy our discussion if it was coupled with a brisk walk across UGA’s campus. His progressive policies and firm leadership are certainly sources of admiration. However, I have always been personally inspired by his indomitable courage in overcoming physical challenges and his thirst for knowledge.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…run for mayor of New Orleans to rebuild the city. Having grown up in New Orleans, the Crescent City will always be a special place for me. When the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina finally receded, the waterlines told a story written for the most part long before the storm landed in Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina exposed the accumulation of decades of corruption, mismanagement, and injustice. Rebuilding New Orleans is a monumental yet delicate task. It may be impossible to recreate the city exactly as it was before Katrina, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

After graduation, I plan to…

…to pursue a career in international law. Wherever my career takes me, I will be sure to not be too far from Athens on Saturdays in the fall.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…winning the 2005 SEC Championship. I am proud to have been a part of that team, especially a member of the special group of seniors that made up Coach Richt’s first class at UGA. Years of hard work and sacrifices blossomed into fruition as our underdog team defeated LSU in the championship game. Defeating my home state’s team was only just a little lagniappe though; I will always cherish the close bond I shared with my best friends and teammates.