Melissa Gogo definitely has a firm grip on the past while working toward a promising future. She has helped repair historic buildings in Athens, captured the history and beauty of Founders Memorial Garden, toured the ruins of Blarney Castle, danced to the hits of a bygone era and has made design recommendations for Project Riverway. She enjoys the myriad of experiences and influences that make up the Athens community and finds it a great place to gain hands-on experience in historic preservation. After graduating in December, Melissa hopes to start her career with an architectural arts company.
Rockaway, New Jersey
Morris Knolls High School
Master of Historic Preservation
B.S. in visual arts, graphic design concentration, art history minor from State University of New York at New Paltz
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I have been a member of the Student Historic Preservation Organization (SHPO) since I began the Master of Historic Preservation program in August of 2008. Via SHPO, I have had the opportunity to work with Hands on Athens, a program run by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation that takes on the repair of about a dozen historic homes each year and completes the maintenance with the use of local volunteers. I served as the layout editor of Georgia Landscape Magazine, the College of Environment and Design’s yearly student publication, in 2009. For the 2010 edition, I served as a lead editor of the magazine and coordinated a staff of about 15 students. For the 2009-2010 academic year, I was awarded two scholarships – the John W. Linley Scholarship and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Scholarship – that allowed me to pursue my degree full-time. In October 2009, I had the opportunity to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The conference presented a multitude of learning and networking possibilities and was a valuable resource in broadening my perception of the historic preservation field. In April 2010, I was inducted into Sigma Pi Kappa, the National Historic Preservation Honor Society, which was founded here at the University of Georgia. Finally, I spent the summer of 2010 serving as an intern on Project Riverway, run by the Fanning Institute at UGA. Over the course of the past five years, Project Riverway has worked with multiple communities in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River corridor to provide them with realistic and implementable design recommendations. This year’s team focused on Donalsonville, Ga. and included two historic preservation and three landscape architecture students. I am looking forward to presenting our final product to the residents of Donalsonville when we return in October.
I chose to attend UGA because…
…it was one of the few large universities in the country to offer a degree in historic preservation. I had also been living and working in Athens for three years prior to attending graduate school and found that I loved it here. The benefit to studying historic preservation in Athens is that, being a historic city, researching and gaining hands on experience in preservation is easily accessible. The atmosphere in Athens is one that I enjoy, from the local shops downtown to the mom and pop soul food restaurants. The people who choose to live in Athens are originally from all over the country and bring a variety of experiences and influences to the local community.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
…to read and take photos in the Founders Memorial Garden. Founders Memorial Garden is generally a quiet area, where I feel I can relax while being productive with my coursework. The flowers in the perennial garden are beautiful, and I regularly photograph them, both to practice my photography skills and to make prints as gifts for family and friends. I also enjoy the sense of history that the garden provides with its distinct sections dedicated to various groups and individuals, from the first garden club in the country to World War II veterans.
When I have free time, I like…
…to swing dance. I began swing dancing a little over a year ago when a friend called to ask if I was interested in checking out a dance downtown. I’ve always enjoyed swing-era music, and by the time we finished the lesson I knew that I wanted to learn more. I currently participate in the weekly Athens Swing Night sponsored by the UGA Swing Dance Club, as well as regularly traveling to Atlanta to dance. It serves as a stress reliever and my link to sanity when I need a break from working on my thesis. My experience has been that swing dancers are a fun loving and accepting group of people with a very diverse range of interests outside of dancing. As a result, I’ve found a wonderful group of friends that I would otherwise not have met.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
…backpack the southwest coast of Ireland for ten days with a group of friends. We bought plane tickets and backpacks, but made no solid plans. My favorite locations were the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. The natural beauty of the cliffs was breathtaking and something that you cannot experience through photographs. In the case of Blarney Castle, it was fascinating to see how much had survived over 500 years after its construction. The castle is a preserved ruin, most of which is still passable, and the tunnels used by the Irish to escape an English siege are still intact. Seeing the amount of historic structures and landscapes that are still present in Ireland piqued my interest in historic preservation in the U.S.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
…my grandmother, so I can share my accomplishments over the course of the past seven years with her (and show her that I can finally complete a Sunday crossword puzzle on my own!).
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
…spend all of my time and money to advocate for animals. I have volunteered at shelters and humane societies and seen the conditions that some of these animals were forced to endure. I have rescued three cats and encouraged many others to do the same. It is easy to help end pet overpopulation: spay and neuter your pets! There are many low-cost spay/neuter clinics out there, just ask your local humane society. The number of animals that are euthanized each year in shelters should be, and I firmly believe can be, much lower.
After graduation, I plan to…
…find employment where I can combine my love of design with historic preservation. Working for an architectural arts company would be my ideal job. For me, it would be work that feels more like play since I am certain to enjoy it.