Campus News

‘Creating new pathways’

A participant in the College of Environment and Design's pre-collegiate summer camp shares their final project. The camp was funded in part by a New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion grant. (Submitted photo)

New Approaches grant recipients work to build a more diverse community

For the recipients of funding through the New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion grants program, it’s all about opening someone’s eyes.

The Graduate School is showing students the value and importance of diversity in graduate education. The College of Environment and Design is introducing high school students to careers in landscape architecture. The College of Family and Consumer Sciences is educating people about diversity within the fashion industry. Their efforts are building a more inclusive community at the University of Georgia.

“The New Approaches to Diversity and Inclusion grant program is one of many ways the University of Georgia is demonstrating our commitment to recruiting and retaining underserved, underrepresented and first-generation students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “These important efforts help to prepare participants for success well beyond their time here at UGA.”

Twenty-five proposals were funded in the second round of the program, which was announced by Morehead in January 2019 and awarded in August 2019. Some of the $10,000 to $25,000 grants support the development and adoption of new projects, while others support the continuation of projects from the first round that demonstrated the greatest promise for impact and a sustainable funding model. While the COVID-19 pandemic shifted some of their work, these grants are making a difference a year later.

“The impact of the New Approaches program has exceeded all expectations. Not only are these projects creating new pathways of engagement and success for students, but they are also generating partnerships, opportunities and synergistic programs that will positively impact communities and individuals across the state,” said Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives.

All of the selected programs are dedicated to serving underrepresented, underserved and first-generation students at UGA, and all of the grants are made possible through private funds.

D.A.L.E. (Dirrecciones a la escuela posgrado) Directions to the Graduate School

The Graduate School is using its funding to recruit Latinx students, according to Lisa Sperling, director of recruitment and diversity initiatives, and Geovani Ayala, associate director of retention. The goals are to provide awareness across the state of Georgia of graduate education and how the UGA Graduate School can assist Latinx students with reaching their professional goals. Additionally, the Graduate School is working to increase Latinx enrollment and create an inclusive and supportive campus community.

“What we’re striving to do is level the playing field,” Sperling said. “The Latinx community in Georgia is growing rapidly, and as the state’s flagship institution, we need to provide educational opportunities for Latinx students to attain their professional and career goals.”

To accomplish those goals, the Graduate School used grant funding to translate many of its recruitment materials into Spanish, including a new website at

In addition, Ayala made several recruitment trips prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to presenting “Grad School 101” to Latinx student organizations and fraternities at UGA, he also presented at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, Kennesaw State University and Dalton State College. Ayala traveled to Puerto Rico and recruited at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras; the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez; the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo; the University of Puerto Rico, Ponce; the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado; and the Inter-American University. Ayala also recruited at and participated in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ annual conference.

Originally, !DALE Pa’lante!, a recruitment event geared toward Latinx students who have been accepted to a UGA graduate program, was supposed to take place in April as part of the grant. It included information on important topics such as campus resources, ways to fund graduate education and professional development opportunities, and was intended to be similar to Movimiento Latino, a daylong event where admitted high school seniors interact with faculty, students and UGA’s campus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School restructured it as !DALE Pa’lante! Accepted Students Day with recorded videos from María E. Len-Ríos, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; Edward Delgado-Romero, associate dean for faculty and staff services and professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s counseling and human development services department; and Vice Provost Cook. Organizers also plan to have an online networking event for Latinx graduate students during the fall semester.

“It’s not just about getting them here; it’s about getting them to the degree and to achieving their professional goals,” Sperling said.

CED Pre-Collegiate Summer Design Camp

Brad Davis, associate professor and Master of Landscape Architecture program coordinator in the College of Environment and Design; Martha DeHart, academic advisor in the college; ​and Ethan Laughman, former recruitment, marketing and communications specialist in the college, know that landscape architecture is a perfect blend of art and science, and they want to introduce the field to high school students with the hope of building diversity in the profession.

The College of Environment and Design’s pre-collegiate summer camp included demonstrations using digital graphics. (Submitted photo)

They developed a pre-collegiate summer camp, where rising high school seniors, primarily from across Georgia, have the opportunity to come to UGA for a week and learn about various aspects of the design professions and landscape architecture. These activities are intended to give participants a taste of the variety of career paths available to them.

“We want the camp to be a snapshot of landscape architecture as well as other design professions,” Davis said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CED plans for an in-person camp turned virtual. Participants logged in for two hours each day to hear from speakers who work in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, architecture, interior design and landscape architecture firms as well as professors. They also took virtual walking tours on subjects such as plants, ecology and urban design and completed assigned readings with homework. The culmination of the week was a project the high school students worked on at home that was critiqued by a jury of three College of Environment and Design faculty.

“The virtual camp was more effective than I ever imagined it could be,” Davis said.

By attending this camp, Davis, DeHart and Laughman hope that prospective college students can see the potential in a career in landscape architecture and design. They’ll monitor applications and acceptances to UGA from students who participated in the camp and plan to follow up with a survey. They hope to open the camp to even more students in the coming years.

“Opportunities like this can really inspire students who are looking for a life pathway they didn’t know existed,” Davis said. “I hope that in some way, this camp helps students find what they’d most like to do in life earlier rather than later.”

Enhancing diversity in fashion

Katalin Medvedev, professor and undergraduate coordinator in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ department of textiles, merchandising and interiors; Sha’Mira Covington, doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant in the textiles, merchandising and interiors department; and Jaleesa Reed, doctoral candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the textiles, merchandising and interiors department, want to reframe education about the fashion industry.

“There is going to be a change of guard,” Medvedev said. “Scholars have been talking for a long time about moving away from a descriptive type of fashion studies toward a more critical and analytical approach, including a social agenda.”

Their goal is to launch a diversity in fashion initiative to support, recruit and retain historically underrepresented students. They want to reiterate that Fashion Studies can easily lend itself to discussing diversity. According to Covington, the point of framing fashion and diversity together is to show the potential within fashion to discuss controversial topics.

To do that, they will host a series of events that highlight the diverse nature of the fashion industry. Originally, events such as lectures from visiting scholars, a fashion show by the Fashion Design Student Association, a film screening and workshops were planned for April. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those were canceled. They will take part in an international fashion education multilogue digital event on Sept. 25 and are hoping to offer the workshop on campus, as well.

“Fashion is an enormous social force. We want to use the platform of fashion and the communicative power it has to talk about issues,” Medvedev said.

They’ll look at attendance at these events and the number of collaborations as a gauge of their success. Covington said another measure of success would be increased dialogue within the department and college as it relates to diversity.

Eventually, they hope their work leads to an academic course on diversity in fashion. The curriculum would expand the traditional educational framework to include marginalized voices in fashion scholarship and theory as well as introduce pedagogies and activities that will help instructors and students investigate assumptions, perspectives and biases that influence the way in which knowledge is presented. The goal is to make an impact on the teaching of diversity of gender, race and ethnicity in the textiles, merchandising and interiors department.

Funded projects

Other new projects that received funding are:

  • CAES Emerging Scholars Program­—Victoria David and James Anderson, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Cultivating Community—Kecia Thomas, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Georgia Undergraduate Veterinary School Scholars Program—Jennifer Smith-Garvin and Susan Williams, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Increasing UGA’s Exposure to Professional Scientists from Diverse Backgrounds—Andrea Sweigart, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Peers and Professionals—Anne Marcotte and Sandie Bass-Ringdahl, Early College of Education
  • Ready Vet Go—Veronica Pennington and Kaori Sakamoto, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Residential Faculty Mentors for First-Generation Students—Beate Brunow and Linda Kasper, Division of Student Affairs
  • The Robinson Scholars Program—Jenna Jackson, School of Law
  • Training Diverse Natural Resource Professionals for the Future—Robert Bringolf, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
  • TRIO Expansion—Chase Hagood and Sherontae Maxwell, Division of Academic Enhancement

The 12 projects that received renewed funding are:

  • Advising and Mentoring of Minority Students for Success (AMMSS) Program—Velma Zahirovic-Herbert and Sophia Anong, College of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • CPH Pre-Collegiate Summer Institute—Brittani Harmon, College of Public Health
  • DawgTrails—Danielle Vitale, College of Pharmacy, and Veronica Pennington, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Developing Diverse Talent for the Global Workplace—Marisa Pagnattaro, Terry College of Business
  • Early Start|Early Success—Chase Hagood and Lindsay Coco, Division of Academic Enhancement
  • Emerging Leaders Internship Program II—Matthew Auer and Paul Welch, School of Public and International Affairs
  • Gear Up 4 High School Program— Rosa Arroyo Driggers and Jonathan Brunson, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • Navigating Graduate School Coaching Retreats—Kecia Thomas, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Anneliese Singh, Early College of Education
  • Opportunities to Explore Veterinary Career Options with Special Emphasis on Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics—Hemant Naikare and Pedro Melendez, College of Veterinary Medicine (Tifton)
  • The Pioneer Project: Outreach to Underrepresented and First-Generation Students—Judy Iakovou and Naomi Norman, Office of Instruction
  • RISE Scholars Program—Gabriel Jiménez-Fuentes, Office of Institutional Diversity
  • UGA-Grady High School Sports Broadcast Program—Vicki Michaelis and Carlo Finlay, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication