Phrases of Encouragement – Georgia Journal

The UGA mentoring program is celebrating its third year this fall. More than 2,800 mentoring relationships have been established between alumni and current students since the program was launched, and each of them has their own personality. Some continued beyond the end of the mentees. Three of these relationships are described here in the participants’ own words.

Shallum Atkinson ABJ ’17, AB ’17
Political Associate, US House of Representatives; Washington, DC

Mentoring is important, trust me. I know because it was a blessing to mentor Jaquarius. Not only does it allow me to stay connected with the Bulldog Nation from hundreds of miles away, but it also serves as a living example of how what we do today will affect the people of tomorrow.

As a black person, I was always told that if a door is opened for you, leave the room in a better place than you found it and leave the door open for the next to follow. I see in Jaquarius a younger, brighter, and more refined version of myself. It warms my heart to see the positive changes the leaders of my day sought to create a better environment for him.

We share memories of the many stories from my time that he will never understand and give advice on how to simply cope with life. It’s a match made in Athens.

Jaquarius Raglin
4th year health promotion and biology double major

Phrases of Encouragement – Georgia JournalBefore my mentoring at Shallum, I focused on finding mentors who could give me advice on studying medicine and dealing with STEM courses at UGA. When we switched to online learning in the spring of 2020, I realized that I needed a more holistic kind of support.

When it came time to find a new mentor on the platform, I chose Shallum. He has had a unique perspective since he took his bachelor’s degree at UGA and now works in politics in Washington, DC. We both long to make positive changes in the university for the advancement and success of black students.

Although we have different intentions and majors (he’s law and mining medicine), Shallum has taken me under his wing to shape me into a more focused and eclectic leader. I would say he’s like an older brother that I can rely on. I know that I can always count on him.


Scott Morris BBA ’87
Managing Director (RET.), Bank of America; Charlotte, NC

I have been really blessed to work with Audrey.

After meeting to understand their interests, goals, and personalities, we partnered with industry leaders from my professional network with a focus on how best to prepare for these calls, presentation skills, and tips to keep process going to establish relationships to develop their own network.

We have also developed a better understanding of their individual strengths and how they align with different possible career options. My goal was to help her select coursework, extracurricular activities, and skills development opportunities for these roles. For example, we examined what “a day in the life” looks like for different roles and what skills are required to be successful.

She took what we discussed, made it her own, and expanded it. If I gave her five leads, she made them fifteen. Undoubtedly, it is the individual effort Audrey put into our exchanges that made it successful.

Audrey Dwyer
3rd year, majoring in finance

When you go to college as a freshman, you have no idea what the future or even the next week will look like. You will make new friends, learn to get around, and decide how you want to spend the next 30+ years of your life. I had a hard time deciding to study economics. The vastness and confusion overwhelmed me: What do I want to do with my life and will I be happy?

I joined the UGA mentoring program and met my roommate’s father, Scott Morris, who previously worked for Bank of America. Under his guidance, I have built an excellent network within the financial world, learned about financial roles, learned how to approach investing and value a company, and how to closely monitor the stock market and business news. And finally, I learned where I belong in finance.

One of my fondest memories was when Scott helped me with an interview. He devoted two weeks of his time to helping me gather information for the presentation and kept me motivated and encouraged. When the pitch ended, my roommate joked that I spent more time with her father than she did.

With Scott’s mentoring, I am confident, knowledgeable and on the road to success.


Stephanie (Blackett) Nichols BSFCS ’07
Owner and Psychotherapist at Mindful Therapy Works; Atlanta

I never thought that mentoring would enrich my life the way it has.

As a UGA mentor, I not only had the opportunity to give back to my alma mater, but also made myself a better, more professional business woman. In the fall of 2019, Kestrina and I had our first meeting and then met every two months at a local Starbucks. I was immediately impressed with her tenacity and desire to lead others. Despite our different backgrounds, we have learned that we share many similar life experiences.

As a mentor at UGA, I can reflect on my own career, formulate new goals and get in touch with old colleagues. Kestrina has now graduated and I continue to mentor her. I look forward to mentoring Kestrina for as long as she needs, and I thank her for enriching my life.

Kestrina Shrestha MEd ’20
PhD student, Faculty of Mathematics

Being an Asian American is one of my salient identities. My family is from Nepal and I have never shared a classroom or workplace with someone who also has a Nepalese background. I joined the UGA mentoring program in the second semester of my graduate program in hopes of finding someone with my ethnic and racial background, but I couldn’t. Instead, I decided to seek mentoring from a colored UGA alumna.

I still remember my first meeting with Stephanie at Starbucks. She was personable and such an excellent listener! Since I was a nontraditional student and commuting to UGA, she was flexible and met me through Zoom on many occasions. That was pre-COVID, so zoom wasn’t really a thing back then.

Stephanie is the first mentor I have ever had and I learned the importance of mentoring through communicating with her. Due to this positive experience, I am currently building and designing a peer mentoring program within the mathematics department of the UGA, where I work as an academic advisor. I have also decided to take part in the UGA mentoring program as a mentor from autumn this year.