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Today@YHC January 2011


On behalf of the Office of Alumni Services at Young Harris College, I am delighted to introduce our first ever alumni e-newsletter, Today@YHC. Along with Echoes magazine, this online newsletter is a source of information for alumni happenings and other alumni interests. It is the goal of the Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Services to continue to engage and reconnect our alumni to Young Harris College.

As we continue to evaluate and update our events and programs for all alumni, please stay in touch! It is a constant challenge to keep our alumni records updated and accurate data is essential to our success. Contact us by telephone, mail, fax or email with news of a new address or telephone number, career promotions, marriages, births and deaths.

If you have any questions, need additional information about alumni happenings, have suggestions or new ideas or are interested in getting involved, please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Thank you for your continued support of our alma mater, Young Harris College.

Dana Ensley
Director of Alumni Services

Alumni Spotlight: Heather Moody Breeden


Heather Moody Breeden, ’99, found out about a small college nestled in the “Enchanted Valley” during a summer spent at Camp Glisson in nearby Dahlonega as a teenager. While attending presentations made by various Methodist-affiliated colleges and universities throughout the Southeast, she heard about Young Harris College.

“YHC students spoke about their special experiences in religious life, the tight relationships with each other and the amazing faculty at YHC,” Breeden recalled. “Hearing from them, combined with always hearing my aunt and YHC alumna, Jean Bone Lewis, always mention her love for Young Harris, made it seem like a very intriguing college. After a daylong visit on my seventeenth birthday, my parents and I knew it was the right place for me.”

While at YHC, Breeden took advantage of all of the opportunities afforded by the College, participating in the Inter-Religious Council, Enotah yearbook, Inter-Greek Council and Sigma Beta Sigma sorority.

“I have so many wonderful memories from those two years with my Susan B. sisters and the individuals participating in religious life and all of the fun that occurred daily on campus—challenging assignments from professors who really cared, great conversations in the Hesed House, late night trips to Huddle House, ‘jersey appreciations,’ chapel services and so much more,” Breeden said.

While she finds it difficult to choose one favorite memory during her time at YHC, Breeden notes that two significant events that stand out most are attending the Susan B. Yellow Rose Formal and the Inter-Religious Council retreat.

“YHC is truly successful in developing the whole person. YHC cemented in me the idea that relationships with people are so important and showed me the importance of community, servanthood and leadership,” Breeden said. “YHC also helped give me the confidence and supportive relationships to have big dreams. To know that you have a huge group of people cheering for you in life is amazing.”

After attending YHC, Breeden went on to earn her B.A. in English from the University of Georgia in 2001 and her J.D. from Mercer University in 2005. She has served as a senior analyst and attorney for the Georgia Senate Research Office in Atlanta since 2007. Prior to that, she worked as an associate at Drew, Eckl and Farnham in Atlanta and a law clerk at the Piedmont Judicial Circuit in Jefferson.

Breeden is quick to point out the major part the connections she made at YHC have played in her career.

“Young Harris people love other Young Harris people; it is an instant connection,” Breeden explained. “Two of my last three amazing jobs have partially resulted from connections with Young Harris College.”

Another important connection Breeden made at YHC was with her husband, fellow YHC alumnus Skip Breeden, ’99. The two met while attending a START orientation session at the College in 1997, and wed more than a decade later at First United Methodist Church of Atlanta. The couple was married by fellow alumnus and trustee Rev. Dr. Jim Ellison, '88, surrounded by a wedding party comprised of many YHC alumni.

According to Breeden, it is the close-knit, familial environment at YHC that fosters strong bonds between friends and couples at Young Harris College that often last a lifetime.

“Because YHC is so small, you foster intimate relationships and develop a strong, lasting appreciation for the attributes and values around you,” Breeden said. “When Skip and I started dating after 10 years of friendship, I was confident that he was a great person from what I had witnessed during our Young Harris days and throughout our friendship.”

The Breedens currently reside in Sandy Springs, where the couple actively supports various causes and organizations in the surrounding area, including the North Fulton Bar Association, the Agriculture Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia, Heritage Sandy Springs, Great Pyrenees Rescue Atlanta and Adopt-A-Golden Atlanta. Heather also serves on the community placements evaluation committee for the Junior League of Atlanta.

Along with all of her professional and personal commitments, Breeden still finds time to support Young Harris College by serving on the Young Alumni Council and participating in many alumni events both on and off campus because she recognizes the importance of staying involved with YHC in order to benefit future graduates.

“YHC needs loyal alumni to support the College with their prayers, gifts and participation in college-related events in order to ensure an amazing, life-changing experience for future generations,” Breeden said. “It’s so important in today’s society for deserving students to have a place that cares about their development as a whole person.”

Breeden also points out that the more involved alumni remain with the College, the more opportunities there are to make additional memories to cherish with fellow alumni.

“Planning and participating in YHC alumni events is just plain fun,” Breeden said. “Seeing Young Harris people in any place, from the Senate Floor in the Capitol to a small gathering at someone’s house, always makes my day.”

5 Questions for… Dr. John Kay

The Office of Alumni Services recently posed five questions to Young Harris College alumnus Dr. John Kay, '56, who will speak during a special chapel service held on Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Susan B. Harris Chapel as part of Founder's Weekend, in celebration of the College's 125th anniversary. Find out everything from Dr. Kay's fondest memory of being a student at YHC to what it's like to live down the street from his alma mater.

What are you up to these days?

I have come to believe that the term “retirement” should be replaced with the term “retreadment.” I find that since officially retiring more than nine years ago my responsibilities have merely shifted from what I have to do to what I choose to do (with a few exceptions). The volunteer activity that has taken most of my time over the last eight years is chairing the Byron Herbert Reece Society. I have also recently become the chair of the Board of Supervisors of the Blue Ridge Mountain Soil & Water Conservation District. I remain active in the Institute for Continuing Learning at YHC as an executive board member, student and course leader. At Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church, I teach the Disciples Sunday School class and sing part-time in the choir.  I have also recently become a member of the Board of Trustees of the Towns County Public Library and the Mountain Regional Library. I also regularly participate in the community book reading group I helped to found 41 years ago. Avocationally, I love to garden, walk around the area and meet for morning coffee and problem-solving with retired colleagues from the College.

What is your fondest memory of being a student at Young Harris College?

There are so many pleasant memories that choosing one is difficult. However, I will point to my participation in the Championship Debate of 1956 as an unforgettable experience. In those years, this annual debate between the two literary/debating societies was a major event, and to be selected as a member of the team was a signal honor. That year the YHDS team (my society) defeated the Phi Chi team.  Ralph McGill, noted editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was in the audience. His editorial column on the front page of the next day’s paper was all about our debate, and each of the debaters was named in his article. What a thrill!

You still live in Young Harris and will be right here in the neighborhood as Young Harris College celebrates its 125th anniversary. What has the experience been like of watching the College grow over the years and what do you believe is the legacy of YHC?

Yes, we live right in the neighborhood. Our house is on the hill on Thomastown Road directly across from Cupid Falls, and our property borders College land on one side. During the more than 43 years the Kay family has lived here, the changes we have witnessed have been so many that it has become difficult for me to remember “how it used to be.” I speak not only of the physical landscape but of the educational program itself. Conversation in our coffee group often focuses on remembering the way things were.

By and large, the growth of the College has been for the better. I believe strongly in the role of tradition as a vital, bonding link between past and future. Yet, as I once heard Dr. Dow Kirkpatrick state in a speech, “only that tradition remains which is constantly changing.”  Things cannot always remain the same. Older alumni may experience nostalgic regret upon returning and observing the loss of features around campus that meant so much to them in their years of matriculation. But as conditions in society change and present new challenges, institutions like YHC must make adjustments in order to meet those challenges. The move to four-year status is an obvious example.

In light of the rapid changes we are currently witnessing, I believe our legacy remains that of keeping alive the distinctive YHC spirit that has thus far survived those changes. We must never lose our commitment to values consistent with the teachings of Christ, chief among them the capacity to care and care deeply about the total well-being of all those entrusted to us.

Three of your children are also YHC alumni. Can you describe the experience of having your children attend your alma mater?

I have noticed over the years that many children of former students show up on our campus. This is a testimony to the positive experience of their parents during their days at YHC. It only made sense that our children take advantage of a college virtually in their backyard. Yet you can be sure we would have arranged for them to go elsewhere if we had not been in agreement with former U.S. Senator and Georgia Governor Zell Miller’s view that “from Young Harris you can go anywhere.” Our children could not have had a better start at higher education than they received at YHC. Two of them actually skipped their senior year in high school for early enrollment here.

You are speaking during a special chapel service that will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Susan B. Harris Chapel on the YHC campus as part of the College’s Founder’s Weekend celebration. What message do you plan to give to current YHC students and why?

Please don’t hold me to it, as preachers do have a habit of suddenly changing course, but my current thought is to address the topic of legacy. The idea is to show how we all are recipients of legacies bequeathed to us by previous generations—some of them good, some not so good.  But we are also builders of legacies, and we have a responsibility to be thoughtful about the kind of legacies we will leave behind us when we are gone. I hope to address this topic from the context of Christian accountability as well as our role as stewards of the YHC heritage. In my mind, there is a compelling argument for honoring the past and showing concern for the future by living dutifully in the present.

Hello Friends,

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that 2010 has already flown by.

For those of you who don't know me, here's a bit of history. After living in Young Harris my entire life, attending YHC was the natural transition for me after high school. Being a local student, I was able to get a jumpstart on YHC life by working in the Business Office (which included the bookstore at that time) and Financial Aid Office the summer after I graduated from high school and for several summers after that. This gave me an opportunity to personally get to know all of the faculty and staff and develop many wonderful relationships with them and their families.

I graduated from YHC in 1984 with a business degree and continued my education at North Georgia College, graduating in 1986 with a major in accounting. My plans were to move to a larger city in search of a job, but God's plans for me were much better (and bigger) than my own. A friend worked at a small local bank in Blairsville and asked me to come for an interview. Within a few days I began my career with what was then known as Union County Bank.  Today, United Community Bank is a $7.7 billion bank holding company with offices throughout Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee, and I serve as the Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer for the company.  It's an amazing job, and I feel very blessed to be a part of the company, particularly since United is also a strong supporter of YHC.

Staying in the area has allowed me to remain very connected to Young Harris College. Through the years I have served on YHC's Board of Associates as well as the Alumni Association's Board of Directors. In 2009 I was very honored when I was asked by YHC President Cathy Cox to serve as the President of the newly formed alumni board, which would be comprised of board members appointed by the Alumni Foundation and the college's Board of Trustees. It has been an amazing experience to get to know and work with these board members during the past two years. As your board, we meet three-to-four times each year to work with the Office of Alumni Services to plan Alumni Weekend and Homecoming, alumni gatherings (called “Young Harris Connections”), the alumni awards banquet, and many other events and activities throughout the year. Our goal is to support the College and to keep alumni informed and in touch with each other.

If you haven't visited the campus in the last couple of years, I strongly encourage you to do so. I don't want to say “you won't recognize it,” because the campus you know and love is still the heart of what makes YHC so special, but you will be amazed at the changes. The YHC Alumni Association board members ask that you join us by supporting YHC financially. There is no gift so small, and certainly none too large, that it can't be used to benefit the campus and the students that will attend our alma mater. We also seek your support by encouraging young family members and friends to attend YHC. What better place to spend the next four years of their life!

It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve as your president. May you have a blessed and prosperous 2011.


Carol Chastain

Young Harris College to Celebrate 125th Anniversary

Young Harris College will commemorate its 125th anniversary with a year full of celebrations, beginning with Founder’s Weekend, January 26-29. To kick off the weekend of festivities, YHC alumnus Dr. John Kay, ’56, will speak during a special chapel service held on Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Susan B. Harris Chapel.

The service will also include sermon notes from former YHC president Dr. Joseph A.Sharp incorporated into a prayer by Campus Minister and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Tim Moore, D.Min., as well as a slideshow featuring historical photos of the College along with quotations from prayer journals dating back to 1987.
“It has been a thoroughly enriching experience to work on this project. It has been interesting to see how God has used the faculty, staff and students throughout time to plant a legacy of faith at YHC,” said Amanda Noonan, a senior English major from Smyrna who is serving as coordinator for the special service. “To be able to see how people have grown in the Lord throughout the years has reminded me that God has a specific plan for each of us and that we are each uniquely made in His image.”
Four Young Harris College alumni will also contribute to the service by participating in a skit titled "Who Will Fill My Shoes." Testimonials written by Cas Nowicki, ’09, Von Rogers, ’73, Jim Manor, ’03, and Emmie Manor, ’04, regarding their experiences at YHC will be read by current students as monologues.
“I am also embarking on a ‘one word’ project in which I am asking people to describe their faith in one word,” Noonan said. “I will make a collage of pictures and words collected from students, alumni and former and current faculty and staff that will be displayed during the service and on campus throughout the weekend.”

The celebration will continue on Friday, Jan. 28, as various student organizations co-sponsor a student dance. On Saturday, Jan. 29, a banner will be displayed at the men’s and women’s basketball game that represents the present time at YHC and will be preserved for future historic celebrations at the College.

 “It’s been exciting to work with various faculty, staff and students on these projects. I’m amazed how excited students are to learn about the history of the College,” Associate Library Director and 125th Anniversary Committee Chair Debra March said.

In addition to this new Founder’s Weekend event, some of YHC’s annual rituals and events will serve as special 125th anniversary celebrations.

In May, YHC will confer its first bachelor degrees in nearly a century to a class of more than 50 seniors. Former U.S. Senator and Georgia Governor Zell Miller, ’51, will deliver the commencement address for the special occasion.

The festivities will culminate next summer with a special Alumni Weekend, July 29-31, 2011, when YHC honors the Class of 1961’s 50th reunion and celebrates the College’s rich heritage and promising future.

Special events related to the College’s 125th anniversary for the commencement ceremony and Alumni Weekend will be announced soon.

Young Harris College Breaks Grounds on New Student Housing

The Young Harris College Board of Trustees recently authorized the construction of student apartments on Maple Street in the area designated on the campus master plan for a new “upperclassmen village.”

The first phase of construction calls for 148 beds, configured in apartments of four private bedrooms, that will initially be offered to rising junior and senior students for Fall 2011. A second phase will offer another 100 beds in the same configuration.

“The apartments will be contained in 13 separate units that look very much like nice two-story houses, and when grouped together in the ‘village,’ will have much more of a residential look and feel,” YHC President Cathy Cox said.

In addition to four private bedrooms, each apartment will include a living area, kitchen and washer and dryer. The “village” atmosphere will be facilitated by expansive porches, designated areas for grilling and abundant green space surrounding the apartments.

The “village” will be designed and constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and is expected to earn LEED certification. It will be the third new construction project to be completed as part of Young Harris College’s strategic plan to make the transformation to four-year status and the third to earn LEED certification.

Architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent and construction company Hardin Construction Company, both of Atlanta, will oversee the design and construction of the new student housing. These companies worked together to create the 200-bed Enotah Hall residence hall, which opened in August 2009. Hardin also constructed the recently opened 57,000-square-foot Recreation Center at Young Harris College that was built to LEED standards and is expected to earn LEED certification within the next few months.

Work has begun clearing and preparing the site on Maple Street and
construction of the new “upperclassmen village” will begin soon.

The first phase of construction (designated in purple) calls for 148 beds, configured in apartments of four private bedrooms, that will initially be offered to rising junior and senior students for Fall 2011. A second phase (designated in blue) will offer another 100 beds in the same configuration.

YHC President Cox to Compete in ‘CEO Battle’ for Childhood Literacy

Young Harris College President Cathy Cox is one of seven Georgia CEOs/Presidents competing against each other for the title of “Favorite Reader” to raise awareness and funds for the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy in the second annual CEO Battle.

The contest began on Thursday, Jan. 13, and votes can be cast daily through Monday, Feb. 7.

The other executives from across Georgia participating in the friendly competition include Paul Wood, CEO, Georgia EMC; William Griffin, CEO, Rosser International; Michael Russell, CEO, H.J. Russell; Ruth Knox, President, Wesleyan College, Raymond King, CEO, The Atlanta Zoo; and William Kimble, Managing Partner, KPMG, Atlanta.

Each competitor was filmed reading to a class of students, and President Cox read to a class at the Towns County Pre-K on Dec. 6. The videos are available on the Ferst Foundation website.  The first vote cast each day is free, and viewers may cast additional votes for their CEO of choice for $3 each, the cost of one book for a child enrolled in the Ferst Foundation’s reading program.

Donation-votes made be made online at the Ferst Foundation’s website or by mail to P.O. Box 1327 Madison, Georgia 30650.

The CEO video that receives the highest vote total will be declared the winner, and the winning CEO will be announced at a ceremony in Atlanta on Feb. 14.

The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy (FFCL) began in 1999 in Morgan County, Ga., through the efforts of Robin Ferst who modeled her program on the Imagination Library initiative begun by musician and philanthropist Dolly Parton in Tennessee. The program sends age-appropriate books directly to the home of each registered child from birth until the age of five. The FFCL strives to improve early learning opportunities for every Georgia child regardless of income, race, religion, or gender with the philosophy that any child who cannot read is at-risk. With more than 2.3 million books having been sent to more than 140,000 pre-school children in 75 counties, the Ferst Foundation is contributing to the development of an educated productive, competitive workforce. The Foundation’s corporate partners participating in this friendly competition are helping to highlight one of the easiest ways to improve a child’s school preparedness—reading to him or her daily.  

Young Harris College President Cathy Cox read to a class at the Towns County Pre-K on Dec. 6.

Five Young Harris College Students Selected for Georgia All College Band


Five Young Harris College students were recently selected to perform in the Georgia All College Band that is comprised of 75 music majors representing colleges and universities throughout Georgia. The students will perform during the Georgia Music Educators Association’s (GMEA) Annual In Service Conference held in Savannah, Jan. 27-29.
Students selected include senior Tara Shiver, clarinet, of Covington, junior Raquel Jasso, clarinet, of Gainesville, sophomore Jake Wentzek, saxophone, of Blairsville, sophomore Jeremiah Kersting, trumpet, of Sugar Hill, and sophomore Nic Gannon, percussion, of Blue Ridge.
“This is the first time Young Harris College has had representation in this prestigious event,” Senior Instructor of Music and Director of Bands Mary Land said. “Membership in the All College Band is a significant accomplishment in a college student's musical career, and we are extremely proud of the students who were chosen.”
Students are selected to participate in the Georgia All College Band through director recommendation followed by an on-site individual audition. Nominees are ranked according to their ability to play major and minor scales and arpeggios the full range of his or her instrument, along with public performance skills.
“It is an honor to be chosen for this because it will benefit me as a musician and, most importantly, it will benefit my future career,” Wentzek said. “I will get to meet many music teachers from all over the state of Georgia ranging from kindergarten teachers to college professors.”
“I am extremely excited about being chosen for the Georgia All College Band,” Shiver added. “This is a great opportunity as a performer to meet new people while connecting with individuals that will aid us in our future careers as performers.”

Three Senior Biology Students to Attend Graduate School

Three Young Harris College senior biology students were recently accepted into graduate school programs.Kyle Hatley, of Kennesaw, was accepted into the North Georgia College & State University's (NGCSU) doctor of physical therapy program, while Meg Patterson, of Toccoa, and Katie Dyer, of Hiawassee, were accepted into the Medical College of Georgia's (MCG) School of Dentistry.
“NGCSU's program is very competitive, and Kyle's hard work during his studies here at YHC and all of his many, many hours shadowing and assisting physical therapists has earned him a place there,” said Dean of the Division of Mathematics and Science and Professor of Biology Paul Arnold, Ph.D. “Kyle’s research experience also proved to NGCSU that he is a very adaptable and multi-faceted young man who can think well on his feet.”
During his studies, Hatley conducted a senior research project that involved helping the Georgia Department of Natural Resources improve bear population assessment protocols by using stealth cameras.
Patterson and Dyer will attend the Medical College of Georgia's School of Dentistry, which is the only dental school in the state of Georgia. The program is extremely selective, with approximately 60 students accepted each year.  
“It is almost unheard of for a college the size of YHC to have two students accepted into this program when there are often 350 or more students applying to the program each year,” Dr. Arnold said. “It is also very rare for new graduates to be admitted on the first application, since they are competing with people who have repeatedly applied and have graduate school experience under their belt.”
Patterson and Dyer both worked on research projects directly related to the dental field during their studies and will be presenting their research at the Georgia Academy of Science Annual Meeting held at Gainesville State College in Watkinsville, March 25-26.
“Both Katie and Meg are extraordinary students, and they thoroughly impressed the School of Dentistry’s admissions staff who found them to be extremely knowledgeable, skillful and flexible,” Dr. Arnold said. “I think that YHC's liberal arts education was a definite plus in providing them with a broad-based education, but yet at the same time honing their critical scientific skills.”

Faculty Notables

Dr. Drew Cavin, assistant professor of outdoor leadership, and Danae Turchyn, instructor of outdoor leadership and assistant director of the Outdoor Leadership Center, attended the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education Annual Conference in Keystone, Colo., Nov. 11-13. Dr. Cavin was the author of a publication, titled “An Analysis of Nature in Three African American Autobiographical Narratives,” that will be published in the Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism & Recreation Research, Vol. 3, No. 1.  

Dr. Benny Ferguson, dean of the division of fine arts and professor of music, chaired a roundtable discussion titled “The Dynamics of Fine Arts Administration in the Small College or University” at the International Council of Fine Arts Deans Annual Conference in Sarasota, Fla., Oct. 27-30.

Mary Land, senior instructor of music and director of bands, conducted the New York All State Band in Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 4-6, and the Tri-State Honor Band at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky., Nov. 19-21. Land also presented a session titled “What You Should Know, Before You Go” at the North Carolina Music Educators Association In-Service Conference, Nov. 7.

Dr. Amanda Song, assistant professor of chemistry, recently received a starter grant in the amount of $500 from the American Chemical Society (ACS) to start an ACS chemistry club student chapter at Young Harris College. Dr. Song was author of a paper, titled “Exploring Possibilities for Using UV/Vis and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy to Directly Differentiate Soil Organic Matter in a Soil Profile,” that was recently published in the peer-review journal Spectroscopy Letter, 43:561–566.