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Today@YHC July 2013

Alumni Spotlight: Brantley Barrow

Columbus native Brantley Barrow, ’74, grew up hearing his father, Bobby Barrow, ’50, and uncle, James Barrow, ’41, reminisce about their time at Young Harris College. Those stories, coupled with visits to campus throughout the years, made Barrow certain YHC was the place he wanted to create his own memories.

Barrow fondly remembers playing football games in front of a decorated Appleby Center, covered with banners and signs cheering on various fraternities. One of his proudest moments at YHC occurred when his fraternity, Phi Chi, won the inter-fraternity sports championship his sophomore year.

“With only a minute remaining, we used a trick play called the “muddle huddle” to score the winning touchdown against the KTOs,” said Barrow. “The alumni who returned to watch the game were especially excited with our win since the KTOs had consistently won the championship in prior years.”

Barrow and his classmates made the most of their weekends spent on campus, hiking to Cupid Falls, camping, listening to music and playing sports. “There was not much to do in the town of Young Harris when I was a student, so we created our own fun and really bonded with each other in the process,” recalls Barrow.

After earning an associate of science degree in education at YHC, Barrow went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He attributes his success at UGA to the years he spent at YHC. “The fervor with which my professors taught was remarkable. They made you want to learn,” explained Barrow. “Students had the opportunity to really know their professors due to the small class sizes. That is not something you get at a large university.“

“I had a heck of a lot of fun during my time at YHC, but I also matured while I was there,” Barrow continued. “I entered UGA as a very serious student intent on finishing school and starting a career.”

Barrow’s dedication to his studies at UGA paid off when he landed a job with Arthur Andersen & Co., where he worked for three years after graduation. During that time, he was assigned to the audit of what would become Hardin Construction Company, LLC.  This assignment eventually led to Barrow joining Hardin, where he was named Chief Financial Officer in 1989.

As CFO, Barrow played an active role in the management group who bought the company from the Hardin family in 1993. In 2007, he led the buyout of the company’s former majority shareholder and became Chairman. In April, the company was sold to DPR Construction, a national commercial contractor and construction management company, and Barrow is actively assisting with the transition.  

In July, Barrow will assume the role of Chairman of the YHC Board of Trustees, a position which will allow him to spend more time on the campus he has grown to love. He is currently finishing up his term as Chair of UGA’s Terry College of Business Alumni Board and serves as Vice Chair for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity’s Board of Directors.

When Barrow is not working or volunteering his time, he enjoys traveling, tennis, fishing, and spending time with his wife, Sharon, his children, Brant and Rebecca, and his yellow lab, Caymus. He also tries to return to the College for alumni events whenever possible.

“During my first year at YHC, one of the most impressive things I experienced was the way the alumni returned to campus constantly. Only after I left did I learn why,” said Barrow. “You truly miss the campus, the surrounding mountains and, most importantly, the friends you made there.”

5 Questions for… Dr. Jennifer Hallett

The Young Harris College Office of Alumni Services posed five questions to Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Chair of the Communication Studies Department Jennifer Hallett, Ph.D. Dr. Hallett’s teaching interests focus on intergroup and interpersonal communication topics including gender, family, nonverbal, intercultural, deception, social dominance and conflict management. Dr. Hallett’s research has been published in numerous journals and books, including “The Dark Side of Interpersonal Relationships” and “The New Handbook of Language and Social Psychology.” In addition to her teaching duties, Dr. Hallett also serves as the Faculty Athletics Representative for the College. As such, she serves as a representative for YHC to the NCAA Division II and provides oversight for the academic success of all student-athletes at YHC. Find out what brought Dr. Hallett to YHC in the first place and what drives her passion for YHC’s student-athletes.

What are you up to these days?
In the summer, I spend a lot of time traveling, sometimes for work and sometimes for fun. My travel for work is usually related to my role as the Faculty Athletics Representative for the College, and in late May, I attended the 2013 NCAA Regional Rules Seminar in Denver, Colo. Before Summer Session started on campus, I was also able to travel to Tampa, Fla. and visit my family. Being from Tampa, I try to get back there often to see my niece and nephew. After Summer Session, I plan to take a trip with a friend to the Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, Ky. Academically, I’m currently doing research with sophomore communication studies major Katherine Gwin on identity and fandom of individual vs. team sports.

What brought you to YHC in 2008 and what is it about the College that made you want to serve on the faculty for five years and counting?
When I interviewed in May of 2008, YHC was a two-year school seeking accreditation as a four-year baccalaureate degree-granting institution. At that time, the plan was to launch a communication studies major in Fall 2013, which meant that I was signing up to teach only public speaking for five years until the full major would come to fruition! It was a daunting prospect, but I knew it would be well worth it. I couldn’t have been more right. YHC President Cathy Cox and the Office of Academic Affairs moved the launch date of the communication studies program up three years to Fall 2010. So what brought me here was the once-in-a-career opportunity to be a founding faculty member of a brand new department and to write its curriculum with my view of the field of communication. I can’t think of a better career move! As for what has kept me here, it’s the ability to work closely with people all over campus, not just other faculty in my department. Bigger schools pigeonhole everyone, and you lose the sense of community and collaboration that makes YHC so special. Here, I work with the Department of Athletics, the Academic Success Center, the Academic Advising Center, faculty from all divisions/departments, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Student Development, the Office of Religious Life and more. It’s unbelievable how connected we are here and I love it!

In the last few years, YHC has developed programming to improve students’ written and spoken communication, including writing and speaking intensive courses and a Center for Writing and Speaking that houses the Rhetorica program. What do you hope students are gaining from this and what are some of the most important lessons/advice you strive to impart to your students?
My mantra in basic communication and composition courses is “present good information well.” I even had a sign made with that phrase that sits in the speaking center of Rhetorica. When I am working with students on their presentations, we focus on two primary skill sets: finding and developing good information and presenting it with confidence and integrity. I hope that in addition to strengthening their communication skills, students are seeing the incredible value of these skills and how unique they will be in the world if they can master them. In the real world, so many people lack the very basic—but very important—skill of being able to express themselves clearly and effectively. I want our students to be able to set themselves apart from their peers by being excellent communicators.

You currently serve as the Faculty Athletics Representative for YHC. What made you want to take on this role, what do you think are some of YHC Athletics' greatest accomplishments in the last few years and what do you consider some of the defining characteristics of YHC student-athletes?
At my previous institution, I was lucky enough to work in the athletics department for a short time, and that’s when I really got to see the lives of student-athletes in action. I traveled with the athletes to games and saw them have to study on the bus for midterms after a tough loss or a big win—times when it was incredibly difficult to concentrate. I was able to see the coaches’ perspectives and the connection between the team environment and the classroom environment. I recognized very quickly that I was in a truly unique situation as a professor. Whatever the stereotypes about student-athletes are, the reality is that the vast majority of them work hard and contribute positively to campuses across the country. I wanted to take on the Faculty Athletics Representative role here to share that outlook with the campus community. At the same time, I have very high academic standards and wanted to be able to share that perspective with the athletics community. The “hoops” we make student-athletes jump through are generally there for a reason, whether they are academic hoops or athletic hoops, and it’s important for both sides to appreciate the value of the other!

As for the defining characteristics of YHC student-athletes, right now they include love of their sport and the desire to get a great education. They are also feisty—and I mean that in a good way! They stand up for what they want, speak up when they see something they don’t like, and understand that there are consequences for their actions. Our relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation highlights another characteristic: connection. Our student-athletes are just like the rest of the people on this campus; they’re connected to each other and the larger community through multiple roles, obligations and interests. I am proud to be associated with them.

You chair the Department of Communication Studies, which is now an established four-year program at YHC—and one of many majors the College has added in the last five years. What has the experience been like of watching the College grow and what do you hope the future holds for YHC?
It’s been exhausting! But as I mentioned above, the fast track that the Communication Studies Department has been on during YHC’s expansion has been a blessing. Communication studies is now the third largest major on campus. We graduated our first class of eight students in 2012, and we had about 15 graduates this year. Many of them are already employed or heading to graduate school. I know that as we continue to reach our strategic plan goals that our students will be even more competitive in the job market. It’s been thrilling to watch the students grow from timid freshmen to confident and self-aware seniors. I am most proud, though, of how happy they are. They are good people, with lots to offer the world. I can’t think of a better legacy for us.

Alumni Buzz: Jesse Brock

I can't believe my time as a student at Young Harris College is over and I am beginning the next chapter—being an alumnus. Growing up in Athens, Ga., my dream was to attend the University of Georgia (UGA), but after touring YHC’s campus, I fell in love. While I cherished the people and environment at YHC, my ultimate goal during my first year was to transfer to UGA after my sophomore year. When the College announced its transition into a four-year institution in 2008, I realized that I wasn't ready to leave the beautiful mountains quite yet. I decided to earn my B.A. in history and started getting involved in campus organizations and activities. During my time at YHC, I served as SPAT Club president, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, worked as a police cadet, became a member of the Honor Council, a brother of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and was on the varsity golf team. Though I would have never thought it when I first enrolled my freshman year, in the blink of an eye, YHC had become a part of me. I finished my courses a semester early in December 2012, but decided to walk with my classmates at the Commencement ceremony in May 2013. This is where my story gets interesting.

Most December graduates don't stick around for the spring semester on campus because they are eager to leave and find a job. I wasn't ready to leave, but I was in need of a job. I was lucky enough to find an internship with the Office of Alumni Services under Dana Ensley. This opportunity opened many doors for me and made me realize the strength and love that alumni have for YHC. As an intern, I was responsible for coordinating alumni events, arranging and mailing thousands of invitations and assisting with office duties. Through this position, I learned how incredibly involved and dedicated YHC alumni are.

For those of you reading this Alumni Buzz, I challenge and encourage you to attend an alumni event. Events vary from special YHC athletics mingles, Atlanta Braves games, banquets and even whitewater rafting trips. I also encourage you to take an active role by joining either the Alumni Board, the Young Alumni Council or by volunteering to be a Class Coordinator. I worked with these different groups during my time as an intern, and I was inspired by the passion and love for YHC that was shown by these committed alumni. YHC is so unique because of the connection that alumni have with the College. We are forever a part of YHC, just as YHC is forever a part of us. This expression of love and passion for our alma mater can go a long way.

When you show your love and commitment to YHC by getting involved and attending events, you inspire other young alumni to do the same. I am a prime example of this. I attended my first Alumni Weekend this spring, and saw alumni of all ages and different backgrounds celebrate a single connection that brought them together—YHC. This same connection has brought you and me together through this story. I am proud to say that I will forever love this College and all of the alumni and students that share the same path that I have taken. I hope that you can say the same.

God bless everyone,

Jesse Brock, ’13

Young Harris College Bass Fishing Team to Host National Championship


Young Harris College will host the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Chatuge, Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 1-3. This marks the first time in the tournament’s history that it will take place outside of Arkansas, where it has been held since its inception.

According to College Series Manager Hank Weldon, the tournament “promises to be the biggest in the history of the series.” Competitors will weigh in their catches each day on the YHC Campus Plaza, and the tournament will receive national television coverage from ESPN.

“We are pleased to host this national collegiate tournament and to have bass fishing teams from all over the country visit our campus,” YHC President Cathy Cox said. “YHC’s bass fishing program is a huge asset to our community, and I am so proud of our team that continues to grow and thrive as they compete locally, regionally and nationally.”

YHC’s bass fishing team was founded in 2009 by Brad Rutherford, a recent business and public policy graduate from Lavonia. The team has continued to rack up accolades through the years while regularly competing in fishing events nationwide.

“As I traveled all over the country competing, I began talking about this amazing lake we have by our College and how good the fishing is. I started showing everyone pictures of the fish I have caught from Chatuge,” Rutherford explained. This led Weldon to contact Rutherford about the prospect of hosting a national tournament on the lake.

Rutherford will now have the opportunity to compete for the national title on Lake Chatuge along with teammate Matthew Peeler, a recent business and public policy graduate from Williamson. The two anglers finished an impressive fourth place overall at the Carhartt College Series Wild Card tournament on Pickwick Lake in Alabama, June 14-15—a finish that allows them to advance to the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. The national championship title will be awarded to one college or university and determine which individual anglers will advance to the Bassmaster Classic bracket, Sept. 26-29, 2013, with a chance to represent collegiate anglers in the Super Bowl of bass fishing on Lake Guntersville in Alabama, Feb. 21-23, 2014.

“I think this tournament is going to be huge for the College and for the people of Hiawassee,” said Rutherford, who led YHC’s team to a 10th-place finish in the national championship last year. “Having the tournament on Lake Chatuge will allow us to show off this great lake we have and hopefully host more big tournaments in the future. I’m proud to be a part of this monumental moment for YHC.”

Because the team is organized as a club sport, the members rely on contributions from supporters to help cover expenses when they compete. Towns County Sole Commissioner Bill Kendall recently presented a $1,000 check to Rutherford and President Cox for their role in bringing what he described as “the biggest event ever to come to Towns County.”

“Hosting the tournament at Lake Chatuge is a huge opportunity for us to showcase YHC to college students from across the nation and speaks to the recent success of our program,” said the team’s advisor, Assistant Professor of Biology Johnathan Davis, Ph.D. “I think many in the bass fishing industry had never heard of YHC until our anglers began finishing so well in college fishing tournaments. I am hopeful that this event will be a successful recruitment tool for the fishing team and YHC in general.”

Last month, YHC's Brad Rutherford and Matthew Peeler finished fourth at the Carhartt College Series Wild Card tournament on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. The team qualified for the national championship that will take place on Lake Chatuge in August.

Towns County Sole Commissioner Bill Kendall (right) recently presented a $1,000 check to bass fishing team member Brad Rutherford and YHC President Cathy Cox for their role in bringing what he described as “the biggest event ever to come to Towns County."

Young Harris College Prepares to Kick Off Common Reading Program

“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline was recently selected as the 2013 book for Young Harris College’s campus-wide Common Reading Program, which serves as an integral part of the First Year Experience program that provides support and encouragement to new students and helps ensure their personal and academic success.

“Ready Player One” is a genre-busting and ambitious debut by Cline—part quest novel, part love story and part virtual space opera set in the year 2044. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a massive multiplayer online simulation game created by James Halliday, the wealthiest, most powerful man in the world. When news breaks that Halliday has hidden a series of puzzles that will yield massive fortune and remarkable power to whoever can unlock them, Watts sets out on a quest for the ultimate prize.

“In the past we have always selected a nonfiction title,” explained Bryan Hayse, Ph.D., associate dean of students and First-Year Foundations co-chair. “The First Year Experience committee is excited to have a novel this year that is full of adventure. Although it is fiction, it’s not too farfetched for parts of it to become a reality in the not-so-distant future.”

According to Dr. Hayse, the book was also selected because a number of important themes can be gleaned from the text including isolation, belonging, greed, the environment and education, among others. These topics will be addressed in First Year Foundations classes and other academic courses.

All new students are required to read the Common Reading Program book before fall orientation. The program is designed to provide all new first-year students with a common intellectual experience to stimulate discussion and critical thinking, while also encouraging a sense of community among students, faculty and staff. Themes from the novel will also be heavily incorporated into YHC’s START program (Students Together for Advising, Registration and Transition) this summer.

“Since the book has a lot of 1980s pop culture references, our theme for START and Welcome Week pull heavily from this decade,” Dr. Hayse explained. Events will include a “prom,” cover band performances, trivia night and other exciting events that will expose students to the 1980s.

“I loved the book and think all of the freshman will really enjoy it. Even though it’s set in a virtual reality game, it’s a great adventure story that everyone can get into even if they aren't crazy about video games,” said START Orientation co-director Hailey Silvey, a junior psychology major from Young Harris. “This particular book gives us the chance to talk about the way technology affects the way we live our lives and how we think the future will be.”

To facilitate the program, many events will take place on and off campus during the Fall 2013 semester, including a special guest lecture by Cline during Welcome Week on Monday, Aug. 19, in Glenn Auditorium of the Clegg Fine Arts Building. Faculty and staff will integrate themes from the book into coursework, campus activities and organizational initiatives.