Name: Rebecca Gemes
Family: Jay (UGA, Broadcast Journalism ’94) + Trecia Gemes, sisters Caroline (UGA junior, 20), Lizzie (18), and Kate (13)
Hometown: Columbus, GA
Current town: Athens, GA
What years at UGA: 2015-2019
School/Degree: FACS and Terry— Consumer Journalism major (FACS) where I studied Human Development & Family Science and Public Relations with a certificate in Personal & Organizational Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Could you please describe your career? This is a tough one as I wear many hats in my career! I have the immense privilege of working for both The Southern Coterie and Bulldawg Illustrated as I begin my career just now starting off in the real world. The Southern Coterie is one of Cheri’s ventures, a digital resource providing inspiration, education, and support to creative entrepreneurs and small business owners, which we do through our blog, workshops, conferences, and newly-launched membership app. The super cool thing about my career is that I actually interned for TSC starting fall of my senior year to work on digital media for our annual conference, The Southern C Summit, and help out with the event. I was then hired part-time to launch the membership program— a dream Cheri and our other co-founder Whitney had where the timing was just right for me to take membership and run with it. Now, I am gifted with taking it on full-time as I handle app management, communication with our members, newsletters, and the blog. The best part of my career is that it’s filled with purpose— coming alongside so many amazing women (+ a few men!) who are movers + shakers making a difference in their sphere of influence in the business world as we provide support and education and watch as our widespread community grows and cheers on one another! Collaboration + community over comparison + competition baby! Being a part of that is unparalleled and a total DREAM… Then for Bulldawg Illustrated I will be working alongside Vance selling ads to an incredible hosts of businesses who love the Dawgs while also working on the website, taking pictures at events, and assisting our interns. That’s a lot but all part of my new career with this IN-CRED-I-BLE team! I get the best of both worlds.
What was your biggest take away from UGA? The world is BIG, this campus is big, opportunities are everywhere, and I have so much to learn and do! Being at UGA, I left with the deep and profound belief that there truly is something here for everyone. UGA has a host of different clubs and activities, minors, certificates, literally all of the things, and the opportunities UGA provides for students to excel and to be challenged and supported are too many to count. Whatever your interests are, you can find somewhere at Georgia to showcase nurture, and expand those! There’s also a diverse student population of students from different backgrounds, races, countries, and with an array of interests, gifts, and abilities, which provides students a unique learning environment when you make the intentional decision to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and befriend people who are different than you. Doing that combined with all of the other opportunities at UGA, you will be able to learn and grow and excel in a number of different environments! While these are multiple takeaways, they all come together to form my key takeaway being that the world has a lot to offer, and I am the one who has the most impact on what I get out of the world based on how I interact and take hold of those opportunities, be it people, places, jobs, etc.
What was your favorite class at UGA? I’d have to say my freshman English 1102 class where we did a semester-long project called “Roots & Routes” studying our family history- our roots- and how they get us to where we are today and where we’re headed- our routes. My professor, Dr. Spenser Simrill, was so smart and creative and nurtured that creativity and thinking outside of the box for all of his students. He offered incredible perspective and had a deep love for teaching, research, family, and helping others brainstorm on their own. I kept up with him throughout all 4 years, and he still uses my final project as an example for his new classes. It also formed an even greater bond between my grandfather, Pop (UGA, BBA Economics ’67) and I as we had countless conversations over the phone and visits to dive deep into my family history and uncover some neat stories. He still shows my project to family and friends!
What is your favorite part about your career? The PEOPLE I get to work with— be it in the office, members on the app, or other women who are alums of our conference and part of our community. The people are the heartbeat of why I do what I do.
What are some of your hobbies? Since I was young, I’ve always been drawn to music, and I would tell you that I’ve been singing ever since I was able to hum a tune. My favorite hobbies are singing and playing guitar and piano. I love to do it for my own pleasure, but I find even greater joy entertaining others as a way to share what I love with people! I’ve sang all the way from my living room to school and church choir to sporting events (including UGA ones!) to a Pat Green concert to the Governor’s Inauguration and for a bride walking down the aisle and many places in-between. Other hobbies I enjoy are babysitting (it’s true— I ADORE kids and love that I get to have fun with them!), photography, and teaching swimming lessons.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens and what do you like to eat there? While most favorite is hard to put just one name to, I do love Trappeze and am always down for the turkey & swiss with their fries and rasberry ketchup. I’ll call in to-go frequently! You also can catch me at Last Resort Grill often.
Were you involved in Greek Life at UGA? If so, what was your favorite part about it? Yes, I was a Chi O and loved every bit of it! My favorite part about Greek Life at UGA was probably the support that I feel was prevalent throughout all of the sororities and fraternities in that everyone was in it together. From the support with the tragic passing of a member of Greek Life to support in raising money for Miracle or Relay or the like, everyone comes together to support one another in a unique and fun way. My favorite part about Chi O specifically was most definitely the diverse group of girls in our chapter, as I feel we had such a wide range of interests and ways of life represented, which was always fun and sweet to see how everyone got along in both their differences and similarities.
What did you do on a typical gameday in Athens? Gamedays in Athens have looked different over the years, as I’ve been going to games with my dad for a long time! In college, the typical gameday looked like walking with friends over to Sig Ep and making the long haul to the stadium to sit in the lower or Greek section and cheer on the dawgs all the way til the end. Sometimes this means switching seats and bopping around to other friends when people leave early. I don’t cop out before the clock runs out, even if a game stinks or is too hot! I remember standing in the pouring rain at the Alabama game freshman year until the very end, even when we were so far behind we knew we would never recover. After games, I usually headed with friends straight to a meal then we would go to someone’s dorm or house and hang out with friends the rest of the night, whether that be playing games, chatting, or watching other football games! And game day almost always included a meal with my family, as they have season tickets and my dad won’t come into town without seeing my sister and me and usually friends!
How has the transition from college life to the business world been? The transition has really not been a transition yet as I have been doing a lot of traveling and soaking up graduation season as I roll into work full-time, since I just graduated in May. The transition is made a lot easier thanks to how amazing and understanding Cheri + Whitney are and since I was already working with them before now. I’m more prepared and in the know than if I would’ve started out full-time being brand new.
Who would you consider your hero? Oooo… This one is even more tough! There are a lot of people in my life that I look up to and admire and who have had a profound impact on me, and there are other people I don’t know personally but they have impacted me. I’d have to go with my grandfather, Walter Todd, who passed away a few months before I was born. The way his life, love, and legacy live on have impacted my life and my family’s life in the sweetest and most fun ways. He was a man who never took life too seriously in terms of worry or stress but always grabbed it by the horns and went head-on into any opportunity, especially if it meant fun. He was all about making memories, caring for others, investing in his faith, and providing for his family. I’ve never heard anyone attribute wealth or fancy yet pointless accolades to him. Instead, anyone who speaks of him speaks to the way he carried himself, loved hard, took care of his family, hosted people in his home, made people laugh and brought life to everyone, and finished the race strong. He encouraged people to dream + create, to love + encourage. Even today, conversations about my grandfather are frequent, which says a lot as he passed 23 years ago! I would say he is my hero in terms of how I look to him and his example, which isn’t even experienced first-hand since I never got to meet him, on how to love family and hold them dear and truly care for the people around me, all while working hard and playing even harder. We’re all about fun in the Todd family!