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November 28, 2016   Columns Articles | Campus Closeups | Alumnus moves from driver’s seat to transit system…
Magnify McClary, Demarrio-h-env
Demarrio McClary's experience as a bus driver for Campus Transit inspired him to get a full-time job there after graduation. Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski

Alumnus moves from driver’s seat to transit system leadership

November 28, 2016
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FACTS

Demarrio McClary

Interim Operations Manager Campus Transit

  • Transportation and Parking Services
  • B.B.A., Finance, UGA, 2007
  • At UGA: Nine years

By Kat Khoury
kat@fastcopy.org

Demarrio McClary considers himself a "city explorer." The interim operations manager of UGA Campus Transit spends his workdays managing nearly 250 drivers and his time off walking the pavement of unfamiliar cities.

The UGA alumnus began driving buses as an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in finance in the Terry College of Business.

"I gained a lot of experience as a student driver, learning to balance school, social activities and work," he said. "I enjoy the challenge. It's a fast-paced, hectic environment out there with all the buses running around, but I've thoroughly enjoyed it."

McClary's experience as a driver—and being trusted to fill in as supervisor from time to time—motivated him to pursue a full-time job with Campus Transit after graduation and to take advantage of opportunities the university offers for career development. McClary moved from driver to supervising manager to being named interim operations manager in June.

Now, he pays that experience forward.

A favorite part of his job is mentoring student drivers, not just behind the wheel, but also helping them develop skills such as time management and responsibility to put them on the road to success.

"They're here obviously to get an education, and then part of that education is growing up and learning how to become an adult," he said.

Problem solving, both independently and as a team, is crucial in Campus Transit, McClary said. While drivers are in a solitary role and responsible for riders' safety, they also must act as a team to provide timely transportation.

McClary backs up his prowess as a driver in the annual UGA Campus Transit Roadeo. The competition, held in May, determines the best of the best bus drivers with a written exam, a staged pre-departure check and an obstacle course. About 10 obstacles test skills such as stopping close to an object without touching it, backing a bus into an alley and other difficult maneuvers with narrow dimensions.

McClary has won so many times that he has to stop and tip his head back to think for a moment.

"For our local Roadeo, I think it's four, and then I won one at the state level too," he said.

Working for UGA has provided ways for McClary to take on more leadership responsibilities and expand his professional skill set. The fixed transit routes he manages are similar in operation to those in a city, including the Athens Transit System, but he said working for UGA also presents an opportunity to network with other areas of campus. With the recent merger of UGA's parking services and transit system into Transportation and Parking Services, "we're learning more about other departments and building relationships," he said.

Finding time to relax is difficult when your daily routine is making sure riders reach their destinations on time, but when McClary does kick back, he doesn't exactly sit still. McClary enjoys spending his weekends exploring cities, recently traveling to New York, Seattle, Chicago and San Diego, just a few from the list he recounted. He hasn't tried out his passport but says he's hoping to do so soon.

And yes, he did visit the Transit Museum in New York.

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