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February 21, 2005   Columns Articles | Campus Closeups | Jamie Johnson
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Before coming to work in UGA's Alumni Association this past fall, Jamie Johnson was an adjunct professor of African-American Studies at the University of Florida. Photo by Peter Frey

Jamie Johnson

Sue Myers Smith

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By Sue Myers Smith | February 21, 2005
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JAMIE JOHNSON

Minority Alumni Relations Coordinator

Alumni Association

 

JOB DESCRIPTION: "In a nutshell, I engage, acknowledge and inform alumni of color about campus activities and community events, as well as coordinate events for alumni. 

"I organized a Multicultural Alumni Conference the first weekend in February, and we had a pre-game reception in December before the UGA vs. Alabama A & M basketball game. In November we had an alumni gathering in Atlanta at a jazz café, and in October we had a student and alumni event with the alumni moderating as discussion leaders. I wanted to hear what students wanted from the Alumni Association and from our alumni, and I wanted to let the alumni hear those things first-hand from our students. One of the things that kept coming up was that students wanted more networking opportunities, so we had an alumni-student networking session at the Multicultural Alumni ­Conference.

"Currently I am trying to form a minority alumni steering committee. I've done a lot of work, but I need help to take it to the next level-help to generate more ideas, to help decide what other events need to occur and so on. I need to know how the Alumni Association can get plugged into the Athens and greater Atlanta communities, and how we can connect with more alumni of color. I need alumni support-I would like people who are interested in being on the committee to contact the Alumni Association."

TIME IN CURRENT POSITION: "I started in September 2004. My position is funded by a Council for Advancement and Support of Education fellowship. CASE is the professional organization that oversees professions in fund raising, communications and alumni relations. They put out the one-year Jupiter Fellowship to help diversify the profession. I wanted to learn about higher education advancement, so this was a great way for me to step into a new career."

MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB: "The first was starting this position, which didn't exist before I came here. Before I came, there were some focus groups done with black alumni in particular, and I learned a little bit about what those alumni wanted in terms of events and programs, so I did have some information to go on. But I can't please everybody. Alumni have different interests and hold different values.

"Another is dealing with my own impatience and limitations. I have limited funds, a limited time to be here and a limited knowledge of what I should be doing and who I should be talking to."

PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCES: "Well, I've been a free spirit. Right before coming here, I was an adjunct professor of African-American Studies at the University of Florida. I was also a program coordinator at UF and was a museum curator in Florida. Before Florida, I was a home health aide worker in Boulder, Colo. I was also studying Buddhist psychology and dancing with an African dance troupe."

IF I WASN'T DOING THIS JOB, I WOULD MOST LIKE TO: "I would like to learn about holistic health practices, fitness, well-being and meditative practices. I would definitely like to get more physically active. Part of my dream is also to have a couple of babies, and to learn how to make aromatherapy products to sell at a farmer's market."

A BOOK I'D RECOMMEND TO OTHERS: "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk.

"It's a great book that teaches you that to be of service, you really have to appreciate yourself first. You have to take care of yourself before you can be of service to others, and it's necessary to give of yourself selflessly in order to be a true warrior." 

FAVORITE MUSIC: "I like jazz and classic rock, especially ­Coltrane and Led Zeppelin."

THE PEOPLE I MOST ADMIRE: "My parents, Minnie and James Johnson. My mother's strong-willed, straightforward and very creative. She just finished a book on black women golfers. She's been golfing for a long time-she's a firecracker. 

"My father's one of the few people I've known who really loved his work. He was a chemist-he's now retired, but if you talk to him about anything, eventually you are talking about chemistry. He loved what he did so much that it's a part of him, and I respect that. They are both retired and now live in South Carolina, but they're still kicking about."

ISSUES THAT CONCERN ME MOST ABOUT TODAY'S WORLD: "One is violence-I'm concerned that people are becoming too desensitized to violence, and they don't feel the hurt that they inflict on others or themselves. The other is materialism-that people are getting so wrapped up in things like cell phones and cars that they are really not paying attention to humanity or the environment that surrounds them. As a result we have destruction, and we're not relating to each other as we should be."

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