The University of Georgia
Clay, Henry, Ryle

UGA's Amazing Students

Henry (Hank) Ryle Clay

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February 27, 2007

Hank Clay works for change. He has been awarded the Bachelor of Social Work program’s Student of the Year Award and was awarded the 2007 Athens Rotary Club Rotaract Student Service Award. He graduated with a dual major from UGA as an undergraduate and is now pursuing master’s degrees in social work and public administration. He is an outstanding leader and go-getter, always willing to help out. He is committed to social work, his education and the betterment of humankind. He has been the undergraduate student president in the School of Social Work, and he worked this summer on a research project where he traveled to Stillmore, Ga. to research how an immigration raid on a chicken processing plant there affected the local community. He also works at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. After graduation, he plans a career where he can influence public policy and debate and work for social justice.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2009

Degree objective:

Master of Social Work with a certificate in nonprofit organizations, and a Master of Public Administration with a specialty in public policy

University highlights, achievements and awards:

During my time at UGA I have had several opportunities to serve my fellow students, the university, and the greater Athens area. Currently, I represent all the social work graduate students in the state of Georgia in the National Association of Social Workers professional organization. Additionally, I help in the School of Social Work with the recruitment of undergraduate social workers. I am currently working with Judge David Sweat to develop a mental health court in Athens-Clarke County. In this role, I have been traveling across the state conducting field research about the eight existing mental health courts in Georgia. Last year, I received the Rotaract Service Award for the School of Social Work, was the outstanding undergraduate social worker of the year, and I was a member of Phi Alpha Honorary Society. I was president of the UGA undergraduate social work student body, and represented those students on the grievance committee and the technology committee. This past summer, I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Russell-Roosevelt Public Policy Institute. I have interned in a U.S. Senator’s office and as the case manager at a local homeless shelter. In the Athens community, I served on two committees for Partners for a Prosperous Athens—the service providers committee and the traditional economics sub-committee. After the death of Rosa Parks, I was on a panel remembering her life and discussing race relations at the University of Georgia.

Hometown:

Young Harris, Georgia

High School:

Towns County High School

Current Employment:

I work as a night staffer at Athens Area Homeless Shelter. My job allows me to serve the residents of the shelter by applying the skills I have learned in the School of Social Work. Throughout each 15 hour shift, I have duties that range from coordinating volunteer activities and facilitating emergency intakes to making emergency referrals and conducting resident meetings. My work with the 22 women and children at the homeless shelter has enabled me to speak about issues of poverty with a stronger and more effective voice.

Family Ties to UGA:

Although I have a cousin, an aunt, and three uncles that attended UGA, my decision to enroll at UGA was controversial because my grandfather and uncle went to Georgia Tech. Nevertheless, once I signed my acceptance letter to UGA, I became deeply devoted to this great institution.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...of the academic strengths of my programs, the expansive resources of the university and the incredible music scene in Athens. I like that I have the opportunity to concurrently complete a M.S.W. with my M.P.A. In addition to the academic reputation of these departments, UGA offers countless resources for students. For example, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies offers access to primary data sources from all the major politicians in Georgia as well as audiovisual material from the Civil Rights Movement. To balance the academic life of UGA, I love to watch live music at the Caledonia Lounge or the 40 Watt. The beauty of the Athens music scene is that it is simple to find great local acts as well as big stars.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

...meet my (brand-new) fiancée, Hayley, on the lawns of North Campus to have a picnic. On Wednesday nights, I love to worship at the Wesley Foundation where I have grown in my spiritual life. Additionally, I enjoy attending the dinners that University Round Table holds. URT is an organization that aims to create an intellectually stimulating environment for discussion, debate, and education on contemporary issues.

When I have free time, I like...

...to play tennis, read, listen to music, hike, mountain or road bike, backpack, play racquetball, swim in waterfalls and cross-country ski.

The craziest thing I've done is...

...go polar bear swimming in the January waters off of the Maine Coast. In a moment of spontaneity, my best friend Nathan and I looked at each other as we arrived at the snow-banked shoreline and started running toward the water. We were stripping our winter coats off as we ran to the water. When we hit the frigid waves our hearts sped to a ferocious pace, and all of the air left in our lungs rushed out of our bodies. The peaceful January air was pierced by the two shrillest screams that coast had ever heard.

My favorite place to study is...

...the basement of the Main Library. Although I love the Student Learning Center for social reasons, the Main Library really encourages studying. With the wireless card turned off on my computer, I am not tempted to procrastinate, and I can more easily write my papers.

My favorite professor is...

...Larry Nackerud. He has an unparalleled ability relate policy material in a way that engages the most micro-focused students. He also shares his wisdom and research experience with students interested in furthering their academic careers. In spite of his many career accomplishments, Dr. Nackerud is the most humble man I have ever met.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

...create a society built around social justice that is based upon the philosophical writings of John Rawls. In his writings, Rawls presented the idea of a “veil of ignorance” which says that a just and democratic society is only created when none of the creators know his or her place in society. Therefore, if a person does not know if he or she will be an immigrant migrant worker or a chief executive officer then he or she will create a society that is just to both of them.

After graduation, I plan to...

...advocate for issues of social justice at every level. Immediately after graduation, I plan on applying to be a Presidential Management Fellow, but there are also many other options with degrees in public administration and social work. Eventually, I want to engage in public policy analysis and development either as an elected politician, an academic, or through a fellowship at a think tank.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

...when I traveled with the UGA Wesley Foundation to Los Angeles to work with inner-city people experiencing homelessness. We were able to setup portable soup kitchen lines in the downtown L.A. area that has been termed “skid row.” We were warned to wear tennis shoes instead of sandals in fear that we might step on a crack pipe or needle, but I don’t remember those issues as much as I remember the feeling of connectedness to the people I was serving.