The University of Georgia
Olmsted, Christian

UGA's Amazing Students

Christian Olmsted


December 13, 2009

Senior Christian Olmstead has made a career as an electrician, but when an accident left him disabled he started thinking differently about the ways he could use his skills to help others. He endured more than two dozen surgeries and finally completed his associate’s degree at Athens Technical College. While there, one of his professors suggested that he consider a career in education. Fortunately for Christian, one of the best colleges of education in the country is at the University of Georgia. He transferred in and is now completing his bachelor’s degree in technology education. After graduation this fall, he plans to become a high school teacher and then possibly return to graduate school so he can teach at the college level.

Degree objective:

B.S.Ed. in Technology Education

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I was on the Dean's List Fall 2007 and received the Philip Gray Technology Scholarship in Education during Spring 2008.


Williamsport, Pa.

High School:

State College High School

Current Employment:

I am a state-licensed electrician, and I also continue to do some repair of electronic equipment—mainly musical equipment. On a daily basis, I work with a crew of five or fewer people to do all kinds of residential electrical work, from setting up electrical systems in new apartments to rewiring old houses to fixing problems with existing electrical systems. I have no idea what the average day consists of, but it’s always fun and often hard work.

Family Ties to UGA:

My wife, Nicki Hendrix, has an undergraduate degree in history, works for UGA, and is pursuing a grad degree in historic preservation. We have been in Athens since 1994.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...I had a catastrophic accident and became disabled while starting my associates degree. I went through roughly two dozen surgeries while I was enrolled at Athens Tech, and took classes as I was able to do so with a lot of assistance from the staff there. One of my instructors told me she thought I was meant to be a teacher, and I also realized that I was drawn to the academic side of the technical subjects I was studying. UGA has a great College of Education and a fantastic Technology Education program. I knew from the start of my first class that I would be able to become a teacher while building on my technical skills at UGA. Also, since I’m a non-traditional student, UGA’s tuition was a factor. I was eligible for a few semesters of the HOPE scholarship, but was also glad to see what a bargain UGA’s tuition was.

My favorite things to do on campus are... play racquetball with the UGA Racquetball Club at the Ramsey Center and in tournaments, study in the Science Library, and tailgate in the Founder’s Garden.

When I have free time, I like...

Honestly, I don’t have much! What I do have is split between taking care of and playing with all the animals my wife and I have (cats, dogs, horses, chickens), playing in my band, hiking, rollerblading, and in general taking advantage of all the great food and entertainment in Athens.

The craziest thing I've done is...

...agreed to do a 12-mile hike to a campsite on Cumberland Island after a park ranger assured my wife and I that we could do it. Since we started off around 4 p.m., we hiked well into the night, and since it was 12 miles we were so sore that we slept the whole next day. Twelve miles is a long way with a 50-lb. pack on your back.

My favorite place to study is...

...the Science Library. It has all the resources I need to do research in the sciences, and I can always find a quiet place to study or finish a paper. Plus, how many libraries allow you to hang out with a ground sloth?

My favorite professor is...

...Robert Wicklein, who is the head of my program as well as my advisor. Dr. Wicklein is also part of the Faculty of Engineering, and so he has always been able to understand my background and help me find perspective on my educational process.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

...Nikola Tesla, who made many contributions to our understanding of electrical and electromagnetic science. He died impoverished and regarded as a mad scientist, but I’d love to talk with him about the theories that led to technology such as the radio.

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

...go skydiving.

After graduation, I plan to...

...become a teacher. Right now, I assume that I will become a high school teacher in technology education, and I look forward to getting into a classroom where I can use what I’ve learned to teach others. Eventually I might go to grad school, either to teach at the college level or to pursue technology-related research.

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

...receiving my acceptance letter! I think I showed it to everyone!