The University of Georgia
Tonn, Eric

UGA's Amazing Students

Eric Tonn

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December 28, 2009

When Eric Tonn graduated from high school in Madison, Ala., he pushed the college selection process to new heights by visiting 23 different colleges looking for exactly the right environment to further his education. After what he calls “major decision angst,” Tonn chose UGA. The deciding factor was UGA’s combination of academics, social life, football and weather. Tonn’s initial interest in political science led to an opportunity to contribute an essay to the summer ‘06 issue of The Monitor, a quarterly report published by UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security. He later decided to major in business, and became a Terry College SGA senator and a recipient of Terry’s Institute for Leadership Advancement’s LEAD Program certificate. He is also a member of Blue Key. In April, he was one of two UGA students to attend the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society conference in San Diego. Last summer, he participated in Terry’s ongoing ILA study-abroad program in Tanzania, returning home in time to intern with insurance giant Marsh in Atlanta before classes started last August. Upon graduation, he is considering entering the risk management and insurance industry in Atlanta or Houston or possibly working as an unpaid apprentice at a vineyard in New Zealand.

Expected graduation:

May 2009

Degree objective:

B.B.A. risk management/insurance and a B.B.A. in real estate

University highlights, achievements and awards:

The highlight of my college experience was, hands down, the three and a half weeks that I spent during May 2008 playing in Tanzania, East Africa. I traveled with twelve other students and two faculty members, meeting locals, business leaders and politicians. We also experienced a real African safari, taking pictures of rhinos, cheetahs, lions, giraffes and countless other animals. As cliche as it sounds, it was truly a life-changing event. My Tanzania Maymester was sponsored by Terry College’s Institute for Leadership Advancement, through which I have completed a certificate in personal leadership. I also had the privilege of serving as an Orientation Leader in the summer of 2007 and have been a member of the Georgia Recruitment Team since early sophomore year. This past year, I also joined the Student Government Association as a senator for the Terry College of Business. To date, we are in the process of completing two of our largest platform projects: establishing a Terry undergraduate newsletter and beginning a freshman seminar directed toward business-minded students who want to know “the real deal” about working in today’s business world. I also interned at Marsh USA - a major global commercial insurance broker - in Atlanta during summer 2008. Finally, after the summer of my freshman year, I became a published author when my policy proposal in support of admitting China into the Group of 8 economic powers was selected by the Center for International Trade & Security’s online publication The Monitor.

Hometown:

Madison, Alabama

High School:

Bob Jones High School

Current Employment:

Currently, I am a tour guide at the UGA Visitors Center. I basically get paid to tell prospective students just how much and why I love the University of Georgia, answering phone calls and guiding campus tours.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...of more reasons than I could effectively count. I visited 23 universities in my college search and eventually came to realize that I felt at home on UGA’s campus from the first footstep that I took. I loved the Honors College, the Terry College, the SEC football atmosphere, the weather and the people. But the final straw came when my dad and I saw the Dave Matthews Cover Band downtown at the Georgia Theater, finally convincing me that I would, above all, have a great time attending UGA.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

...tailgate at the “X” in front of the Main Library, take pictures of North Campus in the fall, play tennis at the Intramural Fields, ring the Chapel Bell, play ultimate Frisbee on Myers Quad and spend too much time on Facebook in the Miller Learning Center.

When I have free time, I like...

...to play my guitar on my porch. I’ve had the same acoustic guitar since the middle of high school (I’d love to get a replacement and am gladly taking donations at this time), and it’s seen me through the ups and downs of my recent few years. I’ve also recently rediscovered my love for pleasure reading.

The craziest thing I've done is...

...get stranded in the Indian Ocean half a mile from the Zanzibar shore with a terrifying storm bearing down on me. Six of us on my Tanzania trip decided to brave the waves and the carpet of sea urchins to try to wade out to the breakers about a mile offshore. Almost two hours and numerous urchin spines later, we abandoned our goal, ultimately hitching a boat ride with a few local fishermen back to shore.

My favorite place to study is...

...the Miller Learning Center. I naturally gravitate toward group learning situations and study groups, and there’s really no other place to do that besides the MLC. Besides, if I don’t want to get any serious studying accomplished, I can always find people to socialize with instead.

My favorite professor is...

...Dale Gauthreaux, the head of the Institute for Leadership Advancement. He was a champ in Africa, leading our group through the heat, the sweat, the mosquitoes and the rice paddies. He was the most engaging and interactive professor I’ve ever had in a classroom setting. And he takes the time to genuinely get to know every single one of his students. But above all he stands as a role model for all people on UGA’s campus and specifically as a representative for the male leaders around campus.

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

...Barack Obama. I would have answered this same way two or three years ago as well, before he even declared his intentions for the Presidency of the United States. I first read his book “The Audacity of Hope” as a simple matter of curiosity and was immediately hooked. I’ve followed him from that point in his career until the present, and I’d love to pick his brain about his background, his emotions toward being finally elected and his intentions for our future.

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

...start a band. My friends and I tried to do this several times in high school, but we eventually gave up because we couldn’t find a reliable lead singer. I’ve played for several open mic nights and talent shows through the years, even writing some of my own music in my free time, but I haven’t acted on this desire during my college career.

After graduation, I plan to...

...follow my heart wherever it leads. I’m currently weighing several different options, from entering the Risk Management & Insurance industry in San Francisco to working as an unpaid apprentice at a vineyard in New Zealand. With the economy in its current state, the idea of traveling and/or waiting out the cycle in another country is becoming more and more attractive.

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

...crying on the shoulder of an unknown Georgia fan during the second half of the 2007 Florida game in Jacksonville. My ticket was nowhere near any of my friends, but I made fast friends with those around me. When we sensed that the Dawgs would pull off the win, we all let our emotions loose. I’m also mildly embarrassed about this incident, but if there was ever an occasion for some masculine tears, that was it.