July 5, 2015
Colton Fowlkes, who is graduating this summer with degrees in biology and psychology, is thankful for his “well-rounded college experience” at UGA. He served as Hairy Dawg, was involved with UGA Miracle and guided tours around campus. Next up: making people smile as a dental professional.
B.S. biology, B.S. psychology
University highlights, achievements and awards:
When I first left for college, my mom gave me great advice by telling me “you are the people you surround yourself with.” At the end of my college career, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I surrounded myself with exceptionally awesome people. My first few days of my freshman year I became involved with the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and immediately surrounded myself with a phenomenal group of guys who challenged me and stuck with me throughout the remainder of my college career.
One of my favorite parts of my college experience was the opportunity to learn from esteemed faculty members and take classes that were both stimulating and challenging; however, while I learned an extensive amount inside the classroom, I learned an immeasurable amount outside the classroom as well. During my first year of college, I knew that the one thing I wanted to do in college was become mascot, a continuation of my high school extracurricular activities. At the end of my freshman year, I tried out and received one of three spots as Hairy Dawg. Hairy Dawg will always be one of my fondest memories of college. From seeing Todd Gurley’s first touchdowns on the field to crowd-surfing at the SEC Championship game against Alabama to going to mascot camp and receiving All-American awards from UCA, Hairy Dawg was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
As I started my sophomore year, I decided to become involved in UGA Miracle, a philanthropy that raises money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. UGA Miracle changes and shapes lives every day, whether it’s the involved college students or the families and kids we have the honor of championing. Dance Marathon is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of hard work, fundraising, early mornings, long days and late nights by each of our 1,600 members. Luckily, I was able to serve on the morale committee, serve as a family pal for the James family, and serve on the 2014-2015 executive board my senior year as a member development co-chair. There honestly are no words that can accurately exemplify how inspirational, powerful or fun Dance Marathon is, and I cannot wait to see what the 2015-2016 executive board accomplishes.
Other highlights during my sophomore year involved being selected as an orientation leader for the UGA Class of 2017 and serving on the executive board for Sigma Phi Epsilon as the vice president of programming. As an orientation leader, I was able to make 11 lifelong friends and help welcome/acclimate the members of the Class of 2017 to their new Athens home throughout the 2013 summer. I was incredibly honored and appreciative to have had the opportunity to invest in these students and hopefully I made an impact on a few of them. As the vice president of programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon, I was in charge of planning social events and banquets such as our fraternity formal and our spring luau event. While serving in this position, I was even able to meet my favorite band, the Dirty Guv’nahs, and crowd-surfed during their performance on our front lawn, which will go down as the happiest moment of my entire life to date.
During the middle of my junior year, I became a tour guide for the University of Georgia Visitors Center, where I was able to lead groups of students and parents around our campus and tell them about what our university has to offer and how it has turned into my home. The Visitors Center is a unique place in that it is constantly filled with extraordinary individuals who don’t settle for anything less than spectacular. From our motivating and lively bosses to our eccentric tour guides to the spunky and sassy Ms. Tonya, the Visitors Center is correctly referred to as the happiest place on UGA’s campus. I’m glad I was able to influence some students to attend the University of Georgia and I’m thankful I was able to work at a place with remarkable people for a brief period of my college career.
From taking challenging upper-level science courses and preparing for applying to dental school to being involved with my extracurricular activities, my senior year was a very active year to say the least. But senior year also presented me with a noteworthy amount of affirmation. After being nominated by the Visitors Center, I was crowned Homecoming king during the fall semester, which justified to me that I had done college exceptionally well by surrounding myself with groups of people that supported me, challenged me and built me into the person I am today. At the end of it all, beyond the accolades, titles and numbers that college has to offer, the only things that will last are the memories and the people that made our experience so great. I’ve made the best friends throughout college who will be best men at my wedding, the aunts and uncles to my kids, the fellow professionals serving our state and country, and the reason I’ll always look forward to coming back to Athens (especially during football season).
I can’t imagine my college experience going any differently, and I thank God frequently for making it all happen the way that it did. I’m thankful that UGA and the people here helped me grow into the man that I will one day be, and I’m thankful that Athens was and always will be a place I can call home.
West Forsyth High School
I am currently working as a dental assistant for Dr. Chris Anderson in Marietta, Georgia.
Family Ties to UGA:
I will be the first graduate from the University of Georgia in my family. My grandfather was Georgia Tech’s track and field coach, so I bet he was pretty ecstatic when I decided to become a Bulldog.
I chose to attend UGA because...
... UGA has everything that a well-rounded college experience should have. UGA has a wide variety of undergraduate majors that earn a respected degree. Once I was accepted to the Honors Program and UGA was named a Public Ivy institution, I knew that I could earn a great education while still being involved on campus. There are hundreds of student organizations where students can customize their college experience, grow outside the classroom and give back to the Athens community. Simply put, everyone falls in love with the city of Athens; it’s a true college town that instantly captivates the heart of every Bulldog. Among all the countless benefits that UGA and Athens have to offer, I did not realize what I would love the most about college would be the best friends and family that I left college with. My fraternity brothers, my co-workers, my fellow Miracle makers, my orientees, my teachers, my advisers and my bosses — these are the people that made college the best four years of my life to date.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
… simply walking through it with people. Whether I am catching up with good friends over a cup of coffee, giving visitors a tour of UGA or just hanging out on Herty Field late at night, our historic campus is a pretty neat place to just spend time with people.
When I have free time, I like...
… to just be outside enjoying Athens with friends. From hanging out on the front yard of SigEp to going on runs around Athens to having good times at Terrapin to just hanging out at Redneck Beach, there’s always something fun to do outside in Athens.
The craziest thing I've done is...
… be a part of a group of students that raised over $683,000 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dance Marathon 2015 was the craziest, most hectic, happiest, most euphoric moment of my college career where we raised almost $100,000 in 24 hours. I was very lucky to have stumbled upon UGA Miracle during my college career, and I’m even luckier to have had the opportunity to foster lifelong friendships and support our amazing hospital.
My favorite place to study is...
… every Jittery Joe’s in the Athens area. From Five Points to the MLC to downtown Athens, I always find myself at a Jittery Joe’s cranking out some work.
My favorite professor is...
My college experience has been drastically impacted by three phenomenal teachers at this university. The first is Karl Espelie, who is my academic adviser. I never really understood how an adviser could make an impact in a student’s life until I met Dr. Espelie. Every time I walk into his office, whether it is for a recommendation letter or to get advised for the following semester, Dr. Espelie and I end up having an hour conversation about courses, life and my future steps. Dr. Espelie is a great example of a professor who truly cares and invests in the lives of each and every one of his students; I am merely one of thousands of students who Dr. Espelie has mentored exceptionally well. He gives all of his students the opportunity and knowledge to exceed beyond their undergraduate career, and I will never be able to adequately thank him for the investment he has made in my life.
Vikki Clawson (who is retiring this year) has changed so many lives on this campus through the course Leadership, Personal Development, and Organizations. She gave the resources and feedback to allow me to further define my purpose in life, my values, my emotional intelligence, my conflict resolution strategies and specifically how I lead. Through introspection, group discussion and collaborative team assignments, I learned countless leadership skills and lessons that I will carry with me throughout my professional career.
The last teacher I must mention is Eric Johnson, who is my boss at the UGA Visitors Center. While EJ is not a professor by definition, he is without a doubt a phenomenal teacher. I’ve learned more from EJ than I ever could inside an actual classroom about life and serving others to the best of my ability. He challenges us all to change the world, even if it is by just giving a college tour. The best part is that EJ actually equips us to change the world we live in. I have been very fortunate to have a boss who is as thoughtful, creative and wise as EJ, and I hope that one day I can be a fraction of the employer and man that he is.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
… Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake with my good friend Ryan Sichelstiel. Jimmy and Justin are two guys who had two very different dreams and worked relentlessly until each of their dreams became reality; yet, they still have enough time to joke around and not take themselves too seriously. Ryan and I try to emulate that in who we are and what we do, and I would love to have an afternoon to joke around and pick their brains about life.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
… provide dental care for all underserved children and adults who require it. While shadowing several dental professionals (general dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists) and having the opportunity to serve at Georgia Mission of Mercy, I’ve come to realize a lot of people simply cannot afford to adequately take care of their teeth. I would love to create another comparable large-scale dental clinic in Georgia so that thousands of more underserved individuals can receive free dental care.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
… stay in college forever. OK, so maybe I wouldn’t want to live off Bolton and Jittery Joe’s for the rest of my life. But seriously, as a college student, our sole job is to soak up knowledge from our textbooks, professors and the world around us. I know that a lot of students, including myself, can sometimes take our responsibility to learn for granted. If money was not a consideration, I would consistently take interesting classes (business, computer engineering, art, everything) so that I can continue to learn new information. I hope that I never lose the desire to constantly learn from others and remain humble enough to realize that I actually don’t know everything. But a good second option would be beach hopping around the world with my mom.
After graduation, I plan to...
… attend dental school and become a dental professional. Dentistry is the dream career for me; it’s a beautiful harmony between serving others and literally making people smile. I know that I want to selflessly dedicate myself to the people and state that have allowed me to call Georgia home. One day, I hope to open my own dental practice and regularly serve impoverished areas of Georgia. I would also love to go to underdeveloped areas throughout the world to provide them with dental care as well. However, there are still a fair amount of people who can’t afford dental care in our own backyard here in Georgia. I think some people tend to forget about that; I want to be a dentist who continually makes Georgians smile brighter.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
… the collection of incredible moments that have happened for me Between The Hedges. My first and last college football games in the front of Section 309. Being Hairy Dawg during the 2012-2013 season. When we (players and screaming fans together) stopped LSU on fourth down in the fourth quarter for the big win. Welcoming the Class of 2017 at Freshman Welcome (shout out to my Double Troubles). Being awarded Homecoming king thanks to all of my supportive friends and classmates that I’ve been with since my first day of college. Spelling “F-T-K” on the field with the most passionate and purpose-driven people on this campus during the 2015 UGA Miracle Dance Marathon. Sanford Stadium is so much more than a football field; it’s a classroom, it’s a war zone, it’s a home, it’s a church (because we all know football is a religion here in the South), it’s an icon that represents the best moments and memories of college for so many students.