Each year as a new group of freshmen shows up for the first day of class at the University of Georgia, I’m reminded of all the students who have crossed our path and now make up the rich fabric of our strong agricultural economy. Our graduates can be found in boardrooms and on ball fields, in legislatures and laboratories, classrooms, cow pastures and cotton fields all over the world.
I expect these freshmen will graduate from UGA and go on to great things, especially if their academic success thus far is any indictor. This year’s freshman class is the most academically qualified in the school’s 228-year history.
This UGA freshman class has the highest GPA and SAT averages on record for entering freshmen. UGA’s strong retention and graduation rates, among the highest in the nation at 82 percent, signal these freshmen are well on their way to successful careers.
For the past 13 years, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has set new enrollment records. The trend is echoing across colleges of agriculture at land-grant universities nationwide. More students are coming to our college because the opportunities here are stellar.
Georgia agriculture has nearly twice as many jobs available as we have college graduates to fill them. Basic economics tells us high demand met with low supply will reap high prices. Our students have some of the highest placement rates and highest starting salaries of all UGA colleges.
Part of that successful employment rate comes from meeting the right people along the way.
Lucy Branch Reid followed her path from a peanut farm in Mitchell County to Athens, after being an active Georgia 4-H’er. Along the way she met faculty mentors from the college of agriculture who influenced her decision to study food science. Today she is director of scientific and regulatory affairs for Coca-Cola Refreshments.
Working with UGA’s world-renowned turfgrass experts helped 2002 graduate Clint Tolbert land his dream job in paradise. Everyday he wakes up to a Hawaiian sunrise over the golf course he manages because those experts helped him gain specialized knowledge of island-friendly turf.
Whether this freshman class follows a path to their field of dreams on a golf course or on a family farm, opportunity abounds in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The excellence and high standard these students set assure us the future is a bright. Welcome to class.