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Seven College alumni named to UGA’s 2023 40 Under 40 Class

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Alumni,   Kudos,   Spotlight

Seven alumni of the Mary Frances Early College of Education were recently named to the University of Georgia’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2023. The program celebrates the personal, professional, and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.

This year, the College’s honorees are Tiffany Barney (B.S.Ed. ’09, M.S. ’10, M.A.T. ’15, Ph.D. ’17, M.Ed. ’18), Collier Collier (A.B. ’10, B.S.Ed. ’10), Ray Fulcher (B.S.Ed. ’08, M.Ed. ’10), Lawrence Harris (B.S. ’12, Ph.D. ’21), R. Allen Ligon Jr. (B.S.Ed. ’08), Delishia Pittman (Ph.D. ’12), and Fernando Velasco (B.S.Ed. ’08).

All honorees exemplify leadership in their industries and communities and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice, and moderation. The Class of 2023 will be recognized during the 13th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on campus this fall.

Tiffany Barney headshot

Barney, who serves as director of the Cobb Innovation and Technology Academy in the Cobb County School District, has seven degrees in total with five of them from UGA’s Mary Frances Early College of Education.

Her degrees range from kinesiology and workforce education to mathematics education and exercise and sport science. After working as an athletic trainer for several years, Barney transitioned into education to combine her love for sports medicine with her passion for education. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and participates in a host of community service initiatives.

“As an educator, you always wonder if you are doing enough,” said Barney. “Am I doing enough for the teachers that I serve? Am I doing enough for the students that we are entrusted to support? Am I doing enough to truly make a difference? Being named one of UGA’s 40 Under 40 was validation. It was a moment in time where I stopped questioning the impact that I have had. It reminded me that I am truly making a difference. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of this class.”

Collier Collier headshot

Collier received her bachelor’s degree in social studies education and is the director of state board operations for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). Prior to joining TCSG, she served as director of operations and constituent services in the Office of Governor Nathan Deal. During this time, she also worked as Deal’s education policy advisor and policy and legislative affairs coordinator.

“Being a member of UGA 40 Under 40 is a huge honor,” said Collier. “When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work. Staying involved with UGA through the Young Alumni Leadership Council has been so rewarding, and I would encourage everyone to stay involved and give back to the best university in the world.”

Ray Fulcher headshot

Fulcher, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Education, is an award-winning artist and songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee. After graduating from UGA, he pursued his dream of country music and eventually signed a writing deal with Riverhouse Artists in 2016. Since then, Fulcher has written five number one songs on the country music airplay chart and has signed with Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville and Black River Records.

In partnership with the Music Health Alliance, Fulcher established the Pretty Good Ball fund, which helps musicians obtain access to mental health services, including counseling, therapy, and screenings. Additionally, he plays at charity events throughout the year to help raise money for nonprofit organizations.

Lawrence Harris headshot

Harris, who received his master’s degree in educational administration and policy, is the chief impact officer of KIPP Metro Atlanta Public Schools. He started his career in education as a college counselor before becoming the chief executive officer of the Athens Community Career Academy in 2015. In 2019, he was promoted to assistant superintendent with the official title chief of community engagement and strategic partnerships.

“For me, being named to UGA’s 40 Under 40 symbolizes the power of determination and the importance of having a strong and supportive circle,” said Harris. “It’s a testament to my unwavering commitment, resilience, and passion for making a difference in our community. This accolade emboldens me to keep pushing beyond boundaries, embrace challenges, and believe in the possibilities ahead. I’m inspired to continue to strive for excellence, uplift others, and leave a lasting impact on our youth and the world.”

Ligon Jr. headshot

Ligon Jr. is a pediatric and adult congenital interventional cardiologist at the Children’s Heathcare of Atlanta Cardiology. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science, Ligon Jr. attended medical school and completed sub-specialty fellowships in pediatric cardiology, congenital interventional cardiology, and adult congenital heart disease.

“I am incredibly humbled by this honor,” said Ligon Jr. “I am blessed to have numerous people who have supported and mentored me in every step of my personal and professional life. I’ll always be so proud of being a Dawg and grateful for spending four very formative years of my life in Athens. There is no doubt that it made a massive impact on where I am today.”

Delishia Pittman headshot

Pittman received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the College and currently serves as an associate professor at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. During her decade-long academic career, she helped shape the future of mental health service delivery by increasing the number of clinicians equipped to provide culturally sensitive and responsive care to members of global communities.

“The University of Georgia holds a very special place in my heart,” said Pittman. “But more than that, UGA was in many ways a launching place for much of the professional success I’ve enjoyed over the past 10 years, and to have my work honored in this way is humbling. To be joining the ranks of such a distinguished and accomplished group will certainly be a personal and professional highlight for many years to come.”

Fernando Velasco headshot

Velasco received his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from the College and is currently the director of player engagement for the Atlanta Falcons. During his time at UGA, he was a member of the football team and, after graduation, played professional football for several teams, including the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Carolina Panthers, and the Buffalo Bills.

“Being selected for UGA’s 40 Under 40 is an immense honor that leaves me both humbled and grateful,” said Velasco. “This recognition represents the culmination of my growth and development at UGA, which has shaped me holistically. I am thankful for the invaluable experiences and education provided by this esteemed institution, as they have played a pivotal role in preparing me for success in my career and personal life.”

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