A Strong Foundation

Author: Cal Powell

My parents didn’t set foot in Dawson Hall until my freshman orientation in June 2011.

I can’t imagine what they must have felt when they passed under Pou’s Pillars and through the double doors that very first time.

Did they know they were walking into the building where their only child would spend the majority of her time over the next four years, so much so that the building would feel almost as much like home as the one they provided her?

Were they aware the people they met would soon become their daughter’s second family?

I don’t know what was going through their minds that day, but I do know this: every single time after that, when I made that same walk under the Pillars and through the double doors, they were there somewhere, taking that first walk again with me.

Be it in my mind or on the other end of a phone call, their presence was always known.

That’s pretty much how it has been my entire life.

No matter what, my parents have always been my never-failing foundation. In both triumphs and failures, I have always known they are the people I can count on most to cheer me on or cheer me up.

That is why I didn’t expect any less when I called them after attending my first FACS Leadership retreat in the fall of my sophomore year and told them I wanted to set up a fund benefitting future students like me.

At the time it seemed like one of my far-away dreams, something I’d get to as a middle-aged alumna.

But for them, my dream was an opportunity to be supportive parents to not only their biological child, but to anyone benefitting from the fund in the future.

I was the lucky recipient of three FACS undergraduate academic scholarships and benefited from a number of other generous donor funds throughout my time in the college.

As a FACS Ambassador, I was fortunate to attend the FACS Leadership Retreat for three years, where we learned just how important private giving is to the college.

While every single one of these scholarships and donations helped make my four years at the University of Georgia possible, the one scholarship that impacted me the most was the last one I received as a student.

Julia Ann Simpson Elliott was a graduate of the College of Home Economics. She loved the college and she loved the Dawgs.

As an only child of a farmer from my hometown of Moultrie, she was raised to be strong and independent, much like my parents raised me to be.

Mrs. Julia Ann passed away before she was able to see me become the first recipient of the scholarship given in her memory by her family, but I like to think if she could have been there that day, she would have been extremely proud.

Her legacy, like those of many other donors and donor families, lives on through the lives of scholarship recipients like me.

When I asked my parents why they wanted to give, and why they wanted to do it now, they both immediately responded with the same answer. “FACS turned you into the person you are today. We loved watching you grow there and benefit from donors like the Elliott family, and we can’t wait to be able to do the same for countless other students in the future.”

My four years in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible.

Without the support of my parents, my time in Dawson Hall, and the student leadership fund given in my name, would not be possible.

Since I can’t begin to thank them for everything they have done for me, it’s my sincere hope that they are able to see future generations of students benefit from their generous support like I have.

I hope, for now, that can serve as thanks enough.

The Ivy Odom Endowment for Student Leadership

Established 2017 by Wayne and Sabrina Odom


To provide support for student leadership activities at the college, with a preference to support the FACS Ambassadors and their mission to “represent our fellow students, facilitate relationships and impact Athens and the UGA community through intentional service.”