It has taken Mary Ard ten years to finish her bachelor’s degree. It’s not because she lacks ambition though. In fact, Ard is a 23 year employee of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine who decided more than a decade ago that she really wanted to complete her undergraduate education. Taking one course per semester, she has steadfastly worked towards her goal, while at the same time putting in 40-50 hour weeks as an electron microscopy technician and working as a wife and mother. Taking advantage of UGA’s Tuition Assistance Program for employees, she never once cut back on work, but carried out her studies in addition to her regular commitment to UGA. Now only one course away from graduating in December 2008, she is one of the last enrolled students remaining from the time when UGA was on the quarter system. This graduation will be a monumental achievement for Ard, but she is already considering graduate school.
Kingsway Regional High School
B.S. in biology
A.A.S., Camden County College (Blackwood, N.J.)
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
My main achievement will be sticking with my studies and persevering until I graduate. My university highlights are mostly related to my work as an employee at UGA. I received an “employee of the quarter” award back in 2000 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and I have received service awards for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of service as an employee at UGA. I am also board certified as a Histology Technician by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists
I work in the Electron Microscopy Laboratory in the Department of Pathology at the College of Veterinary Medicine. I am the EM Lab Coordinator and much of what I do is technical and collaborative in nature. I do all the benchwork that is needed to produce a quality sample to be viewed under two types of electron microscopes. I also collaborate with graduate students and faculty who are doing research projects and assist with any instruction needed to use any of the equipment in the EM Lab.
Family Ties to UGA:
I do not have any family ties to UGA. I wish I did, however. I have fallen in love with working here on campus over the years. It is somewhat like being part of a family in a sense. Maybe I can start the family ties here for the future…
I chose to attend UGA because…
...I am able to take advantage of the Tuition Assistance Program, a supplemental educational assistance program for University System of Georgia employees. Additionally, UGA offers me a unique opportunity to gain both academic knowledge and life experiences.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
...attending the different sports events, especially football, gymnastics, basketball, and baseball. I also like to eat at the different venues that are available on campus. The food is great! Hats off to UGA Food Services!
When I have free time, I like…
...relaxing with a good book, a logic problems magazine, or a good video game! I do like to garden when I have a lot more free time to devote to it, and I enjoy camping with my husband and two sons.
The craziest thing I've done is…
...decide to marry a Navy petty officer and move to Florida where his ship was stationed. If you knew how conservative I am, yes, you would think that was crazy! I never thought I would leave the state of New Jersey, but I did, and I have not regretted the life that I have lived as a result of my decision.
My favorite place to study is…
...on one of the black iron benches under the large shade trees near the Science Library. It is peaceful and it is easy to focus on my reading or studying. If I have a cup of coffee with me (especially Jittery Joe’s Turtle Mocha), I am good to go! If the weather does not permit me to hang out there, I like to go to the fourth floor of the Science Library and study by one of the windows because it is also very peaceful.
My favorite professor is…
...Charles Mims. I took two of his classes, “Fungi Friends and Foes” and “Introductory Mycology.” He has the personality to make a class interesting even when discussing the life cycles of fungi! He is quite knowledgeable in the field of mycology, and he is a humble man in light of his notoriety. He has a dry sense of humor, and he makes an effort to want to get to know who you are. He has retired, and I miss seeing him on campus.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
...my great grandmother, Alice Moore. I had a lot of respect and love for her in my early childhood, and I was deeply sorry to see her pass away before she had a chance to see me grow up. I would like to know what she thinks about how I spent my growing-up years. I would also like to gain some insight as to how to handle the future growing older. She was a wonderful grandmother, and I felt she was a saint in her own right.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
...try to rid this nation of so much poverty and homelessness. I would like to counsel those people that want to make something out of their lives and try to make it happen for them, whether it be finding a job, affording a decent home, or getting food for their families. It hurts me to know that there are adults and children that do not have the basic necessities in our own communities across this nation.
After graduation, I plan to…
...continue working at UGA. I really love what I do - electron microscopy. I would also like to go to graduate school and begin by getting a master’s degree. The ultimate goal would be to get a Ph.D., however, at the rate I am currently going, I may be quite old by the time I am doing my research!
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
..the paratroopers that came down out of the sky at one of the night football games in Sanford Stadium two years ago. I had tears in my eyes and a thrill in my chest as I saw the paratroopers with their huge parachutes coming down into the light, one at a time, landing in the center of the football field. That was an awesome feeling to see the last two come in! One came in with the UGA flag, and the last one came in with the American flag. The roar of the crowd in response was deafening!