Amazing Students

Rikerrious Geter

Rikerrious Geter, a senior in landscape architecture, knows all about hard work, and how that hard work can pay off. The recipient of several scholarships, he has truly become an ambassador for his chosen profession.

Hometown:

Royston, Ga.

High School:

Franklin County High School

Degree objective:

B.L.A.

Other degrees:

Computer drafting and design A.A.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

Now that I’m a senior at the University of Georgia, I can smile when I look back and remember all the struggles and adverse situations that almost made me drop out of college. I now know that my academic and personal progress can be attributed to overcoming many difficult situations. Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” I believe this quote sums up my story and am thankful for where those lessons have brought me so far. I would like to thank one of my favorite professors, Douglas Pardue, for helping me not forget this quote.

I’ve always been called a hard worker by professors and peers once they learned I worked 30 to 40 hours a week to finance my way through college for two years. Thankfully, I’ve been awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows scholarship, The Garden Club of Georgia scholarship, a Peachtree Garden Club scholarship, the College of Environment and Design Scholarship and lastly the Neel Reid Memorial and Ty Cobb Scholarships on multiple occasions.

Not only did these scholarships lessen the financial burden of tuition, they allowed me the opportunity to become more involved with my college. Over the course of my college career I have been fortunate to serve as a College of Environment and Design student ambassador for consecutive years. Other CED ambassadors and I serve as advocates for the importance of landscape architecture within the community and on campus, and assist our college with many events for incoming freshmen such as “Freshman First Look.” One of my favorite memories from being an ambassador was working career fairs and being able to correct an assumption many students make that a landscape architect was someone who only mows lawns and planted vegetation. In actuality, we have a much more complex discipline: We are stewards of the natural and built environments, and our day-to-day jobs are creating, designing and building community from the synthesis of lots of overlapping complex data. No, mowing lawns doesn’t fit in that description.

In addition, I’m the current president of Georgia Students of Landscape Architecture where our mission is to network and learn together through guest speakers and workshops, and to apply our new knowledge throughout our community. For example, we participated in PARK(ing) Day, a national annual event that draws attention to design in urban areas. GSLA participated in PARK(ing) Day this year in downtown Athens, which is where we transformed three metered parking spaces into temporary park-like spaces to bring awareness to how public space could and should be used. Our installation was nationally recognized and given top student prize for our design (great job team). GSLA keeps me extremely busy, from having weekly officer meetings to monthly socials with different professionals, to coordinating with firms to schedule Shadow Week, which is when students get to follow landscape architects around for the day, to helping the state chapter of ASLA coordinate its annual golf tournament that traditionally raises money for CED scholarships and GSLA, and lastly to contacting 40-plus firms and 20 more professionals to participate in our college’s annual portfolio review and career fair, I think it’s accurate to say my leadership role keeps me fairly busy, on top of our rigorous program.

The single greatest highlight of my college career happened this past summer when I was able to drive across the country to southern California to intern in landscape architecture. This internship reminded me that I chose the best major at UGA, and it showed me just how impactful the work of landscape architects is. My job allowed me to design public spaces in southern California that facilitate meaning and memories for the users. When memories are created, lives are impacted. I also got to spend all summer in and between San Diego and Los Angeles thanks to the University of Georgia.

Other highlights afforded me by my scholarships have been the opportunities to take field studies in Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, New York, Boston and Philadelphia where I was able to visit nationally known landscape architecture firms and some of their award-winning projects. I could have never imagined that UGA would bring me so many life-changing opportunities.

Current Employment:

University of Georgia Campus Transit

Family Ties to UGA:

I’m actually the first in my family to attend the University of Georgia, or any college for that matter. With that being the case, I try my hardest every day to take advantage of any opportunities that are presented.

I chose to attend UGA because…

The people, the traditions, the football and memories of being told I had no chance of ever attending this fine institution. It also helps that the HOPE Scholarship was available and that the landscape architecture program annually ranks in the top five nationally.

I knew from my tour by Associate Dean and professor Greg Coyle and my introduction to Rose Tahash (our coordinator of undergraduate services and literally the greatest person ever) that the College of Environment and Design was the right fit for me. Never would I have imagined that I would feel like part of a family to the faculty, staff and students of my college at a university the size of Georgia. Everyone knows everyone, and if not they take the time to get to know you. They each push you and expect the very best from you from the administration to the custodians — nothing less is accepted. Furthermore, the amount of resources my college is able to furnish is unrivaled. Giving out over $100,000 in scholarships to its students annually demonstrates how much they support and believe in our potential.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I have many favorite activities I like to do on campus: basking in the beautiful Founders Garden, driving across Sanford Bridge and looking between the hedges, or pulling all-nighters in the studio to meet a deadline. However, I believe my No. 1 favorite thing to do on campus is drive my Night East West bus route and remind students that the beautiful piece of iron on North Campus isn’t an Ark, and, yes, I always correct them, and question if they’re really students.

When I have free time, I like…

… to remember what free time felt like, and how I used to enjoy it, because free time has been nonexistent in my life as of recently. #thisislandscapearchitecture

On a less exaggerated note I enjoy traveling and seeing great design. Just ask any friend who travels with me about the talks on landscape architecture I always give them. I absolutely LOVE to sing music, but I should warn you I sound horrible, so you’ve been warned if you ever ride my Night East West.

The craziest thing I've done is…

I once consented and ventured on a spontaneous road trip in the backseat of a hatchback Yaris to Austin, Texas, the spring break of my junior year. I had no idea guys 6 feet 5 inches tall shouldn’t ride in the back, nor why we were going until we got there and learned of South by Southwest, a popular music festival that was the same week of our break.

My favorite place to study is…

Landscape architecture students don’t study in conventional ways because our classes are project based, and boy do we do a lot of those. When we do need to focus on our work or do research it’s definitely best in the Jackson Street Building where we have our studios. Having the all the natural light, large desks, our own library and 24/7 access is definitely convenient.

My favorite professor is…

The college has so many great professors that makes this question difficult to answer. If this question asked which professor has had the biggest impact on me, hands down I would have to say Douglas Pardue. Professor Pardue is one of those professors who absolutely loves what he teaches — I’m talking lives and breathes it, and he pushes his students like no other professor to do the best work, and his studio classes will consume your entire life. Having professor Pardue for multiple classes and seeing him teach with the level of excitement that he does has only inspired me to share that passion for what we do. He embodies the definition of a professor.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… Danish architect, urban designer, and founder of BIG Design Group Bjarke Ingels. I would love the opportunity to pick his brain and really understand what exactly is going on in his head when he’s creating his unprecedented designs.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

Go around and convince everyone that the future of life on planet Earth is in our hands. I would explain that our traditional lifestyles on Earth are not sustainable, and that we are contributing to the systematic change of temperatures and loss of habitat. I then would prescribe tips to change everyone’s lifestyle for the better.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

I would love to start a nonprofit organization that focuses on mentorship to the younger generations who have no positive male or female role models. The youth are our future, and it’s our job to mentor them to ensure the lives of our children’s children are in great hands. My nonprofit would also work on establishing a need-based scholarship fund that awards students on grit as opposed to merit, because I am a strong believer that those who have to work for what they have, and don’t have advantages handed to them, should be rewarded.

After graduation, I plan to…

… move to California and pursue my future in landscape architecture (sorry, mom). California has many challenges ahead of it due to its vulnerability from extreme weather conditions, and I believe the practice of landscape architecture can help mitigate these issues.

Who knows, UGA — everyone says my doppelganger is Tyler Perry, so look for me on the big screen in about five years.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… the moment that I reached understanding of exactly how lucky I was to be a Georgia Bulldawg back in the fall of 2013. Our Dawgs beat Carolina and LSU in back-to-back home games, and the energy and the passion felt all over the stadium was by far the greatest memory and experience I’ve felt from Georgia sports. The stadium was rocking, our offense was popping, and the defense kept stopping. Additionally, those pre-game hype videos like “A Letter for Larry” and “Awaken the Nation” from that year caused an onion-like effect: I could not understand where those tears kept coming from. God bless these memories, and God bless my university! I’m so blessed to have called it home over the past four years. #bulldawgheaven

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