The University Office of Transfer Services proudly presents the Transfer Advocate Award, an esteemed accolade recognizing faculty and staff members who have significantly contributed to the successful integration of transfer students into the UGA community. Nominations for this award are exclusively accepted from transfer students, allowing them to honor individuals who have gone above and beyond in providing support during their transition to UGA. Winners are chosen based on the highest number of nominations received, with first and second-place recipients awarded a stipend and the third-place recipient receiving a gift basket. Additionally, all nominees receive a certificate of recognition from the Office of Instruction. To ensure fairness, first place winners are eligible to win only once every five years.

The Transfer Advocate Award not only celebrates excellence but also fosters a culture of support and collaboration within the UGA community. It underscores the importance of recognizing the dedication and efforts of faculty and staff members in ensuring the smooth transition and success of transfer students at UGA. Through this award, we honor those who embody our commitment to inclusivity, support, and student success, ensuring that transfer students feel welcomed, valued, and empowered as they embark on their academic journey at the University of Georgia.

2023 Transfer Advocate Award Recipients

Debbie Hargrave headshot

Debbie Hargrave

Debbie Hargrave

Debbie Hargrave is a Senior Academic Advisor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education.

Her programs include Elementary Education and Science Education. She joined the college’s Office of Undergraduate Advising in October 2018. Debbie is passionate about developing relationships and guiding students through their academic journey.

It’s Debbie’s belief that students transferring to UGA should feel welcome and accepted on day one.  As one of the student’s first contacts at the University, Debbie has that opportunity to provide that feeling of acceptance. Connecting with students is vital to building a relationship that allows her to nurture, support, teach and challenge them.

Debbie is involved in the Mentoring Advising Professionals program and was a nominee for the 2022-2023 Outstanding Professional Advisor award. Last year she was the second place recipient of the Transfer Advocate Award.

She received her bachelor’s degree in health and physical Education from the University of Georgia. After graduation she returned to the Athens area to teach elementary and middle school for over ten years.


Jill Hopkins headshot

Jill Hopkins

Jill Hopkins

Jill Hopkins is an academic advisor in the Terry College of Business advising students pursuing Finance and Real Estate majors primarily although she has students in six majors in the college. She joined the Terry team in September of 2019.  Jill is keenly interested in the transfer population and is passionate about developing relationships and assisting students in reaching their full potential.

Since 2019, Jill has earned two advising related certificates and is currently working on two more. She is involved in the Mentoring Advising Professionals program as a mentor, the Athletic Advising and Transfer Student Advising committees, and the Leadership Dawgs program. She reads study abroad scholarship applications for the Office of Global Engagement as well. In 2021, she was selected as the Terry College of Business Advisor of the year and in 2023 her Leaderships Dawgs team won the Community Investment Project competition.

Jill received her Bachelor’s degree in Food Science Engineering and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from the University of Georgia. After graduation, she spent 35 years working in the financial sector prior to returning to Athens in retirement to work with UGA’s business students.


Whitney Jones headshot

Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones is an Academic Advisor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She advises students in the Agribusiness, Agricultural & Applied Economics, Environmental Economics & Management and Hospitality & Food Industry Management majors. Whitney began her journey in higher education in 2014 where she found a passion for working with non-traditional, underrepresented students. She prides herself in being an advocate for transfer students at UGA through supporting them with resources provided through the CAES Transfer Student Support team, Office of Transfer Services, Career Center, and Division of Academic Enhancement.

Whitney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language & Literature and minor in Creative Writing in May 2014. She has since earned certificates in Academic Advising, Advanced Academic Advising, Diversity & Inclusion, and she is working toward her Diversity & Inclusion in Academic Advising Certificate. She was selected as the Outstanding Academic Advisor in CAES 2021-2022 and went on to win the UGA Outstanding Professional Academic Advisor Award 2022-2023. She has been Chair of the Academic Advising Coordinating Council’s Communications Committee since 2019 where she worked with her team to develop a newsletter for Advisors across campus to share important updates and foster cross-campus collaboration.

She was recently selected as Chair of the Academic Advising Coordinating Council for the 2023-2024 academic year. Whitney is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with transfer students and for her recognition as the third place winner of the Transfer Advocate Award 2023-2024. She looks forward to continuing to support transfer students through building long-term relationships and utilizing new and innovative programs to guide them toward success at UGA.

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