Earlier this year, the University of Georgia announced the 2022 40 Under 40 honorees. The winners include 7 graduates with SPIA degrees. 40 Under 40 celebrates young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities. Learn more about our Honoree Dr. Alton M. Standifer, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President at the University of Georgia.

What was your favorite class or favorite SPIA professor?
Urban Policy was one of my favorite courses, coupled with being taught by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Brian Williams.

What was your favorite study spot as a student?
The Massey Family Reading Room was always a place I enjoyed being able to work in. This neat nook was popular but the space was comfortable and I enjoyed plopping down to crank out some readings and assignments.

What obscure thing are you talented at?
I don’t know how talented I am at it these days but I used to be good at decorating cakes. In high school one of my best friends and I launched a cake decorating business in our small town.

What is one weird fact or tidbit that you still remember from school?
I have fond memories of the five other students that were in my original Ph.D. Cohort. We were a very diverse group of students in our interests, experiences, and our heritage. This made for some really good conversations and some thoughtful dialogue. It really reminded me of how special the learning experience at SPIA is.

What one superpower would you give to everyone in the world? How would the world change?
Being able to teleport would make us all so much more efficient and the world would be a much safer place with less car travel.

Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?
My lovely wife (also a SPIA grad) and I are really interested in going to Africa, however we have plans to go to Italy for a friend’s birthday prior to that trip. We were married in California and always love traveling to that wine region.

What is one piece of advice you have for current SPIA students?
You are graduating from one of the best institutions in the country, take advantage of all of the resources that come with that. The UGA network is large and vast, be sure that you use it to your advantage. I also encourage them to do what they are passionate about and do it so well that people want to pay them a lot of money to do it.