Mentoring and relationship focused programs are offered at a large scale by the University of Georgia, but the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) provides students opportunities to network, discover potential, and create influential relationships among students and graduates. 

It is one of the reasons Houston Gaines (AB ’17, AB ’17), a new member of the Alumni Board and current Georgia State Representative, wanted to get more involved. Houston understands the importance of these programs and experiences, and he hopes to further connect with students and help create new avenues of opportunity through his work on the mentoring committee and continued involvement with SPIA.

During his time as a student, Houston developed relationships across campus as student body president, and he noted how blessed the University of Georgia is to have caring, devoted and qualified professors, administrators and staff. The resources provided by programs and people create an environment to explore potential, passions, and opportunities.

Houston advises students, “take the opportunities to experience and enjoy Athens with friends, get involved with different organizations to feel comfortable and uncomfortable, and simply create relationships.”

While he spent many week nights studying in the Miller Learning Center, Houston spent Saturdays cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium which created some of his favorite memories, one specifically being the Clemson game in 2014. This wasn’t just due to a UGA win, but also thanks to the friends surrounding him during the game – a friend group that remains close to this day.

As a lifelong resident of Athens, Houston understands the offerings of this beloved college town. He said, “I love this place – at the end of the day it’s a small community with the resources of a big city.”

Houston, in his second term, is grateful to serve in the Georgia General Assembly, representing House District 117. He is most proud of what he has accomplished – in particular, legislation he’s passed addressing the opioid crisis, domestic violence, and human trafficking.