As Bynikini Frazier waited to hear her name in a video announcing the University of Georgia Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2014, she said she was filled with the same emotions she had waiting to see if she was accepted to UGA.
“Watching that video kind of brought me back to my first experiences before I even found out that I was a student,” Frazier, a first grade teacher at Hodge Elementary School in Savannah, said. “And so I really kind of went back to that moment in my home that November, and kind of worrying and waiting in anticipation.”
And like the day she saw her offer of admission, Frazier was excited.
“It was pretty cool to see my name there and just to know that six years ago, I was a student,” said Frazier, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. “And now to be here and to have done so well in my career...it’s truly a blessing.”
The UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 recognizes alumni on their commitment to UGA and their influence on business, arts, education, research, leadership or the community, according to a UGA Today press release. The honorees were announced early this month.
The nominations were received between February and April and were evaluated by a 12-person committee that included volunteers, students, campus leaders and representatives from athletics and academics.
The honorees are invited to an awards luncheon on September 18 in the Georgia Aquarium and will be recognized before kickoff in the UGA football game versus Troy State University on September 20.
“The value of a UGA education is demonstrated by the great work all of our nominees are doing around the world,” Julie Cheney, interim associate director of alumni programs, said in an email to The Red & Black. “We’re proud of them all. It is amazing to see the impact of a UGA degree in our state, region, country and globally.”
It has been quite a year for Frazier, she said. Apart from being one of the 40 Under 40, she was recently awarded Teacher of the Year by the Savannah-Chatham Public School System and won an Innovation in Teaching award from Gov. Nathan Deal, an award that recognizes teachers who use innovative strategies when teaching Georgia standards in English/language arts and mathematics.
In her classroom, Frazier incorporates different methods into her teaching including song, dance and technology.
“I’ve been researching some other things that I could write some grants for to get into my classroom,” she said. “If it’s new and it’s innovative, I want to try it, and I want to do it.”
Her students use such devices as iPads and Chromebooks, and often tweet classrooms from all over the world. Next school year, she plans on using Skype to engage with students from different countries.
“Teaching first graders, you only have their attention for a limited amount of time,” Frazier said. “So you have to be direct, but you want to make it fun,” Frazier said.
Mark Butler, who graduated from UGA with a degree in management information systems, is another 40 Under 40 honoree.
“I guess I was floored and surprised and shocked,” Butler said. “I know that UGA is a huge, huge organization with tons of deserving individuals...I guess if [I was] going to sum it up, I’m just extremely humbled and excited to be a part of such a great group and a great University.”
Butler founded CXO Staffing, an executive search and staffing firm based in Atlanta, with his wife, Sara.
The company mostly serves mid-sized software companies and leads searches to fill a range of positions from manager to senior vice president.
“We have an opportunity to both serve our clients in finding the best-of-the-best talent and shaping the culture of their organization, as well as the ability on a day-to-day basis help people find and secure their dream jobs,” he said.
Outside of the company, Butler said he devotes his time serving the community.
He is also the founder and president of Pay It Forward Atlanta, an organization focused on doing random acts of kindness and supporting specific needs and events in the Atlanta community.
Since its launch in 2009, membership has grown to about 2,200 members who volunteer, donate and sponsor various charities, non-profits and religious organizations.
His family is an active member of Buckhead Church, where Butler is a mentor with re:new, a one-on-one mentoring ministry that matches trained volunteers with individuals who are going through specific challenges.
He is also on the board of directors of Giving 101, an organization that aims to inspire youth to develop good giving habits, and Radical Mentoring, a global nonprofit launched to inspire men to invest in a mentoring relationship with younger men in order to help them be better individuals.
Butler started as a mentee and will eventually become a mentor in a few years.
Butler said he’s involved because he wants to give back.
“I think the biggest motivation is just the fact that I have been blessed in so many different ways,” he said. “From a family standpoint, I’m very happily married and have two healthy young boys. From a business standpoint, we’re doing exceptionally well and having an awesome time running this business, so I think a lot of that drives the effort to give back to the community and try to pay it forward and help as many other people as possible.”
But above all else, Butler said he is most proud of his family.
“My biggest honor and focus in life [is] my family,” he said.