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Eagle Executive Fall 2020

The Fall 2020 issue of the Eagle Executive magazine is now available online. To view it, visit

Parker College of Business connects students with potential employers during virtual Meet the Firms event

Mary Harrelson

While her children napped, Georgia Southern University accounting student Mary Harrelson was meeting with potential employers from the comfort of her home with hopes of securing a job or internship. 

Harrelson, along with nearly 80 of her peers from the Parker College of Business, met virtually with accounting firms looking to fill positions during the Meet the Firms event, the School of Accountancy’s biggest recruiting event of the year. 

“This was my first time attending any of the Meet the Firms events, and I was very nervous,” she said. “I had never done this in person, so I wondered how I would be able to do it virtually. That went away almost immediately. As soon as I entered any of the chat rooms, someone was already there and talking to me either through text or a video call. The longer I talked the more comfortable I got with it.”

Harrelson found the virtual format of the event a perfect fit for her busy lifestyle. 

“Because I have kids, sometimes it can be hard to find time to do things, but because this Meet the Firms event was virtual, I was able to attend while my kids took their naps and still got to speak with all of the firms that I wanted,” Harrelson said. 

Meet the Firms allows students to meet with accounting firms and corporate recruiters to learn about internships, leadership programs and employment opportunities. Through working with accounting firms, the leaders in the School of Accountancy have found that the earlier the Meet the Firms event is held in the fall semester, the better it is for the firms and for accounting students. 

Firms begin filling internship positions in the fall to ensure they have the help they need during tax season and often use their summer leadership programs, which are reserved for rising seniors during the summer before their final year, as a pipeline for the internship positions.

Harrelson, a junior, is ready for future opportunities. 

“I was able to secure invitations to two different summer leadership programs with my top two firms,” Harrelson said. “I know because of this, my future as an accountant is looking really good.” 

Meet the firms is just one of several recruiting and job fair events the Parker College of Business has moved to a virtual format since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The college also hosted a virtual Accounting Day career fair and a summer Meet the Firms event. 

“The best thing about the virtual Meet the Firms is that in spite of the pandemic, Georgia Southern University made it possible for us, students, and the firms to meet online and continue with the event,” said Emily Olsson, an accounting student set to graduate in December.

Olsson attended both Meet the Firms events hosted by the School of Accountancy and was able to land an internship for the spring and summer semesters.

“What made the biggest impact on me and my future career from the virtual Meet the Firms event was the invaluable experience at connecting with companies virtually, which will be vital once I am officially out of college and competing for employment in the job market,” Olsson said. 

Georgia Trend Honors Parker’s Founder and CEO Greg Parker as a Legacy Leader

from Georgia Trend

This month Georgia Trend celebrates 35 years as the statewide magazine dedicated to business, politics and economic development. To mark this milestone, we wanted to recognize people from around the state who have contributed for many years to making Georgia No.1 for business – as well as a great place to live, work and raise a family.

We asked you, our readers, for suggestions of unsung leaders, people we don’t feature regularly in the pages of our magazine who are having an outsized impact on their communities. And you delivered. From political leaders to developers on the cutting edge to a woman working to solve teen pregnancy issues, we offer profiles of 15 legacy leaders: Georgians who have devoted their lives to improving the lives of residents and visitors alike.

It’s our way of saying thank you to our readers and our leaders for three-and-a-half extraordinary decades. As we continue to report on statewide successes and solutions, we look forward to spotlighting the leaders of tomorrow – people who may even have been mentored or inspired by the individuals featured in these pages.

Legacy leader profiles were written by Anna Bentley, Betty Darby, Patty Rasmussen, K.K. Snyder and Haisten Willis. – Karen Kirkpatrick


Greg Parker is first to say he didn’t know what he was doing back in 1976 when he started his gas station convenience store empire – Parker’s – in Midway, GA. He was helping out his dad, trying to figure out how to make the business profitable. And he did, the old-fashioned way – working every day for three years, including Christmas – with a healthy dose of new-fangled metrics.

“I knew early on that your scorecard is your report card,” he says. “I hijacked all the things I was learning in an E.K. Williams management course and figured out how to put everything I needed to operate a store on one page.”

Eventually, one store turned into more than 64 throughout Georgia and South Carolina. The brand is synonymous with clean, friendly, profitable and philanthropic.

“With success comes a responsibility to give back, and we’ve been doing it for years,” Parker says. “Education and healthcare are our two big philanthropic buckets and where we’ll keep our focus.”

Parker donated a record $5-million gift to Georgia Southern University in 2018; made a $1-million endowment to the emergency and trauma center at Savannah’s Memorial University Hospital; and has donated more than $200,000 annually since 2011 to 430 area schools through the company’s fueling the community rewards program.

Parker credits his “remarkable team” for his success. “My hope is that the brand will continue long after I’m gone to create opportunity for the people who got me here,” he says. – PR

To view the Legacy Leaders list in its entirety, visit

Parker College of Business students receive U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award

Drayton Gilchrist, a senior double major in Supply Chain Management and Marketing

Students in the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University have received the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service award for volunteer hours they logged through the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement (OCLE) between February 2019 and February 2020. 

The U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award was presented to Iyanna Dandrea, Jasmine Alexander, Jayla Dubose, Drayton Gilchrist, Kenneth Glover and Mary A. Salter. Students who participated in unpaid acts of volunteer service which benefited others are eligible to receive the award.

“It is an honor to see my contributions to the Statesboro community be acknowledged, especially on a national platform,” said Gilchrist. “This proves that I’m on the right track, and I will use it as motivation to continue to grow and to encourage others who want to do the same.”

Gilchrist’s volunteer work included cleaning Georgia Southern’s campus on Sundays, assisting at the local food bank and handing out flyers with important information such as voter registration, mental health and financial literacy. Community service has always played a large role in his life, he said. 

“Seeing my mother out in our community serving food to children and growing vegetables to distribute to those who truly needed them instilled community service in me,” he said. “Another inspiration came from my brothers in the Men Of Vision and Excellence. Seeing their engagement with the local community proved that it would be a perfect fit for me.”

Additionally, OLCE presented a University-level 50 Hour award to students Hannah Greenblat, Antonia Jackson, Autumn Williams and Tiffany Wills who logged at least 50 hours of community service. 

Hannah Greenblat, senior Management major, Marketing minor

Greenblat was recognized for her role as a peer mentor with the University’s Academic Success Center and peer leader supervisor with the First-Year Experience program. She also is the founder and president of the student organization Women in Business. 

“I wanted to be a resource to new Georgia Southern students,” stated Hannah. “When I was a freshman, I felt that I had to find resources on my own and wanted a way to give back.”

As a peer leader, Hannah was able to grow personally and professionally, she noted. Volunteering has allowed her to build leadership skills that will help her in her future career — from learning ways to effectively communicate with professional staff and other peers to planning and organizational skills to presentation skills.

The awards were presented during the inaugural Eagle Excellence Awards ceremony. 

Business Innovation Group receives $300K to help regional economic development

Through the CARES Act and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Georgia Southern University’s Business Innovation Group (BIG) has received $300,000 in grant funding to expand its services to the region in an effort to help communities and businesses respond to and recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This will really allow us to help businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the entire state ideally get access to the skills, knowledge and services that Georgia Southern has to offer,” said Dominique Halaby, DPA, director of BIG. 

Over the next two years, BIG will use these funds to expand their services through the Georgia Enterprise Network for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GENIE). 

“We’re hoping that we can demonstrate to budding entrepreneurs and small business owners that Georgia Southern can help them develop and grow,” Halaby said. “We are hopeful that in two years’ time people are going to have a heightened aerial view of awareness for Georgia Southern and our Business Innovation Group services, but more importantly, that they are going to get the type of resources to be able to launch the business that they’ve always wanted to launch.”

Halaby said offering these resources to the region is important for economic growth. 

“Any time that we have an ability to do something, we have a responsibility to do it,” Halaby said. “The needs of our community are great. Our ability to service those needs by connecting those with the resources on our campus and with the skills that we have fostered within BIG puts us in a very unique position. This way, we are able to provide services to help as many entrepreneurs and to help as many people looking for jobs as we possibly can.”

BIG will also use part of the grant funding to work with Georgia Southern faculty to strengthen patent and licensing activity. 

“We’re working with our intellectual property committee and through the University to let faculty know that if they’ve got a concept, that BIG can help them flesh that out. We can work with them to do an analysis to see the marketability for their concept and determine if it’s patentable or licensable,” Halaby said. 

The U.S. Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

For complete information, please visit our recently updated EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance page.