Campus Celebrity: Georgia Ringle

On the Strengthsfinder assessment, Georgia Ringle’s number one strength, unsurprisingly, was empathy.  As the Health Educator on campus, she possesses a contagious, effervescent energy that permeates the Davidson community.  A self-proclaimed “open-book,” Georgia cultivates a culture of honesty and progressiveness. 

When I opened the door to Georgia Ringle’s office on a Thursday afternoon, I was immediately greeted with a familiar and warm welcome.  Her office, comprised of health-education books, free condoms, and a startlingly comfortable green couch is perhaps the most laid back space on campus. I was there to interview her about herself, yet in true Georgia fashion, she was instantly eager to here about the recent goings-on of my life first. 

Georgia explained how her quirky, and at times even unorthodox upbringing impacted her career path.  The daughter of a Jewish father and Southern Baptist mother, she remembers discussing issues of “social justice” before it was a common phrase.  As a child raised in Pittsburgh, her parents frequently took Georgia, her brother, and the family dog to participate in Civil Rights marches and to see the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, picking up hitchhikers along the way. “You know, it was the 1960's” she laughed.  Georgia’s brother dropped out of college to join the San Francisco Zen Center, beginning his journey to become a Buddhist Monk.  “It’s hard to come from a family like that and not become a bit of a radical piece on campus,” she admitted. 

Georgia wasn’t always a Health Educator; she describes her early professional years as a “crooked road.”  She majored in Developmental Psychology at Tulane University, and later went on to get her Masters in Public Health, specializing in maternal and child health.  After college, she worked in an early intervention program through a children’s hospital that specifically focused on developmental disabilities in infants from birth to three-years-old. 

Given the scarcity of state level jobs in Lousianna, after receiving her Masters degree, she applied for a position as a Health Educator at the Tulane University Health Center Uptown.  She clicked with the head doctor there, a progressive female who helped her to learn on the job. 

In retrospect, Georgia recognizes that in her late twenties, having already met her future husband (Bill Ringle, Professor of Anthropology at Davidson), continuing to work with sick infants would’ve prevented her from ever getting pregnant.  She wanted children and that line of work was simply too heart wrenching.

Georgia thrives on student energy and seeing young people discover themselves in college.  With excitement, she explained the process that brings her most joy: “Students get here and they’re allowed some freedom and they can feel it.  And they start to ask questions and to discover themselves and they start to not be afraid of me or my office, so people will stop by and ask to borrow a book or ask a question and it’s wonderful, to be able to give that information to a student and watch them blossom.”  The negative element of her job is her work around sexual violence, especially in collaboration with the campus police.  “Sexual violence is when we are hurting each other and it is not the campus that I like to envision,” she said.

In her free time, Georgia walks on the greenway and listens to murder mysteries on her iPod. “It’s scary. Sometimes I’m really freaked out, but they’re absorbing and before you know it, you’ve walked a really long way!”  As a part of her healthy lifestyle, Georgia often busts a move at Kadi Fit because she “love[s] exercising to loud music.”  She reads often, goes for walks with her husband in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, and on occasion, she goes back to drawing, painting and sketching, a hobby she has maintained in private throughout her life.  “The funny thing is I generally love everything I do,” she chuckled, “I just think wow, that’s amazing, and it’s not but I just can’t believe I did that.” 

Georgia has traveled all over Europe, and to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico (many times).  Her husband Bill works in Mexico in the summers, and one year, they drove from North Carolina to the Yucatan Peninsula, where they stayed for seven months.

If Georgia Ringle were to impart a piece of wisdom to a group of people based on her life experience, it would be the following: “Lead with your heart.  Trust the things you're feeling, trust your intuition; it’s ok to be very emotional, and to love deeply is really important for a full life.”