First-generation student immerses herself in GC's offerings to gain practical experience

Candra Clason Garrett outside

First-generation student immerses herself in GC's offerings to gain practical experience

Candra Clason Garrett, ’12, is ambitious. As a first-generation college student, she took advantage of all that Georgia College had to offer, so she could get the most out of her four-year experience, while managing a 4.0 GPA in her major.

Today, that same initiative is paying off, as she applies what she learned from the classroom and leadership programs to her profession. 

Candra Clason Garrett, '12
Candra Clason Garrett, '12


As a senior user experience (UX) designer with Launch XD, Garrett thrives in her career. She performs company research and digital audits as well as market/industry benchmarking. 

“When I’m in the design phase, I am conceptualizing new design approaches to solve clients’ business goals and simultaneously win over key users of the product or service,” Garrett said. “No matter what phase of the project I am in, I am continuously collaborating with the client and applying my knowledge of human behavior along the way.”

It was the study of human behavior that helped form the cornerstone of her career.

“Through advanced research and methods coursework—the psychology lab—I was able to conduct primary psychological research on my own topics of interest for five semesters,” said Garrett. “This is something most students don’t get to do until graduate school, so I felt privileged to have the opportunity and guidance. I gained so much knowledge and confidence through this coursework.”

The psychology department offered her countless opportunities to grow in leadership, knowledge and practice through the guidance of Dr. H. “Lee” Gillis, chair, Department of Psychological Science. 

“My communications class with Dr. Gillis continues to be a fascinating and relevant topic, because it’s an important soft skill in every professional context no matter how the times or technology change,” said Garrett. “The textbook from that course is still on my shelf today.”

Garrett also benefitted from Georgia College’s small class sizes.

“Dr. Gillis took the time to get to know me and offered me unique opportunities to grow and expand my horizons,” she said. “We continue to stay in touch, and I’m grateful to know him.”

Garrett was also in the Honors program—engaging students with big, enduring ideas central to human thinking and existence including freedom, equality, democracy and others. Her class time was spent discussing each week’s reading or theme.

Candra Clason Garrett at work as a senior user experience (UX) designer. 

Candra Clason Garrett at work as a senior user experience (UX) designer.
Candra Clason Garrett at work as a senior user experience (UX) designer.


“Hearing other people's perspectives and forming one’s own informed opinion is a great start to thinking independently,” she said. “Through open class discussions, I was able to develop and test my thoughts and voice in a safe space. That gave me courage and confidence to do so out in the world.”

Outside of the classroom, Garrett was a student ambassador and a member of the Georgia Education Mentorship (GEM), Leadership Certificate Program (LCP), Psi Chi, Psychology Club, Dean’s Advisory Board, Swimcats and intramural sports.

“In many cases, such as the LCP, GEM and Dean’s Advisory Board, I was encouraged by caring professors who wanted me to have unique opportunities to grow,” she said. “I’m so thankful they pushed me to do more.”

Garrett recalls many of the leadership principles of LCP. 

“One in particular still often comes to mind: Effective leaders challenge the process,” she said. “I remind myself of this when my questioning causes some ripples.”

GEM provided her with the opportunity to meet some of the state’s most influential leaders, including her mentor Georgia College Foundation Trustee Alex Gregory, retired president and CEO of YKK Corporation of America in Marietta, Georgia. 

“He taught me a lot about kindness and deference being a top priority no matter how far up the ladder you climb,” she said. “Alex Gregory is one of the kindest, most considerate people I’ve ever met. I think of our interactions often.”  

“The most meaningful meeting I’ve had was with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, at the Carter Center,” Garrett said. “I still have the photo that Alex Gregory took of the three of us.”

As a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, Garrett collaborated with students to discuss and solve matters impacting the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“I recall insightful interactions with many professors and staff at Georgia College. I think this is why GC is so special,” she said. “You have close access to really smart people who want to encourage you in your learning and success at school and beyond.”

The concepts Garrett learned at Georgia College have been applied in her profession. 

“Understanding people is critical to the success of my designs,” she said. “Being in a variety of programs at GC exposed me to many different people and perspectives, which has served me well in my career. I also gained a lot of awareness and confidence in my skills and abilities through these programs.”

Garrett applies her background in psychology and liberal arts to her profession daily.
“Five semesters of psychology lab research have taught me how to think critically, craft experiments, interpret sometimes murky data, succinctly communicate and practically apply findings to the real world. I use these approaches regularly in my career.”
– Candra Clason Garrett


“Five semesters of psychology lab research have taught me how to think critically, craft experiments, interpret sometimes murky data, succinctly communicate and practically apply findings to the real world,” she said. “I use these approaches regularly in my career.”

Now that Garrett has obtained experience in working with leaders at Georgia College and is in a fulfilling career, she addressed Georgia College’s psychology students a few years ago about finding their desired profession. Her advice about the importance of great leadership remains the same.

“Consider the leaders you’ll work for as much as the job,” she said. “Find leaders who are dedicated to growing and challenging you. They will help you find the next ‘right’ job for you and take your career in directions you never thought of before.”