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Trevor Phinney
Trevor Phinney, management major, aerospace studies minor, and Leonard Leadership Scholar has been selected for the U.S. Air Force Pilot spot. He is one out of 461 cadets nationwide.

Terry student Trevor Phinney is going places – fast.

Although he’s only in his junior year at UGA, the management major has already climbed to leadership positions at UGA. He serves as a Alpha Flight Commander in the Air Force ROTC program, making him responsible for 20 underclassman cadets. He also recently earned a coveted pilot spot in the Air Force, and after his May 2015 graduation, Phinney will be among one of the few students who will have a chance to fly fighter planes for the U.S. government.

“He is a scholar and gentleman in every sense of the word,” said Vikki Clawson, an instructor in Terry’s Institute for Leadership Advancement. “Trevor is an aspiring young leader with an inquisitive demeanor. He is an intelligent, optimist and outcome-oriented person.”

Phinney, a Leonard Leadership Scholar, credits his course work at Terry for propelling his leadership development. The classes have helped him understand his own leadership style and emotional intelligence — two concepts that he says are crucial for anyone to grasp before they can lead others.

“I hate using sports analogies but this really is the best way to say it: If you know how to throw a football in high school and you throw it well, with a spiral and everything, then all of the sudden you get a great quarterback coach who tells you that your elbow is too high or you need to change the way you’re standing, you get a lot better. That’s really what happened in class for me,” he said. “I was a flight commander with 20 cadets under me, and I’m in charge of everything—from making sure they do well academically to making sure they get the training they need, to making sure that they’re meeting their standards. I could actually see myself improving as this class went on. It was like I was getting the dry theory in the classroom, then I applied it instantly, to see it work in the real world.”

That factor—the element of service to others—runs deep for Phinney. As the oldest of three children (his sister is a freshman at UGA and his brother is a junior in high school), Phinney is used to looking out for others. It’s something that he’s happy to see reflected in his course work at Terry.

“Right now we’re working on a capstone project. We’re working with the city of Athens to help them figure out a way to deal with the rising population over the age of 60. The baby boomer generation is aging and the nation is still trying to come to grips with that. Traditionally, we’ve had a much younger population base, so it was easy to support the older generation. Now that birth rates are lower, it’s a lot harder,” he said. “Athens population of elderly is actually about to explode in the next couple of years. As a community, we’re trying to help the community figure out how to deal with this. The project will continue until the spring of my senior year.”

Phinney is the son of an Air Force pilot and the grandson of two Vietnam veterans. He grew up partially in in Dusseldorf, Germany, but says that the University of Georgia has always been his home.

“My mom and dad both went here. They met here. Some of my earliest memories are coming to football games here,” he said. “When my dad was stationed in Germany, I remember staying up until 2 in the morning for games that had an 8 o’clock kickoff over here. It was a huge deal. If you go into my house, there’s all sorts of Georgia stuff everywhere. Being at Georgia was the best possible plan for me.”