Camilla native excels at UGA

ATHENS -- Blake McDaniel's dad, Robert, always kidded his young son about his future career choice.

"My father told me while I was growing up that I should be a lawyer because I contradicted everything he said," laughed Blake McDaniel, who is in his final year of study for dual juris doctor and MBA degrees at the University of Georgia.

Mere months away from making that fateful decision, McDaniel should have no shortage of options when he finishes his career at Georgia.

With degrees already in international business and German, and pending law and master's in business administration degrees on his resume, the Mitchell-Baker High School graduate appears on the fast track to a future for which he will write the script.

"I've got the applications out there," McDaniel said during a recent break from his job with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, another oh-by-the-way item for future employers to consider. "I'll take the bar exam at the end of July, so the first month and a half to two months post-graduation I'll spend studying for that.

"By the time I complete the exam, I hope to have a job secured."

McDaniel has masterfully juggled work, study -- including impressive study-abroad trips -- and his on-campus duties during a college career that is nothing if not spectacular. He got the taste for world travel in high school when he participated in a study-abroad program in the Netherlands and has since completed similar international externship programs in Germany and China while at UGA.

He was named the winner of the prestigious Monroe Kimbrel Scholarship for 2010-11, an award that not only came with a tuition grant, but also provided for an internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

"I feel kind of lucky because I guess they liked what I did there," McDaniel said of the work experience with the Federal Reserve bank. "I worked in their legal department over the summer of the internship, and they've kept me on during the school year in their retail payment department.

"The job has given me an opportunity to focus on both areas of my studies."

Not that McDaniel's work experience is the typical 9-to-5 grind. In addition to his work load, he's enrolled in three law classes, two business courses and an undergraduate course in Chinese.

"A lot of places that I've looked at (for possible future employment), speaking Chinese has popped its head up as a useful skill to have," McDaniel said. "And since my externship in China, I've become very interested in the language.

"Language was really the one barrier that made the three weeks in Beijing and the three weeks in Shanghai a challenge for me."

The multitasker is also executive conference editor of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, president of the Georgia Society of International and Comparative Law and co-organizer of the annual business-law symposium hosted by the Terry College of Business and the UGA School of Law.

Nabbing the Monroe Kimbrel Scholarship, the largest individual MBA scholarship ever established at Georgia's Terry College of Business, was also an impressive coup for McDaniel.

"Receiving the Monroe Kimbrel Scholarship is special," said Sarah Katherine McNeil, director of Scholarships and Alumni Relations for the Watson-Brown Foundation, which funds the scholarship in honor of Kimbrel, a Colquitt native and 1963 UGA business graduate whose career included a 12-year stint as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

"There's only one Monroe Kimbrel scholar selected every two years, and Blake is a deserving recipient. It's also neat that he's from that part of the state where Monroe Kimbrel was raised. I think it's obvious that Blake's going to make good use of the opportunities the scholarship provides."

And with the resume he will have compiled by the time he's finished in Athens, those opportunities will no doubt be plentiful.