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UGA student wins Fulfilling The Dream Award for Alzheimer’s and dementia research

Caleb Snead is a 2024 recipient of the Fulfilling the Dream Award. (Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

By Averi Caldwell/UGA Today

Caleb Snead strives to be bold.

As a campus leader, it’s necessary to be bold. Snead works with communities around Georgia, conducting public health research related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. His work also focuses on caregiver resources to ensure that families and communities have what they need when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Snead’s work was recognized at the 20th Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast where he received the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award. The award celebrates individuals in the University of Georgia and Athens-Clarke County communities who are working to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality and justice a reality.

For Snead, receiving this award means everything.

“We never do what we do for recognition, but when we get it, it’s really nice,” Snead said. “The description of the award is pretty much exactly who I try to be. To be selfless, to be a committed and inspiring human being in the workforce is everything to me.”

Snead is getting a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and a master’s degree in public health through the Double Dawg program. Along with being a full-time student, Snead is a student assistant with the Archway Partnership and a research assistant for the Institute of Gerontology and the Fishers of Men Initiative.

Much of his research is focused on health issues in rural communities in Georgia. While Snead grew up in Gwinnett County, his parents are from rural Georgia counties. His familial ties to these counties drive his work in rural Georgia.

“I always say it’s an honor and a privilege to serve the people that we serve,” Snead said. “Oftentimes those people look like me or they look like my family.”

For Snead, UGA is the place to be for this work. UGA’s dedication to serving the state has given him the opportunities to commit to community engagement. Here, Snead knows he can be bold, unafraid of trying something new.

“Having knowledge of what UGA offers to a lot of the state added fuel to my fire,” Snead said. “We already do this work and I saw that I can be a part of something like that.”

Pastor Jeffrey Lawrence and UGA student Caleb Snead talk outside Sandridge Baptist Church in Hawkinsville, Georgia, a participating church in the telehealth partnership with UGA for health and wellness access in rural Georgia. (Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

With the Fishers of Men Initiative, Snead works with churches around the state to address locally identified issues in Black communities. The group meets once a month, having discussions about health issues and ways that they can take steps to improve the ways that rural communities address these issues.

“We meet, we fellowship, and we talk. We don’t go there and get straight to work. We also take the time to build those relationships,” Snead said, stressing the importance of understanding the communities in which he works. “You rarely get things done effectively unless you know the community.”

These personal interactions fuel Snead’s passion to help.

While playing high school sports, his teams would often visit the elementary school in his district to read to the younger students and see them off to the buses. Now, as a college student, Snead visits his old track team.

“There are people who look up to me,” Snead said. “I go back and talk to my old track team all the time. I take it seriously that people are looking and that I can be an inspiration to people.”

The chance to be an inspiration to someone is invaluable to Snead as he has so many people that inspire him. His father marched with Martin Luther King Jr., helping to pave the way for him to have these opportunities. He is grateful for the sacrifices his parents and many others made so that he could be here.

“They fuel me more than they’ll ever know,” Snead said. “And I’m hopefully just in the beginning stages of what I enjoy doing. And I enjoy that I’m able to inspire people while doing it.”

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