All (or some) about Smokey . . . .

Karinna and Smokey Graduating

Karinna Riddett and Smokey Ardisson
CGHS Graduation, June 1995 and June 1998

I was born in North Carolina in 1977 but have spent most of my life in Georgia, first Norcross, then Lawrenceville (45 minutes northeast of the Atlanta Airport). I graduated, with a bunch of interesting people, from Central Gwinnett High School. My great loves there were Latin, Model Arab League, and Scholars Bowl. Wow, interesting life.

Actually, I've now been on four continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America) and have swum in the Suez Canal and (twice) in the Mediterranean Sea. I went to Egypt in the summer of 1994 with the National Council on US-Arab Relations' Malcolm H. Kerr Scholars Program and fell in love with the country, and especially Cairo (al-Qhira). During the summer of 1997, I studied at the University of Aleppo in Syria through the National Council's Summer in Syria program, and I returned with an entirely new appreciation of that misunderstood country. I still hope to return to Cairo sometime in the near future, but we'll see if I can fit that into grad school life!

I graduated summa cum laudein May of 1999 with a BA (Honors) in Islamic Civilization from Berry College, a small liberal arts college in northwest Georgia. In the four years I attended Berry, it gave a $55+ million endowment all to the miniscule School of Business, tried to kill the German major, decided academic freedom was not important and terminated a stream of popular professors, eliminated Family and Consumer Sciences and most of Health and Physical Education; who knows what will happen next. (Needless to say, most of us were not pleased.) Now the student center is sinking because of sinkholes, probably caused by the effects of the quarrying operation Florida Rock runs on leased college land.

I am currently a graduate student at Georgetown University, in a MA in Arab Studies-PhD in History joint program. While it keeps me very busy, I am enjoying finally having the opportunity to really study what I love. I never thought I would have the problem of too many classes in my field to choose from!

Some of my interests are the Middle East, especially Egypt, writing poetry, and camping (I ended my four-plus year drought in August 1998 by going with some friends to Panther Creek in northeast Georgia; hopefully the next four-plus year drought will end in autumn 2002!).


Interesting People from Central Gwinnett (and Berry and Georgetown)—a.k.a. web-enhanced friends:

Dan Sullivan is a martial arts expert, philosopher, and all-around good guy who married his long-timed sweetheart in the summer of 1999 and is looking for employment.

Ben Parrott graduated from Georgia Tech in 1999 and is now a software engineer for National Instruments in Austin, TX, wiriting image-acquisition software. He also married his girlfriend, in May of 2000. Thus, he is no longer in one (or more) Atlanta-area bands or serving as one of my "enforcers," and is no longer at this very moment slaving over CS-some-four-digit-number web pages in his job as a TA at GaTech (although I think he is still leaving his own web page for the hope of future free time).

Stephen Fenton is a wild and crazy guy who is probably making noise right now with a band or spinning the discs at WREK, or perhaps trying to find something to do now that he's graduated from Georgia Tech. (Just remember, Stephen, not everything is better in California!) :-)

Karl Riddett is a friend of mine who graduated a year after me from Central. In addition to being the older brother of the lovely lady pictured with me above, Karl was my co-Consvl and right-hand man in Latin Clvb. He was married in December 1998 to another friend of mine, Chandler Kritsky. He graduated, ad astra per aspera, from Georgia Tech in May 2000 and is now employed by Chick-fil-a.

Matt Billings is a really neat person with a neat home page that he's had to move once because of increasing rates due to government tomfoolery, or something to that effect. (Matt, if you're still out there and still have a page, let me know the current URL!)

Toni Kaskiala, my family's second exchange student (at Central during my sophomore year), has also entered the world of academia and research. He joined his father on the staff of Helsinki University of Technology.

Rik Kluessendorf is not from Central, but he is the first person I knew at Berry with a web page. Look for some philosophy (Rikism and the Rambling Room are popular) and maybe some potatoes, and don't miss the sheep! Rik has had limited internet access since leaving Berry, so updates to his page are small and infrequent.

Amber Still joined Rik among the first Berry people I knew with Web pages. Hers is a work in progress in between everything else that she does. Amber also graduated from Berry in 1999 and remained in Rome for a while.

Stephen Cheslik was my roommate in 1997-98 and, after a sojourn in south Georgia (first as "Night News Editor" at the newspaper with the smallest daily circulation in Georgia, the Cordele Dispatch in the small south Georgia town of Cordele and then as Central Desk Chief of the Thomson South Georgia North Region Central Desk in Americus), has returned to the north (and his family) in Glens Falls, NY, where he has a job with twice the pay and half as much work! He replaced his AOL website (rather unchanged since the last time AOL tried to eat it) with a new one hosted in south Georgia somewhere (which never recovered from his relocation to Americus). Stephen also posted an almost-final version of my remarks as student speaker at the spring 1999 Berry College commencement [temporarily down—see another version here].

Aaron Pickering was, prior to his graduation in May 2000, probably the most computer-literate person at Berry (which unfortunately doesn't say as much for him as it should). Like Stephen Cheslik and me, Aaron is one of the "Dissillusioned ex-Computing Student Workers". Aaron was President of the Honors Program Student Association and split his life between computer science and religion and philosophy. Aaron is now a social studies teacher in Oak Ridge, TN.

Stephen Ferrin was one of the first people I met when I moved to Lawrenceville. We spent years together in Boy Scouts even after we were at different schools. Steve is a great guy, and he is currently studying architecture at Georgia Tech. (Beware, though, that his page contains some large images.)

Justin Slaughter is the latest of my friends to stake a claim on the web. Justin was my suitemate our senior year at Berry and a long-time colleague on the College Bowl team. He also is the only person I've ever been able to match wits with in geography. Of course, in addition to geography, Justin is an incredible repository of knowledge about astronomy, music, architecture, English poetry, and the list goes on! And now the first person I know with his own domain name.

Dan Alban, a one-time member of Berry's Model Arab League delegation (as well as the debate team and 500 other things), is the latest of my acquaintances whose web page I've stumbled over. Dan has also relocated to the Washington area where he works for the Institute of Humane Studies promoting Libertarian values.

Catherine Blair is the first of my colleagues at Georgetown with a real web page. Catherine entered the program the same year as I did (after a successful career at UNC) and studies Russian history. She can also catch you speaking in iambic pentameter, which apparently I did one day in the campus coffee shop. In case it doesn't become patently obvious, Catherine is quite partial to UNC basketball.

James Class is a colleague of mine in the History Department at Georgetown, just back from doing dissertation research in Russia and newly married—mabrk! James is a great guy and fellow Mac-user to boot!

Michael Rouland does Central Asian history at Georgetown. Why my Georgetown colleagues with web pages are largely Russianist, I have no idea. But Michael straddles the border between Russia and the Middle East with Central Asia, an area in which I have an interest as well.

Brandon Schneider is yet another Russianist from Georgetown's History Department who has staked his claim on the web. They're taking over!

Vanesa Casanova is a colleague in Arab Studies at Georgetown, a member of our Spanish contingent. Halima, as she is also known, is a budding historian and nice person to have around the Center.

PlasticOnline, word is the website of Scott McIntosh, Berry's second Middle Easternist, all-around good guy, Model Arab Leaguer, and author of the acclaimed English-Arabic comic, Plastic, for which you cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent.

Dr. Susan Maneck was my mentor at Berry, the first faculty advisor of the Berry Model Arab League, and a great inspiration.

Dr. John Hickman was one of my professors at Berry; he humorously taught me American Government and Asian Politics, among others. See pictures of "Happy Hickman" with George the elephant in Sri Lanka!

Dr. John Graham was another of my professors at Berry; since I'm not a biologist, the only course I had with Dr. Graham was the informative Foundations of Modern Biology, an Honors Program course.

Dr. Marc A. Meyer served as Director of the Honors Program while I was at Berry and is a specialist in medieval British history. In addition to several Honors Program courses, I took both Ancient Near East and Medieval Europe from Dr. Meyer.


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