Malcolm Walker ’18

Malcolm Walker ’18

The man behind Jugo James Mixology Co. is stirring up Atlanta’s cocktail scene

Malcolm Walker '18

Like many during the pandemic, Malcom Walker ’18 spent hours making cocktails to pass the time. Only a few years later, that at-home hobby has become Jugo James Mixology Co., Walker’s customizable cocktail catering service.

Since moving to Atlanta from Nashville in June 2021, he’s already carved his niche at weddings, birthdays, corporate events and the 2021 Black Alumni Weekend Awards Brunch last fall. Now, he’s using social media savvy and word of mouth to build a following, one drink at a time.

All this, despite no formal training beyond a few YouTube tutorials.

“My unofficial mantra is, ‘Come as a bartender, but leave as a friend’,” said Walker from his home in Atlanta. “That frames my mindset—making good drinks and really connecting with people—because when I leave, I want it to be a lasting impression.”

Way back in 2019, Walker tasted a cocktail so good—a Bourbon Blackberry Bramble at Seasons 52—he was compelled to replicate the recipe at home. Once he mastered that, he moved on to more.

By the time the Covid-19 Pandemic had forced everyone home, he had just begun his master’s program at Troy University and wanted to make some extra cash. He made a list of passion projects he could monetize, eventually narrowing the list down to music or cocktails.

“Music seemed like a very hard path,” he laughs. “So I went with drinks.”

Jugo James formally launched in April 2020, after Walker earned his bartending license in Tennessee. The name (pronounced HOO-go James), blends Walker’s middle name with the Spanish word for juice, “jugo”—a play on his high school nickname.

At the end of 2020, he got his first paying gig, a birthday party. The hosts loved it so much, they invited him back the next day. Over time, he expanded his repertoire to include lighter, spritzier cocktails for events, but also more robust drinks based on traditional recipes.

“One thing in particular I did was check out some of my favorite cocktail bars or restaurants, and look up ingredients I wasn’t aware of. If I didn’t know what it was, and it sounded interesting after I Googled it, I bought it and saw how I could implement it. That expanded my horizons pretty quickly, but it was a fun way to learn.”

Malcolm Walker 18

In Atlanta, Walker works full time as an associate manager for digital guest experience at IHG Hotels & Resorts, so Jugo James events are limited to alternating weekends. But he stays active on social media promoting the brand, and his marketing degree from Auburn, in addition to his master’s in project management from Troy, provides Walker with a solid foundation continue building his business.

He’s also made time to have fun sharing his craft, like when he entered the Él Patrón Del Trap Mixology Competition hosted by Patrón Tequila at the Trap Music Museum, his first challenge against other mixologists. He quickly realized the difference between making drinks for industry insiders and people who simply love a good drink.

“Even though I didn’t win the competition, the judges said they loved the showmanship, and that boosted my confidence. I know I can belong with the industry, even though I don’t have any professional training or don’t work at a bar. I realized I could stick with the best of the best, and make drinks that  people in the industry can also enjoy as well. Just to receive the affirmation was a big win for me.”

There’s been plenty of wins for Walker over the last two years, but it wasn’t until this past April that he was able to celebrate Jugo James’ two-year anniversary with a day party cohosted by Patron.

Even though had friends help decorate the venue, he still mixed and prepped all the drinks himself in his home kitchen. Now that business is taking off, though, he plans to hire more personnel in the future and potentially open expand the business.

But, regardless of how big Jugo James becomes, Walker wants to stay close to the clients and customers who make everything worth it.

“I’ve met all kinds of people from all walks of life,” said Walker. “I really enjoy the [events] where it’s 20 to 30 people and I get a chance to really talk and connect with every single person in the room.”

Winter Cocktails from Jugo James

 Winter Forest Old Fashioned

2 oz Bourbon

1/2 oz Maple Syrup

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

1 Dash Black Walnut Bitters

Garnish with Orange Peel and Cinnamon Stick (optional)

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish and enjoy!

 

Jugo Signature Cranberry Lemon Drop

1 1/2 oz Vodka

3/4 oz Lemon Juice

1/2 oz Orange Liqueur

1/2 oz Cranberry Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Garnish with Lemon Wheel

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake until tin is cold to touch, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish and enjoy!

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Judge Alvin Wong ’73

Judge Alvin Wong ’73

Judge Alvin Wong ’73, Georgia’s first Asian Pacific American judge, on his unlikely path to progress

“I’ve always been fascinated by the rule of law,” said Alvin Wong ’73, immediate past president of the Georgia Council of State Court Judges. “The process of analyzing the law never changes, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. You are always learning.” In a career spanning five decades, Judge Wong has turned his fascination with the U.S. legal system into a calling. But his path was unexpected.

Wong came to Richmond, Va. from Hong Kong when he was 14. His father enrolled him at Fishburne Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va., shook his hand and said he’d “see him next summer.”

He followed a classmate from Fishburne to Auburn without even knowing where it was. He joined Theta Xi fraternity and grew his hair out but, eager to complete his studies, graduated early and moved to Atlanta.

His first job as an insurance underwriter didn’t work out, but he started taking night classes at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He wanted to be a courtroom lawyer—civil, criminal, it didn’t matter—and when he passed the bar in 1976, he went out to make it on his own.

“For me, the job is to find solutions to problems, so I try not to get bogged down in procedural logistics. Find solutions. Move the ball forward.”

“I hung out a shingle. I’m a night law school product. I’m a minority. Mid-’70s in Atlanta. I’m not going to get a gig at some fancy law firm. I really never even tried to get hired on anywhere. I said ‘OK, suck it up. Let’s see what you can do.”

With an office rented for $100 from a former professor, he went to work “hustling” courthouses. Those days, judges assigned cases to lawyers based on who showed up first. Wong would arrive at the county jail each Monday at 6 a.m., get his name on the list and wait. The rate was $25 a case for misdemeanors, $50 for felonies. Two or three a day could make rent for the month.

He worked independently for more than a decade—the only Asian lawyer in Atlanta. But he never perceived his race as a disadvantage. If anything, it worked as an advantage.

“You can say certain things that a white person can’t say, or a Black person can’t say—especially in a trial case. You are an item of curiosity. From 1976 to probably the mid ’80s, I never saw another Asian lawyer in the courthouses. So there was no sense of being a minority. You were it.”

Still, there were moments. A deputy in a rural county courthouse demanded to see his bar card. Or the time during the American Bar Association (ABA) conference in Chicago when a lawyer waved the now-judge over in a restaurant to his table and pointed to their drink.

Not discrimination, but stereotyping. Perception. Attitude. “Gotta keep rattling the saber,” said Wong.

Wong joined a Georgia State Bar Committee on diversity, then chaired the investigation panel of the State Bar Disciplinary Board. There he met Linda Klein, the first female head of the Bar for the State of Georgia. He dreamed about campaigning for judge, and in 1997, Klein, their colleague John Sweet and Wong’s wife, Jeannie Lin—who became his campaign manager— convinced him to run.

The nine-month campaign was a nonstop tour around Dekalb County, leading to a run-off that was so close—just 438 votes—it was actually called incorrectly at first. But since his election in 1999, he’s been reelected, unopposed, to six consecutive terms.

Despite more than two decades as a corporate and trial attorney, there was a lot to learn. And Wong has made communication a hallmark of his courtroom.

“For me, the job is to find solutions to problems, so I try not to get bogged down in procedural logistics. Tell me what the problem is. Let’s talk about it. That’s been my practice motto as a judge. Find solutions. Move the ball forward.”

But he won’t suffer fools and has no problem castigating an attorney for not being prepared or not doing their job. “At the end of the day, it’s their client who gets hurt.”

In 2004, Wong cofounded a DUI court to help people, calling it one of the most rewarding things he’s done. He also sits on the board of the Lifeline Animal Project, a nonprofit that helps turn Atlanta animal shelters into no-kill shelters. He also brings to the courthouse Coco, a dachshund-chihuahua mix he rescued a decade ago. Jurors love to meet her after the trial is over.

Wong was elected by his peers in 2021 as president of the Georgia Council of State Court Judges, overseeing the entire state. His term ended on July 1, 2022, the same day he turned over the reins of the DUI court.

But his legacy will remain long after he lays down the gavel. Back in 1993, Wong and Professor Natsu Saito of Georgia State University Law School combed the State Bar Directory to find 10 attorneys to start an Asian American Bar Association. Today, the Georgia Asian Pacific Bar Association (GAPABA) has 750 members.

In 2014, the GAPABA named its top prize the Judge Alvin T. Wong Pioneer Award. It is given in his honor to a lawyer who demonstrates leadership to pave the way for the advancement of APA attorneys.

“I was totally surprised and felt very honored when the award was named after me,” said Wong. “There are a lot of folks in the organization who work very hard paying it forward. It’s so gratifying to see something you’ve started grow and make a difference.”

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Hope Comes Full Circle

Hope Comes Full Circle

Melony Pugh-Weber ’80 spent a lifetime overcoming childhood trauma in order to help teens. Then one broke into her home.

 

Some moments, Melony Pugh-Weber ’80 experienced what she can only call an act of God. Like when she moved to Nashville with no confirmed job and made a career, or when she became a community volunteer by accident.

Or when she pulled into a McDonald’s and met the man who had broken into her house two decades earlier. That they reunited again, as a force for good, seems beyond coincidence, almost miraculous. But it’s true.

“It’s crazy how you can’t fathom where you’re going until you get there, and all the little paths you take sort of come together,” she said. “When somebody cares about you, you kind of find yourself. That’s what happened to me.”

It wasn’t until Pugh-Weber arrived at Auburn in 1978 that she could begin to unpack her childhood trauma. A violent, alcoholic father. An overworked mother. Three younger sisters and an older brother with a disability. Raising siblings while still a child herself. Tying her own selfworth to the value she had to others. Becoming a “helper” to find relevance in a world beyond her control.

“When somebody cares about you, you kind of find yourself. That’s what happened to me.”

Social work made sense as a major, but she left it for public relations and speech, aspiring to work in broadcast television. She chased an offer at the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, and other opportunities in Dallas and Atlanta, until that fizzled out.

She eventually came to Nashville, building a career selling office technology to a booming corporate community. She attended a church popular with musicians playing contemporary Christian music. There, she met Jim Weber, a singer-songwriter who wrote for Amy Grant and others.

The two became increasingly active at the church: Jim with the music and Melony with the youth program. They were married in 1983, and for a time she managed his career as they toured the region. While the concerts weren’t massive, he always made time to perform at group homes and juvenile detention facilities. One day a friend asked who paid them for all those extra performances.

We’re like, ‘Well nobody pays us—how do you turn down an opportunity to positively affect a young person’s life?” Pugh-Weber said. “And he goes, ‘y’all, we need to formalize this. This should be a nonprofit. People would get behind this if they knew about it’.”

That was the beginning of Touchstone Youth Resource Services in 1987. Since that time, they’ve hosted youth camps, retreats and more. They’ve taken teens from dangerous schools on outdoor hikes, to local theater performances and to Mississippi to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Pugh-Weber went all-in helping students find their own self-worth. Touchstone focused on character values and leadership skills, providing attention and guidance one day at a time. Before long, grades improved and graduations increased. Soon, one generation was helping lead the next.

“I would definitely call myself an accidental social worker of sorts” said Pugh-Weber. “I got rid of having to do it to find my value, my purpose, my dignity, knowing I don’t have to [earn] it by helping other people. I basically wanted to become that person for these kids that I needed growing up.”

“I basically wanted to become that person for these kids that I needed growing up”

Pugh-Weber (far left) at a community clean-up after the Nashville tornadoes in March 2020.

Pugh-Weber was dropping her son off at kindergarten in 1999 when she realized her cell phone was at home. When she returned, a window had been
pried open, and the phone was missing. With a house full of expensive musical equipment, her biggest fear was that they would return.

A quick investigation determined a local kid, Michael Shaw, had intruded out of anger after missing his bus to school. Pugh-Weber’s house was simply on the way.

Looking back now, she wishes things had gone differently. She hoped holding Shaw accountable would help him change course instead of landing him in and out of the correctional system, which it ultimately did. She spent two decades praying for the kid she had never met, while working with kids who easily could be in his shoes.

That fateful morning, she pulled into McDonald’s to pick up food for an event at John Overton High School. That’s when the man working the drive-thru asked what it was for. When she mentioned the school, he said he used to go there.

“My heart quickened, and I was afraid at that point to ask, so I said, ‘Do you know Michael Shaw?’ And then he said, ‘I am Michael’.” They had an impromptu reconciliation, right there in the parking lot. That heart-to heart became a commitment to not only help each other, but to join together in spreading positivity throughout the community. One of their first events was helping Shaw realize his goal of hosting a “Family Fun Day” for his neighborhood housing project. Pugh-Weber even invited friends from Texas who provided enough barbecue for everyone—another one of those “divine God things,” she recalls.

At one point during the event, a woman’s phone went missing, and its signal was coming from a building nearby. Pugh-Weber told Shaw, who walked into the building and retrieved it from a local boy who had stolen it.

“How crazy that it was the very thing that was stolen from my house that day. And I just thought ‘wow, things come full circle.”

Think Outside the Bag: Shelby Taylor ’16

Think Outside the Bag: Shelby Taylor ’16

One alumna turns the fast-food phenomenon into limited-edition luggage

Shelby Taylor with TB CALPAK

It’s a brand that needs no introduction, paired with another almost equally ubiquitous. Taco Bell. CALPAK.

If the crossover-collaboration seems like a stretch, that’s how it felt to Shelby Taylor ’16, design lead at CALPAK production studio in Los Angeles, California. At least until they—unwrapped—the concept.

“You love Taco Bell so much, but it’s not screaming Taco Bell at you,” said Taylor. “We tried to make sure that from the outside, it still looked like a normal piece of luggage, but with just that tiny bit of messaging or that tiny bit of color.”

Taco Bell had just come off the “Taco Bell Hotel,” a pop-up installation in Palm Springs, Calif., complete with a Baja Blast-themed bar and Taco Bell manicures. That unanticipated success opened doors for another concept centered on travel—they just didn’t know what.

When they approached CALPAK about producing a line of luggage, Taylor designed six unique collections that explored vintage western, “after dark” and even Taco Bell’s iconic wrappers as themes.

But it was Taco Bell’s iconic salsa packets that proved the most identifiable. CALPAK and Taylor worked through a series of product designs, discovering along the way that the intensity of the hot sauce determined its “personality.”

Shelby Taylor '16

“That sounds completely insane, but it made the kind of product comparison really easy,” said Taylor. “The fire packet is the most popular sauce packet, it should be the most popular item. How can we kind of take that fire identity and really apply it to the carry-on? And because the hot sauce is the second most popular, we wanted to make the duffel bag bright orange—really cool and ‘street.'”

CALPAK worked with on the design for a year before the finished product was in the warehouse. Unfortunately, that was the same year that the COVID Pandemic put a halt to global travel. CALPAK rebranded itself from world travel to everyday use.

“We were ready to go, and then it felt like the travel world just came to a stop. But that’s not a bad thing—it gave us an opportunity to really look at what the messaging was going to be. I think we really got a chance to formulate a stronger story with Taco Bell—we got to build out the creative in a different way.”

Taylor took her time looking for the right job after graduating from Auburn with an industrial design. She eventually landing a position as designer at CALPAK in 2017 and has remained there ever since, growing her own abilities alongside that of the company’s.

“I really wanted to work for somebody that I can relate to; that made it very difficult to find a job, but I knew that at least when I got there, I was going to be invested in when I was making. Working for CALPAK really gave me an opportunity to be selfish and make what I wanted to make, but also something I genuinely believed in.”

CALPAK wasn’t even hiring a product designer when Taylor applied for a job. They needed a graphic designer, but Taylor said she could do both, and in 2017 joined the team in a dual role. She called the experience “shocking” at the time, but it gave her a crash course on everything from website building to product photography.

Taco Bell CALPAK

Five years later, she now oversees all of the “creative” aspects of the CALPAK team, managing all of their photoshoots, directing graphic designers, and assisting the production team to make sure the tone is cohesive across the brand.

One of the next projects she’s involved with for CALPAK is an outdoor collection made from recycled water bottles, the company’s first “green” initiative that comes as they target hikers, bikers and campers as their next audience.

“It’s really exciting for us because it’s a new material and it’s a new way of travel that we haven’t really explored before. We tried to incorporate a lot of our core functionality, so not only is it a really durable, rugged product great for the outdoor adventure, but the everyday journey as well.”

The renewable initiative, in particular, is a breakthrough for the luggage industry, because reused materials typically are not as strong and durable as pure, virgin plastic, Taylor said.

And while the Taco Bell chapter of CALPAK might be over, for now, lunch for Taylor and her colleagues will never be the same.

“We had so much Taco Bell to eat in the last three years. And we used to say we were doing product research by eating there for lunch, but it was just an excuse to get Taco Bell. It was really, really great.”

 

 

Chaos Interrupted

Chaos Interrupted

Chaos Interrupted
Vince ’99 and Judy Price used the pandemic to set sail on their dreams
5 Favorite Getaways

Jake the boat dog sits at the helm

We were trying to figure out a retirement plan, and then it became what does retirement look like, overall?” said Vince Price ’99 aboard his catamaran, Chaos Interrupted. He, his wife Judy and their dog Jake—the crew of Chaos Interrupted charter cruises—are currently anchored in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. “We want to go diving and we want to travel. We started piecing it together and figured we needed to be closer to the water, because we lived in Atlanta at the time.”

Owning and operating their own charter cruise business in a tropical setting became the plan for retirement—then it became the plan for the immediate future. Vince, a building science graduate, worked for a large construction company. Judy graduated from Emory University and worked for real estate and law firms in client development and marketing roles.

Already adept at planning their own charter trips with friends, they moved to Miami after years of preparation. Vince obtained his captain’s license, they bought a catamaran and both became PADI dive instructors. They made the most of working from home during the pandemic, preparing the boat—and themselves—for their new full-time careers.

Chaos Interrupted set sail in 2021, averaging 15 trips in a season that stretches from mid-November to late June. They can accommodate up to six guests for a minimum of five nights around the Virgin Islands.

From interest-based itineraries to custom menus, Judy likens Chaos Interrupted to a “floating boutique hotel.” Vince serves as captain, engineer and chief cocktail crafter, while Judy, an Ashburton School of Cookery-certified chef, creates dishes inspired by local flavors and manages Chaos Interrupted’s brand and promotional arms. Jake the Boat Dog serves as Chaos Interrupted’s mascot and security detail. He even has his own Instagram page, @jake_the_boat_dog.

“It’s all custom. It’s all inclusive,” said Judy. “We send out preference sheets in advance to learn what [activities] our guests are looking for, then we’ll create the itinerary. I’ll create a custom menu and we’ll have it ready to go. We take our guests to all these different places and then if, for some reason, we end up somewhere they really enjoy, we can stay longer. It’s not a cruise ship where you must follow a set itinerary.”

Vince and Judy Share Their Favorite Getaways

St. Croix, USVI

Perfect for land excursions and scuba diving, with excellent hiking paths, distilleries, breweries and two picture-perfect beaches in Buck Island & Sandy Point. 

St. John

More than two-thirds of St. John is a protected national park full of pristine tropical wilderness, miles of hiking trails and historical tours that date back to Danish rule.

Salt Pond Bay, St. John

A small cove tucked away on the southeast side of St. John, perfect for swimming with turtles, a day of relaxation and viewing sunsets from the Ram Head hiking trail. 

Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

No stop in the BVI is complete without a visit to Soggy Dollar Bar & Foxy’s Yot Klub.

Channel Islands, British Virgin Islands

Diving the Wreck of the Rhone off Salt Island and snorkeling off “the Indians” rock formation off Norman Island.

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