Mercer Memories: Josh Rogers

Since 1964, Historic Macon Foundation has been striving to preserve historical buildings and areas of Macon. Mercer University alumnus Josh Rogers is part of that mission and is currently the executive director of the Historic Macon Foundation.
Cluster: What made you choose Mercer?
Rogers: I looked at several schools. I knew I wanted to go to a small private school and my dad was a high school guidance counselor. We had just visited Presbyterian College and we were driving back to my hometown, Waycross, when we passed through Macon. My dad said, “I really want you to stop and check out Mercer,” because he had a lot of students who really enjoyed going there. I was already exhausted from seeing so many other schools and I really didn’t have a strong sense of where I wanted to go, but the minute the campus tour started I knew I wanted to go to Mercer. I knew that is where I wanted to be.
C: What was it that really attracted you to Mercer the first time you saw it?
R: I really can’t describe it. I felt like it was a place where I was going to be challenged and that there were going to be lots of opportunities. Coming into school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living, I just wanted a good education. I was going to be able to get a great education in a great environment; that was the only thing that triggered it. It was a little bit of magic that first time.
C: What year did you graduate?
R: I graduated in 2005 from the College of Liberal Arts.
C: What was your major?
R: I did southern studies and history. I was the first person to finish the southern studies program because it was brand new. I didn’t have a major until my junior year. I had just been taking a bunch of english and history courses, so when they came up with southern studies, it just so happened that a lot of my courses already fit into that.
C: Did you join any organizations or clubs?
R: I was a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, a member of Student Government Association and I was part of “Into the Woods” with the theater department.
C: Now you are the executive director of the Historic Macon Foundation. What exactly does that entail?
R: It’s a great job. I didn’t ever plan to get it; it’s funny how life works out. My first job was waiting tables at Tic Toc for almost a year and I was really bad at it.
I started volunteering during the day at Newtown Macon and it was awesome. Everything pulled together, kind of like southern studies. It was a part of my academic interests, my personal interests, and I could actually get a job working with old buildings. That led me to a master’s degree in historic preservation and brought me back here. I’ve been here (Historic Macon) for about four years now. We’re the region’s historical society, we do education about local history and architecture. We also revitalize Macon’s neighborhoods which brings me right back in a close-working relationship with Mercer.
C: You recently received an award from Mercer, could you explain what that is and what it is for?
R: It was the Thomas Sewell Plunkett Young Alumnus Award, and it was a big honor. Mercer is still incredibly important to me; my best friendships were developed at Mercer. One thing I think is consistent among all of Mercer’s alumni is that they know they can make a big difference, so they act in really bold ways. It’s true of everybody I’ve met regardless of what career field they’ve gone into. The Young Alumnus Award was a great recognition. I have a very small part to play in all the partnerships that revitalize Macon, but it’s just an affirmation that we’ve had some really good success making the neighborhoods around Mercer safe. Restoring the houses and recruiting people to live back downtown, it’s become a cultural movement.
C: Do you have any advice for current Mercer students?
R: It’s such a difficult part of your life to take too seriously, and you’ve got to enjoy everything that is happening at Mercer. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have access to the academic minds that are at Mercer and be in a format where you’re around so many other smart people who care about the big picture. I think the best advice I can give is to take advantage of every opportunity you’ve got.