Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12) recently interviewed alumnus Kit Cummings about his career and time at UGA. Kit is an international author, speaker and human rights and peace activist. After a lengthy career in ministry, Kit began working as a motivational speaker and was invited to speak inside a maximum security prison. This event was the catalyst for what Kit calls the “Power of Peace Program.” Kit recently published Peace Behind the Wire, which raises funds for that program.
Tell me a little bit about your background. What pushed you to attend UGA and what did you study?
I have been in the Atlanta area for my entire life and never plan to relocate. I’ve traveled the world for work, but every time I get off the plane in Atlanta, I am happy to be home. My father played basketball at UGA in the 1950s and I was raised a Bulldog—I always planned to go to school in Athens. I graduated from Walton High School in 1982, played soccer at Georgia Southern University in 1982-1983 and transferred to UGA in 1984. I graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from the Terry College of Business.
What was the inspiration for your book and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
I have been a public speaker for 25 years, and in the last 10 years or so, I began to get more involved in corporate motivational training. I was invited into a prison environment and that changed my life forever. I began to work with individuals who had made some of the worst choices and were experiencing some of the most drastic consequences. My mind change principles worked powerfully among this population and led to the creation of my organization, the Power of Peace Project, Inc. My new book, Peace Behind the Wire, tells the fascinating story of how 12 convicts in a dangerous maximum security prison, in the midst of a gang war, unknowingly started a peace movement that is now spreading to schools and prisons across the country. I intend to use this model, and the curriculum that was created from it, to spread peace throughout schools and communities around the world. I figure if it can work in the most dangerous places, which it has, then it can interrupt and redirect our at-risk youth, too.
What is next for you? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
I continue to go where I’m invited and that has taken me on speaking tours around the country and even overseas into prisons in South Africa, Honduras, Ukraine and Mexico. At the end of this year, I will be going to India to plant seeds for the Power of Peace Project. I have connected with both the Gandhi and Mandela Foundations abroad, as well as the King Center here. Going forward, I see my organization and its volunteers working with states and foreign governments to create peace and help heal our wounded world. My dreams are BIG and the future is bright.
How did your time at UGA lead you to where you are now and did you have any particularly inspiring courses or professors?
I had the time of my life at UGA. Athens was a place I never wanted to leave! The nightlife, the music scene, the culture of a small town combined with a large thriving university probably did more to shape me than I realize. I lived right downtown at University Towers and experienced all that college life had to offer. I have always been able to relate well to different cultures, and ethnic/socioeconomic backgrounds and I believe my time at UGA only helped to strengthen that—which has had a huge impact on my work. I loved my marketing courses and professors and believe that I have carried what I learned there into many areas of my calling.
What is your fondest memory of UGA?
My fondest memory was when the Bulldogs beat the No.1 ranked Florida Gators in Jacksonville 24-3 in 1985. We rushed the field and attempted (unsuccessfully) to tear down the goal posts. My friends and I were photographed coming over the fence and put on the front page of the Jacksonville Times! Classic.