While many students played in the snow Georgia encountered that made the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend off even longer, 16 DiGamma Kappa students were stranded in the City that Never Sleeps, New York.
Ten members were selected through a point system to accompany the DGK executive board on the trip. This trip fulfilled the intent of DGK members to make connections and build bonds with UGA alumni who wanted to give back.
Mary Carol Butterfield, DKG’s president; Noelle Lashley, DKG’s director of development; and Emily Middleton, member of DKG, reflected on their extended New York adventure.
The trip kicked into high gear on Jan. 15 bright and early at 7 a.m. with the first stop at “Megyn Kelly’s TODAY show.” There, they met up with Kevin Schatell (ABJ ’16), who is the plaza coordinator.
During the show, Noelle Lashley made an appearance on national television. “We were going to get seated and this woman walks up to us because she was seating everyone and she said, ‘I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m going to pick you based on the color of your sweater.’ Then she looks at me and goes, ‘Okay you, red sweater, you come here.’ She seats me directly behind the guests and I kept popping up on television,” Lashley recalled.
Once the final scene of the show came to an end, the DiGamma Kappa group went on a tour of the rest of the NBC Universal building. After the tour, they traveled to Charming Robot, owned by Dan Maccarone. Charming Robot is a company that creates or improves a website or a product for their clients; some of its clients are Tory Burch and Warner Brothers.
After the long day full of tours, they closed the first day with Grady alumna Deborah Norville (ABJ ’79) at “Inside Edition,” where they got to watch tapings of her show and engage with producers. Norville asked each DGK member to tell her story, then she gave individualized advice for their first job out of college during commercial breaks, according to Mary Carol Butterfield.
The following day, the group woke up at the crack of dawn in order to arrive at “Good Morning America” on time. Numerous Grady alumni work at GMA, from Amy Robach (ABJ ’95) to various production workers. After the morning broadcast, they traveled via subway to the Hearst Tower, which contains an abundance of magazines, such as Cosmopolitan and ELLE and various television networks, such as A&E and ESPN.
When walking through the Marie Claire closet, located in the Hearst Tower, Butterfield said she felt as though she was in “Devil Wears Prada” when Anne Hathaway’s character was getting her style transformation. Their third stop was at MRY New York, a media company that focuses on ads. Following MRY, they topped their second day with Huffington Post, meeting up with alumnus Matt Mataxas (ABJ ’17).
The third and final day, or so they thought, they visited “LIVE with Kelly and Ryan” which is hosted by UGA alumnus- Ryan Seacrest. They ended their last full day at Refinery29, which is where Emily Curl (ABY ’14) works as an associate video producer, entertainment host and red carpet correspondent. According to Emily Middleton, who has gone on this trip four times, “this was [their] third year meeting with [Curl] and she has always been super helpful.”
This three-day trip got extended into a four-day adventure when the snow in Atlanta forced their flight to cancel…twice!
The students say they learned valuable lessons from their experience and from networking with Grady alumni. Lessons such as Butterfield’s “your bad days are going to be the days other people dream about.” Middleton said she now feels prepared for her ultimate goal of moving to New York after graduation in May. The students added that the personal advice and one-on-one conversations with Grady alumni opened their eyes and has set them on the right trail for the future ahead of them.
— Grace Townsend
Grace Townsend is senior at North Oconee High School, participating in UGA’s Young Dawgs program