A lesson about the “Four I’s” and a heartfelt testimony about the journey to get to Grady and earn a degree were just two of the highlights of the Grady College Spring and Summer Convocation at The Classic Center Theatre on April 27, 2017.
More than 450 Grady College students earned their degrees this semester including six Ph.D. students, 20 master’s students, 130 students with an advertising specialty, 121 in public relations, 62 from the journalism program, 39 who studied digital and broadcast journalism, 62 with a mass media arts specialty and 24 with an entertainment and media studies concentration.
Dean Charles Davis presided over the ceremony, giving an overview of Grady’s successes this past year including a new certificate program, awards and the high level of dedication, passion and hard work by the students.
The keynote speaker was Brad MacAfee, CEO of the global public relations agency Porter Novelli. MacAfee guided the students through keys to success, which were summarized by the Four I’s: Integrity, Imagination, Improvement and Inclusion.
MacAfee began his description of the Four I’s by advising graduates to hold firm to their values and to construct personal definitions of what is right and wrong. “Define and clarify your principles now. Hold onto them,” he said.
Hallmarks of MacAfee’s talk touched on the importance of keeping an open mind and always working to get better. He closed his address by talking about the importance of inclusion, because in an age where people are so connected, it’s crucial that they work together and embrace one another.
“Be sure to seek out different perspectives, opinions and thoughts,” MacAfee said. “Unless you open your mind to others, you will never be able to truly find deeper connections and the common ground that unites, informs and inspires.”
Perhaps the most emotional part of the convocation ceremony was the speech delivered by Senior Speaker Orlando Pimentel, an advertising major from LaGrange, Georgia. He is a first-generation graduate.
Pimentel detailed the challenges and commitment he and his family faced to get him to college. Through perseverance, determination and nurturing relationships, he and other students overcame obstacles and earned their degrees.
“Let me assure you, we are qualified,” Pimentel emphasized. “We are enough. We earned our right to be here today because Grady has prepared us to face and overcome any challenge life presents by teaching us how to work relentlessly and providing a supportive network of faculty, staff, alumni, friends…the Grady family, if you will.”
He further challenged his fellow graduates: “I implore you to always keep the will to work relentlessly and these relationships alive because they are the catalysts that will continue to open the doors wherever life will take you.”
Pimentel’s passionate talk was met with a standing ovation.
Eric NeSmith (ABJ ’02) former chair of the Grady Society Alumni Board, concluded the platform of speakers by welcoming the students to the alumni ranks of the college. He encouraged them to maintain the relationships they developed at Grady College and to stay connected with the college and its worldwide network of alumni.