Quanza Griffijn (ABJ '01)

Quanza Griffin among seven Grady College alumni inducted into UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

The University of Georgia’s Alumni Association annually recognizes outstanding alumni who have made an impact in their careers through its 40 Under 40 program. Grady College is proud to have seven honorees in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018: Brooke Bowen (ABJ ‘07, JD ‘10), Chase Cain (ABJ ’05), Meredith Dean (ABJ ‘14), Josh Delaney (ABJ’11, AB ‘11), Ivey Evans (ABJ ’06, BBA ’06, MBA ‘13), Quanza Griffin (ABJ ‘01) and Lauren Pearson (ABJ ‘02).

Selections were based on the graduates’ commitment to a lifelong relationship with UGA and their impact in business, leadership, community, artistic, research, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors. The 2018 Class will be honored at the awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Grady College will release profiles of the winners leading up to the awards luncheon.

Name: Quanza Griffin

Graduation Year: 2001

Quanza outside of the CDC

Occupation: Public Health Analyst, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Grady College: How did Grady College help prepare you for your career?

Quanza Griffin: Grady College has wonderful faculty and staff, and I was challenged and inspired by all of my professors.  Dr. Lariscy was tough but fair.  Dr. Acosta-Alzuru was demanding but welcoming.  They motivated me to always do my best, because my work is a reflection of me. While at Grady, I had several opportunities to help me prepare for my career. For example, in 2000, I received an award and scholarship from the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).  I used the scholarship money to help fund a down payment for a car.  That car allowed for me to travel to Atlanta for job interviews and ultimately my first job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It was amazing to see how my journalism and PR skills could be applied towards promoting public health at CDC.  My first internship was with the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC peer-reviewed journal).  Working with this journal allowed me to learn about different health challenges faced by communities.  This experience caused me to fall in love with public health.  During my senior year, I worked at CDC Monday, Wednesday and Friday and commuted to Athens on Tuesday and Thursday.  Receiving the PRSSA award because of my student work with Grady benefitted me for years to come.

After that internship, I decided to stay with CDC, and I have been here for over 15 years!  I would have never guessed that my journey at Grady would bring me to a point where I promote public health and disease prevention across the world, and work with people of different culture and backgrounds. Without Grady, I am not sure I would have taken this path. Grady provided a positive learning environment and the opportunity for me to develop my skills and discover my passions – all which guided me to a fulfilling public health career.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute most to your success?

QG: Throughout my career, I have always had a natural inclination to want to help others.  To be a leader and to succeed, you must first be a servant.  It’s my goal to carry the title of “servant” in all aspects of my life. For example, I am a servant in the office, my community and in my family.  Being a servant allows me to put the needs of others first and, ultimately, help others develop and grow.  Many may wonder how serving someone could have personal benefits. My pastor, Andy Stanley, gave a great answer. He stated, “The value of life is always determined by how much of it is given away.”  Having a servant lifestyle is invaluable.

I attribute the value of servant-leadership to my success.  Having a servant-mindset has allowed me to soar in my career and community.  Recently, I started a community garden in a low-income area of Decatur, Georgia.  This garden will provide fresh fruits and vegetables for community members and provide an after-school program for the elderly and children.  This initiative was started because I saw a community in need, and I wanted to help.  I have galvanized residents and community organizations to pull together resources to make the garden accessible and successful.

GC: What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as you’ve navigated through your career?

Quanza with her children, Kylah and Christopher.

QG: The most important lesson I have learned is that failure does not exist.  I believe failure should be considered a naughty word!  Failure is only a successful way of learning what does and does not work.  Failure is an opportunity to take a lesson and improve upon your skills and mindset.  There have been many times in which some might have I thought I failed.  But, those “failures” have allowed me to be better prepared and more equipped for future challenges. For example, I have always wanted to own a business. I have attempted several business ideas in the past. But, ultimately, my mistakes allowed me to grow mentally and spiritually. After prayer and meditation, I was lead to start a business in which I can earn additional income and do what I love. I started Griffin Treasures by Q photography and photo booth. It has been extremely successful and allowed me to meet with clients such as Steve Harvey, Dark and Lovely and famed photographer, Rob Ector. One of my greatest clients for photo booth has been the University of Georgia. So, failure is just a stepping stone to get to where you need to be.

GC: Describe a moment in your professional/personal career that you are most proud of. 

QG: There are two moments that I am most proud of in my life – the birth of my two kids.  Kylah (4) and Christopher (2) are literally the salt of my life.  They bring hope and joy in all circumstances.  I enjoy teaching them how to be leaders that serve and help others.  It is exciting to know that one day, they could continue the legacy and become alums of the University of Georgia.  I am also teaching them the importance of college football.

Date: September 5, 2018

Editor:  Jessica Twine,  jdt86350@uga.edu