In 2018, SEC Network debuted TrueSouth, its first foray into lifestyle programming. The Southern food and culture series is executive produced by ESPN The Magazine’s Wright Thompson and is written and hosted by Grady MFA Narrative Nonfiction faculty mentor John T. Edge. The show follows Edge as he travels around the region, introducing viewers to Southern tastemakers, food, culture and history. The second episode focused on Athens and featured Valerie Boyd, founder and co-director of the Grady MFA Program, and adjunct journalism lecturer Andre Gallant (ABJ ’10, MFA ’17). Join Boyd, Edge, and Gallant for a screening of the episode and discussion. Grady faculty member Vicki Michaelis, the Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society, will moderate.
Editor’s Note: #GradyGrit is a new series of profiles of Grady College students who show determination, leadership and outreach to the community. Search “#GradyGrit” on the Grady College website for additional profiles.
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
Degree: Journalism major and Sports Media Certificate
Activities and Involvement: The Red & Black, WUOG, Grady Ambassadors, Grady Sports, formerly SGA and the Indian Cultural Exchange
How has Grady influenced your time at UGA?
MP: Grady has been one the best parts of being here at UGA. It has taught me invaluable lessons both in and out of the classroom. Grady has also provided a large amount of opportunities to learn, listen and network with some of the most successful individuals in the fields of journalism and mass communication. At Grady, your professors have been out in the field, maybe they still are, doing the exact things they’re teaching you about. You know what they’re instilling in you is real and valuable information, but I think best of all, Grady has become my family. When I entered the college, I knew just a handful of people. Now, it’s impossible to walk through the confusing hallways of the journalism building without seeing at least five people I know. It would be tough to envision my time thus far at UGA without Grady.
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
MP: So far, my most memorable Grady experience has been through Grady Sports. It was a trip to Tiger, Georgia, to broadcast the 2A football state semifinals last fall. It had a mix of everything — weird, crazy, unique, fun — and is an experience I, and everyone else that went, will never forget.
What has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
MP: I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee, and when I came to UGA, I knew about seven others that either came from my high school with me or previously graduated from my high school and were already at UGA. So I’d say there have been two things that made a big impact on me. One is living in a high rise my freshman year and meeting some great people who I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with/befriended if it weren’t for the old, original Russell Hall. I was lucky to find a great group of friends that year and I still live with/next to them today. Then, I applied to Grady Sports. Luckily, I got into the program, and it is most definitely the best thing that’s happened to me while I’ve been here at UGA. Sports media and sports broadcasting is a passion of mine, so to go to classes for it? I couldn’t ask for more. But as great as the classes are, the friends I have made through Grady Sports are some of the best people I have ever met. From a group of strangers to a nearly inseparable group, we have become so close. Grady Sports, like Grady College, has such a familial feel, and it makes this huge place of 30,000+ feel small and like home.
What is your best advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College?
MP: Good luck! If you think it’ll be an ordinary layout where you just go to class, have homework, tests and that’s it … you’re in for a wakeup call. While that may sound scary or intimidating, the assignments you work on in your Grady classes are hands-on. You’re out in the field getting a glimpse at how the professional world works. You learn core concepts in the classroom and then immediately go out and put them to work. Meet your classmates and make friends with them. Trust me, you’ll end up having a lot of your classes together with the same group. Meet your professors and pick their brain! They can give invaluable advice and just want to help you succeed.
What motivates you?
MP: There is constantly room to improve. I want to work hard and be the best I can be. It doesn’t matter what time it is, but there are always things I can be doing to get better. I set goals for myself and want to achieve them, and there’s no choice but to work toward them.
Last show/favorite show you binge watched?
MP: That’s tough. I love Suits. Hands down it’s one of my favorite shows ever. The quickest show I ever completely binge watched was Entourage. I probably finished the entire show in 3 weeks a few summers ago. I was hooked. The show I finished most recently was New Girl. It’s so good and always makes me laugh.
MP: I am a huge New York Yankees fan, and Derek Jeter is one of my all-time favorite baseball players. I love this quote by him: “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”
What would people be surprised to know about you?
MP: Hmm, I’m not really sure to be honest. Maybe I seem shy at first? I like to think I’m pretty outgoing, but sometimes I can be quiet if I don’t know you.
Favorite Athens restaurant?
MP: Another tough one. It depends on if I’m craving anything specific. I really like La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant on College Station Road. Taqueria Tsunami downtown is another favorite of mine. Clocked downtown is high up on the list and so was Transmet before they left.
Create your own question to answer. What’s your go-to study spot?
MP: If I really need to hunker down and focus, I grab a cubicle on the east wing of the third floor at the MLC and go to work. I also like the Starbucks on Alps Road to study or get homework done.