#GradyGrit: Meet Kelly Mayes

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: Woodstock, Georgia

Year: Junior

Degree: Journalism and Ecology major

Activities and Involvement: lab technician and undergraduate researcher in the Structural and Household Entomology Laboratory, Grady Mobile News Lab, executive board member for SPJ/ONA, tutor at Oasis Catolico de Santa Rafaela, former science writer for The Red & Black, former volunteer in a marine ecology lab.

How has Grady influenced your time at UGA?

I have a double major in journalism and ecology, so I’ve spent my time at UGA walking a line between the humanities and the sciences. At times this has proven quite difficult, but Grady has made it a lot easier for me to pursue both dreams. The school has also provided a lot of opportunities for working independently and creatively on projects. I have never been fond of classroom learning, so this was a welcomed experience for me.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?  

My most memorable Grady experience was probably the admit day. I was really excited about the number of opportunities there were and programs to get involved with.

What has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

I should probably say something about journalism, but a journalist’s first obligation is to the truth, and the truth is my job working in the entomology lab has had the biggest impact on my life during my time at UGA. It has certainly made me a better journalist. It’s given me this amazing experience and pushed me to think in a million different ways. I get to work with insects, which I think are the most amazing creatures on earth, and travel to places either on fieldwork or for conferences. The people are what has really made it great though. The professor and graduate students I have worked under have taught me a million things not just about insects but college and life in general. The lab is my safe space where I can experiment in countless ways. I really learned how to think there.

What is your best advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College?

My advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College is to write about things that matter to you and get involved. If you care about your story then nothing is going to stop you from doing your best on it. You do have to stay on top of your work though. Just because you think you have everything for a story doesn’t mean you do. It’s a fast-paced business where everything changes in the blink of an eye. That’s also why it’s awesome. My last piece of advice is to not get too stressed out about anything. You can do this, and you’re going to be great.

Kelly Mayes, a journalism major, photographs a man in Athens, Georgia.

What motivates you?

Day to day it’s mostly caffeine that keeps me going. In the grand scheme of things, my motivation comes from my work. I try to pick projects and write articles about things I genuinely care about. Usually, that’s science, but I’ve done a few human rights articles that were really important to me as well.

Last show/favorite show you binge-watched?

My favorite show that I have binge-watched is “Atlanta.” I finished it in two days and then immediately watched it again.

Favorite quote?

My favorite quote is “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” It’s a quote from Emerson in his essay “Self-Reliance.” I like this quote in spite of Emerson’s tendency to throw shade at those in power because it talks about looking at things in different ways and from different perspectives.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m really interested in entomology. I almost chose that as a full career instead of journalism. I currently work as a lab technician in an entomology lab specializing in termites and cockroaches, and I’ve conducted research of my own. One of my jobs is to take care of the cockroaches and rear them for experiments.

Favorite Athens restaurant?

I’m a vegan, so The Grit is the obvious choice. Mama’s Boy is also really good though … and Last Resort. I also like Taqueria del Sol and White Tiger Gourmet. You can’t go wrong with Tlaloc though. Tlaloc is amazing. That’s it. Tlaloc is my favorite Athens restaurant.

Create your own question: What other ways would you recommend students get involved in the Athens community?

Oasis Catolico de Santa Rafaela, commonly referred to just as Oasis, is an organization in the Pinewoods community in Athens that sponsors an afterschool program where university students tutor children ages kindergarten to fifth grade. This gives the Pinewoods students support and help that they might otherwise not be able to access. I have volunteered with them for a semester, and I highly recommend it.