Honorees at the 2017 Grady Salutes ceremony included (l. to r.): Brooke Beach, Amy Robach, Phil Meeks, Carla Sacks, Loran Smith, Jason Kreher, Bonnie Arnold, Kathy Trocheck and Suzy Deering.
Grady Salutes honors alumni, provides advice for students
In a room full of Grady College luminaries, Grady Fellow inductee Suzy Deering said it best when she talked about how humbled she was to be among the honorees.
“When you see these amazing people that walk this stage…that walk our world… and the change that they are making happen, you’ve got to feel so proud that you can call this, the University of Georgia, your home, but more importantly, that Grady is your family.”
Deering was one of ten honorees at the 2017 Grady Salutes: A Celebration of Achievement, Commitment and Leadership on April 28, 2017, in the UGA Tate Grand Hall.
Alumni Awards winners included: Bonnie Arnold (ABJ’ 77), John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award; Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award; Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11), John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award; and Jane B. Singer (ABJ ’76), Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.
The 2017 Class of Grady Fellows were Deering, Philip Meeks (ABJ ’76), Amy Robach (ABJ ’95), Carla Sacks (ABJ ’88) and Kathleen Trocheck (ABJ ’76). Arnold also was inducted into the Fellowship.
From remembrances of faculty inspiration and cultural impacts like Watergate, to heart-felt cheers of ‘Go Dawgs,’ each honoree added to the flavor of the evening.
Brooke Beach started out her comments saying it was not long ago that she was attending the awards ceremony as a student and a Grady Ambassador. Beach said: “to the students who may be looking at the stage wondering the same thing that I did, ‘will I ever be up there,’ my charge to you is this…to never stop dreaming, to work really hard, stay positive and treat others well. If you do those things, you may surprise yourself with the stage you end up on.”
Jason Kreher used his time on stage to implore the audience to focus on the subject of diversity. “What we all have in common in the room is storytelling and diversity has got to be one of our key priorities. In my 17 years here, I am watching that slowly start to change, but slowly is the key. Everyone in this room has the ability to speed that up.”
Bonnie Arnold, along with Trocheck later in the program, talked about the influence of Watergate, which was in the headlines during her time at Grady College. “This situation dramatically demonstrated the power and importance of investigative reporting. It aroused the passion in young people like myself, providing further inspiration to join the profession dedicated to finding the facts and getting the story. My career ultimately revolved into a different realm of storytelling, filmmaking, but journalism is something I revere. This is why I am so encouraged today to see young people again being galvanized by the news of our time.”
Jane Singer, who teaches in London, could not attend Grady Salutes, but her good friend Janice Hume, read a note of thanks from Singer. “One of the greatest privileges of life in a democratic society is asking questions. And, one of greatest rewards is uncovering answers that lead to new questions. This ongoing pursuit of understanding, combined with insight, fueled by curiosity, is at the heart of journalism and at the heart of academic research, too.” Singer will be presented her award this summer by some Grady students who are studying in Oxford, England.
Suzy Deering talked about the foundation her classes at Grady College provided in preparing her for unknown adventures ahead. “The first step was getting into the University of Georgia, then it was actually taking the steps to make sure I was well-prepared for what my next adventure was. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to prepare me for that next adventure.”
Phil Meeks channeled musician Bob Dylan for the basis of his comments when he talked about Dylan’s lyrics, ‘if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.’ “To me, that exemplifies getting better every day, and evolving and growing as a person, and a lot of that journey began for me here on this campus.”
Amy Robach began her talk with an admission that journalism was a back-up plan to being an actress, but that once she started, she fell in love with storytelling and journalism. He classes taught her how to be fair and compassionate and gave her confidence for her first job. “I am so proud to be a Bulldawg and so proud to be a graduate of Grady College because this is the reason why I am a journalist. This school is the reason why I have the career I have. I truly credit this university and this college, specifically, with giving me the most magical, beautiful career because it’s a lot better than being an actress.”
Carla Sacks talked about her time working at WUOG while she was a student at Grady College. She met her husband at Grady, and while she thought she wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, she went on to create one of the largest PR agencies representing musicians and filmmakers. “Be open-minded, because you never know what’s around the corner.”
Kathy Trocheck talked about how her background in journalism has inspired her to excel at writing fiction. Her work at the Red & Black was her learning lab. “I learned to ask important questions. I didn’t learn to just ask questions, I learned to ask follow-up questions. I learned to listen and listen to the way people spoke.” She concluded with thoughts about the journalism profession: “Journalists, students, I honestly believe you are doing the most important work you can do. You are doing the work that needs to be done. I am inspired by you.”
Loran Smith closed the ceremony by taking a cue from the late Furman Bisher who wrote an annual Thanksgiving column. “Thanksgiving is something most Americans can celebrate every day,” Smith began. “I am thankful to be a graduate of Grady. I am thankful for our ebullient dean. Charles has credentials, vision and a fine sense of direction for our school.” He continued with words of thankfulness for Grady’s faculty, the Peabody awards and “students who will be world-changers as we move forward in this century.” He also spoke about the influence of another Grady alumnus, Dan Magill (ABJ ’42) “I am thankful that a Grady titan, the late Dan Magill allowed a country boy to learn that you can travel the world and enjoy its delights but there’s no place like home, especially if home is Athens.”
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