Austin Gibbons, a junior, stays busy outside the classroom as a member and leader in multiple campus organizations.
#GradyGrit: Meet Austin Gibbons
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: Stone Mountain, Georgia
Degrees: Public Relations and Political Science major and Public Affairs Communication Certificate
Activities and Involvement: The Arch Society, UGA Division of Marketing and Communications Digital Dawgs program, Student Assistant for the Center for the Study of Global Issues, Leadership UGA cohort, Public Relations Student Society of America, UGA Wesley Foundation mentor, Student Government Association and Dawg Camp, Honors Program
How has Grady influenced your time at UGA?
AG: I was giddy with excitement when I attended a Grady information session my senior year of high school after UGA unveiled the public affairs certificate program. This certificate is part of why I chose UGA and why I applied to Grady. It has provided confirmation about what I want to do with my life after I get to walk under The Arch. Presentations on political PR have allowed me to meet and interact closely with professional role models like Brian Robinson, Amanda Maddox and the late Powell Moore. Robinson served as deputy chief of staff for communications to Governor Nathan Deal, Maddox is director of communications for Senator Johnny Isakson and Moore served under four United States presidents. Thanks to these alumni, Grady faculty and our SPIA partners, I feel equipped to enter into the crazy world of politics and public service.
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
AG: When I was accepted to Grady in September of 2017, I took the opportunity to ring the chapel bell and do a mini photo shoot outside the journalism building with a friend who was also accepted that day. All I felt was pure joy and excitement to continue the academic discipline that I fell in love with during Dr. Cacciatore’s intro class in the fall of 2016.
What has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
AG: At first, I did not want to come to UGA because I felt that this campus was too large and too impersonal for me. Getting involved has shown me that each student here is more than just a number and more than just a tuition check. My current involvement with The Arch Society and my previous involvement with SGA have shown me many different nooks and crannies here at UGA. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but I am still head over heels in love with this school. Faculty, staff and administration are all eager to invest in students so that they can be equipped for promising futures.
What is your best advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College?
AG: Go to office hours! The professors and advisors are top notch professionals who love their jobs and their students. Go into your professor’s office to share your passions and your story and to learn about their passions and their story. Professors and advisors can tell the difference between students who are networking for the sake of getting a recommendation and those who are there to build a meaningful, fruitful and long-lasting connection.
What motivates you?
AG: I am motivated by my three F’s: faith, family and free food. My faith motivates me to treat every person as an image bearer of God and to be a responsible steward of the Christian witness in my future political career. My family motivates me to find my passion, to take life’s journey one step at a time and to honor the legacy of the good men and women who have come before me. Free food motivates me to stand in long lines and work long hours.
Last show/favorite show you binge watched (more than 2 shows in a sitting)?
AG: Most of my work in political science has related to state and national politics, so I love to binge “Madam Secretary” whenever I can in order to dabble in foreign politics. I would be totally fine with Elizabeth McCord running for president in 2020!
AG: I have no idea who first said it, but I try to live by the mantra of “be where your feet are.” Being present in every moment and intentional in every interaction is crucial to making others feel loved and valued.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
AG: About 13 years later, my patient profile in the orthodontist office still says that my career goal is to win American Idol. In elementary school, I thrived at church talent shows and in elementary school honor choirs. I was always told I had a lot of potential, but unfortunately puberty ruined that career path for me. So, the new goal is President of the United States. Just as reasonable, right?
Favorite Athens restaurant?
AG: Chick-fil-a is my go-to. In fact, people say that my love is more like an obsession. But when I am not at Chick-fil-a, Mama’s Boy, Clocked and South Kitchen are always great options!
Create your own question: What makes UGA special?
AG: As cliché as it sounds, the greatest part of UGA is the people. There is something in the air at this school that makes students, faculty, staff and passersby feel like family. Staff members like Miss Delores in the MLC, Miss Sandra at Snelling, and Miss Terri and Miss Li Anne at the Tate Deck keep this place running and go out of their way to make students feel seen and known. Administrators look for opportunities to meet with students and faculty members see office hours as a highlight of their week. The people of UGA hug you, call you by your name, and never forget you. There really is no institution worthy of such loyalty as the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs!