In the weeks leading up to the Grady College Centennial Weekend, April 16-19, we'll feature a guest blog post authored by a preselected alumnus/alumna. For ways in which students, faculty, alumni, donors and friends can share Grady College memories and photos in honor of the centennial year, please visit grady100.uga.edu.
The Grady College is, and always will be, part of your extended family. If you sit and think about it, I would venture to guess you will come to the same conclusion.
Many people start their collegiate studies at the University of Georgia with passions, dreams and aspirations, coupled with uncertainty and doubt about the path they want to follow when it comes to choosing a major. I, for one, had no idea what I wanted to study my freshman year: business, psychology or maybe liberal arts? Those first couple months or semesters are exciting, but also extremely daunting. It's not like the major you choose guides the way you spend the next 40 years of your life. Oh wait, that's exactly what it does!
So what compelled me to choose Grady College? One day freshman year, by chance, I walked into the Journalism building after a psychology class in the Instructional Plaza. It was that day my life changed forever. It was the simple things that caught my eye: a group of students diligently working in the Drewry Room; a Grady professor taking a vested interest in the life of a student. I saw a building abuzz with life and energy, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Years later, I know the decision to pursue a Grady degree was the right one. The relationships I made as a public relations major at Grady will last forever. My professors and the fellow students in my classes became more than just acquaintances during my tenure – they became my friends. Ask anyone if they had a teacher who was more like a second mom or dad. I can assure you, most would say yes. For me, that teacher was Dr. Betty Jones. She helped me grow from just a shy PR student into who I am today – an outgoing, optimistic, hard-working PR professional. She saw my potential and helped guide me in the right direction, not just as a mentor but also as a friend.
With Dr. Jones' guidance, I got involved with the Drewry Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), ran for office, served as president and made lifelong connections through my experiences.
Grady afforded me opportunities that I would not have had anywhere else. I traveled to Arizona to help put our PRSSA chapter on the national radar. With members of my executive board, I attended the PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C., bringing back best practices from other chapters across the world. I traveled to D.C. again to tour PR agencies and get a sense for life after graduation with 14 other Grady students. I even got to plan a high-profile networking event, ADPR Connection, which brought PR and advertising professionals from across the Southeast to campus. With support from Grady and the various student support funds, I spent time advancing my career outside of the classroom before it even began.
Now, after three and a half years, there is one fact that remains – the connections I made during my time at Grady are as strong as ever. As the chairman of the Grady Young Alumni Council, it is exciting to see how Grady continues to change the lives of its students and the continued growth of the Grady family.
This year marks a huge milestone for the college as Grady turns 100. If the college means as much to you as it does to me, I hope to see you back in the Classic City for one heck of a birthday party. Centennial is coming. Will you be there with me to celebrate 100 years of Grady?
Michael Gray is a 2011 graduate of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he majored in public relations. He also received a bachelor's degree in economics. During his time in Athens, he served as president of the Public Relations Student Society of America. After graduation, he started working in the Atlanta office of Porter Novelli, a global PR agency. After three years, he recently started working for FOX Sports South. He is also a staff writer for LastWordOnSports.com, focusing on Georgia football. Michael is also the Chairman of the Grady Young Alumni Council, a part of the Grady Society Alumni Board. Follow him on Twitter @mgrayuga and join the Centennial conversation using #Grady100.
More Alumni Reflections:
There’s always a friend to be found at Grady by Lauren Patrick (ABJ '07)
January 27, 2015 Author:
Michael Gray, email@example.com