Lost and Found at Grady

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.

“Clueless” is the word that comes to mind when I recall the 18-year-old me who arrived in Athens with a manual typewriter and a firm but unfocused notion that I wanted to write, and set out to major in journalism.

In retrospect, it seems likely others shared that clueless feeling; but back then I was sure that some crucial set of instructions had been left out of my registration packet.

At the time, admission to Grady consisted of checking the appropriate box on a form — no rigorous selection process involved — and signing up for classes. So I happily enrolled myself in Dean John Drewry’s Journalism 101 and determined to work on the Red & Black, then under the auspices of the J-school.

My roommate and I showed up in tandem at the newspaper office, in the catacombs of the old C-J building, uncertain of how to sign up. We charged into an editorial meeting and my friend announced loudly, “Hi, we’re freshmen.” I imagined — and I am sure I wasn’t wrong — a roomful of people saying to themselves: “No kidding.”

Nonetheless, we were welcomed and put to work.

That’s pretty much the way classes went, too, minus the awkward introduction — in the dean’s 101 class and others that followed (journalism law, introduction to broadcast journalism, history of journalism, advanced reporting, principles and ethics of journalism), the professor called my name, checked me “present,” and put me to work. Nobody questioned whether or not I belonged, or suggested (in line with the conventional wisdom of the day directed toward young women) that I should consider an education major or at the very least get a teaching certificate so I would have “something to fall back on.”

I was treated like a serious professional. The only discouraging word came from an English professor who told me I was wasting my time in journalism classes since I could pick up whatever I needed to know “in any print shop.” I realized at the time she was wrong — but was still too much of a nice girl from Decatur to say so. And was she ever wrong.

I liked my Grady classmates and colleagues a lot — they were smart, funny, encouraging, and interesting. (And after all these years, I still find journalists the best possible company for just about any occasion. They get the jokes. I even married a journalist.)

I enjoyed the work — the reporting and the writing and, perversely, the deadlines — occasionally coming in just under the wire, but meeting them — and the sense of accomplishment when an assignment was completed.

I found myself thinking like a journalist and beginning to feel like one. And, when I graduated, I was a journalist. Still am, and proud of it. Thanks, Grady.

About the Author
Susan Percy is editor-at-large of Georgia Trend Magazine, a monthly publication covering business, politics and economic development. Her work has been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Association of Area Business Publications (AABP) and the Magazine Association of the Southeast (MAGS); and she was inducted into the MAGS Hall of Fame in 2008. She is a member of the Grady Society Alumni Board.

More Alumni Reflections:
There’s always a friend to be found at Grady by Lauren Patrick (ABJ ’07)
It’s simple: The Grady family is forever by Michael Gray (ABJ ’11)
How to celebrate a centennial: recommit, reconvene, re-engage by Brittney Haynes (ABJ ’09)
It’s easy to feel a sense of community at Grady by Shannon Sullivan Collado (ABJ ’10)
Grady offers growth by Julia Hemingway (ABJ ’14)
Grady grads get more than a basic education by Eric NeSmith (ABJ ’02)

Date: March 3, 2015
Author:  Susan Percy, susanpercy@bellsouth.net