40 under 40 honoree: Mikaya Thurmond (ABJ ’12)

40 under 40 honoree: Mikaya Thurmond (ABJ ’12)

September 23, 2020
Dayne Youngdayne@uga.edu

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized as 2020 40 under 40 honorees, presented by the University of Georgia Alumni Association.

The 40 under 40 distinction recognizes the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates under the age of 40.

This interview with Mikaya Thurmond (ABJ ’12), anchor/reporter at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, is one of a series of conversations with Grady’s honorees this year. Other honorees are:

Ashley McMaster (ABJ ’12)
Eric Jones (ABJ ’12)
Jamelia Outlaw Smith (ABJ ’03)

Grady College: What experience during your time in college had the biggest influence on where you are today?

Thurmond: “I began working as a tour leader at the UGA Visitor’s Center in my freshman year and it had a tremendous impact on me. By the time I graduated, I led thousands of guests on tours and honed an incredible set of skills. Most impactfully, I learned the importance of showing up with a smile to my job every day because guests relied on me to have the best experience possible. I’m also grateful to have spent hundreds of hours public speaking, which refined my presentation skills as a journalist. I would not have traded that experience for anything.”

Grady College: What advice do you have for current students?

Thurmond says she is most motivated by her faith. (photo submitted)

Thurmond: “Your time at the University of Georgia will be one of the best eras of your life, so HAVE MORE FUN! There is nothing more important than connecting with your classmates and investing in the campus community during this time. Those relationships will be invaluable after graduation. Enjoy them now.”

Grady College: What skill that you have mastered would you tell your college-aged self to practice?

Thurmond: “You must watch the news. When I was a student, I remember my Grady College professors encouraging me to make news consumption a part of my daily homework. In this career, you need to have a vast understanding of the most unimaginable topics. Knowledgeability is paramount for your success in this industry. You cannot be unprepared.”

Grady College: What motivates you?

Thurmond: “I’m most motivated by my faith. I believe that each person has been put on this earth to live out God’s purpose for their life. My calling is to bring as much light into the world as possible. With my platform as a local newscaster, I have an opportunity to be a bright spot for someone. I push myself each day to show up as a good steward in some way.”

Grady College: What was your vision for your career? Have you followed this path?

Thurmond: “My vision for my career has always been unconventional. Growing up, my parents encouraged me to simply follow whatever path makes me happiest. I am blessed that I’ve never had to compromise on that goal. When you do what makes you happy, going to your job never feels like “work.”

Thurmond speaks at a community function. (photo submitted)

Grady College: What did you love most about your time at UGA?

Thurmond: “In my time at UGA, I loved that was so close to my extended family. Athens is home to my dad’s side of the family. For all four years, I really appreciated that I was always less than 10 minutes away from one of my 8 aunts and uncles—not to mention my dozens of cousins!”