Public Affairs Communications Program: Student Spotlights Summer 2020

Public Affairs Communications Program: Student Spotlights Summer 2020

August 10, 2020

The Public Affairs Communications (PAC) Program is proud to spotlight the following students for their hard work and determination this summer: Patrick Femia, Sarah Geary, Zach Green, Karlie Hanson, Hannah Payne, Simran Sethi and Grace Wilbanks.

Patrick Femia is a rising senior from Cumming, Georgia. He is majoring in public relations and political science with a minor in public policy and management. This summer, Patrick is interning remotely for Deloitte’s Policy and Government Relations team. He monitors issues of legislative and regulatory importance, mapping stakeholders and condensing information to present to the firm and its clients. This internship has allowed Patrick to build on his past academic and leadership experiences on Capitol Hill and on campus.

“My PAC experience has helped prepare me for this role, which sits at the intersection of public and private sectors and has helped me better understand how firms prepare to advocate for a position or cause with the foundations of PAC.”

Sarah Geary is a rising senior from Smyrna, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. She is currently serving as the Tieger Fellow for the PAC program, in addition to working as the communications intern at the Institute for Energy Research (IER). There, she researches energy policy; writes scripts, press releases, blogs and op-eds; and develops content for IER’s social media. Sarah believes the certificate program and her internship experience has well prepared her for a career in public affairs.

“Coming into the PAC program, I knew that I wanted a career in public affairs communications, however, I neither had the needed skillset or depth of knowledge. I can honestly say that if it were not for Professor Watson’s dedication and the support of my cohort, I would not have the professional experience, confidence or expertise that I have today.”

Zach Green is a rising senior from Duluth, Georgia. He is majoring in public relations and has a minor in English. Zach is working as a research analyst for the Federalist Society this summer. In this role, he is involved in reading, writing and editing documents that support the organization’s goal to promote the principles of limited government embodied by the Constitution. Zach hopes to translate these experiences in law school after graduation.

“The PAC program has helped me with my work ethic. PAC requires people to dive into the world of political communication and politics in general. In doing so, PAC members not only find niches of politics that they are interested in, but they also learn how politics change on a daily basis. Finding out what you are interested in politically and learning more about it forces you to work hard. At the end of the day, that work is very rewarding, and I have the PAC program, Professor Watson and my cohort to thank for making each day in PAC better than the last.”

Karlie Hanson is a rising senior from Atlanta, Georgia. She is majoring in public relations with a minor in French. This summer, Karlie is interning for Governor Brian Kemp’s Office in the communications department where she develops digital content and aids in preparing press releases, video scripts, letters and other ceremonial documents. She was encouraged to apply for this position after meeting the governor’s Healthcare Policy Advisor, Ryan Loke, who spoke in the Introduction to Applied Politics course, a required class for the Public Affairs Professional Certificate. Karlie plans on pursuing a career in public affairs communications.

“PAC has really prepared me for being in this field. It has provided a sturdy foundation to grow from when it comes to political communication. It has finely tuned my attention to the use of certain language and strategy. I can easily say it has groomed me to be a more effective communicator.”

Hannah Payne is a rising senior from Rome, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. She is spending her summer in Washington, D.C., as a press intern for U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. There, Hannah is working to enhance the office’s digital media, write press releases and aid in constituent communication. She is adding this experience to her resume after interning for Sen. David Perdue last summer. Hannah intends on pursuing a master’s degree while working in the world of political communications after graduation.

“The PAC program has prepared me more than I ever realized for this role along with my public relations communications class in Grady. When asked to write a press release or other form of communication, I feel more prepared and able to do it with ease because I have done it for class so many times in the past.”

Simran Sethi is a rising senior from Boone, North Carolina. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. This summer, Simran is working as the corporate communications intern for Textron’s Specialized Vehicles branch assisting with internal communications projects and events. While in the process of applying for the internship, she was introduced to her current boss Brandon Haddock, the Director of Communications for Textron’s Specialized Vehicles, at a PAC Lunch and Learn. Simran hopes to continue work in corporate communications and go to graduate school in the future.

“The PAC program is valuable for the education our directors give us, but it is just as equally valuable for the networking opportunities we gain. There will be 92 interns at my Textron office this summer, and I will be the one and only communications intern. There are so many qualified students with impressive resumes but forming a relationship with Mr. Haddock at the Lunch and Learn gave me that leg up to stand out in the crowd and be given this opportunity!”

Grace Wilbanks is a rising senior from Orange, Virginia. She is majoring in public relations with a minor in Spanish. Grace spent time working this summer as a campaign intern for Georgia House Rep. Houston Gaines. There, she designed communications materials, engaged in constituent outreach and worked on the representative’s reelection campaign. Grace plans to work in mental health and immigrant advocacy after graduation.

“The PAC program 120% prepared me for this internship. It was exciting to see that for every task I was given, I had already done a similar version in a classroom setting for my applied politics and public affairs communications courses.”