In January of 2017, Public Affairs Communications certificate alumna Jenni Sweat left her home in Georgia and packed her bags to spend a semester in D.C. interning on Capitol Hill. However, that semester-long press internship turned into a four-year stay on the Hill where she now serves as the press secretary for Senator David Perdue.
Ironically, Sweat never aspired to work in politics or public affairs communications. Originally focused on business, she bounced around a few other majors before finding her place studying public relations at Grady College. Once there, Sweat involved herself in various Grady organizations like PRSSA and ADPR Connection. Throughout her time at UGA, she was always looking for another way to make herself more marketable.
It was then, intrigued by the 2016 presidential election and in accordance with her desire to acquire a unique skillset, that Sweat joined the inaugural cohort of the Public Affairs Communications program. The certificate program introduced her to the role that communications plays in connecting elected officials to their constituents.
The program coupled with her work at the Athens-Clarke County library showed her the difference that effective public policy can make in the lives of citizens. So, when Sweat heard about UGA’s Washington Semester Program through PAC, she jumped on the opportunity. From there, Sweat worked up to her current position, balancing her full-time job while finishing her degree from UGA online.
Today, Sweat serves as the on-the-record spokesperson for Senator Perdue, drafting official statements and implementing the office’s national media strategy.
“My job as press secretary is to maintain the Senator’s brand and help him communicate with the people of Georgia in the most effective way possible,” said Sweat. “Through Grady and PAC, I learned tactical communications skills and met dozens of experienced practitioners – some of whom I still work with today. This gave me a solid foundation that I was able to build upon with real-world experience. Simply put, I would not be in my position today without the skills I learned through Grady and PAC.”
Looking forward, Sweat hopes to continue serving the people of Georgia, cutting through red tape and delivering positive outcomes for all Georgians. Sweat encourages current students to find skills that make them stand out as valuable professionals.
January 4, 2021 Author:
Sarah Geary, firstname.lastname@example.org