Dean Charles Davis, Brad MacAfee and Orlando Pimentel talk backstage before the Spring 2017 Grady Convocation.
Dean Charles Davis, Brad MacAfee and Orlando Pimentel talk backstage before the Spring 2017 Grady Convocation.

Passionate convocation speech leads to professional opportunity

One never knows when or where opportunity will knock. For Orlando Pimentel, Grady College’s senior speaker at its April 28 convocation, he certainly didn’t expect opportunity to knock as the result of his convocation speech.

Nor did Pimentel expect that when he met convocation keynote speaker Brad MacAfee backstage, that it would be such a consequential introduction.

However, late that evening, Pimentel received a call from MacAfee who is the CEO of one of the largest global public relations agencies, Porter Novelli. MacAfee was congratulating Pimentel on his speech, but also was offering him a dream internship at Porter Novelli.

Orlando Pimentel and his family after Grady Convocation April 27, 2017.
Orlando Pimentel and his family after Grady Convocation April 27, 2017.

“It was surreal at first, because when Brad introduced himself on the phone, I still couldn’t get over the fact that I had just taken my phone off airplane mode nearly 5 seconds before his call,” Pimentel recalled. “The timing seemed so perfect.”

Earlier that day, Pimentel delivered one of the most emotional and passionate senior speeches in recent years, garnering a standing ovation at the end. Touching on the challenges he overcame to study at Grady College, this first generation Mexican-American implored his fellow graduates to work relentlessly, nurture a supportive network and maintain their confidence. These were all messages that resonated with MacAfee.

MacAfee delivered a powerful message in his keynote address, as well, talking about the Four I’s: Integrity, Imagination, Improvement and Inclusion.

Pimentel had been searching for a job or internship in creative advertising over the past several months, however, due to his heavy course load including a campaigns class and his work with Talking Dog, he had not been able to dedicate the time required to secure employment for the summer.

MacAfee’s offer to Pimentel included an internship opportunity in New York City which would focus more on consumer accounts, or an internship in Washington, D.C. which would focus more on public affairs and social good. Pimentel chose the internship in Washington, D.C.

“When I came to UGA,” Pimentel said, “I knew whatever I studied, I wanted to use it to make a positive impact on society, and the chance to intern in D.C. is the perfect embodiment of where I want to take my life and career.”

It was the convocation speech, not a traditional interview, that led Pimental to the Porter Novelli opportunity. Pimentel admits that he was prompted to apply to be a senior speaker because he not only wanted share his story, but to encourage his fellow graduates to participate, as well.

“Despite attending one of the best colleges in the state and nation, I witnessed how much (other Grady students) didn’t believe in themselves, and it was disheartening, because they were all capable and talented people,” Pimentel explained. “They lacked confidence, something I can relate to very much. I just wanted to go up to them and say ‘you are more capable and stronger than you think.’ I knew in order to inspire them, I had to share my life and the circumstances I came from.”

Pimentel said his family was very proud of his talk, especially his sister who graduated from college two years ago and had a similar journey. He has been surprised by the reaction of his speech by others, though.

“When it came time to give my speech, I hoped it would succeed in at least resonating with some students, but I had no idea that it would impact and move so many people as deeply as it has,” Pimentel said. “It has truly been an honor, as well as very humbling.”

As he prepares for his internship at Porter Novelli in a few weeks, Pimentel finds strength in the work ethic his parents have instilled in him.

“I lacked confidence and self-esteem, which led me to be discouraged a lot like my friends and peers were, but having matured and gained confidence, I realize I’m not where I am today because of chance or luck,” Pimentel concluded. “I’m here because I made the effort to move forward, every single day, by staying determined, believing in and developing my abilities, being kind to myself and others, and reaching out to others for guidance and support.”

Pimentel, like many of our Grady College graduates, is well on his way.

Date: May 8, 2017
Author:  Sarah Freeman,