Three students selected as Fall Tieger Fellows in Public Affairs Communications

The Public Affairs Professional Certificate in Public Affairs Communications announces the selection of three new Tieger Fellows for the Fall 2022 semester: Jenna Monnin, Olga Diaz-Nasser and Sarah Dorr. The Tieger Fellowship gives students pursuing the PAC certificate at Grady College the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world public affairs work promoting the program.

These three students started their fellowships this summer and will continue their work serving the PAC program this fall. The Fellows work closely with the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications and PAC Program Director, Joseph Watson, Jr.

“We are excited to announce the selection of Olga, Sarah, and Jenna as our newest Tieger Fellows,” Watson said. “The vision and funding of Carolyn Caudell Tieger makes the PAC program and special opportunities like the Tieger Fellowship possible. These students will bring their unique talents and sensibilities to their roles that will help promote their program and keep our current and prospective students engaged. I look forward to working with these talented students to serve the PAC program.”

The first-in-the-nation PAC program was established in 2016 to give undergraduate students practical training in public affairs strategy and practice, and its classroom instruction focuses on advocacy work, public policy, and politics.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded by Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69), who has decades of public affairs experience with a career that spans Capitol Hill, the White House, global PR firms, and her own company.

Fall 2022 Tieger Fellows with Professor Joe Watson
Tieger Fellows Jenna Monnin, Sarah Dorr and Olga Diaz-Nasser pose for a picture with Joseph Watson, Jr.

“The program has exceeded all expectations not only in terms of equipping PAC students with the skills to succeed but in instilling in them a respect for each other and our country’s political process,” said Tieger. “These students have now become highly sought after by the U.S. Congress, state governments, corporations, public affairs agencies, pollsters and the media. Grady College and Joseph Watson have built a one-of-a-kind program in the nation that just keeps getting better. Congratulations to these three dynamic students who will be our PAC ambassadors for promoting the program and serving as leaders for the College.”

The Tieger Fellows will promote the program through media relations, social and digital media, and through events on campus. Monnin, the Media Relations Fellow, will write about PAC students, alumni, and events for the blog. Diaz-Nasser, the Social and Digital Media Fellow, will create posts and help manage the social media platforms for the program. Dorr, the Program Promotion Fellow, will promote PAC events and help the program connect with alumni and other groups on campus.

The PAC program and its courses have prepared these three students for their future careers, and this new cohort of Fellows is excited to continue using their skills this fall to serve the program.

Jenna Monnin is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia double majoring in journalism and political science. This summer, Monnin went to Washington D.C. on the GradyDC program and had two part time internships. She interned for National Journal on their editorial team and for Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press as a policy intern. On campus, Monnin works as a volunteer for Grady Newsource, a student-led broadcasting club. She was also elected by her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, to serve as the Panhellenic Delegate last year and the Nomination Committee Chairman this fall.

“I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to give back to the PAC program, a program that has truly prepared me to enter the real-world! My goal for this semester is to find unique angles for the stories I will be writing about our amazing network of PAC students and alumni.”

Olga Diaz-Nasser is a senior from Alpharetta, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in French. She is also pursuing a master’s in public administration through the Double Dawgs pathway. Diaz-Nasser spent her summer in Washington D.C. through the Honors in Washington program as an intern in the office of Representative Lucy McBath. She has previously interned for See.Spark.Go, a PR agency. On campus, she serves as the Executive Director for University Judiciary, the Member Relations Manager of Women in Media, and a Grady College Ambassador.

“I’m excited to come back to Athens this fall and further involve myself in the campus community. My goal for the semester is to make sure I create fresh and well-timed content for all social media platforms for the PAC program. I’m looking forward to connecting with the PAC community through my posts and digital content.”

Sarah Dorr is a senior from Peachtree City, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in general business and a certificate in New Media. Sarah spent this summer in New York City through the AdPR NYC program working as an intern for PR Consulting, a fashion, beauty and lifestyle-focused public relations agency. On campus, Sarah served as a Yarbrough-Grady Public Relations Fellow and currently serves as Vice President of UGA’s Drewry Chapter of PRSSA. She previously interned on the digital communications team at UGA Alumni Association.

“I’m super excited to serve as the Program Promotion Fellow for PAC this fall. Since the pandemic, it’s been hard to get all of us together in person. My goal is to bring back that aspect of peer networking that makes the program so unique.”

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Olga Diaz-Nasser

Olga Diaz-Nasser is a fourth year public relations major with a minor in French and a certificate in public affairs communications. She is also a double dawg and will be getting her masters in public administration. She is heavily involved in and outside of the Grady community, serving as the executive director of University Judiciary, the member relations manager for Women in Media, a Grady Ambassador and a Carolyn Caudell Tieger Fellow for the public affairs communications certificate.

What does “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means going after your goals no matter the obstacles that are in your way. To me, it means determination, perseverance, and resilience. It’s something I hope to embody throughout my daily life.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

Professor Watson is definitely my favorite Grady Professor. His public affairs communications classes have helped me explore my career interests and develop my goals for the future. His experience, advice, and kindness have been invaluable as I’ve delved further into the intersection of politics and communications.

Diaz-Nasser gives a speech as the incoming executive director of University Judiciary at their Jenny Penny Oliver ceremony in April of 2022. (Photo:submitted)
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

I’m involved in an organization called UniversityJudiciary and it has truly defined my path here at UGA. University Judiciary has given me a supportive community to encourage me as I work towards my dreams and allowed me to gain the confidence in myself needed to achieve them. I’ve met my closest friends through the organization and the Office of Student Conduct staff have become some of my mentors. Judiciary has helped me grow as a person, leader, and friend.

What are you passionate about?

Helping others! My senses of justice and empathy have always driven me to serve others and that is what I’ve tried to do throughout my time here at UGA. I hope to keep working hard to help underprivileged and minority communities around the nation in my future career.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?
Diaz-Nasser poses for a picture with other members of the 2021-2022 University Judiciary executive council. (Photo:submitted)

Getting involved is absolutely essential. Freshman year is tough and your first year when you officially get accepted into Grady is tough too. Having people who support you and encourage you to go for it will be vital to your success and happiness. Grady has so many opportunities for students to get involved, learn new skills, and meet other passionate, driven Grady students. Don’t let any of these opportunities pass you by. Branch out and get involved!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ok, in all honesty I found this quote on Pinterest but it still echoes in my head every day, “The grass is greener where you water it.” I struggled a lot freshman year. I was shy and nervous about getting involved on campus and making new friends. I had spent so long wanting this ideal version of what my freshman year was supposed to look like, that I forgot that I was the one who was supposed to make it happen. This quote pushed me out of my comfort zone. I realized it was my responsibility to put myself out there, join clubs, meet new people, and water my own grass. I try to live by this quote every day. Everything I do is to water my own grass, because I know if I put in the effort then no matter what happens I’ll be proud of myself.

What motivates you?

My parents are my biggest motivators. My mom is a Colombian immigrant and her story is what has inspired me to want to work in immigration policy. Both her and my dad have always been my biggest supporters and I do everything I can to make them proud. I’m thankful for all of their encouragement; without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Diaz-Nasser smiles for a photo with Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA 6) during her summer internship in Representative McBath’s D.C. office. (Photo:submitted)
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern in the office of Congresswoman Lucy McBath and live in UGA’s Delta Hall in Washington D.C. through the Honors in Washington program. Getting into Honors in Washington is definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. I was so honored to have been a part of the group of talented, passionate students that were in Washington D.C. with me and blessed to have been able to work in the office of my own representative, Congresswoman McBath. This summer was one of the best of my life and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience it alongside the UGA students in Delta Hall.

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

I hope to work in Washington D.C. My studies in the field of public affairs communications has really ignited a passion for policy and politics in me. I’d like to work in immigration policy on a federal level, hopefully in a committee in Congress!

Where is your favorite study spot?

I love to study on the fourth floor of the Main Library. It’s the floor where you can talk or take zoom meetings if you need to, and nobody will get mad if you’re speaking at a normal level. I hate studying in absolute silence so I love being able to study without being afraid of typing too loud or rummaging through my backpack too much.

Grady InternViews: Austin Clark

Austin is participating in the Grady D.C. program led by Professor Joseph Watson.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I support the entire communications team through compiling daily press clips, drafting press releases and creating press lists. Additional office wide responsibilities include logging voicemails and comments left for the Senator, and giving tours of the Capitol.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have been able to see how a Senate office is able to create and maintain relationships with journalists in Georgia. There is not an emphasis on national publications, but the communications team will target specific releases to markets to which the news is relevant. Seeing that deliberative process, as opposed to a mass email, has been interesting to learn.

Austin (far left) behind Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock addressing a crowd. (Photo:submitted)
How will this role guide your future career path?

I would love to make it back to D.C. soon. I am staying at Delta Hall, UGA’s dorm in D.C., and I have loved every second of it. The connections I have made so far in Senator Ossoff’s office, at networking events, and even in the elevator in the office building, will help me land a job up here when I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students looking to pursue a career in politics?
Austin is interning in Washington D.C. as part of the Grady D.C. program. (Photo:submitted)

Start looking for internships and opportunities now. The Virtual Student Federal Service is a great place to find remote, low commitment internships with the State Department and other federal agencies. I have participated in that program for two years, and I have no doubt it helped me land this internship.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

The work of drafting press releases and collecting daily press clips is nothing new to me; however, being in the Senate, in D.C., and being able to go to the Capitol building whenever I want is very, very cool. I have also been able to interact with the Senator and speak to him about policy and communication strategy.

Austin (pictured left, back) is a communications intern for the office of Senator Jon Ossoff (pictured right). (Photo:submitted)
How has the public affairs communications (PAC) certificate prepared you for this role?

The PAC certificate has given me the ability to make suggestions to this professional communications team that shows that I know what I’m talking about. Being able to ask, “Can I help pitch this story?” or “Would you like for me to find new outlets for this release?,” shows that I too am a professional communicator, and that my team can trust me with other assignments.

Public Affairs Communications Certificate program welcomes 29 newly admitted students

The Public Affairs Communications program has announced its 2022 Public Affairs Professional Certificate cohort. With 29 students, this is the largest cohort in the program’s five-year history.

“I am encouraged that year after year, students remain interested in this program and getting involved in public affairs to better the state and our nation,” said Joseph Watson, Jr., PAC program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The PAC program and Tieger fellowship are the product of the vision and funding provided by Grady College alumna Carolyn Caudell Tieger. The program is celebrating its fifth anniversary this spring.

This year’s Tieger Fellows coordinated a social media campaign and information session geared toward growing applications and educating students about the certificate program. Student testimonials also contributed to the successful application season.

As the first undergraduate program of its kind in the nation, the PAC program offers students a unique opportunity to develop a focused skill set in strategic communications. Through coursework and experiential learning offered by the program, students in the 2022 cohort will be trained in educating, shaping or changing public opinion on public policy, legislation, political candidates or issues.

Below is the Public Affairs Professional Certificate’s 2022 PAC Cohort:

  • Diana Avina
  • Sierra Baker
  • Jenna Bertschi
  • Callie Bolemon
  • Sydney Branton
  • Madeline Brechtel
  • Emma Brumsey
  • Parker Denton
  • Erin Diehl
  • John Dillon
  • Emily Eith
  • Lauren Ellison
  • Gracie Englund
  • Edward Feininger
  • Zoe Flores
  • Jacquelyn Fox
  • Lauren Kim
  • Katherine Gates
  • Cale Ledford
  • Rosalia Little
  • Margaret Martin
  • Mack Morris
  • Abby Peacock
  • Virginia Quinn Phillips
  • Jordan Ross
  • Sydney Senical
  • Elisabeth Strong
  • Anna Womack
  • Hannah Yahne

PAC Student Spotlight: Summer 2021

This summer, 11 Public Affairs Communications students lived and worked in the nation’s capital. They participated in the GradyDC program, where University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication students live and take classes in Delta Hall for about 10 weeks.

Here are some profiles of our PAC program students who had the ultimate summer experience.

Molly Sikes
  • Fourth-year Journalism and Political Science double major
  • Communications and Research Intern at the Republican National Committee
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

Without PAC, I would not be prepared to write Op-Eds or LTEs. I was asked to do this almost immediately, and I am so thankful for my PAC experience for preparing me for this. Dr. Watson’s advice and tips as well about how to make connections in D.C. have been influential in my time here.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

My advice is to say yes to everything! Even if you are unsure if you are qualified, skilled enough or knowledgeable enough, give everything a chance because you are more than likely more than qualified enough and will excel.

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

My favorite part of D.C. has been living in the center of American politics. I love knowing what happens right as it happens and being around others who also love politics and have the same passions that I have.

 

Carolyn McLain
  • Fourth-year Political Science and Public Relations double major
  • Federal Relations Fellow at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (remote)
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

I think PAC helped me better understand the language and writing styles I am using in this fellowship. It taught me how to apply my writing skills to the political and legislative scene in a concise fashion.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

If you want to work in the political or government communications landscape, most definitely apply for the PAC certificate! It has provided me with so many opportunities I may not have otherwise had, and the small cohort gives you a chance to get to know other people and the speakers that come in to talk to you, which is so important. The PAC certificate classes are so fun and interesting, and it opens the door for you to also come to do the Grady DC program!

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

It has been so cool to live in another city for a summer and explore and learn while I am here. It has been an experience like no other. I love getting to feel like a local and experience every part of DC, because it is such a cool city. This summer program is especially cool because you have built-in friends at Delta Hall, and you get to have that piece of UGA in DC. DC also has so much history, so the American history nerd in me is thriving.

 

Caroline Kurzawa
  • Fourth-year Journalism major
  • Integrated Communications Intern for Enterprise Operations at Lockheed Martin (remote)
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

The writing and strategic thinking skills I have learned through the PAC program made it much easier to start my position and anticipate what my supervisors were expecting of me.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

Apply anyway. Not sure if you’ll get it? Apply anyway. Take the risk because the education you are receiving will support your goals. To students considering the PAC program: this program is one of a kind and will provide you with the kind of skills that employers in the public affairs realm need. Professor Watson brings his real-world experience and knowledge to the classroom to prepare you for your future.

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

The energy! There is always something to do and places to see. This is a great place for young professionals who want to be at the heart of public affairs.

 

Chandler Rebel
  • Third-year Journalism and Political Science double major
  • Communications Intern at the Institute for Energy Research
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

I feel that the PAC certificate has more than prepared me. I have a long way to go before writing flawlessly, but I have learned to do so adequately through the program. It has also contributed to being able to adapt with an ever-changing political environment.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

By all means, do it! You have to have an attitude that desires personal growth and an invaluable opportunity. These internships, along with the PAC certificate, are the perfect way to continue this growth.

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

My favorite part about living and working in DC would have to be the friends I have had the chance of making along the way. And also an occasional Washington Nationals game.

 

Kayla Roberson
  • Fourth-year Journalism and Political Science double major
  • Press Intern at the United States House of Representatives
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

The PAC certificate has prepared me for this job by teaching me the practical skills I need to work in political communications. Skills like writing press releases, op-eds, social media posts, and creating graphics were all skills that I learned in my PAC classes that I have used as a part of my role on the Hill.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

If you’re thinking about getting a PAC certificate, don’t think about it anymore, just do it! Getting to learn about political communications under the guidance of Professor Watson has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had UGA.

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

There are so many things I have loved about living in D.C. this summer, but every time I walk past the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court on my way to work in the mornings, I am overwhelmed by the fact that I have the opportunity to assist a member of Congress as they serve their Constituents in Washington.

 

Jake Strickland
  • Fourth-year Public Relations and Political Science double major
  • Digital Media and Marketing Intern at Human Rights Campaign (Remote)
How do you feel that the PAC certificate has prepared you for tackling the job?

The PAC certificate has prepared me for my internship by strengthening my writing skills, while also giving me insights into how to network with people.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

For other students looking to take on a similar role, I would say don’t be nervous to try something new within your internship. If they’re considering a PAC certificate, I would say go for it – it’s one of the best decisions I made in college!

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

My favorite part about living and working in DC has been the access to networking. There are so many people here (particularly UGA people) that have helped shine a light on what I want to pursue, and I’m truly thankful for that.

PAC Alumni in Action: Sloane & Company

Alumni: Vaibhav Kumar (BA ’20), Madison Gable (AB ‘19), Caroline Friedman (AB ’19),

For Public Affairs Communications (PAC) students, connections are one of the most important parts of the program. Whether staying after class to meet guest speakers or keeping in touch with classmates after graduation, these connections can set you apart in an interview and help you get the job.

At Sloane & Company, a strategic corporate and financial communications firm, three University of Georgia Public Affairs Professional Certificate graduates with concentrations in Public Affairs Communications or Applied Politics have found their place in the Big Apple.

Madison Gable (AB ’19), a former Carolyn Caudell Tieger Fellow, joined Sloane after another PAC graduate recommended her for the role. Gable recently graduated from Central European University with an MA in Political Science, but she kept in touch with her PAC classmate after becoming close during the GradyDC summer program.

“The great thing about PAC is that a lot of your fellow students and friends from the program could likely wind up being a part of your professional network as you go on in your careers,” Gable said.

In class, Gable learned how to write in different voices and styles. One of her most essential takeaways was how to consume all types of media.

“The PAC program also helped me develop a strong understanding of how to continually analyze the media environments I work in and to continually cultivate that understanding as these environments are constantly evolving,” she said. “The PAC program taught me how to compose my writing in different voices and styles depending on the deliverable, as well as how to write material that can catch media attention.”

Two more UGA graduates and alumna of the PAC and Public Affairs Professional Certificate programs also work at Sloane. Vaibhav Kumar (BA ’20), who received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Caroline Friedman (AB ’19), who received her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Kumar stayed behind after class to talk with guest speaker Whit Clay. He didn’t realize that conversation would lead to a full-time job one year later.

Professor Watson invited Whit Clay, co-CEO at Sloane & Company, to talk with students in September 2018.

Kumar works as an associate for Sloane. His chat with Clay, who is co-chief executive officer at Sloane, led to exchanging contact information and keeping in touch. It ultimately set him apart when the time came to apply and interview for an internship at Sloane in the summer of 2019.

Now, Kumar helps companies across multiple industries tell their corporate story to key audiences. While he graduated from UGA with degrees in political science and international affairs, it was his PAC classes that developed his writing and editing skills.

“Inviting spokespeople of all backgrounds helped me find cool internship opportunities like this,” Kumar said. “Additionally, the PAC classes helped me on my writing skills, especially when it came to memos and press releases. That practice with writing helps me daily at Sloane & Company.”

Clay said he is always impressed by the preparedness and eagerness of UGA graduates who join Sloane.

“UGA does an outstanding job of preparing young people to work,” Clay said. “The UGA graduates are all smart, but they distinguish themselves by being humble and willing to learn. They are not entitled and recognize that their education is a strong foundation, but that their careers in public relations will be built over time and success is earned through hard work, commitment and experience.”

Grady InternViews: Megan Mittelhammer

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

A graphic explaining Mittelhammer is a journalism major working as a communications intern at the Georgia Governor's Office in Atlanta, GAA typical day will always start with coffee! I drive to the Capitol, where I compile news clips to send out to the office. We have a morning meeting and discuss what everyone is working on and what’s on tap for that week. I mostly work on proclamations and commendations (when the governor wants to proclaim a certain day or month, or recognize an individual for their contributions to the state). I also update the website, draft social media posts and work on press releases. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to draft remarks and video scripts for the governor, which is exciting. I’m lucky that I have another intern in the communications office who’s a UGA student. We have a ton of mutual connections, so we’ve become great friends.

How is it structured? Is it remote or in-person and what has that been like?

I’m fortunate to have found an in-person internship, and despite having to wake up early this summer, I’ve loved getting to be in the office and meet new people or just hang out at someone’s desk and chat. You can’t really do that over Zoom.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I think writing remarks is the biggest challenge so far because I’m still learning the governor’s voice and how to write from his point of view. 

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?
Mittelhammer in an orange shirt outside the capitol
Megan works in-person every day at the Gold Dome in downtown Atlanta. (Photo: submitted)

I feel like my confidence in my abilities has grown, especially over the past year. When I was offered the internship, that boosted my confidence tremendously. Most of my experience has come from writing for The Red & Black, but getting to put skills from my Public Affairs Communications classes into action has been rewarding.  

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

My classes and professors at Grady have done a great job preparing me for this internship. In my PAC class, we practice writing a variety of releases, briefs, etc. — a lot of things that I’m working on right now! And when I have to fact check information or craft social posts, I know I’m using skills from my journalism classes.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

It’s all about connections! I knew some friends who did this same internship and encouraged me to apply, and my mentor was a huge help in so many aspects of the internship search process and acted as a knowledgeable resource. For new Grady students, start out networking among your cohort and professors, and definitely get involved with the UGA Mentor Program. Your list of connections will only grow from there.

If you’re thinking about any combination of writing and politics, definitely connect with a PAC student and apply to the PAC program!

What lessons will you take back with you to Athens in the fall?

The lessons I’ll take with me are to trust in my abilities as a writer and communicator, and to not be afraid to try new things. I take the initiative to ask for certain projects that I’ve never really done before, and it has paid off. I like serving and informing Georgians through this internship, and I’ll keep that in mind when I begin Newsource in the fall. I’ve been given a lot of responsibility and opportunities that I know are preparing me for my classes in the fall as well as life after college.

Two students selected as Summer Tieger Fellows in Public Affairs Communications

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of two new Tieger Fellows for the summer of 2021: Megan Mittelhammer and Jake Strickland. The Tieger Fellowship gives current students pursuing a Public Affairs Professional Certificate in Public Affairs Communications (PAC) the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world public affairs work promoting the PAC program.

The summer Tieger Fellows are responsible for day-to-day efforts to promote the program through use of media relations and social and digital media. Fellows work under the guidance of Professor Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The PAC program provides students with practical training in the strategy and practice of public affairs communications focused on public policy and politics.

This summer, Mittelhammer and Strickland are putting their PAC education to good use for the program and in their workplaces. Mittelhammer is charged with spotlighting students and alumni, especially those participating in the GradyDC summer program. Strickland will manage the program’s social and digital media.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded by Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69) who spent 40 years in Washington, D.C. working in public affairs and politics.

“I am delighted to welcome Megan and Jake as our 2021 Tieger Summer Fellows,” said Watson. “This fellowship, made possible by the vision and funding provided by Carolyn Caudell Tieger, allows us to provide exceptional students like Megan and Jake with the opportunity to promote the PAC program and develop skills that will prepare them for their careers. It is increasingly important to provide students with a practical education in public affairs communications and these students recognize this. I am confident that Megan and Jake will do an excellent job of managing the day-to-day activities of the program this summer and I look forward to working with them.”

The new Tieger Fellows are excited to get started and use their training to serve the program that has helped prepare them for their future careers.

Megan Mittelhammer, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a rising senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She is interning this summer in communications for the Office of Governor Brian Kemp. On campus, Mittelhammer has experience working as editor-in-chief, news editor and social media editor for The Red & Black. This past semester, Mittelhammer served as a Yarbrough public relations fellow, which she will continue in the fall.

Jake Strickland, from Dallas, Georgia, is a rising senior majoring in public relations and political science with an Arch-Ready professional certificate. Strickland’s summer will be spent in Washington, D.C. at the University’s Delta Hall where he is participating in the GradyDC program as a digital media and marketing intern for the Human Rights Campaign. Strickland has previously interned for The Partnership, a PR agency, and as a field intern for Let America Vote. On campus, he has worked as engagement editor and social media editor at The Red & Black and for the Professional Clothing Closet as communications director.

Grady InternViews: Jake Strickland

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

My days usually start with a check-in with my supervisor Curtis, who is actually a UGA alum (B.A. ‘13). This is when I get my assignments for the day. Assignments have included social media drafting (my favorite), content tracking, rapid response, comment monitoring and website building. I also have meetings throughout the day, and Intern Brown Bags where I get to know about different departments in HRC. All in all, my days usually run 9-5.

My internship is remote. Although I wish I was working in HRC headquarters, I am able to do everything from my laptop – including networking! I’ve added several people on LinkedIn and met several others at intern networking events.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge has been capturing the voice of HRC when I draft social. I’m always elated when my drafts get approved, but it definitely has taken some adjusting. 

Strickland waving his HRC flag in front of the Supreme Court. (Photo: submitted)
What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship?

The most memorable part of my internship has been the day that the Supreme Court handed down the Foster v. City of Philadelphia decision. This case involved the protection of LGBTQ+ families, and so HRC had a stake in the outcome. I rushed down to the Supreme Court for a rally that HRC was having, which was an incredible experience. I heard several people speak and proudly waved my HRC flag in front of the Supreme Court.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role? 

Match the company culture. Being an intern can be nerve racking, but don’t be a robot – be someone co-workers want to converse with, because this will only increase the chance of you networking and landing a job! 

What lessons will you take back with you to Athens in the fall?
Although his internship is remote, Strickland is working from Delta Hall in Washington, D.C. as part of GradyDC. (Photo: submitted)

The biggest skill that I will take to Athens is time management. HRC works at a very fast pace, and I’m appreciative for the opportunity to get my work out at a rapid pace. I am also increasingly confident in my LGBTQ+ identity, and feel more confident advocating for my community in the future.

PAC Alumni Spotlight: Meredith Stinson (AB ’18)

Meredith Stinson (AB ‘18) first stepped onto the University of Georgia’s campus with plans to go to law school. However, her political science courses quickly taught her that it was the intricacies of government policy and not the law that interested her most. Open to a new career track, Stinson was intrigued when friend of the Public Affairs Communications (PAC) program and seasoned public affairs practitioner Brian Robinson came to speak in one of her classes. Stinson instantly knew that she wanted to pursue a career in public affairs communications. With new dreams of becoming a director of communications on Capitol Hill or the next Olivia Pope, Stinson applied for the GradyDC program. That application prompted her to get involved with the PAC program — a perfect certificate for her dual major in public relations and political science.

As a PAC student, Stinson jumped on every opportunity she received to network with visiting practitioners. At one point, Stinson had gone to so many guest speaker luncheons, she was sidelined in order to give other students a turn. Stinson affirms that the relationships made with her peers and visiting practitioners have been invaluable tools in her career. Not only does she still see some members of her PAC cohort at the Georgia State Capitol today, but her network also helped Stinson land her current job at The Ray Highway.

“It is so valuable to have professors with real-world experience. The PAC program has that. Professor Watson knows what firms and organizations need. He structures assignments that teach applicable skills and invites practitioners that help students build their networks,” said Stinson. “Those skills and relationships have been integral to my professional success.”

Now serving as the Director of Communications at The Ray Highway, Stinson combines her interest in policy with public relations by promoting The Ray’s mission and advocating for their state policy interests. From writing press releases to placing op-eds to creating infographics, Stinson uses the hard skills learned in PAC to further the organization’s vision to build zero carbon, zero waste and zero death highways across the country.

Stinson looks forward to continuing her work supporting the safety and sustainability goals at The Ray. She recommends that current students take advantage of any networking opportunity that presents itself.