Profiles of Tenacity

Profiles of Tenacity

Profiles of Tenacity highlight our exceptional students who have determination, grit and qualities of leadership. They are involved with their community and volunteer for many worthwhile campus and community organizations. Following are profiles of just a few of our students with tenacity.

Fall 2023

Headshot of Jimena Somilleda

Student Story

Jimena Somilleda

Growing up as a first-generation Mexican-American, I always valued the sacrifices my parents made to get my younger brother and me at UGA. From a young age, they’ve instilled a passion for breaking generational cycles and being a voice for my community.

Karenia stands holding a microphone in Tate Center.

Student Story

Karenia Murry

“Commit to a club or organization. I’ve connected with so many people and received so many great opportunities from the connections I’ve made.”

Learn more Story of Karenia Murry

Student Story

Dani García Pozo

“You have so much more creative talent and imagination than you probably give yourself credit for. Create something — a podcast, a webcomic, a short film — anything. Make it because you want to, not because you were instructed to. You’ll find a sense of fulfillment in that beautiful endeavor that nothing can truly satisfy.”

Learn more Story of Dani García Pozo

Student Story

Abbie Herrin

“Try to meet as many people as many people as you can! People in Grady are always doing or making cool things, so it’s great to get to know them.”

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Student Story

LaDania Dean

“I chose advertising as my major because it combines my passion for creativity with the opportunity to influence and impact people on a large scale. My biggest life goal is to leave the world better than I found it. As an agent of social change, empowerment, expression and information, advertising can create awareness, persuade viewers and influence the world.” — Advertising Major

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Student Story

Eli Banzon

“I’m passionate about the conservation of public lands, which is originally rooted in an appreciation for the outdoors. It became a passion after I participated in the SPIA National Parks Program this past summer where I had the opportunity to visit 12 National Parks with incredible students and staff. I find public lands inspiring because they are a unique bipartisan issue that people of all political affiliations overwhelmingly support.” — Public Relations Student

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Student Story

River Gracey

“Grady College does a great job of making a lot of personal interests worth researching and discussing. People who work in academia want to help you and make you feel welcome. When you are good to Grady College, I promise that Grady College will be good to you.”

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Student Story

Lola Murti

“I’ve always been interested in current events and felt that journalists have a unique responsibility to share otherwise untold stories with the public. In high school I loved working with the student body through yearbook and our news broadcast team, and knew I wanted to continue sharing people’s stories on a larger scale.” — Journalism Major

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Student Story

Sophie Ralph

“I’m motivated by the idea of telling stories that matter, both to myself and my community. I’ve seen firsthand what it means to cover my local community and what it means to people.”

Sophie Ralph was named a 2023 McGill Fellow by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. (Photos: Submitted)
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Student Story

Nick Selgrath

“I enjoy being able to capture moments on camera and give memories a place to live forever. I like the reaction people have when they see themselves from a perspective they never had before. Video and film are art forms that have the unique ability to transport viewers to another world or back to another time, so I like to make content that has the power to do that.”

Entertainment and Media Studies student Nick Selgrath is involved in the Athens music scene and works with a band as its photographer and videographer. (Photos: Courtesy of Nick Selgrath)
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Student Story

Elisa Fontanillas

“I think it’s so important to be honest with yourself about what pathway you want to take with your career. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and ultimately model your own path based on others’ opinions, but you need to stay true to yourself and stay confident in what is going to make you the most satisfied and happy with your life.”

Elisa Fontanillas gravitates towards opportunities that connect her with her community. (Photos courtesy of Fontanillas)
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Student Story

Kelly Gago

“To me tenacity means perseverance. It means that even when things get hard you will continue to follow your goals.”

Kelly Gago is an EMST student and president of NAHJ. (Photos: courtesy of Kelly Gago)
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Student Story

Christian Conte

“Roadblocks are inevitable in life. Tenacity is all about how you encounter those roadblocks. Do you turn around, or do you try to push that roadblock out of your way? It’s about embracing an attitude of gratitude to learn immensely from those moments.”

Third-year journalism student Christian Conte said he is motivated by mentorship and giving back to others. (Photos courtesy of Christian Conte)

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Student Story

Claire Hensley

“Coming into college and not knowing what major I wanted to pursue was challenging. I had to have a persistent determination to reach out to people, apply for internships and clubs and dig for opportunities. I’ve faced more rejections than acceptances, but the important thing is that I never gave up, and I eventually found an internship leading to a job!”

Fourth-year public relations student Claire Hensley said her biggest accomplishment this year was working for the KPMG Innovation Lab. (Photos courtsey of Claire Hensley)

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Spring 2023

Student Story

Jenna Monnin

“My biggest accomplishment in the past year was definitely my contributions to Grady Newsource’s political show this fall. Two of my packages ran on the election night shows, and I was able to work as a field anchor reporting live during Georgia’s Senate runoff.”

Jenna Monnin plans to move to Washington, D.C. after graduation. She will work as an intern at D.C. publication called “The Capitol Forum” this summer. (Photos: courtesy of Jenna Monnin)

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Student Story

Chiamaka Uwagerikpe

“A piece of advice that I would give to other Grady students is to stay curious. You don’t necessarily have to do everything under the sun, but engage with your surroundings. Ask questions. Get to know the people around you. Be intentional and be present.”

Advertising major Chiamaka Uwagerikpe is passionate about feeding her creativity, effective communication, culture and community. (Photos courtesy of Chiamaka Uwagerikpe.)

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Student Story

Rachel Ziner

“From a young age, I was taught how to set goals and the value that comes with achieving those goals. When I set out to accomplish my goals, my drive and determination and what brings me to achieve them. To me, tenacity comes in after that, once those goals are accomplished.”

Double Dawg Rachel Ziner is passionate about making media consumption more enjoyable for consumers. (Photos courtesy of Rachel Ziner)

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Student Story

Sam Chin

“Live curiously and be adventurous. Let your natural curiosity lead you to new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see something that draws your curiosity, don’t be afraid to ask and learn about it.”

Third-year journalism student Sam Chin is passionate about storytelling and appreciates the power that journalism can have when it comes to helping others. (Photo courtesy of Sam Chin)

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Student Story

Jonina Bullock

“Your journey is your own.” It is so easy to feel like an imposter when at a college where everyone is so successful, but when you focus on your own journey without comparing yourself to your peers, things become much easier.”

Jonina Bullock is a third-year double major in advertising and German, who says she’s motivated by all those around her – especially her family members. (Photos by Jonina Bullock).

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Student Story

Ike Epstein

“The best piece of advice I’ve received is to try and stay in the moment. I often find myself worrying about things that are far in the distance, especially when it comes to jobs and internships. While I know this is easier said than done, it’s something that has really helped me this year, especially as my time in school is beginning to come to a close. Your time in college is short, so just try to enjoy the moment and make the most of it.”

Ike Epstein is a fourth-year public relations major. Epstein wants to work at an agency in the future and has been able to gain experience here at Grady through Talking Dog Agency. He is pictured with Hairy Dawg after filming a safety video for UGA SGA. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Raika Kachwalla

“I chose entertainment and media studies because I was in love with everything related to films and tv series and knew I wanted to be part of it somehow. This major was the best way for me to learn everything I need to know before entering the industry, it also gave me connections I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Raika Kachwalla is a fourth-year entertainment and media studies major who is passionate about working in the film industry. (Photos courtesy of Raika Kachwalla)

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Student Story

Sarah Dorr

“My desire to learn and try new things has been a substantial motivating force for me. My goal during my time at Grady has been to soak up as much as possible.”

Fourth year public relations major Sarah Dorr embraces curiosity and is always excited to learn and try new things. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Kate Hester

“I chose journalism because of the possibilities. There is so much room to be creative, and the opportunities are endless. Not many majors have that same depth of opportunity.”

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Student Story

Raynor Manley

“Tenacity is the quality of persevering even when faced with challenges. It is the unwavering commitment to putting forth your best effort, regardless of the obstacles encountered.”

Raynor Manley has made the most of her time at UGA by getting involved, asking questions and learning the importance of never giving up. Here, Manley is pictured after finding out that she had been accepted to UGA graduate school during spring break. (Photo/submitted

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Student Story

Demi Lehman

“I believe stories have the power to change the world and make it a better place. Stories can educate, enlighten, and entertain, and it’s my hope as an actor and storyteller that a viewer or audience member leaves a story a little different than they were before they experienced it.”

Entertainment and media studies and theatre major Demi Lehman hopes to pursue her dream of becoming a professional actress. She has a supporting role acting in the upcoming film “A View to Kill For.” Here, she is pictured in front of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Nolan McGinley

“My biggest accomplishment in the past year was last summer when I had the opportunity to intern at Nasdaq as a corporate communication intern. Interning for a high-profile company showed me that my previous hard work paid off in earning this fortune.”

Nolan McGinley is an advertising student involved with Talking Dog Agency.

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Student Story

Sailor Betts

“I’m a firm believer that no workplace is complete without laughter. Know your role and responsibility, but don’t take yourself too seriously to where you limit your ability to connect with Grady’s extraordinary students, mentors, and educators.”

Journalism major Sailor Betts prioritizes her three core values of energy, empathy and inclusivity in everything she does. Here, Betts is pictured sitting at the anchor desk during her summer 2022 news internship with Local 12 WKRC-TV. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Jin Lee

“I am passionate about traveling and learning on the go. From holidays to architecture, every element of lifestyle tells a story, and exploring new places is genuinely the best education one can have.”

Third year public relations student Jin Lee says tenacity is about curiosity. She is pictured here in front of Capitol Hill, one of the places she visited while on the PRSAA D.C. Agency Tour. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Coby Seriña

“I care about being the best human I can be. I just want to do things worth remembering while staying true to myself and my values.”

Public relations major Coby Seriña is a writer on the football beat for Bulldawg Illustrated. Here, he smiles for a picture on the field after the national championship game in Inglewood, CA.

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Fall 2022

Student Story

Julianna Washburn

“I am passionate about telling stories. I absolutely revel in the process of asking one thousand questions, hearing others’ stories and getting to use creativity to put those stories into 1,000 words or less to share with others.”

Journalism major Julianna Washburn has spent her time on campus getting involved in organizations like The Red & Black and DiGamma Kappa.

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Student Story

John Atkinson

“I would say my largest accomplishment in the last year would be helping plan, organize, promote, and run UGAHacks’ first sustainability themed ‘Makeathon.’ With four university partners, two corporate sponsors, and 250 ‘Makers’ in attendance, it was an overwhelming success!”

Advertising and computer science major John Atkinson says the New Media Certificate has allowed them to discover their passion for computer science and apply it to their role for UGAHacks. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Dolores Trobradovic

“Get as involved in clubs as you can. The earlier you get involved in organizations, the better. Grady offers so many amazing opportunities to learn and experience new things within the communications world and it is so important to take advantage of it.”

Fourth year public relations student Dolores Trobradovic values opportunities to learn and experience new things. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Alander Rocha

“Knowing that I’m contributing to my community is a major source of motivation for myself. Public service has always been at the core of what I’ve done, and it’s how I found my way into journalism.”

Health and medical journalism graduate student Alander Rocha says contributing to the community motivates him. (Photo/submitted)

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Student Story

Justin Nemetz

“Find your niche, whether it’s video, photojournalism, scriptwriting, graphic design or sports. Whatever your skills are will be the best way you express yourself through your work.”

Journalism major Justin Nemetz is passionate about the visual medium.

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Student Story

Suley Rostro

“Tenacity to me means exhausting your resources to meet your goal. I believe that a tenacious person looks for and creates opportunities that will help better themselves.”

Public relations major Suley Rostro is passionate about contributing to inclusive work environments.

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Student Story

Marillyn Heigl

“From watching interesting Netflix documentaries to traveling in new environments to the people I’m surrounded by, I find myself learning all the time. You don’t need to sit in a classroom to keep learning, that’s something I hope to never lose sight of.”

Advertising student Marillyn Heigl said her biggest accomplishment this year was winning a Student Organization Achievement and Recognition (SOAR) Award for Commitment to Peer Mentorship.

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Student Story

Xander Chiaramonte

“The best advice I have received regularly is that “everything changes.” My mother always reminds me of this and grounds me in the reality that in life, just like in nature, everything is in a constant state of change. This advice has always helped me to not get hung up on the little things and keep on moving.”

Entertainment and Media Studies student Xander Chiaramonte says his biggest accomplishment this past year was organizing the Classic City Jam event.

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Student Story

Aleesa de Castro

“My proudest accomplishment this year was co-founding the Backlight Student Film Festival. It started out simply as an idea to unite and showcase filmmakers’ work, but it quickly grew into so much more. It truly took a village to make this all happen, and it was so rewarding to see so many Grady and UGA students working together to celebrate one another.”

Entertainment and Media Studies student Aleesa de Castro says her biggest accomplishment this year was organizing the first ever Backlight Student Film Festival. (Photo:submitted)

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Student Story

Olga Diaz Nasser

“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.”

Public relations major Olga Diaz-Nasser has been inspired by her public affairs communications classes to work in immigration policy on a federal level in the future.

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Student Story

Sydney Hood

“I am motivated by my constant fear of being just average. I do not want to go through life feeling like I had all this potential and never touched or used it. I always strive to be intentional in everything I do. I am also motivated by the word “can’t.” I am often told I can’t handle everything I am involved in from school to work and everything in between. When someone tells me I can’t do something, I make it my mission to not only do it, but do it better. “

Journalism major Sydney Hood works as a multimedia journalist on the weekends for WRDW/WAGT News 12 NBC 26 in Augusta. (Photo:submitted)

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Student Story

Heaven Robinson

“My biggest accomplishment this year was obtaining and completing an art direction and design internship at a top advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. I was offered the internship through the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) and was beyond shocked when I got the offer.”

Fourth year advertising major Heaven Robinson uses her creativity and art skills both in and out of the classroom. (Photo:submitted)

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Spring 2022

Student Story

William Newlin

“To me, tenacity is a willingness to leave your comfort zone to get what you need, whether in your personal life or professional pursuits.”

Double Dawg William Newlin is working to build a well-informed public through purposeful, courageous journalism.

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Student Story

Sherry Liang

“I also think back to when we planted seeds for ideas that would shape my college experience — like brainstorming web series concepts in Writers’ Room, pitching an AAJA chapter at UGA to Dr. Lough, the first conversations about the Backlight Student Film Festival, or the beginnings of what would become The Red & Black’s DEI Committee.”

A lover of entertainment and news writing, fourth year EMST major Sherry Liang has centered her first short film around student journalism.

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Student Story

Kacie Geter

“I don’t really have a professional hero, but I love seeing Black women paving the way for us, such as Issa Rae, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna.”

Journalism student Kacie Geter believes in paving your own success, a mindset that secured her an internship with NBCUniversal.

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Student Story

Smera Dhal

“My proudest moment has been being appointed a 2022 MAIP Fellow. This internship program focuses on promoting diversity within the advertising world, and I am so excited to have been placed with the Digitas agency for an Art direction internship this summer!”

As a newly appointed MAIP fellow, third year advertising major Smera Dhal is continuing her passion for connecting with fellow creatives.

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Student Story

Bryson Henriott

“Coming in as first-generation college student and a rural student, I was faced with unique challenges; however, through tenacity, determination, and perseverance, I have been able to overcome barriers and give back to other students like myself.”

Public relations major Bryson Henriott is using skills learned from Grady to lead the UGA student body as its next president.

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Student Story

Amelia Green

“I enjoy telling stories and I enjoy making compelling content, but most importantly I want to make people care about the why in sports.”

Public relations major Amelia Green is working to push the boundaries of the sports media industry.

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Student Story

Jacqueline GaNun

“To me, tenacity means pursuing your goals relentlessly and not giving up when you run into obstacles or self-doubt.”

Following her time as editor-in-chief of the Red & Black, third year journalism student Jacqueline GaNun is now sharpening her skills across the pond through the UGA at Oxford Program.

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Student Story

Jillian Smalls

“Tenacity means believing in yourself every step of the way towards achieving a goal. I believe that by having self-confidence, you can transcend the impossible. You can achieve anything you want in life if you believe you can achieve it.”

Entertainment and Media Studies major Jillian Smalls is headed to the Cox LEAD Program post-graduation with an open and curious mindset.

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Student Story

Armani Kardar

“I am passionate about mentoring young black men in hopes of instilling the confidence I once lacked in them at an early age. It is important to invest in our youth because they are the future and need to know that their potential is truly limitless.“

The Grady Sports Media program has helped 5th year journalism student Armani Kardar build the confidence in himself that he hopes to pass on to the next generation.

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Student Story

Riley Armant

“Tenacity, in my opinion, means possessing the determination to reach a personal goal or level of success. Having this quality also means that you won’t settle for anything less than what you envision.”

Graduate student Riley Armant is using her time in the Journalism Masters program to refine her skills as a storyteller.

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Student Story

Jane Congfei Lian

“For me, tenacity means always staying positive when facing tough circumstances or situations.”

Originally from Tianjin, China, third-year advertising major Jane Congfei Lian has built cross-cultural connections in organizations like Women in Media, Talking Dog and International Student Orientation.

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Student Story

DonA Traylor-Askew

“Tenacity means pushing through whatever comes your way and never giving up. It means setting your mind on a goal and doing whatever it takes to reach it no matter what situations arise in life that could stand in your way.”

Third-year journalism major DonA Traylor-Askew is already making her mark in the world of sports media.

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Student Story

Michael Banks

“I would not be in Grady had it not been for an early pandemic existential crisis in Spring 2020. I realized one night that I wanted to explore my passions for multiculturalism & storytelling while gaining some of the hard skills only a Grady degree could provide.”

Michael Banks is exploring all that the university offers by pursuing two majors, two minors and a certificate.

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FALL 2021

Student Story

Eduardo Morales

“For a journalist, tenacity means forging on despite disparate odds and chasing every lead that can lead to the truth.”

Eduardo Morales is pursuing his master’s degree in journalism with a concentration in mass media studies on the thesis track after working in the industry for 30 years.

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Student Story

Palmer Thombs

“I have always tried to do not let the facts block out my voice, thus allowing the reader to get to know both me and the story I’m reporting. “

Palmer Thombs’ passion for sports writing has landed him a job once he graduates in May with On3 Sports.

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Student Story

Midori Jenkins

“Tenacity is remaining persistent, pushing boundaries, and never taking no for an answer. It’s refusing to limit yourself or settle for mediocrity.”

Although only a second year, Midori Jenkins has taken advantage of video and radio opportunities at Grady College and beyond.

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Student Story

Shruti Muruganandan

“It’s important to understand that people that hire you and want to work with you will seek you out because you have talents and gifts that they want. It’s important to recognize the power you hold and be your biggest supporter in advocating for yourself.

Shruti Muruganandan spent her summer at an advertising agency as part of the MAIP Fellowship program.

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Student Story

Nicole García Sánchez

“I think tenacity is knowing what you want and having a plan on how to get there.”

Nicole García Sánchez is a public relations major from Venezuela. She enjoys using social media to promote a brand’s message.

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Spring 2021

Student Story

Kendal Hill

“Being a part of Grady has given me a chance to meet incredible individuals, including students, faculty and advisors. It makes me so honored to be a part of this community.”

Kendal Hill is a senior advertising major. She credits the Women in Media club with helping her get involved and learn more about Grady College.

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Student Story

Alaina Booth

“It was a very rewarding summer to see how much my education is really showing up in my future career path, and I’m really grateful for the foundation Grady has laid for me.”

Alaina Booth spent last summer in Los Angeles finding internships and freelance jobs to spark her creative interests.

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Student Story

Emily Goncalves

“PRSSA has given me so many opportunities, taught me so many things, and given me so many great friends. I am so proud that I took the leap of faith in pushing myself to take on such a big leadership role”

Senior Emily Goncalves is soaking in her last months on campus as president of PRSSA. Her career goal is to work in public affairs or public relations in Washington, D.C. or New York.

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Student Story

Mennah Abdelwahab

“I was motivated to continue pursuing my Grady degree because my Grady professors have been incredibly supportive; it has meant a lot to see everyone want you to succeed.”

Mennah Abdelwahab has pursued a variety of internships and club leadership positions during her time at UGA and Grady College. Her majors, minors and certificates have set her apart as a dedicated and involved student.

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Student Story

Nick Milavec

“If I can make just one person feel at home or accepted on this campus, then that is a successful college career in my book.”

After growing up a Georgia Tech fan, Nick Milavec decided to call UGA and Grady College home. He’s working toward a degree in advertising, which focuses on his passions for design and communication.

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Student Story

Cate de Castro

“The Industry has been extremely instrumental during my time at UGA, and as president this year, it means a great deal to me to have so many new and familiar EMST students looking to get involved and find their home on campus.”

Third-year Cate de Castro values building peer connections across the business and media programs at UGA — she even developed a production company with her twin sister.

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Student Story

Sydney Phillips

“In today’s world, information is everything and I chose my major because I love getting to shape media narratives in positive, beneficial ways that inform our public.”

Sydney Phillips is currently studying and interning in Washington, D.C. through UGA’s Washington Semester Program.

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Alumni Story

Kathryn Skeean

“I am extremely passionate about supporting women in media, specifically women that go into sports media. I love connecting with other women who are as passionate about sports as I am and helping others get into the field!” — Kathryn Skeean (AB ’22)

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Tenacity Archive

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