Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?
I came to UGA as a political science major. And I love politics, but I just felt like there was something missing in my coursework. Did I want to add journalism or international affairs? And then – lo and behold – Twitter of all places had a major impact on my decision. One of my friends got into the public relations program here at Grady and tweeted about it. I got to researching what exactly PR was and quickly came to realization that this is what I had been wanting to learn. I now understand that my true passion is for political communications, and Grady has helped me explore this passion, especially with its Public Affairs Communications certificate headed by Professor Watson.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I’m not from Texas – when I say I’m from Dallas, I have to immediately follow it up with Georgia!
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?
My proudest moment of the year was balancing an internship and part-time job over the summer. I was pretty much working seven days a week, and while it was exhausting, I was grateful to learn more about the public relations industry while making money to support myself at college.
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
My most memorable Grady experience has been taking Professor Watson’s Civil Rights class. Analyzing the civil rights movement from a public relations perspective has made me more aware of just how much patience and determination is required to stir change.
What is your favorite app or social media channel?
Twitter! I get a lot of my news from Twitter, and a lot of my laughs as well.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about LGBTQ+ equality, particularly in education. Growing up, my favorite subject was almost always history. This can be explained by my love of storytelling, but I eventually realized there was one story that was always altogether ignored: the important contributions that LGBTQ+ people have made in shaping this world. And it’s a shame because we have pretty remarkable stories to tell: Stonewall, Harvey Milk and Marsha P. Johnson, just to name a few. I hope that future generations will be taught this remarkable history, because it’ll make queer youth feel more involved in their curriculum. It’ll make them feel that yes, they can contribute in meaningful ways too.
Who is your professional hero?
I love The Devil Wears Prada, and so I’d say my professional hero is Miranda Priestly. This was difficult for me because I relate more to Andy, but Miranda is so aspirational — she has it all together while managing an international conglomerate. She doesn’t let her emotions get in the way, and she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants. A true icon.
What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?
I used a lot of my skills at The Partnership of Atlanta, Inc. where I served as a public relations intern during summer 2020. I wrote several press releases, blogs and social posts, and even pitched stories to journalists from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Partnership is Atlanta’s fastest growing digital communications agency, and so I was thankful for so many people there taking me under their wings and showing me the ropes of PR.
What are you planning on doing after graduating? What is your dream job?
I plan on getting my bachelor’s in May 2022, and then I’ll stick around Athens one more year to get my master’s in public relations. I’m in the Double Dawgs program, and so I’m excited to see where this dual degree will be able to take me.
In the short term, I would like to work in Washington, D.C. as a congressional staffer or in some other communications capacity. In the long term though, I want my career to be that of a change maker. As an openly gay man living in the South, my existence would not be possible without the change makers that came before me, and I want to be a change maker for the generations to come.
What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?
Networking, for sure. There’s just not as many opportunities to network, and it’s especially difficult over Zoom. I also miss networking with fellow Grady students who share similar passions and career interests as me. One thing I will say though is that the pandemic has made me much more confident in reaching out to people. How else are you supposed to connect if you don’t reach out?
Where is your favorite place on campus?
The Founder’s Garden. There’s something so regal about it, and it’s great for photoshoots.
March 26, 2021 Editor:
Megan Mittelhammer, Megan.Mittelhammer@uga.edu