What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?
To me, tenacity is holding on when it would be easier to let go. Holding onto loved ones, holding onto the truth, holding onto our humanity, holding onto hope. I think the past year has served as a case study in tenacity for all of us. For a year now, without reprieve, the hits have kept on coming and weighing on our collective conscience. The ability to move through hardship, listen and learn from experts, have empathy and not become numb to the world is an incredible expression of tenacity.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?
Finding out I had earned a staff position at The Red & Black was probably my proudest moment this year. I was still relatively new to the paper, but had already fallen head-over-heels for the work, the people and the culture. Finding out that the feeling was mutual was really wonderful. Since then, I’ve had the honor of covering some of the biggest news stories, from the Senate runoff to the insurrection to the Wall Street squeeze. I’ve loved every minute.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’ve been a member of the Save the Manatee Club for 15 years. I did a report on them in second grade and immediately fell in love. Spring semester freshman year I had the incredible opportunity to swim with the manatees in Florida on a trip with the UGA Outdoor Recreation Center. Seeing them in the wild was definitely a high point of my college career.
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
Studying abroad at Oxford University completely changed my life. Not only did I get to study at one of the best universities in the world, but I also made the most incredible friends who I know I’ll stay close to for the rest of my life.
What are you passionate about?
I love to learn, and I love to tell stories. These passions have taken many forms from curating a TEDxUGA talk to writing for The Red & Black, but both have allowed me to expand my knowledge and perspective and tell important stories to a broader audience.
Who is your professional hero?
I don’t know if I have any heroes, but I have a great professional respect for people who have a gift for storytelling. From Aaron Sorkin and Jon Meacham who inspire to Tina Fey and David Sedaris who elevate humor with their intelligence, and Jonathan Goldstein who is sentimental but never cloying, to Roman Mars who can make the most mundane seem fascinating, there are a number of great storytellers I admire.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?
Growing up, my mom told me that no matter how you squeeze an orange, the only thing that’s going to come out of it is orange juice. It’s made me consider my reactions and view them as a display of who I am rather than a result of anyone else’s actions. This advice has saved me from many a misguided text or tweet.
What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?
By far the most bizarre part of starting a new job during the pandemic has been the formation of relationships entirely over the internet. I’ve made friends and communicated regularly for months with people I’ve never seen in person. Slack, you are both my enemy and my lifeline.
What is your favorite app or social media channel?
Lately, my favorite social media has been Twitter. Obviously, I enjoy the jokes and memes, but I also think it’s a great place to join conversations about the news. Yes, misinformation is a major issue on social platforms, but sometimes I think seeing people’s reactions to the news can be just as informative as the news itself. At their best, Twitter and other platforms have opened the door to broader conversations and unique perspectives on the issues facing the world.
Where is your favorite place on campus?
I’ve always been a sucker for the lawns on north campus, but even more so since COVID-19 struck. Over the summer, lying out on north campus, enjoying the weather and doing classwork was my favorite way to feel connected to my community in a time of significant isolation. The lawns have also provided a safe way to spend socially distant time with friends and for that, I am so grateful.
March 4, 2021 Editor:
Megan Mittelhammer, Megan.Mittelhammer@uga.edu