Editor’s Note: #GradyGrit is a new series of profiles of Grady College students who show determination, leadership and outreach to the community. Search “#GradyGrit” on the Grady College website for additional profiles.
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Degree: Journalism Major, Environmental Law minor, New Media and Sustainability Certificates
Activities and involvement: National Press Photography Association (President), McGill Fellow, Bag the Bag board member, student media assistant at Dean of Students Office, multimedia at the Office of Sustainability and Photo Editor at The Red & Black
How has Grady influenced your time at UGA?
BW: Since starting classes within Grady, I’ve realized how important it is to care about what you do and who you’re reporting on. Not that I didn’t care before, but seeing how much time and care some of the faculty members put into the students and hearing their previous reporting experiences really drives that point home. If you don’t care, then why should anybody else?
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
BW: My most memorable experience was actually before I was even a student at UGA. I was touring UGA for the third time, and I still hated it. But I knew I was going to be a journalist, and since UGA has one of the best journalism programs, I wasn’t going to pass it up. (But I was really close…) So during this third tour, I ended up meeting one of the pre-Grady advisers, Beth Rector. I walked into the journalism building for the first time and instantly felt at home. I had toured a few other schools and journalism programs, but none of them felt right. I know that sounds super cheesy, but I hated everything about UGA until I walked into Grady, and when I walked out I couldn’t wait to come back.
What has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
BW: Going to the University of Georgia and reporting on the city of Athens has had the biggest impact on my life so far. (I know it sounds cliché, but hear me out.)
I went to the same Christian private school for 10 years straight, and even though I’d like to think I was aware of what was going on in the city around me, I never pushed my boundaries too much. Almost all my friends were white, middle- or upper-class individuals who weren’t forced to face the reality of our community or the consequences of our actions. And while some of my friends and I cared about social and political issues, none of us did anything about it.
“Coming to UGA and reporting on Athens-Clarke County forced me to face my privilege and do something to initiate change in my community.” -Becca Wright
Coming to UGA and reporting on Athens-Clarke County forced me to face my privilege and do something to initiate change in my community. Before I came to UGA, I knew nothing about Athens. Now, I know what almost feels like too much. Instead of thinking that I know what’s going on in my city, I actually know what’s happening. I have talked to middle school students who don’t know where their next meal will come from, I’ve met the people who work in the landfill and take care of the products of our throw-away society and I’ve reported on the nonprofits trying to fix our transportation system.
I don’t think I would have experienced this if I had gone to college back at home, and I’m not sure going anywhere else would have provided me with the opportunity to report on my community the way that I have. I will never look at or think about myself and my privileges the same way I used to, and I hope that the reporting that I’ve done over the past few years has helped others initiate change as well.
What is your best advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College?
BW: Take it seriously. A lot of times with early journalism classes I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new, but I regret not working harder on those projects and using the knowledge that I already had to my advantage.
What motivates you?
BW: Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated because of the current climate surrounding journalism and the “fake news” rhetoric, but at the same time, it’s kind of fuel to the fire. There’s nothing I want to do more than go out and document the people and issues of our community, and by doing so all I can hope is that we’re informing the public of what they need to know to make decisions moving forward.
Last show/favorite show you binge-watched (more than 2 shows in a sitting)?
BW: The most recent was The Office, but my favorite is either West Wing or Gravity Falls.
BW: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.”
— Harry S. Truman
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
What would people be surprised to know about you?
BW: My go-to “fun fact” is that I have a black belt in martial arts. Also that I’m part-Cuban, and that I’m originally from Kansas City, Kansas
Favorite Athens restaurant?
BW: Either Big City Bread Company or home.made.
Create your own question to answer: What’s your favorite project or story you’ve reported on at Grady or during an internship?
BW: I started a podcast last semester for my multiplatform story production class. It only has two episodes, but for someone who has listened to maybe 15 podcast episodes in her life, I’m super proud of it. I never realized how much I loved audio/radio journalism (I don’t know why, I freaking love NPR), and I’m hoping to continue it when I actually have time.