Profiles of Tenacity: Kelly Gago

Fourth-year Entertainment and Media Studies student Kelly Gago uses the skills she learned in her classes to create short films and prepare herself for life post-graduation. She encourages students to take all opportunities given to them, and make the most out of their college experience.

Why did you choose your major?

Right before the COVID-19 lockdown, I went on a trip to Disney World with my parents. I remember sitting in Hollywood Studios with my dad telling him how I had no idea what I wanted to major in. Then he was like, isn’t this your favorite Disney park? You love movies, you can major in that. And Voila a month later I got into UGA and immediately changed my major from Business Management to Entertainment and Media Studies.

What does tenacity mean to you?

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

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students

Okay hear me out but YOLO. (I promise I did not just time travel from 2012.) Scared to apply for your dream internship? YOLO. Nervous about applying to a study abroad program? YOLO. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or follow your dreams! You’ll only be an undergrad at Grady once so you might as well live this opportunity to its fullest.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?
Gago (left) working behind the scenes on her short film “Cafecito.”

There are so many but I think one of my most memorable would be writing an entire TV show with my friends in my Writing for Entertainment Media class. Also in May 2022, I was able to attend the Cannes Film Festival which was an amazing opportunity. Not only was it the ultimate test of stepping out of my comfort zone ( I had never left the country and I did not know a single word of French) but being in an environment where everyone was so passionate about film really solidified that this is the path for me.

What are you passionate about?

As the daughter of Cuban parents and a proud Cuban American, I am super passionate about telling Latinx stories. I’m also passionate about whatever my current hyper-fixation is. (This week it’s Letterboxd, my Kindle and Maluma’s new album).

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

This past year I wrote (and directed) my first ever short film, Cafecito, for my Directing for the Screen class. Honestly, I never considered myself a writer so writing a screenplay was something I never thought I would do but I had an idea and I knew I had to be the one to write it. I ended up submitting my film to the Elevate Film Festival and got nominated for best screenplay. It was such a full circle moment for me.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?
Group photo at Cannes Film Festival
Gago (back left) attended the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.

I loved all my professors at Grady but if I have to narrow it down it would be Professor Sridhar and Professor Biddle. For Sridhar’s class, we were divided into groups and had the goal to write an entire episode for a TV show that we created. The task was daunting at first but Sridhar would always make us laugh and encourage us to do our best! I had Professor Biddle for Production Basics and he truly helped me gain confidence as a filmmaker.

Where’s your favorite place on campus and why?

I am a simple woman. I love anywhere with a charger nearby and a comfy chair. My favorite places to locate these must-have essentials would be the 5th floor of Tate, the reading room in the Main Library, or the Homecoming office in the ELS.

Who is your professional hero?

My professional hero is definitely Greta Gerwig. As cheesy as it sounds she really is Director Barbie; Many of her works, both as a writer and director, focus on the experiences of complex, independent, and authentic female characters and they have been crazy successful as well. Whenever I wonder if becoming a director is just a pipe dream I think of Greta.

#ProfilesofTenacity: Dolores Trobradovic

Dolores Trobradovic is a fourth year public relations and international affairs student who understands the importance of getting involved on campus. Trobradovic serves as the president for the UGA Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), an organization that has had a large impact on her college experience.

What does “tenacity” mean to you?

To be tenacious is, above all else, to be persistent. Over my four years at Grady, I have learned that the key to success in academics and career is to just keep going. Natural talents can only take you so far, but in order to truly achieve your goals, you have to be willing to put in the work consistently. Tenacity means having a strong will and not giving up even when your dreams seem unattainable. It means pushing through difficult times and knowing that hard work will lead you to where you are supposed to be.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

As all public relations students do, I took Public Relations Communications my junior year with Tom Cullen. Professor Cullen’s class is by far the most difficult and rewarding Grady class I will ever take. PR communications taught me truly what PR is in terms of practical skills. Beyond that though, Professor Cullen pushed me to do my best work in that class. I grew a lot in that class not just as a PR student but also as a human being. And all of that was thanks to Tom Cullen.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
Trobradovic leads PRSSA members through team bonding exercises at this year’s kickoff meeting. (Photo/submitted)

The UGA chapter of PRSSA has had a huge impact on my time as a student at UGA. Throughout my time serving on the executive board, what I have learned about commitment and leadership through that has been so important to me as a person. PRSSA has given me invaluable industry insight, networking skills and above all a sense of community at Grady and UGA. I have made amazing friends through PRSSA and the best memories that I will take with me after my time at UGA.

What motivates you?

When I was a little girl, I loved watching my mother dress in her high heels and professional outfits. I had this admiration for her as a working woman and internalized that to create a sort of vision of myself in her position. I am motivated by that image of myself in the future all dressed up, successful and happy with the contribution I am making to the world.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?
Trobradovic poses with a friend at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. (Photo/submitted)

My most memorable Grady experience is undoubtedly my study abroad experience in France this summer. I was lucky enough to participate in the Cannes Lions study abroad where I went to the Cannes Creativity Festival. I was able to hear speakers of diverse backgrounds from the creative industry and the world, such as Malala Yousufzai, Ted Sarandos and so many more. This summer helped create a real excitement for my career and what I can do after my time at Grady that I will always be grateful for.

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

The best piece of advice I have ever received is to know your worth. It can be easy to think that as young college students with no industry experience, you should take every and any opportunity that comes your way. While you should take opportunities to get experience and grow, it is important to understand to know what opportunities will truly be beneficial for you as a person. Knowing your worth is integral to forging a successful path in your career and in your personal life. If you believe in yourself, then so too will others.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?
Trobradovic smiles for a photo with her fellow PRSSA executive board members at their kickoff meeting. (Photo/submitted)

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. Don’t be afraid to run for positions of leadership and commit yourself to clubs, because they will not only teach you invaluable career skills, but they will also bring you some of your fondest memories of this time in your life.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I lived in Frankfurt, Germany for four years. From the age of 11 to 15, I experienced new cultures and traveled across Europe. Living abroad at such a young age definitely gave me a unique way of thinking and perceiving the world. It wasn’t always easy living in a foreign country, but the difficulties gave me a confidence in myself that has shaped the young woman I am today.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?
Trobradovic leads a PRSSA meeting in studio 100 with guest speaker and alumna Amanda Maddox. (Photo/submitted)

This past year I have had the honor of serving as the president for PRSSA. My proudest moments are when our members tell me how much they have learned from our speakers or enjoy coming to our meetings. PRSSA has given me so much, and as president I want to ensure that everyone else has that very same experience. Knowing that I am able, even if it is in the tiniest manner, to help someone else in their journey at Grady is so rewarding.

Where is your favorite study spot?

This may not be a very popular destination for getting serious work done, but I often find that I am most productive at the Tate Student Center. While some prefer the silence of the MLC or Grady’s fourth floor, I thrive in the hustle and bustle of Tate. The energy and spirit of UGA brings me a lot of joy and I feel undeniably comfortable in the midst of all my fellow peers going about their days throughout the building.