Cat Hendrick chosen for 2019 TEDxUGA: Amplify

Tickets to TEDxUGA 2019: Amplify, can be purchased at the Classic Center Box Office between now and showtime on March 22. Tickets are $20.

For junior journalism major, Cat Hendrick, choosing a condition called “imposter syndrome” as a topic for the TEDxUGA 2019: Amplify event made sense.

This subject is not random for Hendrick. Two years ago, she suffered from imposter syndrome after receiving an opportunity to report at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

As part of the New Media Institute’s TEDx class, students are required to nominate peers for TEDxUGA. Upon nomination, Hendrick deliberated talking about her many passions in life, such as sports and mental health, before settling on imposter syndrome.

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the idea that scared me the most that was what I needed to do,” Hendrick said.

Cat Hendrick says she prepares for TEDxUGA by practicing in the mirror until she has a speech memorized. (Photo: New Media Institute)

As a 19-year-old freshman whose only experience was journalism homework, Hendrick received an email congratulating her for being a semifinalist. This exciting news eventually led to feelings of uncertainty as Hendrick discovered the other candidates were mostly juniors and seniors with experience such as writing for the Red & Black. After months of interviews, she was selected for the job.

“It suddenly occurred to me that after I got the job, I would have to do the job,” Hendrick said. “I was sure they had made a mistake in choosing me.”

Over the following months, gratitude for the opportunity shifted to feelings of crippling concern for not being qualified for the job. Hendrick stopped leaving her house, sleeping and would completely avoid talking about the Olympics.

“I convinced myself I would be a disappointment to everyone,” Hendrick said.

After missing a deadline for a short article that felt impossible to write (she describes it as the SpongeBob episode where he spends all night writing one letter), Hendrick sought out help from therapists. She was told she could be suffering from anxiety or depression, but something about her paranoia felt different.

Finally, Vicki Michaelis, director of Grady Sports, responded to one of Hendrick’s journal entries within the capstone class. Michaelis recommended researching imposter syndrome as a possibility for what Hendrick was feeling.

Hendrick hopes using her experience combating imposter syndrome for a TEDxUGA presentation will impact her audience and spread awareness of the phenomenon.

TEDxUGA 2019: Amplify will give her more time on the subject than the Student Showcase where she first presented, and she says she will work on delivery and relatable content for a broader audience.

“I [think back] to the moment of relief I had when I realized what it was and how grateful I was for the person who introduced me to imposter syndrome,” Hendrick said. “I figured if I could be that for somebody else, it will be worth the fear of being that vulnerable in front of the whole world.”


TEDxUGA 2019: Amplify will be March 22 at the Classic Center. Tickets are available at

Grady Sports Media students work 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Twenty-three days, 90 nations, 102 events and 15 sports made up this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In the midst of the history-making moments, numerous surprises and inspiring action were two students from the Grady Sports Media certificate program, Emily Giambalvo and Cat Hendrick, experiencing the Games in a way few can relate.

After a competitive selection process, Giambalvo and Hendrick were selected by the United States Olympic Committee to report on the games for the USOC’s various information channels including its website,

Cat Hendrick and Emily Giambalvo at the opening of the figure skating events. (Courtesy of Cat Hendrick)

“It was the best, longest, most trying and amazing experience of my life,” Hendrick, a second-year journalism major, reflected. “Every emotion you could possibly feel, it was in there. But, overall I just feel so lucky that we got to experience something that most sports reporters go their whole lives without experiencing.”

Giambalvo, a fourth-year management information systems major, agreed. “Overall, it was really awesome and it was such a cool environment to be in a worldwide setting that has a ton of chaos and a ton of exciting things with journalists from all over. I got to see and learn about a lot of new sports and cover really cool moments where history was being made.”

Over the course of three weeks, both Giambalvo and Hendrick worked under tight deadlines each producing more than 20 stories covering the different mountain and snow sports. These sports ranged from ice skating to snowboarding, hockey, speed skating, luge, bobsledding and many more. It was a chaotic and exhilarating environment where they not only worked closely with athletes but also with seasoned journalists.

“I was way more excited to meet journalists than athletes,” Giambalvo admitted.

Throughout this experience, both Giambalvo and Hendrick’s days were filled with traveling to the different sports venues, interviewing athletes and attending press conferences, working in the main press center and writing daily articles. It was not an easy task and each relied on the skills they acquired from their Grady Sports Media classes.

“Considering the fact that a year-and-a-half ago, I have never written a sports story, Grady Sports has helped me a lot,” Hendrick said. “The sports media certificate favors a trial-by-fire approach, but that has made all the difference in the world. I have Grady to thank for everything, because I was clueless a year-and-a-half ago. It wasn’t easy, but the professors care so much and have gone out of their way to help us.”

This opportunity was made possible with the support of Vicki Michaelis, John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society and director of Grady Sports. Michaelis was the lead Olympic reporter for USA Today from 2000-2012 and her relationship with the USOC opened the door for students to attend.

 To view a complete collection of the features that Giambalvo and Hendrick wrote at the Olympic Games, please see Grady Sports Media students cover Olympic Games

While Michaelis was a valuable resource and pushed them “to find stories outside of the easy scope,” the Olympics was not without its challenges. Both Giambalvo and Hendrick battled freezing cold temperatures and the pressure to consistently crank out creative stories.

“Any journalist can feel good about writing a story in one day, but after getting into the 14th consecutive day writing a story, it was challenging,” Giambalvo said. “There is no way for [Grady Sports] to teach you every situation, but it can give you the confidence that no matter what the situation is, I can handle it.”

The most challenging part was keeping our stamina up,” Hendrick echoed. “I was nervous going into the Olympics as a first-time writer, but I just had to trust my training. Grady gave me everything that I needed to know, it was just a matter of executing at that point, but I had all the tools that I needed.”

Emily Giambalvo interviewing an Olympic athlete. (Courtesy of Emily).

By the end of the games, both Giambalvo and Hendrick walked away with countless memories, stories and experiences.

Giambalvo said she most enjoyed watching figure skating, and covering the U.S. gold medal curling game. “The curling gold medal game, was the last event I covered and the last story I wrote. The overall significance of what it meant for the sport and the athletes made it the perfect story. It was a nice way to end it.”

“You see the Olympics through a certain lens your entire life, so to actually be there behind the scenes and see all the work that goes into every single clip was really fascinating,” Hendrick concluded. “I’ve read a thousand stories in my life, but to be in the press conference and see the answers to the question I’ve asked on CNN, Fox and ESPN was really neat. This was literally the Olympics of sports journalism. I am super grateful to Professor Michaelis and the rest of the sports media certificate for working so hard to get us the opportunity of a lifetime.”