#ProfilesOfTenacity: Smera Dhal

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means bouncing back.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

Through Grady study abroad, I spent this past summer at the Creative Circus in Atlanta. While the course itself was rather rigorous, I got to spend every day with the most incredible and inspiring creatives. I’m grateful to say many of them are now my buddies here at UGA.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people! I love getting to know someone new. The best feeling in the world is strengthening your connection with someone you love.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Cookout on W. Broad Street has kept me going through my darkest hours.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment has been being appointed a 2022 MAIP Fellow. This internship program focuses on promoting diversity within the advertising world, and I am so excited to have been placed with the Digitas agency for an Art direction internship this summer!

Dhal (far left) participated in the Creative Circus program in 2021.
What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

Grady introduced me to the professional side of graphic design. This semester, I have begun creating posters, show announcements, and even cover art for local musicians. Check out “On Your Roof” by Evelia on all platforms, artwork by me!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

When I was learning how to ride a bike, my dad used to tell me “sedha dekho, pedal karo” which in Hindi means “look straight, keep pedaling.” I apply it more metaphorically to my life now, and it keeps me focused.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Make cool stuff!

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I like to make candles!

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

There’s a bench right outside the Journalism building under the big magnolia tree. It doesn’t jut out, it’s obscured, but it’s got a wide view of Sanford Drive. It’s perfect for anything – eating, studying, people-watching.


#ProfilesOfTenacity: Midori Jenkins

What are you passionate about? 

I am passionate about storytelling. It’s one of our only modes of making a world of conflict and turmoil into one of meaning and opportunity. Honestly, I’m so fascinated by stories themselves. They are powerful because they allow for us to experience a perspective entirely different than our own. 

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you? 

Tenacity is remaining persistent, pushing boundaries and never taking no for an answer. It’s refusing to limit yourself or settle for mediocrity.   

What was the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and early career professional? 

The hardest part about adjusting to the pandemic was simply being away from other people. I took for granted how much interaction with peers and professors influenced my educational experience. Now with campus returning to normal, it’s clear the extent to which I missed the energy of other students.  

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?

Letterboxd is definitely my favorite app. It’s so entertaining to log movies and see how my opinions differ from my friends and other movie fans. The app even totals how many movies you’ve watched; this year alone I’ve seen 153 films! 

What is your most memorable Grady experience? 

Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Summer at the Circus study abroad program. To say that it was an experience I will never forget is an understatement. I tested my creative limits, made lifelong friendships with amazing students from Grady and other universities, all while having the unwavering support of the university and Creative Circus faculty. Attending a program that was traditionally for advertising students forced me out of my comfort zone but, I will be forever grateful of the skills gained and memories made.  

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?  

 “You have nothing to prove, only to share.” I think it’s easy to compare yourself to other people or feel like you aren’t good enough, especially when trying to enter a competitive industry. This has definitely been an important reminder that what you bring to the table is valuable, and that despite challenges, mental and physical health matter. You have to remember your worth.  

What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

My proudest moment in the past year was being nominated by my English professor for the Moran ePortfolio Award. Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed but, this was the first time I had ever been recognized. With all of the challenges the pandemic brought to a normal school year, it meant a lot to me that my work was able to convey the message of who I am. 

Midori and her co-interns at the Ryan Seacrest Studio in Atlanta.
What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I’m obsessed with trivia. It allows me to know a little bit about a lot of different subjects and it fuels my competitive spirit. In the summer, you can find me at trivia every Thursday. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why? 

The Main Library is easily my go to spot. I love that the upper floors have a great view of North Campus and it’s the ideal place to focus or think. Not to mention, the Einstein Bros. Bagels on the first floor is perfect for a snack break or an early morning coffee.   

Who is your professional hero? 

My professional hero is director and screenwriter Bong Joon-ho. He is an innovator and changemaker who is increasing the diversity of the film industry by telling important and unique stories to enact social change. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Alumni Spotlight: Orlando Pimentel (ABJ ’17)

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of spotlights highlighting the work of some of our alumni in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Please watch for more profiles in the weeks to come.

Orlando Pimentel is a senior solutions associate at Heart+Mind strategies. Previously, he worked at Porter Novelli and Hart Research Associates. On campus, Pimentel was involved with Talking Dog, Leadership UGA and the Catholic Center. He participated in The Creative Circus summer program in 2015.

What classes at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your career?

I remember taking a different variety of classes, I think more on the account side. Every class had its own piece to kind of help me out. This field is so diverse and so varied. At different stages of my career, I’ve had to draw from different points. At one point I was an intern at Porter Novelli for the account team, so I had to think more about the account classes. And then before that I was a creative intern, so I had to think of my creative courses. Then ultimately I made the switch to market research in the bulk of my career, and that’s where I really draw on those market research, media planning and statistical-oriented classes. So they all had their importance at different points.

How has your field of study changed since you were a Grady student?

It’s definitely been a big shift. When I got to apply to Grady, I knew I wanted to study advertising, but I didn’t have a focus. After taking some time to try things out, I realized I wanted to do a Creative Advertising route. That was my big thing in my junior and senior year at Grady. I had ambitions to become a designer and an art director. And then after I graduated, I got a creative internship, but it just didn’t pan out like I thought it would. The actual work wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought. My ambition the entire time was to be able to help organizations, individuals and companies tell their story. I thought creative would be that, but I didn’t really feel that connection. I was really removed from that and I didn’t really feel like it was for me, executing other people’s ideas. So I switched over to account and then market research. Ultimately market research won. It’s the synthesis in communications before ideas, everything is kind of based on the data, the idea. It felt closer to that goal of helping people tell their story, being a visionary. It keeps me active and stimulated to be able to be on a different topic every other month, and I thrive on a changing landscape.

How does your Hispanic and/or Latin heritage influence your work? 

It’s interesting because we know that the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States is one of the biggest minority groups at this point. It’s very present now in media and music and more well known industries. But despite that, my observation is the office space or the workspace sometimes doesn’t always reflect that. There’s just not a common place for us to be in this communications or media space. These are the people in charge of reaching out to these demographics, reaching out to the population, whether they be white, Black, Hispanic, Asian American, but the workspace itself doesn’t always reflect that.

There have been a couple of times where I’ve had to kind of speak up a little bit and give my two cents. Like, I can’t speak on behalf of everybody, but it’s important to kind of give your two cents sometimes when you’re going to reach out to a certain demographic. And also consider how things are being represented, how the story is told. I’ve had to remind myself that I can’t put too much pressure on myself either, but I can just reach out to other Latinos in this space with similar backgrounds and share ideas and kind of support one another.

What advice would you give to young students of Hispanic origin who will soon enter the workforce?

I think it’s important to push yourself into spaces you may not be as familiar with and really try to take advantage of the resources available to you. Do not let your lack of knowledge of industries, of work, disqualify you. It’s challenging, it was for me, there’s not a lot of Latinos or Hispanics in the communications or media space. The route to pursue a career, it’s not quite as firm or clear as our parents. I think when our parents immigrated here, the idea of becoming either a laborer, or a blue collar worker, or the more common white collar career of a doctor or a lawyer, those are very clear and more easy to understand. I know for myself, I had no idea about the space, I can’t talk to my parents about wanting to become a creative advertiser. Don’t let that intimidate or discourage you if it’s something you want to pursue. Just lean into and ask a lot of questions. Even just admitting it, too, that’s what I did a lot. I don’t have a lot of background or connections in the space, but what can you tell me, what would you recommend, and then kind of piecing it together from there.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

It definitely had more to play when I was younger. I grew up in rural Georgia very isolated from a lot of the conversations and opportunities that somebody may get if they’re in an urban environment. Being in D.C. the last couple years I realized that Hispanic and Latino communities have a big network, have a lot of outreach and support from different people and organizations, but that’s not the same in a rural area; everybody’s in the same space, but just because you’re in the same space doesn’t mean you’re going to be on the same playing field. So in my case, rural Georgia, very far from a lot of awareness of how to figure myself out and how to support myself as a Latino. I remember watching a lot of TV, reading a lot of books. For me, Hispanic media was seeing other people with similar backgrounds thrive and succeed here in the United States and really have pride for those who have similar stories and culture, whether it be language we speak, the things we watch, the food we eat. It helped me think there’s more to life than just being here in rural Georgia. 

We watched the news and TV and saw places as grandiose as New York City or Los Angeles, or even Atlanta. And I remember just thinking, those are really faraway places, how could I ever reach them, what does it take to do things to be in that space? Like watching all these successful Latino figures and Hispanic individuals make their way through life and being highlighted just helped me get a sense of confidence in myself, and I think that was very important for me and for a lot of others. When you see somebody in similar shoes in spaces that you want to be it gives you permission and the boost that you need to think, oh, I can do that, if they can.