#ProfilesOfTenacity: Suzanne Kebanli

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Being an Orientation Leader for virtual orientation last summer is one of the accomplishments that I’m most proud of. Working with New Student orientation at UGA has been my dream since I attended my own first-year orientation session in 2017. I knew one day that I would be an OL, and when I finally interviewed and got my acceptance, it was a dream come true! Transitioning to a virtual setting for the entire summer had a unique set of challenges and was certainly not what I expected, but my team and I handled it really well and took all of the obstacles in stride day by day.

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the journalism and mass communications field, so upon coming to UGA, I knew Grady was the college for me. I quickly fell in love with the people here and could feel their passion for the industry.

What are you planning to do after graduation? What is your dream job?

After graduation, I want to move to London or New York City. I’d love to either work at an advertising or communications agency doing Account Management or for an event planning company.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m Turkish. I was born in Turkey, and my whole family lives there! I grew up going there during the summers, so it definitely has a special place in my heart.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity means pressing on and fighting for something even when it’s hard.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

During my first year at UGA before I was even accepted to Grady, I took Dean Davis’s career explorations class and it was one of my favorite classes to date. At the end of the semester, he invited us to his “Dawgs with the Dean” event on the Grady lawn. It was — and still is — one of my favorite Grady experiences because it made me feel so welcomed and included.

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

I was an Orientation Leader at UGA during the summer of 2020, and my supervisor, Tori Tanner, had a huge impact on my life. We met my junior year and she has been one of my biggest mentors and role models ever since. She taught me a lot about myself, about my work and leadership style and about tenacity and perseverance. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m really passionate about storytelling and hearing what people are passionate about. I love hearing what others love and what makes them excited.

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

I love Instagram because of its versatility. There are always new updates and changes to the app, and it’s fun seeing how quickly it grows and evolves. It’s hard to get bored on Instagram because of the number of ways there are to actually consume the content, whether it’s through stories, IGTV, Live Videos, Reels or just my regular feed. There’s always new content to see and share, and it’s super interactive.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

Herty Field is one of my favorite places on campus. During my first and second years on campus, I spent a lot of time sitting on those black benches in the red gravel around Herty Fountain. A lot of my classes used to be on North Campus, so that was always my go-to spot to unwind and relax after a long day of classes. The sounds and smells and that spot in general is really nostalgic to me, and I love it. 

Who is your professional hero?

Tori Tanner was my supervisor when I worked for UGA Orientation last summer, and since meeting her I’ve learned so much about myself professionally and as a leader. She’s helped shaped me and grow me over the last year to be the best version of myself in professional settings and tackle new responsibilities and leadership roles. She is one of the strongest and most hardworking women I know, and I aspire to be like her in my career in the future.

Davis and Middleton class gives pre-Grady students a view of ‘the real world’

It is the first day of Thursday classes on a cool January afternoon at the heart of the University of Georgia’s campus. Students are filling stadium style seats on the second floor of a Miller Learning Center classroom. One co-instructor is troubleshooting inevitable first-day-of-class technology plagues as late arrivals scan the room for an available seat which will be their accustomed space on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the following eight weeks.

Chatter is scarce. Nothing is familiar. That is the very reason this particular one-hour course exists­.

A friendly greeting breaks the silence.

“Hello and welcome,” says Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College.

Dean Charles N. Davis teaches pre-Grady students.

The same inviting pleasantry used in conversation with communications icons like Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Ernie Johnson Jr., Carolyn Tieger, Dick Yarbrough and thousands of members of Grady College’s legacy now addresses a group of pre-Grady students embarking on a journey to become communications leaders. This is their first look at their future home.

Davis co-teaches the course with Parker Middleton, Grady College’s executive senior director of strategy and engagement. Between them, they have more than 50 years of experience in journalism and academia.

“The name of the class is career explorations, but we like to call it the real world,” Davis continues with his opening remarks to the students. “It is the real world of Grady College.”

This is students’ first interaction with two of the chief administrators who will be helping them become the next generation of dynamic storytellers.

“Connecting with students at this stage is so important,” Middleton said. “We want them to feel a part of Grady and eagerly jump in.”

“Everybody remembers the fear of not knowing where to go or even who to ask,” said Davis. “We have demystified the place.”

Parker Middleton helps prepare students for the semester ahead.

Enrollment for the course has grown every semester and is up to 117 in spring 2019. It has also been a catalyst for increased volunteer involvement at Grady.

“The earlier we can give people these opportunities, the earlier they will develop,” Middleton said. “They show leadership, join clubs, volunteer at Newsource, write for the Red & Black and more.”

For two months, students learn about the operations behind one of America’s most prestigious journalism and mass communication programs and meet passionate alumni eager to offer their time and expertise.

The face time with pre-Grady students is also a valuable resource for Davis and Middleton as they help connect a new era of young professionals to employers.

“Companies come to us and say they want to get close to this demographic,” Middleton said. “They want to know Gen Z, they want to know Gen Y and millennials. This is a way to be really close to them and hear what they are thinking. The learning goes both ways.”

In a field that foreshadows through teases, ledes, hooks and headlines, Davis smiles and expresses a weighty statement intended to energize the students on the semester ahead, years upcoming and career awaiting.

“I think this is one of the most fun classes that I have ever been involved in.”

Davis and Middleton pose for a photo with their class.

Dean Davis takes over Grady College’s social media accounts

Dean Charles Davis recently took over Grady College’s main social accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook), sharing everything from photos of his dogs to images from around the building and tips for student success. The takeovers were part of the #FindDeanDavis campaign aimed at welcoming students to a new academic year and familiarizing them with the college’s social media platforms. Here are some of the highlights: