Black History Month Alumni Profile: Yvonne Lamb

Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb (ABJ ’75) graduated from Grady College with a bachelor’s degree in newspaper journalism. She spent 22 years working as an assignment editor on the local news desk, newsroom director of training and as obituary editor for The Washington Post before retiring in 2008. She then became an adjunct journalism professor at two different universities in Washington, D.C. before making her way back to Georgia. Now, she serves as president of The Earl T. Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute in Savannah.

What has been your greatest accomplishment since graduating from Grady College?

I have been blessed to experience several professional and personal accomplishments since graduating from Grady College. I worked with some of the best journalists in Atlanta, Macon, Tampa, and in the nation’s capital at The Washington Post. I wrote or edited many first drafts of history, as former Post publisher Philip L. Graham called journalism. Throughout my career I was able to contribute to the history of numerous consequential events and people’s stories, including those that rendered more accurate portrayals of African Americans in newspapers.

When I moved from being a reporter to an editor in my career,  I gained a seat at decision-making tables and  advocated for truth and fairness in coverage. I did what I could to make sure that African Americans and other marginalized people were fairly and accurately depicted in the press.

For more than 30 years, journalism filled my life like a calling more than a career. My time on the obituary desk during my last years at the Post allowed me to return to writing and helped me filled a gnawing in my spirit for a more meaningful connection to the work I did. After leaving the Post, I  co-founded a blog network for and about black women and published two children’s books and a book on prayer. I was recognized as a journalism trailblazer in 2018 in my hometown. I also found my way to seminary. I graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C. with a Master of Theological Studies, and in 2019 became an ordained Baptist minister. This for me is a major accomplishment, perhaps my greatest. Well, in addition to being married to a great guy, having two wonderful children, and being energized by three beautiful grand-girls.

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

I will always remember two classes at the Grady College that helped to shape my career as a journalist. Dr. Beverly Bethune’s journalism course was one of them. I learned fundamentals that I applied and sharpened over the years. Dr. Bethune’s class prepared me to tackle my first newspaper internship, a stint on the campus newspaper The Red and Black, and the editorship of PAMAJO, the black student newspaper.

The other class that bolstered my writing skills and confidence was a magazine writing course that I took with Dr. John English. That course took me outside the campus and into the community. My writing, insights, and instincts about what makes an exceptional story improved with Dr. English’s instruction. Over the years, I reconnected with Dr. English at the Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University where we shared our knowledge with new crops of potential newspaper and broadcast journalists. In 2016, Dr. English and I were both inducted into the press institute’s inaugural Hall of Fame. That was a full circle moment for me, first because I began attending the press institute in high school and because Dr. English was with me among the honorees.

Finally, I will never forget being in a session at the J-School with Robert Johnson, the editor of Jet Magazine. Jet and Ebony magazines were essential reading in African American homes in the 1970s. Johnson was speaking to journalism students, mostly African Americans as I recall. He urged us  to “tell our own stories.” To this day, I encourage individuals whose remarkable stories would go untold to do the same.

What does the recent movement to continue the fight for racial justice mean to you personally and professionally?

Our country and our world are at such a critical juncture right now. I am both heartened and sadden by the current fight for racial justice and democracy. I am encouraged that a new generation of young leaders from all sectors of society have taken up the fight in light of the resurgence of racial hostilities, deadly police aggression especially against black and brown people,  violence against Asians, and Reconstruction-era legislative policies of voter suppression. It is unfortunate that this fight is continuing after hard years of struggle, tears, and bloodshed by so many who dedicated their lives to the cause of justice and equality. It is my hope and my prayer that one day we will arrive at a point in this country where we can look at each other with an appreciation for the differences we all bring to the world. That we will seek and find common ground, and that the rudeness, incivility, and hatred that are so prevalent today will be silenced  by good people rising up and saying enough is enough.

As a former journalist, I am appalled by the misinformation, half-truths and lies that have coalesced to try to dismantle the fight for racial justice and basic human rights and decency. The need to continue the fight remains as strong as ever; the need for vigorous, fair, and accurate media is more important than ever. As a minister, I see this fight as a just one that calls us all to carry out the commandments Jesus gave us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbors as yourselves.

What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

I would give this advice to today’s Grady College students and young professionals. Research, report and write the truth. Sift critically through the political spins, false narratives, and cacophony of shill voices to bring light and heat to your reporting. Be careful not to become the story. Investigate the theories and stories that really do not make sense, that cause more harm than good, that drive us to become more ignorant than curious about each other. More than ever we need truth seekers, not sensation-provocateurs to help shore up our world for those of us here now and for generations to come.

Black History Month Alumni Profile: Angelique Jackson

Angelique Jackson (ABJ ’12) is a senior entertainment writer for Variety. She previously worked at Entertainment Tonight, where she was awarded two Daytime Emmy Awards as a segment producer. During her time at Grady College, Jackson was a reporter and anchor for Grady Newsource, a member of the Student Alumni Council and a participant in the Cannes Film Festival Study Abroad Program.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

This month is a celebration of all we’ve achieved as Black people, but it shouldn’t be the only celebration. In some ways, I feel like this month serves as a reset – a chance to check in as a community to focus on the future and what hurdles we can overcome next. It’s a moment to take inspiration from those past accomplishments and to use those lessons to build something new.  

Explain a challenge that you had to overcome in your professional career.

The greatest challenge I’ve had to endure in my career was learning to advocate for myself. In school, when you make good grades or put forth a lot of effort, you’re likely rewarded without having to ask. But in real life – and especially in journalism – it’s imperative to promote your work so that your effort cuts above the noise. While your good work will build your professional reputation, there is something to say for engaging with your audience and with your bosses to make sure that people know the effort that you’re putting in.

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

Newsource was the best preparation any journalist could ask for. I’m always surprised to learn that other journalists in my orbit didn’t have the experience of performing every newsroom duty while still in college. From the first time I transcribed an interview to the moment I stepped onto a red carpet or produced a news segment (live or otherwise), I’ve used the skills that I was taught in those classes about reporting, writing stories, editing, anchoring and more. 

What clubs and activities did you participate in at UGA and Grady that were instrumental to your success as a career professional?

During my tenure at UGA, I was a board member for the Student Alumni Council. That experience taught me so much about the University itself, but it also provided great networking training. As an SAC member, we established relationships with people of all ages and from all sectors of industry. As journalists, relationships are everything and networking is key to that success. Getting the best interviews requires publicists and subjects to trust you and your reporting, and a big part of building that rapport comes from being in the right rooms and knowing how to get there. You never know who you’ll meet that will help you land that next job or bag that exclusive interview!

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

Broadcast journalism is no longer solely about TV. With the rise of multimedia platforms and social media as a journalism tool, plus the public’s ability to use it and serve as citizen journalists, the definition of “news” and how to get it has expanded — for better or worse. I like to think it’s for the better, not only because it broadens access to the field, but it also stretches the journalists’ imaginations, urging us to think outside of the TV box when it comes to best reaching their audience.

What does the recent movement to continue the fight for racial justice mean to you personally and professionally?

Personally, every day since June 2020 has been trying – but, if I’m honest, living as a Black person in America is trying most days. But we find joy each day, despite it all. Professionally, the recent movement has allowed me to find a way to use my work to fight for racial justice. As a writer and reporter, I’m able to frame the narrative about us as Black people with an emphasis on our humanity and a broader view on what makes our culture distinct, unique and not monolithic. This is a moment when we have the microphone and it’s imperative that we not waste it. 

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

Embrace everything that makes you, you. Embrace your culture, your heritage, your hair, the color of your skin and bring them to your work. Those elements of your personal history and the experiences that you’ve had because you’re a person of color — both positive and challenging — will prove valuable in your reporting because they inform your point of view. Don’t suppress those parts of yourself or allow others to persuade you to do so. We as a journalism community need your voice, but the public that you’re serving needs your perspective even more. Use your lens to tell our stories. 


#ProfilesOfTenacity: Armani Kardar

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?  

I chose Grady and journalism because I love to talk and tell stories. I love meeting people and learning random information. Journalism has allowed me to be put in spaces and opportunities that I wouldn’t normally be in because I have to tell the story.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means to never give up. Nobody can truly stop you from being successful other than yourself. It means to bet on yourself every time regardless of your confidence in your abilities.

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

Professor Carlo Finlay marked a pivotal moment in my development as a man and journalist. I was interested in the Sports Media program as a sophomore but opted not to apply out of the belief that I wasn’t good enough to be accepted. My Junior year a friend of mine, Tylar Norman (Grady and Sports Media Alum),  told me that Professor Finlay asked about me and wondered why I had not applied to the Sports Media program because he felt like I would be a good fit. It shocked me because while I didn’t believe in myself, someone else did. It made me realize I held myself back out of fear of failure and changed my outlook on life. I eventually went on to join the Sports Media program as a senior and decided to stay an extra year at UGA to complete it.

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

The best advice I’ve received is from my fraternity advisor Dr. Dennis Humphrey. He always uses old and obscure adages and the one that stuck with me the most is: “The race is not given to the swift, but to those who endure.” Which essentially means that it is better to finish at your own pace rather than placing a timetable on accomplishments based on others.

Kardar, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, hosted the Greek NPHC Step Show in 2021. (Photo: submitted)
Who is your professional hero?

My professional hero is Stephen A. Smith because of how he went from being a beat reporter in Philadelphia to the biggest name in sports show business. I also appreciate how he is able to be himself on television without being stereotyped or ridiculed.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

I plan to work in sports media as a career. 

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

I love to use Twitter because of its versatility. It provides news, jokes, updates and a platform to share your creativity with others.

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I don’t learn very well in classroom settings and most of my skills are self taught. I really enjoy learning new things.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is North Campus because of how beautiful it looks and how close it is to downtown.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about mentoring young black men in hopes of instilling the confidence I once lacked in them at an early age. It is important to invest in our youth because they are the future and need to know that their potential is truly limitless.


Black History Month alumni profile: Toyin Adon-Abel Jr.

Toyin Adon-Abel Jr. (ABJ ’05) knew from a young age he wanted to work in marketing, but equally important to him was directing campaigns as a way to understand people and tell their stories.

With these goals in mind, he pursued a degree in journalism with a minor in sociology. 

“I thought by majoring in journalism, I would be a more well-rounded communicator and that it was a better route for my skill set,” Adon-Abel said. “I wanted my marketing to be based in truth and community and understanding people. I thought if I really, really understood people and their motivations and how their environments dictate what they buy and how they interact with brands, I would be a better marketer.”

Today, Adon-Abel is the vice president of marketing operations for Greenwood, an online financial services company that caters specifically to Black and Latino customers around the country. In the evenings, he works on providing marketing services to clients through his marketing agency, Meddling Minds, which he founded in 2020.

Adon-Abel started Meddling Minds as a way to lead what he terms conscious marketing — marketing that has a positive impact on communities. 

“My grandmother always told me I was here for a greater purpose,” Adon-Abel explains. “She said because we spend so much of our lives working, that work needs to be impactful.”

Greenwood was a client of Meddling Minds, so it was a natural transition to oversee marketing operations for the bank. 

Adon-Abel believes in the mission of Greenwood, which provides banking services to underserved communities. He explains that the recirculation of money in Black neighborhoods is negligible because there are few Black-owned businesses, even in Atlanta, a city that is known for welcoming Black people. Adon-Abel said that Black spending power is at an all-time high, but Black wealth is declining and minority populations are continuously exposed to unfair financial practices. 

“That’s where I wanted to spend my time — helping companies that I know are going to help other people,” said Adon-Abel of Greenwood and their service of providing grants to Black-owned businesses and support of HBCUs.

Black History Month and Illumination

Adon-Abel admits he is frustrated by Black History Month because he feels it is not a genuine effort, but instead a “pacifier.” He cites businesses and organizations that get behind the effort for a short time, but don’t do much the rest of the year. He noted that Black History Month is during the shortest month of the year and he doesn’t feel a lot of pride. 

Adon-Abel said: “I think it’s just window-dressing because the country is not interested in admitting its history, learning from it and fixing the issues that still plague Black people in America.”

He believes, however, that the past few years with the racial reckoning have been positive and illuminating. 

“I really believe that the great pause when everyone was at home helped white people understand these things from a Black person’s perspective,” he continued. “Awareness has been raised. I also think the last couple of years have illuminated the way different groups are treated.”

He cites the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol as an example. 

Adon-Abel continued: “I guarantee you that most Black people who were watching were saying ‘if they looked like us, this would have been a very different outcome.’ It illuminated the clear difference between how Black and white people are treated.”

Adon-Abel remains positive and thinks that Black students graduating today need to focus on being valued. He notes this especially when he hears professionals advise young people not to leave their first job too soon because it might look bad on their resume. 

“I get nervous that people compromise themselves because they think they need to stay longer,” he said.  “It’s important for people to know their worth, their value, and understand they have power and control over their careers and take more risks.” 

UGA Impact
Toyin Adon-Abel and his wife, Priyanka Adon-Abel who is a graduate of the UGA College of Public Health.

Adon-Abel said when he started at UGA in 2001, less than 1% of campus were Black men and a majority of those students were athletes. Already in a minority group, Adon-Abel was even more in the minority since he was raised in London and spoke with a British accent. He connected with several Black students who he met at orientation and they suggested he get involved with the Visitor’s Center.

Adon-Abel values the time he spent at UGA, especially working with Eric Johnson (ABJ ’86), director of the UGA Visitor’s Center. 

“The person who had the biggest impact on my time at UGA was Eric Johnson,” Adon-Abel said. “Eric is really big on authenticity and tapping into that. When I was struggling with not fitting in, he allowed me to be myself.”

After all these years, Adon-Abel still credits Johnson with being a mentor on campus. “It’s not always the classes that affect you the most, but the extracurricular activities and the relationships with faculty and staff who really try to help you grow.”




Editor’s Note: Shortly after this interview, Adon-Abel reached out upon hearing about Valerie Boyd’s death. He shared the following:
“I’d like to give a special call-out and pay respect to Professor Valerie Boyd. I heard she passed away a couple of days ago. She and I kept in touch via email and Linkedin since my graduation. She was very proud of my career accomplishments and congratulated me on a recent newspaper article that mentioned my work with the Civic Walls Project. She had a long-standing wish to create murals in rural Mississippi. She and I had multiple meetings in 2020 so I could provide advice for her project. I reached out to her last summer to see if the mural had been completed. Below is a picture she shared with me in August 2021. Prof. Valerie had an impact on me during my education at UGA and afterwards. I’m glad that I was able to help her in some kind of way before she passed away. “

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Riley Armant

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study? 

Being that I am a COVID-19 graduate, I knew that the job market was not ideal for me. I decided that a master’s degree was the best option for me. The idea of going to school again was not the most appealing, but it has been the best decision I have made so far. I want to be a great storyteller and journalist. I knew that Grady is the best of the best, therefore I felt as though it was only right to join the UGA community.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you? 

Tenacity, in my opinion, means possessing the determination to reach a personal goal or level of success. Having this quality also means that you won’t settle for anything less than what you envision.

What is your most memorable Grady experience? 

Being able to get into the Newsource class, hands down. This was definitely the hardest class I have ever taken but I am a better journalist because of it.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about connecting with my community and creating a platform for their voices to be heard. Like I have said before, I want to be a great storyteller and journalist, so a personal passion of mine is to create this platform. I also want to join the efforts to restore trust in news media, especially in the Black community. I have personal passions for things like fine arts (especially dance), food, and music.

Armant was previously an intern with WJBF News Channel 6.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

Creating a newsreel from my summer internship and Grady Newsource that I feel confident in!

Who is your professional hero? 

A few of my favorites are Angela Rye, Maria Taylor (even though I don’t have a huge interest in sports) and Jeannette Reyes.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am classically trained in ballet and danced for a solid 15 years.

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

My favorite social media app is Tik Tok because it’s almost like a search engine. I go there for news, makeup reviews and clothing reviews. Instagram has always been a favorite of mine as well, but I would say that I frequent Tik Tok more often.

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree? 

I have plans to become a multi-skilled Journalist. Later in my career, my goal is to be an anchor and a great storyteller overall.

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

“As a journalist you will always get better interactions if you lead with honey” Ralitsa Vassileva, the Grady Newsource professor, gave us this advice before we started doing live shows. To me, this meant that you should always go into an interview with a positive attitude and grace. By doing this you begin to build a bond with your source and which enables you to tell an amazing story.


Alise Crittendon named AAF Most Promising Multicultural Student

Alise Crittendon, an advertising student from Mableton, Ga., has been selected to the American Advertising Federation (AAF) 2022 class of Most Promising Multicultural Students.

“This is one of the biggest honors I’ve received thus far because it represents everything I have been striving for: increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the media industry,” said Crittendon. “I even wrote about this in my Grady statement of interest two years ago!”

The AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Student program is part of an initiative to promote diversity in the advertising workplaces. Crittendon will participate in a four-day workshop that will help advance skills, enhance professional development and provide exclusive networking opportunities.

Crittendon and her fellow 49 honorees from around the country were selected by a judging panel featuring representatives from Amazon, The Coca-Cola Company, TikTok, and many more leading advertising organizations.

“We are so proud to add Alise to the UGA Department of Advertising and Public Relations alumni who have been selected to participate in the highly competitive American Advertising Federation Most Promising Students program,” said Bryan Reber, Advertising and Public Relations Department Head.

Crittendon was also selected as a member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies  Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) earlier this year.

Crittendon credits Women in Media and Talking Dog as organizations that have helped her grow during her time at Grady College.

Reber says Crittendon has become a superstar student and has grown through mentoring with faculty.

“Special thanks go to faculty who teach and mentor these students as they prepare their portfolios for the competitions,” Reber said. “Dr. Kirsten Strausbaugh has been a special mentor to Alise.”

After graduation, Crittendon plans to join an advertising agency as a copywriter where she would develop campaigns and powerful messaging for brands. She says she found a love for storytelling at Grady College and wants to use that passion to help brands execute strategy with creativity. She also credits her extra-curricular activities with helping her grow into a young professional.

“Women in Media and Talking Dog Agency are both special to me for different reasons, but my involvement in these gave me the confidence and experience I needed to continue working towards my goals,” said Crittendon.

See the full release from the American Advertising Federation here.

You can learn more about Crittendon in this InternViews piece published earlier in 2021.

#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. 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Nicole García Sánchez

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

Before I got into Grady, I was planning an event called Orgullo Hispano for HSA. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted for it and I knew I wanted the location to be in Grady. When I asked Parker Middleton to help me with the event and allow me to do it in Grady, she went above and beyond. The event was a success and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the college. Even before I was a Grady student, they were extremely supportive and helping me make one of my goals possible. 

What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience? 

It has been interesting having an internship at the same time I have classes. I use most of the skills I have learned in class. This summer, my boss asked me to do a media list and I was like, “Perfect, I can do this. I literally learned how to do it a month ago.” 

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

I’m between Instagram and TikTok. I think Instagram is what you make out of it, so I follow a lot of accounts that either fulfill me or bring me joy, and TikTok is hilarious and keeps me entertained. When I first started at my internship I was doing content for TikTok, so it holds a special place in my heart. 

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

When I took Career Explorations with Dean Davis and Parker Middleton, I remember they encouraged us to get as much experience in the real world as we can while we are in college. So for a few months of my freshman year, I started looking for an internship, and I got one for that summer. As I am an international student, I have to get permission to have an internship, and Immigration Services told me I couldn’t do an internship because I was not a Grady student yet. I got mad and told them “students are supposed to get internships to be competitive” and they told me that didn’t apply for me. So instead of dwelling on that, I decided to get as involved on campus as I could, because that does count as real-world experience. Even though my situation might be different than other students, I am thankful for that advice because it pushed me to do the best I could with the circumstances I was in. 

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

I think tenacity is knowing what you want and having a plan on how to get there. 

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

My friends and the Hispanic Student Association. My friends became my home away from home, and I couldn’t have survived all these years without them. And the community in HSA has made my college experience the best it could be. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

Lake Herrick. It is super relaxing and I like to go watch the sunset there. 

Who is your professional hero?

My dad – he worked really hard to get to where he is today. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Getting my internship. I really wanted to work for this company because I really believe in what they do; I even wrote it in the things I wanted for my new year, and it happened! 

Clarke County students visit UGA, explore Grady College

Rick Dunn excitedly turns to a group of nearly 15 Athens-Clarke County students at the conclusion of a short introductory film about Grady College narrated by college Dean Charles Davis.

“Dean Davis is a Clarke Central grad,” Dunn says with pride in his voice.

The message delivered by Dunn and emphasized throughout the students’ visit to the University of Georgia campus on Oct. 6 was clear: Education that begins at Clarke County schools can flourish into more possibilities and opportunities at the University of Georgia.

Rick Dunn (ABJ ’93, left), CEO and executive producer of MEU Radio Athens, talks with two of his students, Kaden Monterio (center) and Freddrell Green, during their tour of Grady College.

Dunn, who earned a journalism degree from UGA in 1993, is CEO and executive producer of MEU Radio Athens, a program he created in 2017. The program introduces radio and broadcasting skills to fifth- to 12th-grade students and encourages them to graduate from high school.

“I would like to help them navigate through hard times into a life that is much more productive,” Dunn said.

Dunn’s students produce programming for an internet radio station including podcasts and sports broadcasts, as well as projects like school announcements. Dunn estimates about 70% of the alumni from his program graduate from college with a degree in mass communications.

Students experience UGA

After meeting with Alison McCullick, director of community relations at the university, Dunn and McCullick got an idea. The pair connected with Stephanie Moreno, the scholastic outreach coordinator at Grady College, and Josh Podvin, assistant director for community partnerships with UGA Public Service and Outreach, to plan a tour for CCSD students. The students’ visit to UGA would include talks from current students, alumni and professionals in the journalism and broadcasting fields and explore the importance of higher education and career possibilities.

Alexia Ridley, an anchor for WUGA radio, spoke to the students during the campus experience. She began her talk by saying she was familiar with the students’ work with MEU Radio, and they were already ahead of where she was when she attended college.

“I can’t believe that you guys do what you do … it’s really good,” said Ridley. “College will enhance what you already have.”

Students from WUOG radio and freelance podcasters Dayne Young and Kim Landrum also spoke about broadcasting, while Helen Mahaney provided an overview of the college.

DonA Traylor-Askew, a journalism and sports media certificate student, and Carlo Finlay, assistant director of the Carmical Sports Media Institute, talk with the CCSD students about careers in sports media.

Cemya Stone, a freshman at Clarke Central and audio engineer for MEU, was inspired after hearing from UGA students like DonA Traylor-Askew, a fourth-year journalism major. Traylor-Askew, who is also earning a certificate from the Carmical Sports Media Institute, talked about her experience managing social media accounts for some of Clarke Central’s sports teams last fall. She also shared about her involvement in producing “The First Five,” a documentary about the first Black UGA football players, three of whom are Clarke Central alumni.

“It was really fulfilling to hear from students giving us their perspective,” Stone said. “They aren’t too much older than we are, and we are going to be there in a few years. If they can do it, we can do it, too. We just need a little bit of insight.”

Makenna Mincey, a junior from Clarke Central who is considering a career in communications, said she had never been to Grady College.

Cemya Stone (left) and Makenna Mincey, two Clarke Central High School students, share a laugh between sessions at the Grady College.

“I think the biggest lesson I learned is to appreciate the opportunity that I have been given,” Mincey said. “It also taught me that if I want to go to the next level, I need to continue to build and grow.”

A collaborative effort

The University of Georgia participates in more than 50 partnerships with Clarke County schools, and Dunn wants to expand those opportunities. Over the past few months, he has worked with David Hazinski, a Grady College professor emeritus, to design a small television studio where his students can broadcast news shows. Dunn left the visit with several new ideas and a faculty introduction to Carlo Finlay, who he connected with about potential partnerships between Grady College students and CCSD students.

Tours like this one give students perspective and teach them to focus, according to Tymisha Creightney, a sixth-grade teacher at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School who also serves on the MEU board.

Creightney said the tour was beneficial to many of Dunn’s students who have not seen the university from an academic perspective.

“The thing I appreciated the most about today is that it showed our kids that people who look like them are in this capacity and what they are doing is working,” Creightney said. “Our students who are interested in journalism saw that they could get there.”

The tour concluded with lunch at Bolton Dining Commons, providing the students a chance to mingle with college students.

“I like that UGA is [in] the heart of Athens and that they have partnered with us,” Creightney concluded. “Even if the students don’t attend UGA, they get a taste of what college is like beyond just football. I want to thank the University of Georgia for looking out for our kids and being leaders in the community.”

Kayla Walker, a student at Burney Harris Lyons Middle School, enjoys lunch at Bolton Dining Commons after the presentations.

Hispanic Heritage Month Student Spotlight: Isavictoria Martinez and Andrea Gutierrez

Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a series of spotlights highlighting our alumni — and now students — in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

For our final Hispanic Heritage Month Profile, we are featuring two Grady College students who are involved in the college’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Isavictoria Martinez is a senior Entertainment and Media Studies major and the former NAHJ president. Andrea Gutierrez is a junior journalism major and the current NAHJ president. Our first profile of Hispanic Heritage Month, Ashley Soriano, founded the chapter and served as its first president.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Isavictoria Martinez (IM): Hispanic Heritage Month, to me, means a time of celebration of culture, history, representation and transparency for the Latinx/Hispanic community. My heart is always filled with joy and pride when I hear about fellow accomplished Puerto Ricans in media. As a minority, I’ve always felt that our history is being white-washed. Diverse voices are needed now more than ever. We deserve recognition for our contributions and even recognition of our struggles within society. I want this time for people to be able to celebrate themselves or go out of their way to explore these different cultures whether it be the music, food or dances. However, it is also equally important to research and talk about the struggles of our people and how we can mend any disconnect. Para mi gente, nunca olviden de donde vienen y tengan orgullo de quienes son. ¡Viva Puerto Rico! 

Andrea Gutierrez (AG): For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to reflect on the challenges that Hispanic Americans face throughout the year as well as celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing civil rights and opportunities for the Latino community more generally. I believe I’m speaking for a lot of people, including myself, when I say that advocating for Hispanic Americans should be a year-round affair, but I do agree that highlighting a month in the year helps a lot to call attention.

Explain a challenge that you had to overcome in your professional career.
NAHJ club members Isavictoria Martinez, Alex Rios (AB ’19) and Ashley Soriano (AB ’19) pose for a photo at a conference in San Antonio, Texas in September 2019.

IM: Something I struggle with, and still struggle with, in my professional career would be the imposter syndrome. I’m constantly analyzing myself, comparing myself to others in similar circumstances and critiquing my work as never being good enough. It doesn’t help your doubts either when you’re part of an extreme minority within your intended industry. I think something that ultimately has helped my complex would be my time in Grady and participation in NAHJ. Grady has taught me that my voice is pertinent to shaping future conversations, that it’s okay to make mistakes and to value my time here with fellow students. NAHJ has given me a safe space where I can talk to people with similar ambitions and struggles — the organization also contributes to that idea of representation. I can now, anxiously, look forward to making mistakes because it means that I’m growing and expanding my experiences. I believe that those experiences will result in my best work.

How did you become involved with NAHJ, and what has being president of the club meant to you?

AG: Well, I first joined the club in Fall 2019, when I was a first-year on campus, but I honestly never even expected how much I would enjoy being a part of NAHJ. I’m just so incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities and moments I’ve experienced with this club. Being club president in my third year means the world to me, as I get to plan some amazing events later on this year for our newer members and get to know everyone a lot better, especially now that in-person classes have resumed.

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

IM: I think being Boricua definitely attributes to my interests, ambition, and not surprisingly, my impatience. Through my work, I want to feature my experiences and highlight my culture and heritage, whether it be realized with complex Latinx characters or composing a shot through a lens. My storytelling so far has focused on communities pertaining to my interests. I want to constantly create stories about my people and my home. I believe being Puerto Rican gives me a unique perspective on how I view these stories waiting to be told. I’m impatient for opportunities to do more.

AG: My Hispanic heritage helps me stay rooted in my work and professional life and helps me to remember what I really value in life. I grew up in a close-knit Colombian family where I always knew I could count on someone to be there for me, in good and bad times. We’re a very open bunch, and even as a kid my earliest memories of wanting to be a writer of some sort stemmed from listening to the stories of my mom and my aunts, uncles and cousins. As an aspiring journalist, I take a lot of inspiration from the people around me, which includes my family. Journalism is all about telling stories, and my early childhood was blessed with some amazing stories and characters from my family in Colombia. When I work in my classes and with publications, I always try to stay true to my upbringing and remember that every person has a story to tell.

What have been your favorite NAHJ events or activities, and what are you looking forward to this school year with the club?

IM: I believe NAHJ as a whole is such a valuable resource for rising Latinx/Hispanic journalists or those simply interested in entering the world of media and communications. My favorite NAHJ activity would be networking with professional journalists from the national chapter and within our own chapter with fellow students. I’ve luckily had the opportunity to attend two national conferences: The Excellence in Journalism Conference, which took place in San Antonio in 2019, and the NABJ-NAHJ Virtual Convention in 2020. Their activities and workshops were fun and informative to what the future of communications looks like and how we can improve ourselves as journalists. It was wonderful being around the same people who looked like me and held the same interests. My experience was feasible due to joining NAHJ and Grady’s financial contribution to fund both trips for select students. With the UGA chapter, I’m looking forward to introducing fellow students to those opportunities and helping shape their professional journeys.

AG: We do a lot of fun and interesting events and activities at NAHJ, which include hosting guest speakers and collaborations with other journalism organizations on campus. For this year, I’m just looking forward to holding regular in-person meetings with everybody and planning out some new adventures with the club.