MFA Film thesis film to premiere at Atlanta Film Festival

“Black Butterfly,” a thesis film written, directed, produced and edited by Kelvin Summerhill (MFA ’22), has been selected as one of the narrative short films to premiere at the 47th Annual Atlanta Film Festival.

“This is a huge accomplishment since more than 10,000 of filmmakers submitted films to the festival and only 40 or so narrative shorts have been selected,” said Neil Landau, executive director of the MFA Film, Television and Digital Media program at the University of Georgia. “This is a big milestone for Kelvin and our program.”

Kelvin Summerhill talks with Cinematographer Garland McLaurin.
Kelvin Summerhill talks with Cinematographer Garland McLaurin (back to camera), a former EMST faculty member. (Photo: courtesy of Kelvin Summerhill)

The festival runs April 20-30 at multiple venues in Atlanta and virtually.

Black Butterfly,” is a 13-minute film about an ambitious Black man experiencing a mental breakdown on the day of his dream promotion. What should be an exciting day for the main character turns into a nightmare as the code-switching mask that he wears in the world begins to crack.

Summerhill was inspired to write the film to acknowledge mental health and as a way to honor a friend whom he lost to suicide.

“My goal with this film was always to save lives,” Summerhill said. “That’s been my number one mission and vision and what got me through looking at a blank sheet of paper when you’re coming up with an idea. My hope is that by showing it on a huge platform, it will reach people who see it and realize that it’s okay to discuss mental health struggles. It’s okay to seek healing; it’s okay to recognize it. And, most importantly, the film says ‘your life matters.’”

Throughout the film, Summerhill has left numerous Easter eggs, or hidden messages, for the audience, from the title that comes from boxing legend Mohammed Ali’s mantra, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” to using the poem “We Where the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, which is used as a framework for the plot. Even the main character, Clay Frazier, is intended to be someone who could be molded as a work in progress, with nods to Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., also known as Mohammad Ali, and Joe Frazier, another boxing legend.

Summerhill, who currently works as a directing assistant for Disney’s “Decendants 4” which is wrapping up filming in Atlanta, acknowledged that it takes a village to make a film and there are many who helped him with this endeavor.

“I got through the process because of Neil Landau, my thesis chair,” Summerhill said. “He had a personal touch along the way looking at every draft and every cut. His insight has been invaluable.”

Summerhill also consulted with director Chuck Hayward, an executive producer for “Ted Lasso” and writer/producer of “WandaVision.” Summerhill and Hayward were paired through the UGA MFA Film’s Industry Mentor program, connecting students with industry professionals who help with project guidance, industry advice and networking.

“Chuck, he’s been amazing,” Summerhill said of the relationship that has resulted in valuable feedback. “His level of industry experience has really helped me grow. Another thing about Chuck is that representation matters, and being able to see someone who looks like me performing at such a high level has been so impactful.”

In addition to Landau and Hayward, Summerhill said he was greatly helped by Shandra McDonald of the MFA Film faculty, and former MFA film faculty member Bryan Cole. He also used many resources available to him, including much of the crew which was comprised of Georgia Film Academy students; current MFA Film student Jordyn Seever, who helped the costumes and creating the progression of the cracking mask; and Dan Cathy, owner of Trilith Studios, chairman of Chick-fil-A and supporter of the MFA Film program. Cathy and the Trilith and Chick-fil-A teams were instrumental in helping Summerhill secure film locations, including Chick-fil-a headquarters.

Kelvin Summerhill at graduation with Neil Landau
Kelvin Summerhill is congratulated by Neil Landau at the 2022 MFA Film graduation as Shandra McDonald of the MFA Film faculty looks on. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Summerhill graduated with the inaugural class of the UGA MFA Film program, which educates students for a year in Athens on the UGA campus and at Athena Studios, and a year at UGA’s satellite campus in Trilith Village and in partnership with Georgia Film Academy, adjacent to Trilith Studios. Summerhill, who graduated from Morehouse College, discovered the new MFA Film program when he was looking for a change after living in New York pursuing an acting career. He always loved writing and was interested in exploring directing, and the location of this program near Atlanta was appealing.

“Atlanta is the gold rush for film; why would I leave this place?” Summerhill asked himself. “The rest is history.”

“Black Butterfly” premieres Saturday, April 22 at 9:30 p.m. at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta.
A package of six short films can be purchased here.
Patrons have ten days to view the films and are eligible to vote for the best short film.

“Black Butterfly” trailer

Grady College faculty and graduate students participate in the AEJMC 2020 Virtual Conference

Faculty and graduate students from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will present research findings, participating in panels and receiving awards at the 103rd annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference Aug. 6-9, 2020. The conference was originally set in San Francisco and is now an online virtual event due to COVID-19. 

All times below are noted as Pacific time zone unless noted otherwise.

The AEJMC is an educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals.


Graduate students Jeffrey Duncan and Taylor Voges co-authored a paper, receiving the James Carey Award as the Top Student Paper in the Cultural and Critical Studies Division. The award-winning paper is titled “EULAs as Unbalanced Contractual Power Between an Organization and its (Unannounced and Underage) Users: A Mobile Game Textual Analysis.” It will be presented Aug. 9 at 11 a.m.

Jeong (Janice) Hyun Lee and Solyee Kim were selected to participate in the 2020 AEJMC Presidential Diversity & Inclusion Career Development Fellowship for Graduate Students.

Solyee Kim is receiving the third-place award for a student paper in the Minorities and Communication Division (MAC) for “Communicating the Culture Through Korean Food Between Authenticity and Adaptation.” Kim is also receiving the AEJMC MAC Dr. Carolyn Stroman New Graduate Membership Award.

Grady Ph.D. student Shuoya Sun, along with Associate Professor Bart Wojdynski, Ph.D. student Matt Binford, and undergraduate student Charan Ramachandran received an award for the third-place paper in the Advertising Division. The award-winning paper is called, “How Multitasking During Video Content Decreases Ad Effectiveness: The Roles of Task Relevance, Video Involvement, and Visual Attention”, and the paper will be presented at 3 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, August 8.

Below are the Grady College faculty and graduate students who are presenting at this year’s conference.

Wednesday, Aug. 5 (pre-conference day — all times are in the Pacific time zone)

1-5 p.m. – Jonathan Peters (associate professor in journalism) is moderating a panel, “Inclusivity and Teaching Sensitive Topics.”

1-5 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a panelist for “Women Faculty Moving Forward: 100 Years from Suffrage to Academic Leadership.”

Thursday, Aug. 6 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Jonathan Peters (associate professor in journalism) is presenting an extended abstract and refereed paper, “Virtual Assemblies: Exploring Problems of Private Spaces and Press Protections.”

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Kyser Lough (assistant professor in journalism) presents a refereed paper, “Judging photojournalism: The Metajournalistic Discourse of Judges in Two Photojournalism Competitions.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Jihoon (Jay) Kim (Ph.D. student), Joe Phua (associate professor in advertising), Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) and Taeyon Kim (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “Investigating the Impact of Immersive Advertising on Attitude Toward the Brand: The Mediating Roles of Perceived Novelty, Perceived Interactivity, and Attitude toward the Advertisement.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Kyser Lough (assistant professor in journalism) is a panelist for, “Solutions Photojournalism: Visually Reporting Beyond the Problem-based Narrative.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Marilyn Primovic (Ph.D. student) and Joe Phua (associate professor in advertising) present a refereed paper, “Comparing Expectancy Violations Committed by Influencer Advertising Sources on Social Media.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Michael Cacciatore (associate professor in public relations) co-authored a refereed paper, “‘That’s Some Positive Energy’: How Social Media Users Respond to #Funny Science Content.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) and Matthew Binford (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “So Ordered: A Textual Analysis of United States Governors Press Release Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

1:30-3 p.m. — Karen Russell (associate professor of public relations), moderates a panel about “History and Public Relations Divisions Research.”

3:15-4:45 p.m. — Itai Himelboim (associate professor of advertising) has a submission in “Social Media, Civil Engagement, and Democracy” in the refereed paper session.

5-6:30 p.m. – Yan Jin (professor of public relations) presents a refereed paper, “Theoretical Advancements in Crisis Communication Research: Crisis Response Strategies.”

5-6:30 p.m. — Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Bart Wojdynski (associate professor) present a refereed paper, “’I Probably Just Skipped Over It:” Using Eye Tracking to Examine Political Facebook Advertising Effectiveness.”

5-6:30 p.m. — Karen Russell (associate professor of public relations) is a discussant of “Public Relations, Scholar-to-Scholar Refereed Paper Session, Topic X – Social Media and Dialogic Communication.”

Friday, Aug. 7 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Solyee Kim (Ph.D. student) and Hyoyeun Jun (Salve Regina University) present a refereed paper, “First-generation Immigrants’ and Sojourners’ Susceptibility to Disinformation.”

8:15-9:45 a.m. — Ph.D. students Tong Xie, Xuerong Lu, Jiaying Liu, have a submission in “Topic IV – Refugees, Immigrants, and “Others”

10-11:30 a.m. – Karin Assmann (assistant professor in journalism) is presenting a refereed paper, “We Are the People – Audience Engagement as Catalyst for Newsroom Unionization.”

11:45 a.m. – Jeffrey Duncan (Ph.D. student) and Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) receive the Top Student Paper Award in the Critical and Cultural Studies Division.

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Solyee Kim (Ph.D. student) presents a refereed paper, “Communicating the Culture Through Korean Food Between Authenticity and Adaptation.”

5-6:30 p.m. – Dongjae Lim (Ph.D. student) and Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “Choosing Appropriate Colors for Green Advertising: Perceived Greenwashing through Color Choices.”

5-6:30 p.m.  Porismita Borah (Washington State University), Itai Himelboim (associate professor), Bryan Trude (Ph.D. student), Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Kate Keib (Oglethorpe University) present a refereed paper, “You Are a Disgrace and Traitor to Our Country: Uncivil Rhetoric Against ‘The Squad’ on Twitter.

Saturday, Aug. 8 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) presents a refereed paper, “Ethical Consumption as Fetishism.”

1:15-2:45 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) moderates the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Elected Standing Committee on Research, Award panel session and the Deutschmann Award.

3-4:30 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a panelist for “Addressing Diversity and Inclusion in the Practice and Scholarship of Science Communication.”

3-4:30 p.m. Shuoya Sun (Ph.D. student), Bart Wojdynski (associate professor), Matt Binford (Ph.D. Student), and Charan Ramachandran (undergraduate student) will present a refereed paper, “How Multitasking During Video Content Decreases Ad Effectiveness: The Roles of Task Relevance, Video Involvement, and Visual Attention.”

Sunday, Aug. 9 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

9:15-10:45 a.m. — Itai Himelboim (associate professor of advertising) is a panelist for “From Silicon Valley Virtual Communitities to Trump Twitter Networks: Political Social Networks Visualized.”

9:15-10:45 a.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a moderator for the Research Chairs training session.

11-12:30 p.m. – Jeffrey Duncan (Ph.D. student) and Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “EULAs as Unbalanced Contractual Power Between an Organization and its (Unannounced and Underage) Users: A Mobile Game Textual Analysis.”

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Laura Hudgens (Ph.D. student) will present a refereed paper, “Fun in the Sun or Something More Serious? An Analysis of News Story Visuals About Heat Waves.”

Lexie Little: From Hearst Award to study of Confederate monuments

It’s been an eventful summer for Lexie Little.

The season started out in a great way for the journalism graduate student when she heard she was the recipient of a coveted Hearst Award, and the summer has only intensified as her master’s thesis topic has become one of the talked-about topics of the summer—the study of Confederate monuments.

In May, Little was notified that she was the recipient of a Hearst Award in the Personality/Profile category. The Hearst Awards are some of the most competitive collegiate awards for writing and journalism, and Little was nominated by the University of Tennessee for a feature she wrote as an undergraduate student there. The piece was about UT alumnus Clarence Brown, a well-known director of movies from the 1920s to the 1940s. The piece, “A Roustabout Career: The Forgotten Celebrity of Clarence Brown,” was published in the “Torchbearer,” the UT alumni magazine.

Learning that she was one of ten winners out of a field of more than 120 entries fueled Little’s next project: research for her master’s degree thesis. What she didn’t realize back in February when she finished the first draft of her study proposal is that her subject — collective memory of four Confederate monuments — would be topical in today’s environment with protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

“My research over the past few months has given me deeper context to process the news now,” Little said. “It’s helped me understand how a cultural site like a monument can be deeply symbolic to some people while marginalizing another segment of the population.”

Little’s research is focused on four monuments that were erected nearly 30 years after the Civil War and beyond — the Robert E. Lee monument that is being contested for a move in Richmond, Virginia; a monument in Chicago built as reconciliation for Confederate prisoner of war camps during the Civil War; a since-removed bust to Robert E. Lee in New York City; and the controversial monument to Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.

With a significant time gap between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the dedication of these monuments, public commemoration sparked her interest. Little is studying how press coverage of the monuments contributed to the formation and perhaps distortion of collective memory of the nation across regional, political, and racial lines at flashpoints in the 1890s and 1920s. She is especially interested in the narrative and negotiation of how society chose to remember, or not to remember, the Civil War and how those memories shifted over time as evidenced in seven different newspapers.

Guiding her project is what Little believes is an all-star committee of faculty to help mold her as a scholar: Janice Hume, Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and Karen Russell.

“ I deeply respect Dr. Hume and Dr. Russell as media historians, and I really admire Dr. A’s  work in qualitative methodologies, breaking the mold of what some consider more ‘traditional’ communication research to pave the way for those of us who want to explore cultural and critical studies through various approaches,” Little said. “All three have significantly contributed to not only student education, but to our understandings of culture and communication, and I am lucky and grateful to have them.”

Little, who also serves as a graduate assistant for the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, chose UGA to pursue her master’s degree because of the stellar faculty at Grady College who specialize in collective memory, media history and qualitative research methods.

“I’m kind of a CV stalker,” Little continued, “I wanted to find faculty whose professional and research interests closely align with mine, and what my professors here study and what they have done professionally outside academia were of real interest.”

As she is pulling together the research, responsibilities both as a scholar and professional journalist weigh on her mind, including perspectives she decides to cite and who she decides to quote.

“These are important methods of practice because they will impact how future generations remember people and places and events,” Little concluded.

“It’s critical for both journalists and memory scholars alike to have a voice in current affairs, including the conversations, or lack thereof, surrounding Confederate monuments and symbolism. Many people fail to consider how various segments of the population view symbols like these monuments and how those views have been institutionalized over decades through cultural practice and media sites. I think it’s important for memory scholars to contribute to the conversation and, in turn, for media to consult those scholars to provide context. It’s not just a historical debate, it’s a cultural reckoning. And I hope close study will help to shed light on this moment.”

Health and Medical Journalism students report on coronavirus

When four Introduction to Health and Medical Journalism students sat around a table with several intensive care unit nurses, infection preventionists and public relations professionals at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center on February 27, 2020, they were discussing the possibility of coronavirus coming to the area.

The discussion at the time was hypothetical.

Little did they know, a few weeks later they would be on the forefront of insight into local preparations for what many call the biggest story in recent time—and, they would see their class assignments published in Georgia Health News.

The students also learned first-hand what most professional journalists already know: the story journalists are assigned to cover can drastically change and be totally different by the time it is printed.

Sabriya Rice, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, explains why it’s so important for student journalists to understand medical terms. “If you can’t fully explain the term,” Rice says, “you can’t explain it to your audience.” (photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Madeline Laguaite, a graduate student in Grady’s health journalism master’s program, has experienced how quickly things have changed. The original story idea was evaluating the preparedness of Athens area hospitals if this novel coronavirus strain, now known as COVID-19, appeared in Athens.

“By the time it was ready to publish the week of March 15, the situation had changed,” Laguaite said. “COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were starting to pick up and it wasn’t really a question of if COVID-19 cases would appear in Athens, but when.”

Laguaite quickly learned another lesson of seasoned journalists: stories come on their own time, not the most convenient time. Although the story was turned before spring break, Laguaite spent most of that next week updating the story to make it accurate and relevant to what was happening at the time. She researched the decisions that local policymakers were making to protect the residents of Athens and talked with local restauranteurs about the economic impact of closing their restaurants.

“My motivation to continue updating and interviewing sources for the story came from my love of health reporting,” she continued. “Although the COVID-19 situation is uncertain and can be frightening, this is a great time to be getting a master’s in health and medical journalism.”

All four students in Sabriya Rice’s class are getting more experience than they expected when the class started in January. What started out as a typical master’s class for Laguaite, Jillian Tracy, Brittany Carter and Andrea (Andi) Clements, quickly diverged to an actual breaking news subject that the students could research, interview and report on in real time as they would if they were professional journalists.

To add to the experience, Rice arranged to have the final features reviewed and considered for print in Georgia Health News, which published the first two stories and is considering future features.

Sherry Ann Ward, director of patient and employee safety at St. Mary’s Hospital, shows Jillian Tracy the proper way to t wear an N95 mask on Feb. 12, 2020. (photo: Sabriya Rice)

As information about coronavirus started to intensify in China and Europe, the students started looking at local angles including a phone interview with a local resident who returned from international travel and had self-quarantined. They also visited and toured St. Mary’s and Piedmont Athens Regional hospitals. The students learned about negative pressure rooms, the correct way to put on an N-95 mask and how even taking out the trash and flushing the toilet have special procedures if there is a potentially infected patient.

“It definitely helps to get an idea for the atmosphere and a better visual understanding of the process,” said Tracy, a Double Dawg finishing her journalism degree and starting her master’s degree, about the impact of the tour. “Just getting thrown in is sometimes the best way to learn.”

The goal for Rice was to make sure her students were getting the experience, so they would not be intimidated when the time came for real reporting. The experience writing the stories and seeing them in print has been icing on the cake.

Despite the lack of down time over spring break, the class has been an eye-opening experience for Laguaite that has confirmed her interest in becoming a health reporter.

“This has definitely been a learning experience for sure,” Laguaite concluded. “With medical journalism, misinformation can be downright dangerous. We get new information about coronavirus every day and it really made me appreciate the work that health reporters do even more than I already do.”

Editor’s note: The visit to Piedmont Athens Regional took place February 27. The visit to St. Mary’s was on February 12. At the time of publication, the students had two stories published on the Georgia Health News website: “From a scare in Shanghai to a quarantine in Georgia” and “Quiet but not calm in a virus ghost town.”

Scholarships help doctoral students with summer research

While many Grady College students were enjoying summer internships or travel, others were continuing the work they do throughout the school year—researching communications topics that often contribute to dissertation proposals.

Sixteen doctoral students were awarded scholarships this summer to offset research expenses. The scholarships were awarded from the Paul C. and Margaret B. Broun Student Support Fund.

“The scholarship funds I received during my first year of the Ph.D. program at Grady College are significant in helping me achieve my research goals and aide me in finding my identity as a scholar,” Andrea Briscoe said.

Briscoe, who is starting her second year as a graduate student, focused most of her research this summer on gender and visual media, a topic she presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference last week.

The funds offset the costs of travel to the conference in Toronto.

The Broun Scholarship helped support Andrea Briscoe’s conference travels to Toronto, her first international trip. (Photo: courtesy of Andrea Briscoe.)

Briscoe continued: “While attending conferences are the expectation for graduate students, this conference meant more to me than a line on my CV. With help through funding of the graduate program along with this scholarship, I was able to share the work I had done on gender and reality television with a diverse group of people. I was able to sit in the same room with incredible scholars and creative thinkers and learn from them. But most importantly, I received numerous calls and texts from family where they shared how proud they were of me.”

Hyoyeun Jun, another doctoral student who was granted a scholarship from the Broun fund, also conducted research this summer that was presented at the AEJMC conference and will serve as a foundation for her dissertation.

Her research focuses on developing the most effective messages to overcome the stigma surrounding HPV and to increase behavioral intention by young adults to get vaccinated. She spent the summer gathering data on risk tolerance, or how individuals tolerate new health risks. The information will be used to determine what factors influence people not to behave in a certain way. Jun presented some of the qualitative research findings at AEJMC.

Jun, who is a native of South Korea and is studying here with a student visa, has specific requirements for work, including the fact that she cannot work outside of campus. Therefore, the funds from the scholarship are a vital form of support.

“With generous support from Grady scholarships, I could sustain myself better,” Jun said. “I could concentrate better on my research, not worrying about how I am going to pay my rent and get groceries. I am very thankful that Grady awarded me scholarships additional to my assistantship during the semester.”

Grady Intern Diaries: Kendall Lake

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

For others in the series, please see:

Connor Foarde, The Washington Times

Christopher Mays, Citi

Stanley D. Miller III, CNN

Charlotte Norsworthy, NPR

Brittany Paris, Dateline NBC

Maxime Tamsett, CNN

Name: Kendall Lake
Major: Journalism
Certificate: New Media
Masters: Emerging Media
Title of Internship: Communications Intern at New America’s Open Technology Institute
Location: Washington, D.C.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities:
Kendall Lake: I work at the Open Technology Institute, the tech policy branch of a bigger nonpartisan think tank called New America. As OTI’s communications intern, I work primarily with our small departmental communications team, but I also spend time with a broader New America group that includes events, production, editorial and communications. My primary responsibilities include tracking our media hits, supporting editorial efforts with content writing and copyediting, supporting events with promotion and planning, and working to create and design materials for the web and for print.

GC: What was the best part about your summer internship?
K.L.: Working at OTI means I am surrounded by some of the most pressing technology issues facing our world today. I work alongside experts in net neutrality, encryption, consumer privacy, and more—buzzwords you probably see in the news almost daily. I truly believe in the work OTI is doing to promote a more open and secure internet, and I am honored to support that work in any way that I can. Also, part of my job is to stay informed on the latest technology and tech policy news, and who doesn’t love diving down digital rabbit holes in a field they love?

GC: What was the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)
K.L.: Having supervisors that want you to learn and grow is what everyone hopes for from an internship. The part I did not predict is that not only do my supervisors want me to learn, they also want to learn from me! My background as the curator for TEDxUGA gives me a unique perspective on presentation development and communication that they are eager to explore. In a few weeks, I’ll be giving a crash course about what looking at TED talks can teach you about good presentations. I’ve been told that even our department’s director is excited—I am too. I’m thrilled that my workplace values my experiences and expertise.

GC: What is the biggest challenge you faced during your internship?
K.L.: Imposter syndrome is very real. There are six interns in my department, all years older than me and knee-deep in law school or grad school. For the first few weeks, I felt young and unqualified, and I constantly wondered how I ended up here. But the more time I spent working, the more I realized that I am using skills that often took a good bit of education and practice for me to develop. To me, accurately crafting messaging, editing writing, researching, or developing an effective presentation feels simple, but I have learned they are not as commonplace as I have fooled myself into believing. I’m still working to overcome the challenge of dismissing skills that I’ve worked hard for.

GC: What advice would you give to a student looking for an internship?
K.L.: Cast a wide net. I don’t just mean that you should apply to a high quantity of internships, although that’s also good advice. Instead, I recommend you apply for a diverse set of positions, especially if you—like me—aren’t quite sure what you want to be when you grow up. As a Grady student, your skills in writing and communications can apply to a variety of fields. Put yourself out there and apply to big-name companies, but don’t be afraid to dig around for something unexpected. Did I ever imagine I’d be doing communications for a tech policy think tank? Definitely not. But when I found that job posting, I yelled it out loud to my roommate and said, “This is the most ‘me’ thing I’ve ever seen,” and the rest is history. Give yourself enough room to find that perfect fit.

GC: What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
K.L.: Dr. Lee’s communication law class. My internship has immersed me in the world of technology and internet policy, which I was first exposed to in Dr. Lee’s class. Comm law taught me important fundamentals about freedom of expression, intellectual property, liability and more, and it even gave me room to develop my own opinions on policies that govern the internet as we know it.

That being said, I also wouldn’t be where I am today without the New Media Institute. Earning the certificate helped cultivate in me a still-growing love of all things tech, and my classes in production and design come in handy daily. But at the end of the day, my internship doesn’t require impeccable technical skills. It requires me to be an effective communicator of complex ideas—a skill which I have developed chiefly through TEDxUGA. I am exceptionally grateful to Megan Ward, her devotion to ideas worth spreading, and her faith (along with Kate Devlin’s) that I am well-equipped to help spread them.