Spring 2023 Grady College graduates were celebrated by family, friends, faculty and staff at a Convocation ceremony May 10, 2023, at the Athens Classic Center.
More than 450 graduate and undergraduate students are graduating from the College this semester including more than 50 Ph.D. and Master’s students, nearly 100 advertising students, nearly 90 from the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, nearly 110 journalism students and nearly 100 majoring in public relations.
Following a welcome from Dean Charles Davis, the audience welcomed the senior speaker, Victoria Marsha, an EMST graduate.
Marsha talked about recognizing what decisions may work for graduates and those that may not: “Take comfort in knowing that there are infinite possibilities for us…you make a choice and it’s not working, resist the regret and the urge to concede to those circumstances. Remember that it’s ok to seemingly work backwards, restart…that isn’t losing but rather starting fresh.”
She concluded her talk by imploring the graduates and audience to be kind. “These few words and choosing to remember that choices are moldable and not as binary as they may appear at first glance should hopefully provide you a great comfort. All of us are amazing creatures made up of every choice we have made and haven’t, they are all valuable parts of us, beautiful simply because you exist here today.”
Video coverage of Grady Convocation Spring 2023, filmed May 10 at the Athens Classic Center.
Pictures from the event can be found in the following UGAGrady Flickr albums:
A graduate is congratulated before the Convocation ceremony. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)
Jeong-Yeob Han and Juan Meng congratulate Michaela Gearty and Caroline Kulp on being the inaugural students graduating with a certificate in Strategic Health & Risk Communication. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Graduate students wait for the ceremony to begin. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)
Dean Charles Davis leads the processional arriving at the ceremony. (Photo: Melanie Velasquez)
Victoria Marsha, the senior speaker, waits for her turn backstage. (Photo: Melanie Velasquez)
Fardosa Hassan smiles as she crosses the Convocation stage.
(Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Suzannah Evans and Hank, the dog she is training to be a canine helper, cross the stage. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Chloe Savan celebrates as she crosses the stage.
(Photo: Melanie Velasquez)
Olivia Gauthier receives her stole from Dean Charles Davis. (Photo: Melanie Velasquez)
EMST students celebrate after Convocation. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Grady College graduate students and their families are invited to a celebration on the Schnitzer Family Media Lawn outside Grady College from Noon to 2 p.m. following their UGA Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 11.
Grady College undergraduate students and their families are invited to a celebration on the Schnitzer Family Media Lawn outside Grady College from 1 to 4 p.m., before UGA Commencement Ceremony for undergraduate students, on Friday, May 12.
Nearly 150 graduates and their family members attended convocation ceremonies Dec. 16, 2022. Convocation took place in the UGA Fine Arts Auditorium followed by a graduation celebration a block away at Grady College.
The ceremony honored nearly 180 undergraduate students, and more than 50 graduate students, which included MFA Narrative Nonfiction and MFA Film students who graduated at the end of the summer.
One student, Shuoya Sun, earned a Ph.D. in journalism after presenting her thesis paper, “The effect of arousal spike positions under skippable and non-skippable in-stream video advertising and the underlying psychological mechanisms.”
The highlight of the convocation ceremony was a brief speech delivered by graduating senior Lindsay Richman, a public relations and Spanish major, who talked about the power of embracing change.
She talked about how she reinvented herself from a student who struggled in her early school years to one who rewrote her life script in high school, changing into an AP student. She had to regroup further when her mother died last May.
“The universe changes or eliminates the rules on us all the time,” Richman said. “You just have to see it. I’m not saying you have to lose someone close to you to realize your potential. But when life goes “un-according to plan”…the experience can become a catalyst that transforms us or unlocks whom we might have become one day in the distant future.”
She concluded her time challenging the graduates to have the courage to change, if needed.
“Whether we have jobs lined up or no idea what’s coming next, we can ask ourselves every day, ‘Is this where I want to be? Who I want to be? Am I living a life I’m proud of?’ And, if the answer is no, change it. Work for a better society. For a better you.”
Richman’s speech can be viewed beginning at the 5:00 minute mark in the convocation ceremony video below.
Following the ceremonies, families walked down Baldwin street to the graduation celebration at Grady College, which included sweet treats, photo opportunities and a change to mingle fellow graduates, faculty and staff.
Please view the following UGGrady Flickr accounts to view pictures from the day:
Lindsay Richman, a senior public relations major from Alpharetta, Georgia, has been named the senior speaker during the fall 2022 Grady College Convocation, while her peer Michael Banks, a senior journalism major and Grady College Ambassador from Suwanee, Georgia, has been named the University of Georgia student speaker for the fall 2022 undergraduate commencement ceremony.
Richman will graduate this December with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in Spanish. She is a Dean’s List and Hope Scholarship recipient.
Most recently, Richman worked as an internal communications intern at Inspire Brands, where she spearheaded Buffalo Wild Wings’ weekly internal newsletters and pitched, wrote and edited content for internal stakeholders, among other tasks. Before that, Richman was a production intern at Ryan Seacrest Studios, interned for a congressional campaign and wrote for The Red & Black.
Richman also serves as an executive board member at The American Cancer Society at UGA.
Banks, a Jere W. Morehead Honors College student, will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. He also completed a certificate in global studies and minors in anthropology and business.
Currently, Banks is working as a virtual foreign service intern for the U.S. Department of State. Previously, Banks interned with the United Nations Foundation, McKinsey & Company and Historic Athens, among other companies and organizations.
Grady Fall 2022 Convocation will take place on Dec. 15 in the Fine Arts Theatre, at 255 Baldwin St. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. for the ceremony that starts at 2 p.m. Graduates will have their names read in front of family, friends, faculty and staff as they walk across stage at the Fine Arts Theatre. Following the ceremony, graduates and guests will be invited over to Grady College’s Schnitzer Family Media Lawn for a reception starting at 3 p.m. More information is available here. Graduating students planning to attend the convocation need to register here no later than Dec. 6, 2022.
The UGA Fall 2022 Commencement ceremony will occur on Dec. 16 at Stegeman Coliseum, 100 Smith St. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. The graduate ceremony starts at 2:30 p.m. More information is available here.
Nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate students were eligible for graduation from Grady College this semester, many of whom were recognized at the Spring 2019 Convocation ceremony on May 8, 2019, at the Classic Center.
Twenty-six graduate students graduated from Grady College, including two Ph.D. graduates. The approximate number of undergraduates who were recognized included 140 students with an advertising degree, 145 with a degree in public relations, 110 from the journalism program and 75 from the entertainment and media studies department.
Dean Charles Davis presided over the ceremony, providing an overview of Grady’s accomplishments this past year and commending the students for their hard work, passion and academic excellence.
Jonathan Wegman, charge to candidates, at Grady College Convocation, Spring 2019. Video: Jim Black and Dayne Young
Jonathan Wegman (ABJ ’04), the head of customer experience and strategy at Twitter, delivered the convocation keynote address and charged candidates to have courage to rewrite rules, pivot to new strategies and write their own personal narrative.
“When you make a mistake or your role changes, know that you hold the pen,” Wegman said. “You can write your own narrative. I am excited for this group to rewrite what is next.”
Lauren Diaz, distinguished senior speaker, at Grady College Convocation, Spring 2019. Video: Jim Black and Dayne Young
The distinguished senior speaker, a student chosen based on an audition among the graduates for the spot, was Lauren Diaz, a journalism major with a minor in sociology. She spoke on the journey her and her fellow students have had at Grady, and how it aligns them for next adventures.
“We are destined to succeed,” Diaz said. “We have each other. Most importantly, we have the help of our advisors, professors and mentors who saw our potential from the start.”
Lauren Izzo (ABJ ’05, MA ’07), vice-chair of the Grady Society Alumni Board, concluded the platform of speakers by welcoming the students to the alumni ranks of the college.
“You never know where your Grady connections will lead you,” Izzo said.
Grady College is proud to announce that Jonathan Wegman (ABJ ’04) will deliver the Charge to Candidates and Lauren Diaz will be the distinguished senior speaker at the Grady College Convocation for spring and summer graduates on May 8, 2019.
The ceremony starts at 3 p.m. at the Classic Center.
In addition, a Grady College alumna, Deborah Roberts (ABJ ’82), was selected to deliver the keynote address at the University of Georgia undergraduate commencement on May 10. Roberts is a correspondent with ABC News and regularly appears on “20/20” and “Good Morning America.”
Wegman is the head of customer experience and strategy at Twitter. In his five years at Twitter, he has held numerous positions including senior director of Twitter’s consumer marketing strategy and effectiveness and director of sales strategy leadership for planning and innovation. Prior to Twitter, Wegman worked in positions at Performics, Moxie Interactive and J. Walter Thompson. Wegman majored in advertising while at Grady College and also earned his New Media certificate.
Diaz was selected to be the distinguished senior speaker from an audition process. Diaz is a journalism major and a minor in sociology. She also received her New Media certificate. During her time as a student, Diaz participated in study abroad programs, traveling to Dublin, Ireland, and Oxford, England, and served as a Grady College Ambassador. She was also involved with UGA HEROs and UGA Rescue Paws. After graduation, Diaz plans to pursue a career in writing or editing.
In addition to convocation and commencement, Grady graduates and their families are invited to Grady’s Senior Send-off on Friday, May 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. The event provides an opportunity for graduates and their families to stop by the Grady lawn on the way to commencement to celebrate their hard work and say good-bye to their professors. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information about graduation events, please visit the Grady website.
Themes of hard work, perseverance, truth in storytelling and making connections were shared as Grady College graduates were celebrated at the Fall 2018 Convocation ceremonies on December 13, 2018, at the Hugh Hodgson Performing Arts Center. Nearly 170 students graduated from Grady College this semester, many of whom participated in convocation.
Graduate students eligible for graduation included 28 MFA, Emerging Media and master’s in public relations students. Undergraduates who were recognized included 32 students with an advertising degree, 30 with a degree in public relations, 45 from the journalism program and 31 from entertainment and media studies.
Dean Charles Davis presided over the ceremony, giving an overview of Grady’s accomplishments this past year and praising students for their hard work, passion and academic excellence.
Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of “Swiped,” addressed graduates with a talk focusing on employing truth in storytelling to “critique, clarify and convince,” and to bring stories to light that need to be told.
“Your mission is to seek out the truth, explore human emotions and give expression to the hopes and dreams of your fellow human beings,” Levin said. “Your duty is to use your talent, your skill and your public platform to give a voice to those who have none of these things. This is an awesome responsibility.”
Levin continued by saying that freedom of the press is vital to our democracy and as graduates go out into the world to pursue these professions, they will have the support of others.
“In the war on truth, you are the front lines,” Levin added. “We owe you our support. As a society, it’s incumbent upon us to stand with those with the guts to engage the world and bear witness to it…journalists, communication professionals…those who reflect reality back to us and help us make sense of it.”
He continued: “As you are society’s storytellers, I implore you to keep the stories that matter on our radar to keep them from being forgotten.”
The distinguished senior speaker, a student chosen based on an audition among the graduates for the honor, was Kathleen Brennan, an EMST major who also earned a major in English.
Brennan’s talk focused on the power of connection and relying on fellow graduates.
“If you know the people next to you, great,” Brennan said. “They will our greatest asset as we venture out into the world. Not just as networking opportunities, but as friends who can attest and support us during our greatest struggles. If you don’t, say ‘hello.’ They might just be the Lennon to your McCartney or maybe just someone who can sublease from you in LA someday. We are entering a really intimidating field, but I feel so blessed to be doing it alongside some insanely cool people.”
Lauren Izzo (ABJ ’05, MA ‘07), a member of the Grady Society Alumni Board, concluded the platform of speakers by welcoming the students to the alumni ranks of the college and encouraging new alumni to stay involved through mentoring, coming to alumni receptions to meet current students and supporting Grady Giving Day.
Complete versions of the speaker comments can be found here:
Forty graduate students graduated from Grady College, include three Ph.D. graduates. Undergraduates who were recognized included 142 students with an advertising degree, 130 with a degree in public relations, 114 from the journalism program and 81 from the entertainment and media studies department.
Dean Charles Davis presided over the ceremony, giving an overview of Grady’s accomplishments this past year and commending the students for their hard work, passion and academic excellence.
Bonnie Arnold (ABJ ’77), a producer at DreamWorks with production credits including “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Toy Story,” delivered the charge to the candidates and focused on making change work in their favor.
Four lessons in her address included:
Be flexible and take advantage of every opportunity. “Focus on building a track record of success and people will keep betting on you,” Arnold advised, pulling from a quote from Kim Lubel. Arnold illustrated this advice among stories of how she got her start driving Harrison Ford as a production assistant, and serving as a body guard for Kevin Costner for a movie called, “Revenge,” which led to her start producing credit for “Dancing with Wolves.”
Seek out a mentor…or even better, a sponsor. “Mentors open the door, sponsors help you walk through them,” Arnold said.
Be brave. “It takes courage to deal with change,” Arnold said, recalling stories of getting “Toy Story” into production through the creation of computer-generated animation.
“The quicker you realize this, the better,” she concluded.
The distinguished senior speaker, a student chosen based on an audition among the graduates for the spot, was Noelle Lashley, a journalism major from Cartersville, Georgia.
Near the conclusion of her speech, Lashley talks about why Grady is special to her: “I walked into Grady as a terrified student who didn’t even know how to set up a camera tripod. Now, I leave Grady as a journalist who has found a second family and a second home. This college has given us all the skills to move forward in the future…as who we ARE, not who we think we SHOULD be.”
Dana Todd (ABJ ‘91), chair of the Grady Society Alumni Board, concluded the platform of speakers by welcoming the students to the alumni ranks of the college.
Todd encouraged graduates to connect with the Grady alumni family by thinking outside the box about ways to give back…through networking, mentoring, supporting current students with new educational opportunities and encouraging other alumni.
“Don’t forget to reach back while you are reaching for the stars,” Todd concluded.
One never knows when or where opportunity will knock. For Orlando Pimentel, Grady College’s senior speaker at its April 28 convocation, he certainly didn’t expect opportunity to knock as the result of his convocation speech.
Nor did Pimentel expect that when he met convocation keynote speaker Brad MacAfee backstage, that it would be such a consequential introduction.
However, late that evening, Pimentel received a call from MacAfee who is the CEO of one of the largest global public relations agencies, Porter Novelli. MacAfee was congratulating Pimentel on his speech, but also was offering him a dream internship at Porter Novelli.
“It was surreal at first, because when Brad introduced himself on the phone, I still couldn’t get over the fact that I had just taken my phone off airplane mode nearly 5 seconds before his call,” Pimentel recalled. “The timing seemed so perfect.”
Earlier that day, Pimentel delivered one of the most emotional and passionate senior speeches in recent years, garnering a standing ovation at the end. Touching on the challenges he overcame to study at Grady College, this first generation Mexican-American implored his fellow graduates to work relentlessly, nurture a supportive network and maintain their confidence. These were all messages that resonated with MacAfee.
MacAfee delivered a powerful message in his keynote address, as well, talking about the Four I’s: Integrity, Imagination, Improvement and Inclusion.
Pimentel had been searching for a job or internship in creative advertising over the past several months, however, due to his heavy course load including a campaigns class and his work with Talking Dog, he had not been able to dedicate the time required to secure employment for the summer.
MacAfee’s offer to Pimentel included an internship opportunity in New York City which would focus more on consumer accounts, or an internship in Washington, D.C. which would focus more on public affairs and social good. Pimentel chose the internship in Washington, D.C.
“When I came to UGA,” Pimentel said, “I knew whatever I studied, I wanted to use it to make a positive impact on society, and the chance to intern in D.C. is the perfect embodiment of where I want to take my life and career.”
It was the convocation speech, not a traditional interview, that led Pimental to the Porter Novelli opportunity. Pimentel admits that he was prompted to apply to be a senior speaker because he not only wanted share his story, but to encourage his fellow graduates to participate, as well.
“Despite attending one of the best colleges in the state and nation, I witnessed how much (other Grady students) didn’t believe in themselves, and it was disheartening, because they were all capable and talented people,” Pimentel explained. “They lacked confidence, something I can relate to very much. I just wanted to go up to them and say ‘you are more capable and stronger than you think.’ I knew in order to inspire them, I had to share my life and the circumstances I came from.”
Pimentel said his family was very proud of his talk, especially his sister who graduated from college two years ago and had a similar journey. He has been surprised by the reaction of his speech by others, though.
“When it came time to give my speech, I hoped it would succeed in at least resonating with some students, but I had no idea that it would impact and move so many people as deeply as it has,” Pimentel said. “It has truly been an honor, as well as very humbling.”
As he prepares for his internship at Porter Novelli in a few weeks, Pimentel finds strength in the work ethic his parents have instilled in him.
“I lacked confidence and self-esteem, which led me to be discouraged a lot like my friends and peers were, but having matured and gained confidence, I realize I’m not where I am today because of chance or luck,” Pimentel concluded. “I’m here because I made the effort to move forward, every single day, by staying determined, believing in and developing my abilities, being kind to myself and others, and reaching out to others for guidance and support.”
Pimentel, like many of our Grady College graduates, is well on his way.
A lesson about the “Four I’s” and a heartfelt testimony about the journey to get to Grady and earn a degree were just two of the highlights of the Grady College Spring and Summer Convocation at The Classic Center Theatre on April 27, 2017.
More than 450 Grady College students earned their degrees this semester including six Ph.D. students, 20 master’s students, 130 students with an advertising specialty, 121 in public relations, 62 from the journalism program, 39 who studied digital and broadcast journalism, 62 with a mass media arts specialty and 24 with an entertainment and media studies concentration.
Dean Charles Davis presided over the ceremony, giving an overview of Grady’s successes this past year including a new certificate program, awards and the high level of dedication, passion and hard work by the students.
The keynote speaker was Brad MacAfee, CEO of the global public relations agency Porter Novelli. MacAfee guided the students through keys to success, which were summarized by the Four I’s: Integrity, Imagination, Improvement and Inclusion.
MacAfee began his description of the Four I’s by advising graduates to hold firm to their values and to construct personal definitions of what is right and wrong. “Define and clarify your principles now. Hold onto them,” he said.
Hallmarks of MacAfee’s talk touched on the importance of keeping an open mind and always working to get better. He closed his address by talking about the importance of inclusion, because in an age where people are so connected, it’s crucial that they work together and embrace one another.
“Be sure to seek out different perspectives, opinions and thoughts,” MacAfee said. “Unless you open your mind to others, you will never be able to truly find deeper connections and the common ground that unites, informs and inspires.”
Perhaps the most emotional part of the convocation ceremony was the speech delivered by Senior Speaker Orlando Pimentel, an advertising major from LaGrange, Georgia. He is a first-generation graduate.
Pimentel detailed the challenges and commitment he and his family faced to get him to college. Through perseverance, determination and nurturing relationships, he and other students overcame obstacles and earned their degrees.
“Let me assure you, we are qualified,” Pimentel emphasized. “We are enough. We earned our right to be here today because Grady has prepared us to face and overcome any challenge life presents by teaching us how to work relentlessly and providing a supportive network of faculty, staff, alumni, friends…the Grady family, if you will.”
He further challenged his fellow graduates: “I implore you to always keep the will to work relentlessly and these relationships alive because they are the catalysts that will continue to open the doors wherever life will take you.”
Pimentel’s passionate talk was met with a standing ovation.
Eric NeSmith (ABJ ’02) former chair of the Grady Society Alumni Board, concluded the platform of speakers by welcoming the students to the alumni ranks of the college. He encouraged them to maintain the relationships they developed at Grady College and to stay connected with the college and its worldwide network of alumni.