Journalism alumna Meredith Dean headlines GSPA keynote

Meredith Dean (ABJ ’14), a program coordinator for Ryan Seacrest Studios and founder of The Dean’s List, challenged nearly 900 high school students to stand out in a crowd, be well-rounded and to start working now on creating a professional impression.

Dean delivered her energetic keynote at the opening of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association Fall Conference on Sept. 19, at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia.

Dean began her talk by sharing her career path while interjecting pieces of advice. She encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities and invitations to events where they can network with professionals, even as students. She also gave examples of how just showing up can open doors to the next opportunity. She advised the audience to be open to chance encounters and take risks.

“Anything that scares you is probably worth doing,” Meredith said, adding the caveat that students need stay within the limits of being safe.

She also advised that even as students, young people can contribute ideas and current skills that professionals may not have.

Among Dean’s messages was to always keep learning about today’s technologies: learn web design, take classes on LinkedIn Learning and go through the Google Analytics certification.

“You can always teach your mentors,” Dean said, recalling how she has helped several mentors with digital and social media concepts.

Woven throughout her entire talk was the theme of empowerment…empowering students to ask to shadow professionals for a day; empowering them to choose a word to guide them throughout the year; and empowering them to never think they are too young to contribute. The theme of empowerment is a personal theme of Dean’s who is in the final planning stages of directing EmpowerCon 2019, a motivational conference, in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sept. 28.

Networking was a topic that came up throughout her talk. In addition to her advice of trying to reach out to someone new every day, she also advised reaching out to a variety of people in different professional groups, making a goal of connecting about a third of the time with peers, a third with mentors or more seasoned professionals and a third with mentees or those younger.

Dean introduced her Instagram followers to the students who shared a message of empowerment.

Dean concluded her talk by talking about social media do’s and don’ts, including establishing a personal brand early and completing online profiles.

“Make sure everything you post online is something you are proud of,” Dean said.

Dean works at the Seacrest Studios at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also the founder of The Dean’s List, a digital branding and consulting company that helps professionals build personal portfolios online. A portion of her Dean’s List proceeds go toward Habitat Aid Initiative, a non-profit that works to empower women and alleviate poverty in western Kenya. In 2018, Dean received recognition as a UGA 40 under 40 leader.

Meredith Dean among seven Grady College alumni inducted into UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

The University of Georgia’s Alumni Association annually recognizes outstanding alumni who have made an impact in their careers through its 40 Under 40 program. Grady College is proud to have seven honorees in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018: Brooke Bowen (ABJ ‘07, JD ‘10), Chase Cain (ABJ ’05), Meredith Dean (ABJ ‘14), Josh Delaney (ABJ’11, AB ‘11), Ivey Evans (ABJ ’06, BBA ’06, MBA ‘13), Quanza Griffin (ABJ ‘01) and Lauren Pearson (ABJ ‘02).

Selections were based on the graduates’ commitment to a lifelong relationship with UGA and their impact in business, leadership, community, artistic, research, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors. The 2018 Class will be honored at the awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Grady College will release profiles of the winners leading up to the awards luncheon.

Meredith Dean working at Secrest Studios

Name: Meredith Dean

Graduation Year: 2014

Current Occupation: Founder, The Dean’s List and program coordinator, Seacrest Studios

How did Grady College help prepare you for your career?

Without Grady, I never would have learned any of the tech skills (especially Adobe Creative Suite) needed to start my digital branding company, The Dean’s List, or developed nearly as many professional connections for my career. The New Media Institute taught me the importance of knowing how to code and use graphic design while the broadcasting curriculum prepared me immensely for becoming the media professional I am today. Thanks to the faculty and staff that share their plethora of real life experience, every lesson or concept that I learned in the classroom actually translated into the real world. I am eternally grateful to Grady and can’t imagine what life would have been like if I picked a different school.

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

Grady will give you endless opportunities if you take advantage of the vast alumni network we have. You can go to any state and find a home with a Grady connection. When I worked in New York City, countless times I would meet Grady grads —whether it be a producer at MTV or Amy Robach who invited me on set as her guest at Good Morning America after I reached out to her. I now work at Seacrest Studios because of a Grady grad connection who runs the Nashville Seacrest Studios.  I am a walking example of how the Grady family looks out for each other. I will always do what I can to help a Grady student, as would countless other alumni, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as you’ve navigated through your career?

Always empower others and stay curious. Every single person you meet could change the entire course of your life and vice versa. There is a Ted Talk called “Lollipop Moment” that has shaped the way I look at every interaction. Don’t brush people off or think that you don’t need to learn about that concept/person. In my opinion, people who are successful want to learn something about everything and can find fulfillment in even the smallest of things. For an example in media, every reporter used to have a cameraman. Nowadays, every reporter (or MMJ) needs to know how to shoot their own stories/stand ups, video edit, write their script for web, create their graphics, post on social and go on-air all in one day. Stay hungry by craving knowledge.

Meredith Dean House is a dormitory at the Khwisero Girls School in Kenya that Dean helped build.

Describe a moment in your professional/personal career that you are most proud of.

I am most proud of how many patients and families’ lives we have been able to touch at Levine Children’s Hospital through our programming at Seacrest Studios. To see the emotional, spiritual and physical healing of these strong kids through music, new media, radio and TV is awe-inspiring. There is nothing like having a former patient come back to the studio just to visit as a happy and healthy child. Additionally, I have branded and career counseled over 100 clients all over the world with TDL. To focus on our mission of empowering women everywhere, I donate 10% of my profits to Habitat Aid Initiative, my family’s non-profit in Western Kenya. I have built a dormitory at Khwisero Girls School (Meredith House) and plan to build several more. My hope is to change the world little by little by helping these women in their educational pursuits and get my clients their dream jobs.

Seven Grady alumni among UGA’s 40 under 40 class of 2018

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 under 40 Class of 2018.  The program honors outstanding UGA alumni who are under the age of 40 for their professional and philanthropic achievements.

This year’s class includes the following Grady alumni: Brooke Bowen (ABJ’07), Chase Cain (ABJ’05), Meredith Dean (ABJ’14), Josh Delaney (ABJ’11), Ivey Evans (ABJ’06), Quanza Griffin (ABJ’01) and Lauren Pearson (ABJ’02).

The honorees will be recognized at the annual awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Registration for the event is now open.

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April.  Honorees must have attended UGA and aspire to uphold the Pillars of the Arch. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

This year’s 40 under 40 honorees, including their graduation year, city, title and employer, are:

  • Kristen Bernhard, 2009, Atlanta, deputy commissioner for system reform, Georgia Department for Early Care & Learning
  • Brooke Bowen, 2007 and 2010, Atlanta, legal counsel, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Chase Cain, 2005, West Hollywood, creative producer, Hulu
  • Matt Coley, 2003 and 2005, Cordele, owner/operator, Coley Gin and Fertilizer/Coley Farms
  • Caitlyn Cooper, 2007, Marietta, president, Caitlyn Cooper Consulting
  • Matthew Crim, 2005, Athens, general cardiologist, assistant professor of medicine, Piedmont Heart Institute, Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership
  • Meredith Dean, 2014, Charlotte, founder, Dean’s List, program coordinator, Seacrest Studios
  • Joshua Delaney, 2011, Washington, D.C., senior education policy advisory, U.S. Senate, Office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Ivey Evans, 2006 and 2013, Columbus, social purpose manager, Aflac
  • David Felfoldi, 2001,Brookhaven, chief experience officer, SHERPA Global
  • Cartter Fontaine, 2010 and 2012, Athens, CEO, DT Productions
  • Quanza Griffin, 2001, Decatur, public health analyst, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Betsy Grunch, 2002, Gainesville, neurosurgeon, The Longstreet Clinic, PC
  • Tyler Harper, 2009, Ocilla, Georgia state senator, District 7, owner/operator, Tyler Harper Farms
  • Scott Irvine, 2002, Birmingham, associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Alabama
  • Jonathan Jones, 2013, Indianapolis, improvement engineer, Corteva Agriscience
  • Chloe Kelley, 2006, New York, senior vice president, PIMCO
  • William Keyes, 2010 and 2013, Washington, D.C., prosecutor, Department of Defense, captain, U.S. Army
  • William “Billy” Kirkland III, 2009, Washington, D.C., special assistant to the president, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, The White House
  • Ryan Leveille, 2013, Atlanta, global design manager innovation lab, General Electric
  • Erin Lincoln, 2005, Atlanta, associate director, Tretra Tech, Inc.
  • Carrie Settles Livers, 2002, STEMpreneurship educator, Brookwood High School
  • Mohamed Massaquoi, 2008, Atlanta, owner, Mohamed Massaquoi Inc.
  • Margaux Charbonnet Murray, 2002, Atlanta, medical director, Medically Complex Care Program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Muktha Natrajan, 2011, Atlanta, postdoctoral fellow, Emory University
  • John Ozier, 2002, Nashville, vice president of creative, ole Song LLC
  • Lauren Pearson, 2002, Birmingham, managing director, Hightower Twickenham
  • Ryan Prior, 2012, Atlanta, cross-platform associate producer, CNN
  • Lucas Puente, 2010, San Francisco, lead economist, Thumbtack
  • Tameka Rish, 2003, Atlanta, vice president of corporate partnerships, AMBSE
  • Ben Ross, 2008, Statesboro, owner/pharmacist, Forest Heights Pharmacy
  • Latham Saddler, 2005, Washington D.C., director of intelligence programs, National Security Council, Navy SEAL, U.S. Navy
  • Adrianna Samaniego, 2010, San Francisco, CEO & co-founder, Area 120, Google Inc.
  • Julie Secrist, 2006, Atlanta, senior project manager, Southeastern Engineering
  • Rhondolyn Smith, 2004, Winterville, clinical pharmacist, Northside Hospital
  • Jabaris D. Swain, 2001, Philadelphia, fellow cardiothoracic surgery, hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Amy Washington, 2009, Bogart, founder/ executive director, Kupendwa Ministries
  • Chip Wile, 2002, Ormond Beach, president, Daytona International Speedway
  • Michael Williams, 2001 and 2006, Kennesaw, director of finance, The Home Depot
  • Stephanie Yarnell, 2006, New Haven, physician, division of law and psychiatry, Yale University Department of Psychiatry.