#ProfilesOfTenacity: Michael Banks

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study? 

I would not be in Grady had it not been for an early pandemic existential crisis in Spring 2020. I realized one night that I wanted to explore my passions for multiculturalism & storytelling while gaining some of the hard skills only a Grady degree could provide. Some of my most inspiring friends and peers at UGA were already in Grady, and having conversations with them about how positive their experiences had been really reinforced the idea to take a leap of faith and pursue a degree in journalism. 

What are you passionate about? 

In one world, multiculturalism. I’ve always had a curiosity for the world to gain a deeper understanding and empath for people across cultures. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to take that a step further to interact with important groups on this campus to advocate for DEI initiatives, and that passion has led me to gravitate toward stories in culture that elevate diverse media perspectives and creators.

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

I’ve walked away from every interaction with a professor in the journalism department changed for the better, so it’s hard for me to just cite one as having the biggest impact.  Two student mentors of mine are Willie Daniely and Lauren Swenson, both of whom were students in Newsource my first semester volunteering, and both taught me so much from their experiences within the college and how versatile a Grady education can be.  

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I used to be an open-water swimmer and with plans to swim the English Channel after graduation, but some of my fitness goals changed. I’m also a classically trained singer. 

What is your most memorable Grady experience? 

I got to attend a special screening of the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA documentary that was entirely reported on, filmed and produced by Grady students. I was awe-inspired to see journalism that was elevating such an important story in Athens and UGA history, and I walked away excited at the endless possibilities and ways I could use my Grady education. 

What are you planning to do after graduation? 

I would love to work as a communications associate internationally or for a global-oriented brand or company. Digital Design with Amanda Bright has also been my absolute favorite class at UGA and exposed me to technology and its applications to journalism, which has led to my interest in product design as a career that combines my journalism education with a role in the tech industry. 

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

Spotify! I have a very diverse music taste and the way their user experience is set up makes it very easy to explore artists outside of the U.S. and outside my typical genres. I also love when design meets technology, so Spotify Wrapped is so cool to me in that it takes people’s data to create fun, engaging and digestible data visualizations on people’s listening experiences. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why? 

The Hall of Nations in Memorial Hall! There’s something kind of awe-inspiring getting to study under so many national flags. The Office of International Student Life and Pride Center are also located there, and they do some critical work and put on beautiful programming to support students across backgrounds. 

Who is your professional hero? 

Too many. In broadcast, Seth Doane or David Muir. Doane is a CBS foreign correspondent based out of Rome, and Muir is the ABC World News anchor. Both are journalists whose careers have been shaped by international experiences and coverage of international topics. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

I was fortunate enough to represent the College on UGA’s Homecoming Court! So many of my family and friends came out to share in that experience with me, and getting the opportunity to walk my mother on the field is once in a lifetime. It was a testament to my hard work in my time at Georgia and reminded me I have stellar people in my corner.