#ProfilesOfTenacity: Aleesa de Castro

A division one athlete, fourth year entertainment and media studies major Aleesa de Castro says tenacity is all about persistence and resilience. Aleesa and her sister Cate share a passion for film, and together they founded de Castro productions and organized the first ever Backlight Student Film Festival this past spring. Aleesa serves as the vice president of The Industry, is a videographer for Strike Magazine, and she is currently interning for the Producers Guild of America.

Why did you choose your major?

I enrolled into the University of Georgia as a biology major, but I’ve had a strong love and passion for film all my life. As a freshman, I was looking to get more involved on campus and stumbled upon the entertainment media industries club, better known as The Industry. I began to meet others who shared my passion. Many of them were entertainment and media studies students who were looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. I was truly inspired by my peers. Watching them follow their dreams assured me that this too was a career path I could follow. I changed my major and began cultivating my career in the industry.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

This past summer, I attended the Cannes Film Festival study away program. All in all, there is no other way to describe this trip than a dream. As an aspiring film producer, there was no better fit than the Cannes Film Festival. For the two weeks of the festival, my classmates and I were at the global epicenter of the film industry. We were meeting filmmakers and buyers from all over the world. We were able to grow our networks and open our eyes to a variety of careers that exist in the entertainment landscape. It was magical. Every day consisted of screening international films, attending press junkets, dressing up for red carpets, meeting talent and industry professionals, trying different French foods, and exploring the French Rivera. I look back at this experience and it almost doesn’t even feel real.

aleesa wearing uga jersey mid-run
Outside of her involvement at Grady College, Aleesa is a division one athlete, and runs both cross country and track and field. (Photo:submitted)
What does tenacity mean to you?

Tenacity is all about persistence and resilience. As a division one athlete, this is something that has been instilled in me; however, I also feel there is a component of giving back and looking out for others. Someone who is truly tenacious is also focused on uplifting their teammates and those around them.

Who is your professional hero?

Fred Rogers is someone I really admire. He had a profound effect on television and media in general. He touched the lives of millions and his messages continue to resonate with me. In his commencement speech at Dartmouth he said, “You never have to do anything extraordinary to be special.” This is something I think about often. It reminds that what is important in life is loving, acknowledging and recognizing those who have loved you and supported you, and sharing this same love with others in your life.

The Industry holds a meeting in the PAF
Aleesa serves as the vice president of The Industry, an entertainment and media studies club. (Photo:submitted)
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

I’m involved with The Georgia Way, an organization that helps athletes develop their leadership skills both in sports and life in general. A great piece of advice they shared with me is that leadership is all about energy. The energy you bring onto the track, on a film set, in a meeting, and so on has the ability to uplift those around you or bring them down. I believe a strong leader believes and invests in their team.

What are you passionate about?

Spending quality time with my cat and dog. Shoutout Luke and Bobbi.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Something most people don’t know about me is that I am an identical twin. My sister is a superstar finance and entertainment and media studies major, and also my best friend. We share our love for film together and hope to eventually become producing partners. We have even founded our own production company in Athens and are currently producing a feature film!

twin sisters pose on red carpet
Aleesa (right) and her twin sister Cate organized the first Backlight Student Film Festival, which took place in April of 2022.  (Photo:submitted)
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

My proudest accomplishment this year was co-founding the Backlight Student Film Festival. It started out simply as an idea to unite and showcase filmmakers’ work, but it quickly grew into so much more. It truly took a village to make this all happen, and it was so rewarding to see so many Grady and UGA students working together to celebrate one another.

twin sisters pose on red carpet
Aleesa is currently interning for the Producers Guild of America. (Photo:submitted)
What do you plan to do after graduation?

The one thing I know for certain after graduation is that I will return to the Cannes Film Festival. For the two weeks of the festival, I aim to work with either an agency or production company before returning to the United States. After that, my future is less certain. I will then either make the move across the country to Los Angeles to work for a studio or agency, or I will continue to grow my network here in Atlanta by working on film sets and developing content. Either way, I am certain Grady College has prepared me for my future career as a film producer.

Where’s your favorite place on campus and why?

One of my favorite places to meet on campus is the new MFA room located on the first floor of Grady, or the “the fishbowl” as we like to call it. The fishbowl is where I run into all my peers before class. We catch up, share what we are watching, what we are working on and so on. It lightens my day seeing them all and demonstrates what a supportive community the EMST program is.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Olga Diaz-Nasser

Olga Diaz-Nasser is a fourth year public relations major with a minor in French and a certificate in public affairs communications. She is also a double dawg and will be getting her masters in public administration. She is heavily involved in and outside of the Grady community, serving as the executive director of University Judiciary, the member relations manager for Women in Media, a Grady Ambassador and a Carolyn Caudell Tieger Fellow for the public affairs communications certificate.

What does “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means going after your goals no matter the obstacles that are in your way. To me, it means determination, perseverance, and resilience. It’s something I hope to embody throughout my daily life.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

Professor Watson is definitely my favorite Grady Professor. His public affairs communications classes have helped me explore my career interests and develop my goals for the future. His experience, advice, and kindness have been invaluable as I’ve delved further into the intersection of politics and communications.

Diaz-Nasser gives a speech as the incoming executive director of University Judiciary at their Jenny Penny Oliver ceremony in April of 2022. (Photo:submitted)
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

I’m involved in an organization called UniversityJudiciary and it has truly defined my path here at UGA. University Judiciary has given me a supportive community to encourage me as I work towards my dreams and allowed me to gain the confidence in myself needed to achieve them. I’ve met my closest friends through the organization and the Office of Student Conduct staff have become some of my mentors. Judiciary has helped me grow as a person, leader, and friend.

What are you passionate about?

Helping others! My senses of justice and empathy have always driven me to serve others and that is what I’ve tried to do throughout my time here at UGA. I hope to keep working hard to help underprivileged and minority communities around the nation in my future career.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?
Diaz-Nasser poses for a picture with other members of the 2021-2022 University Judiciary executive council. (Photo:submitted)

Getting involved is absolutely essential. Freshman year is tough and your first year when you officially get accepted into Grady is tough too. Having people who support you and encourage you to go for it will be vital to your success and happiness. Grady has so many opportunities for students to get involved, learn new skills, and meet other passionate, driven Grady students. Don’t let any of these opportunities pass you by. Branch out and get involved!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ok, in all honesty I found this quote on Pinterest but it still echoes in my head every day, “The grass is greener where you water it.” I struggled a lot freshman year. I was shy and nervous about getting involved on campus and making new friends. I had spent so long wanting this ideal version of what my freshman year was supposed to look like, that I forgot that I was the one who was supposed to make it happen. This quote pushed me out of my comfort zone. I realized it was my responsibility to put myself out there, join clubs, meet new people, and water my own grass. I try to live by this quote every day. Everything I do is to water my own grass, because I know if I put in the effort then no matter what happens I’ll be proud of myself.

What motivates you?

My parents are my biggest motivators. My mom is a Colombian immigrant and her story is what has inspired me to want to work in immigration policy. Both her and my dad have always been my biggest supporters and I do everything I can to make them proud. I’m thankful for all of their encouragement; without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Diaz-Nasser smiles for a photo with Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA 6) during her summer internship in Representative McBath’s D.C. office. (Photo:submitted)
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern in the office of Congresswoman Lucy McBath and live in UGA’s Delta Hall in Washington D.C. through the Honors in Washington program. Getting into Honors in Washington is definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. I was so honored to have been a part of the group of talented, passionate students that were in Washington D.C. with me and blessed to have been able to work in the office of my own representative, Congresswoman McBath. This summer was one of the best of my life and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience it alongside the UGA students in Delta Hall.

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

I hope to work in Washington D.C. My studies in the field of public affairs communications has really ignited a passion for policy and politics in me. I’d like to work in immigration policy on a federal level, hopefully in a committee in Congress!

Where is your favorite study spot?

I love to study on the fourth floor of the Main Library. It’s the floor where you can talk or take zoom meetings if you need to, and nobody will get mad if you’re speaking at a normal level. I hate studying in absolute silence so I love being able to study without being afraid of typing too loud or rummaging through my backpack too much.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Sydney Hood

Journalism major Sydney Hood balances her time at Grady with working as a weekend multimedia journalist for WRDW/WAGT News 12 NBC 26. She also serves as the president of DiGamma Kappa Broadcast Society, works as a senior production manager for Grady Newsource, is a reporter for the Newsource election show, and she writes for the Cox Institute’s Covering Poverty Initiative.

What does tenacity mean to you?

Being tenacious is all about stepping up to the plate when life knocks you down. It’s working for the life you’ve always dreamed of despite criticism and hardships. It’s embracing the uncomfortableness and facing adversity head-on. Tenacity means being fearless in pursuing what sets you apart from the rest and finding what makes YOU special. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Do not take yourself too seriously. Take your job seriously, but not yourself. I am a ridiculously goofy person. I cut up and laugh (cackle actually) at every little (and silly) mistake and stay optimistic about the obstacles. When it comes to spaces with rules (school, work, meetings), my quiet, no-nonsense side creeps out. I practice rigorous self-judgment and hold myself to the highest of high standards. It’s an approach that robs me of the peace that comes with self-acceptance and celebrating those smaller but just as big goals. I am slowly realizing that not taking myself seriously allows for people to see the real, genuine me. The silly, quirky, hardworking and determined me. The human in me. It’s a practice I am constantly improving on everyday, but I believe that loosening up on yourself allows for exploration and change.

Sydney doing a liveshot on camera, holding a microphone and pointing to a group of people at a health fair
Sydney was a “future focus” intern for WRDW/WAGT News 12 NBC 26 this summer in Augusta. (Photo:submitted)
Why did you choose your major?

I’ve always had an itch for writing – whether it was an essay for school or an entry in my journal. I am a naturally curious (borderline nosey) person. I love history. I enjoy digesting new information and the ability I have to captivate one’s attention by explaining this information. With all of this said, journalism was always in the back of my head growing up. As a soft-spoken and shy person afraid to leave her comfort zone, I didn’t think this was possible for me. Ultimately I let that fear get to me and abandoned my dream. I started college as a biology major and it took a mid-semester crisis (and UGA chemistry) my freshman year to realize that was not for me. Ultimately, sitting in the middle of my dorm room crying my eyes out because I didn’t know what to do with my life, I pulled myself together and finally declared myself as a journalism major. I always look back and think of this as an “ah-ha” moment because it was truly  the first time I really walked out of my comfort zone. It really is true that nothing good comes from staying in your comfort zone. I’ve realized my passion for storytelling was far bigger than my fear of not succeeding. Grady has shown me that journalism is much, much more than writing and telling stories. This place has taught me – and continues to teach me – how I can go from good to great and be the best in my field. Long story short, I am forever grateful 18-year-old Sydney took a leap of faith.  

What motivates you?

I am motivated by my constant fear of being just average. I do not want to go through life feeling like I had all this potential and never touched or used it. I always strive to be intentional in everything I do. I am also motivated by the word “can’t.” I am often told I can’t handle everything I am involved in from school to work and everything in between. When someone tells me I can’t do something, I make it my mission to not only do it, but do it better. 

Students gather for a group picture outside a building in Copenhagen
Sydney says her most memorable Grady experience was going on the travel writing program to Copenhagen. (Photo: R. Vassileva)
What is your most memorable Grady experience?

This past summer, I lived in Copenhagen for a month and studied travel journalism with some pretty amazing people. To say this was an experience I’ll never forget in quite the understatement. I tested all of my creative outlets, pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and opened my eyes to understand the flow of global news. This trip also instilled in me some practical knowledge of solutions journalism: what it is, what it is not and the importance of this type of journalism. All of this I still carry with me and will continue to do so beyond my career at Grady.

What are you passionate about?

I love putting a story together, hearing what people are passionate about and understanding what drives them. The people you meet and speak to are the ones who create and tell the story. It’s exciting to connect with people, listen to their extraordinary stories and provide a voice for them. I am always amazed at how a simple idea at a 9:30 a.m. pitch meeting formulates into a 6 p.m. story with real people and real life impact. 

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

Every time I am out in the field or in the newsroom, I always think back to the tips from various professors. The “SWEFF” checklist from Professor Shumway is tattooed in my brain. “Write to the video you have and not the video you wish you had,” from Professor Cantrell is something I have to remind myself each time I sit down to write a script. I learned all the fundamentals in the classroom, but it is outside of the classroom where I put all of my tools into practice and learn beyond the walls of Grady. Before Grady, I did not know how to shoot video. I didn’t know how to white balance or frame a camera. I didn’t know where to find sources or how to find people. I’d never published a story before. Now, I shoot, write and edit all on my own. 

Sydney gets footage of a pony
Sydney gets footage of a pony while working on a story for WRDW/WAGT about how the Aiken Equine Horse Rescue was able to recover after a fire. (Photo:submitted)
Who is your professional hero?

Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Judy Woodruff, Barabara Walters – all for the obvious reasons.  

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I do not have it together all the time. I am bad about putting up a perfect front and acting like I have all of my ducks lined up in a row (when in fact a lot of them are at the bottom of the  pond). It is important to share the lows in life just as much as we share the highs. College is hard. Work is hard. Life is hard. And that is all okay. Sure you are going to have days where you are stressed and overwhelmed. But in the end trust that it is going to all be okay.  

I also enjoy running (like, a lot). Everyday I set aside at least one hour for a run – rain or shine, day or night. I do this not only for my physical health, but also for my mental health. It’s the one time in my day I can clear my head and step away from reality. I ran my first 5k when I was six and haven’t stopped since. I trained for and ran two full marathons before graduating high school (for the awkward 12-year-old Sydney who couldn’t run a mile without crying, this was (and still is) a big deal for her). I also love a good half-marathon – I signed up for one out of the blue while studying abroad in Copenhagen to get familiar with the city (I still needed to use Google Maps afterwards to find my way around the city but it was worth a try!). 

 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Heaven Robinson

Fourth year advertising major Heaven Robinson uses her design skills both in and out of the classroom, serving as the art director for Pandora Yearbook and Talking Dog Agency. Robinson was a 2022 MAIP fellow, interning for Saatchi & Saatchi this summer. After graduating in December, she will pursue a masters degree in emerging media.

Why did you choose your major?

I chose to major in advertising because I have always loved creative thinking, and advertising really champions both strategy and creative working. Visual storytelling has been a constant in my life and I wanted to explore all that it entails in a professional setting, working with brands and clients. I’m most interested in design and graphic communication, so I knew that Grady College and the advertising major would expose me to that, plus the range of disciplines in the industry from account to UI/UX. I also wanted to explore the different career options in advertising and see where I best fit among them. Plus, everyone at Grady genuinely wishes to help us learn and succeed, and I knew the major and the community would provide a great foundation for my career in advertising.

What does tenacity mean to you?

Tenacity means pushing through obstacles and not losing your will to reach your goal. It’s having the determination to succeed and taking the steps necessary to achieve whatever you set your mind to.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

The best piece of advice I’ve received was to apply for any and everything you might be interested in. You never know what will happen and the experiences you’ll get from it. It’s similar to the “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” quote in that you’ll miss out on greatness if you don’t make the effort or take a chance.

photo of seven female students wearing purple with a fall background
Robinson with other executive board members of Women in Media. She formerly served as a content creator for the club. (Photo:submitted)
What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love singing. I’m not one to get up in front of a crowd or anything, but I enjoy singing along to a musical or playlist.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

My biggest accomplishment this year was obtaining and completing an art direction and design internship at a top advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. I was offered the internship through the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) and was beyond shocked when I got the offer. I had heard about the agency and their work before and just couldn’t believe that I got the chance to intern there. I am proud of how much I’ve grown as a creative and grateful for the peers, professors, mentors and supervisors who supported me throughout that experience.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

After I graduate with my undergraduate degree in December 2022, I will be pursuing a masters degree in Emerging Media as a Double Dawg at UGA. I’m really excited to learn more about how technology and design can make some cool, innovative projects for brands. As a designer and advertiser, I find web and app design and development to be very intriguing as well as how users connect with such products. I am looking to have a robust skillset in digital media and UI/UX design as I plan to become a professional graphic designer following my graduation.

What is an example of a time you used your skills in a real-world experience?
five students, exec board members of Pandora Yearbook, stand outside the UGA chapel
Robinson is currently the art director for Pandora Yearbook. (Photo:submitted)

I do freelance work in art and design–mainly acrylic paintings. I market myself as a designer, but still use my skills in fine art for drawing and painting commissions. I have been making art since I was in kindergarten so it’s nice to keep building on that talent and use those skills to make good work for people. One thing I love about doing freelance artwork is the lasting impact. People enjoy having the art as they usually order paintings that remind them or celebrate a special time in their lives like a new baby, a sorority anniversary, a new school year, etc. Clients always bring the work up when I see them again, and it’s rewarding to know that I had a role in memorializing those events in their lives.

Where’s your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is the second floor of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. I love walking through and seeing the art on the walls. I get a lot of inspiration from the photography and graphics, and I like to admire the projects students are working on. There is also an open computer lab where I like to do work. It’s usually pretty quiet and the big monitors are great for when I’m designing and multitasking.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: William Newlin

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I began my college career as an International Affairs major in SPIA. History, English, political science and economics had always been my favorite subjects, and IA seemed to bring it all together. But as an avid news consumer with a penchant for writing, I realized there was more I wanted to do. Grady allowed me to join a field with colleagues who have goals beyond themselves. I knew it would give me the leeway to find my passion and the opportunity to write with purpose.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity is a willingness to leave your comfort zone to get what you need, whether in your personal life or professional pursuits. In journalism, it’s not backing down in the face of authority. It’s being dogged, nosy and courageous. In life, it’s sticking to your values and reaching for your goals no matter the obstacles. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about improving public debate through good journalism. I think the best reporting keeps important issues centered in our collective consciousness and directs attention to topics that might otherwise fall through the cracks. We need to have more fact-based debate in all aspects of American life, and I’m excited to contribute to that throughout my career.

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

The Red & Black. After joining in fall 2019, I immediately found a group of people who both supported me and created the environment of healthy competition that shaped me as a reporter. Over two years of reporting and editing from contributor all the way to managing editor, I honed my writing, fact-finding and storytelling skills. It was the real-world experience I needed to feel confident in my abilities as a professional journalist and leader.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In March, I presented original research at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Midwinter Conference. The idea originated in a research theory class the previous fall, and I developed my topic and method alongside Dr. Karin Assmann. Focused on the rhetoric of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, I found the data needed for the project, learned to use a new analysis software and wrote a lengthy paper that was accepted by the AEJMC. Despite taking the non-thesis route in my graduate program, I’m excited to leave with a tangible piece of scholarship. My goal is to submit the finished article for publication in a political communication journal.  

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

Find something interesting in every assignment. Even if you’re covering what seems like the driest beat in the world, there are always people, trends and storylines to keep you and your audience engaged. 

Who is your professional hero?

A few people come to mind. As exemplars of my first journalistic passion – sports writing (specifically baseball) – Tony Kornheiser and Jeff Passan are at the top. Their reporting chops and undeniable style continue to inform my approach to writing. I also greatly admire CNN’s Clarissa Ward and NBC’s Richard Engel. They’re in the most important places at the most important times, and I hope to emulate their unflinching courage to whatever extent I can. And if I had to throw in a historical hero, it would have to be Edward R. Murrow. Aside from the obvious reasons, who doesn’t want a catchphrase?

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree?

I plan to hit the ground running as a reporter. With experience in sports, news and features, I’m excited to get started and adapt to new challenges.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

It might surprise people that I make music – sort of. I play the drums, can strum a guitar, and I’m oddly decent at composing piano music, which I’ve translated into a few songs. Some are on SoundCloud, and some are just for me. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Founders Memorial Garden on North Campus is and always will be my favorite spot. It was my between-classes refuge freshman year and continues to be a peaceful place when I need some quiet time in nature. 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Sherry Liang

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

The only class I enjoyed in high school was newspaper, so I came into college as an intended-journalism major. I joined The Red & Black within my first month and became an editor the following semester. But I already felt stagnant, which is not a feeling you want as a freshman, so I sought a creative outlet with EMST. I wish I could reassure freshman me that both journalism and EMST would welcome (and continue to welcome) me with open arms — that pursuing both paths would change my life — but I think she already knew.

What are you passionate about?

A lot, sometimes too much. I’m passionate about independent student journalism and innovating the newsroom’s status quo. I’m passionate about people and our emotions — the way we interact and react — and finding the universal in the personal. The entertainment and journalism I grew up with rarely told the stories of my community. I never saw myself in the media industry, so I hope I can play my part in changing that for future generations.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

I hope I’ll remember the everyday moments like mingling with friends between classes, group exercises in cinematography, staying up until 2 a.m. finishing a script, sheltering from a tornado in one of the many windowless first floor classrooms, busting a kneecap open after class (unrelated to the tornado), table reads in Writers’ Room or watching film premieres at Ciné and University 16 … the list goes on. 

I also think back to when we planted seeds for ideas that would shape my college experience — like brainstorming web series concepts in Writers’ Room, pitching an AAJA chapter at UGA to Dr. Lough, the first conversations about the Backlight Student Film Festival, or the beginnings of what would become The Red & Black’s DEI Committee.

Liang served as the editor-in-chief of The Red & Black in spring 2021 (Photo: Taylor Gerlach).
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The students, by all means. From day one, I’ve been inspired by everyone’s dedication to each other’s work at The Red & Black, The Industry, in classrooms and on the screen. Members of Writers’ Room, for example, have exceeded every conceivable expectation of mine when I restructured the club. From first-time screenwriters to EMST veterans, everyone’s bonded over these characters and scripts that we’ve created. I’m also beyond impressed by students on the Selection Committee for the Backlight Student Film Festival, who have spent nearly 10 hours across three weeks watching and judging film submissions. This level of commitment and collaboration is a trademark of the students at this college.

As I round out my senior year, I feel like I’ve finally found my place with my people. Graduating and leaving UGA feels bittersweet and pre-nostalgic, but I am mostly relieved that given the volatility of the universe and its infinite possibilities, we all found ourselves here, together, if only for a moment. (Existential thoughts courtesy of Everything, Everywhere All at Once.)

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Directing my first short film this semester was one of the most surreal moments of my college career. I’ve written a few scripts, so that part of the process was familiar. But as I watched actors bring the characters I created to life, heard people laugh at these jokes I wrote from my bed at 3 a.m., and witnessed an entire crew devote their many precious hours to execute my story — I felt a type of unbridled joy and gratitude that I had never experienced in a collaborative environment. I’ll chase that feeling and those people for as long as I create. 

(Bonus full-circle moment: The film is about student journalism!)

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Lots of soul-searching, a bit of traveling, and hopefully some revelatory experiences — but first, the Cannes Film Festival.

A behind the scenes look at Liang’s short film directorial debut (Photo: Jaida Green).
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Coming in as a beginner, I was intimidated by EMST before even setting foot in a classroom. But over the last two years, I’ve never had a professor who expected us to know everything. Professor Evans taught my first screenwriting class, and from day one, he emphasized improvement above all else. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect, it might never be, but you just have to do and improve. I’ve always had some level of performance anxiety, and reminding myself of that philosophy has been liberating. As a chronic procrastinating perfectionist, it’s what motivated me 24 hours before the deadline to write my first TV pilot that became a BEA Festival finalist. It wasn’t a perfect script — one judge’s comments made that very clear — but that’s one script (and an award) more than I had before I started. 

Who is your professional hero?

I have so many. UGA alumnae Kendall Trammell, Elaine Reyes, Samira Jafari, Alex Laughlin and Amanda Mull are just a handful of the journalists who inspire me. Editors at CNN and The Red & Black have shaped my confidence and voice as a journalist. The writer-director in me also looks up to the power-duo of Lulu Wang and Barry Jenkins (who share a dog-child with a hyphenated last name — talk about life goals). 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I talk to myself a lot, entire conversations. Sometimes I’ll mute my podcast in the car just to hear myself talk … to myself. Most of these answers came from me talking to myself. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My body is actually solar-powered. Give me some sun, a few trees, maybe a sprinkling of fall foliage or spring flowers, and I’m there. I frequent Herty Field or the MLC stone benches for napping, and outside the PAF for a solid four-legged table to do some work. You can also find me gazing off into the sunset at Lake Herrick to inspire an aforementioned revelatory experience … been doing a lot of that lately.



#ProfilesOfTenacity: Kacie Geter

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I chose Grady because since I was young, I always wanted to be a broadcast reporter or television personality. Grady has one of the best journalism programs in the country and to be in the same program that alums like Ryan Seacrest and Bonnie Arnold were in assures me that there is no limit for success I want to reach in the industry.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means betting on yourself. I am a believer in the privilege of luck, connections, and access, but it also comes down to how determined you are to get to where you want to be. Tenacity means to me that no matter the odds, you give it your all. 

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

My college friends. I had no high school peers that were coming to UGA and I had to make entirely new relationships. I am grateful to have connected with the friends I have now because we have similar aspirations and mindsets, and they’re just really good people to surround myself with. 

Geter is an intern for NBCUniversal.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment in the past year was being accepted to intern at NBCUniversal’s E! News for this current spring semester. I am blessed and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work for such an amazing company while only being a sophomore and recently Grady accepted. Having this opportunity has equipped me with knowledge to believe any door will open for you as long as you work hard and ask for it. 

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

People are going to judge and have opinions about you anyway, so do as you please. I am the creator of my future and therefore I control my outcome and anyone that disagrees does not matter. I stick by this advice that my mentor gave me habitually.

Who is your professional hero?

I don’t really have a professional hero, but I love seeing Black women paving the way for us, such as Issa Rae, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna.

Geter also works at The Red & Black as a social media coordinator.
What are you planning to do after graduation?

Honestly, I am not sure, and that’s okay. I know I want to work in the film/television industry and possibly be a TV personality or work on the business side of the media industry. Whatever opportunities come my way that nurture me and bring me closer to what I love, I’m taking.

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

My favorite app is Pinterest. I like how you can just see random photos catered to your interests without the opinions or judgment of others. Pinterest is a very inspiring platform; who doesn’t love to be inspired?

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love reading people and knowing their opinions. I habitually go on Reddit and just read people’s opinions about random topics. I want to know others’ mindset and their thinking processes behind everyday ideas.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus would have to be Lake Herrick. Especially in the fall when the leaves are turning different colors, the wind is crisp and the sun is shining bright. It brings me to a Zen state of mind and makes me feel as though I am one with nature when I sit and mindlessly stare at the lake. It brings me peace, and as a college student that’s sometimes hard to come by.



#ProfilesOfTenacity: Smera Dhal

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means bouncing back.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

Through Grady study abroad, I spent this past summer at the Creative Circus in Atlanta. While the course itself was rather rigorous, I got to spend every day with the most incredible and inspiring creatives. I’m grateful to say many of them are now my buddies here at UGA.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people! I love getting to know someone new. The best feeling in the world is strengthening your connection with someone you love.

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

The Cookout on W. Broad Street has kept me going through my darkest hours.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment has been being appointed a 2022 MAIP Fellow. This internship program focuses on promoting diversity within the advertising world, and I am so excited to have been placed with the Digitas agency for an Art direction internship this summer!

Dhal (far left) participated in the Creative Circus program in 2021.
What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

Grady introduced me to the professional side of graphic design. This semester, I have begun creating posters, show announcements, and even cover art for local musicians. Check out “On Your Roof” by Evelia on all platforms, artwork by me!

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

When I was learning how to ride a bike, my dad used to tell me “sedha dekho, pedal karo” which in Hindi means “look straight, keep pedaling.” I apply it more metaphorically to my life now, and it keeps me focused.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Make cool stuff!

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I like to make candles!

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

There’s a bench right outside the Journalism building under the big magnolia tree. It doesn’t jut out, it’s obscured, but it’s got a wide view of Sanford Drive. It’s perfect for anything – eating, studying, people-watching.

 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Bryson Henriott

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I chose Grady because of the high caliber level of resources and professors. I enjoy the practical real-life education and experiences Grady provides to all their students. I have always found politics interesting, but especially the public affairs and communications side of politics, this is why I chose public relations paired with my political science degree.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means the culmination of determination and perseverance. For me, tenacity is the ability to take whatever situation is given and not only overcome it but use it to its fullest potential. Coming in as first-generation college student and a rural student, I was faced with unique challenges; however, through tenacity, determination, and perseverance, I have been able to overcome barriers and give back to other students like myself.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My most memorable Grady experience was getting to work on a semester-long crisis management plan in Dr. Jin’s Crisis Communications course. We were able to present our plan that we did for a local Athens business to a panel of our peers, Grady professors, and UGA administration. It was an amazing experience getting real-world experience and having the opportunity to help a local business.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people; it sounds cliché but is true. Coming into UGA from an area that was very homogeneous, I have enjoyed getting to meet so many people and listen to everyone’s unique story and path to UGA. I am also passionate about both rural education and first-generation college student success in higher education and how to lower the barriers for students who identify in those communities.

Henriott is the president-elect of UGA Student Government Association.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Winning SGA President has been the proudest moment for me in the past year. Not because of the pomp or circumstance, but because it was tangible proof for me that anything can be possible with enough work and motivation. It also allows for the perfect intersection of service and using the skills I have learned in Grady to best support and help students.

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

I am constantly using the skills I have learned through Grady, public relations, and the PAC Program in real-world experiences. I have used the communications and writing skills learned during my time as an Orientation Leader, internships, leading advocacy campaigns, in the organizations that I am part of, and most recently through SGA.

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

Oftentimes I like to see proof. If someone tells me something I want to see the data to support or if I set out to do something I want to see the tangible impact. Vice President Wilson always tells me, “get used to planting seeds for a tree under which you will never enjoy its shade.” This has since stuck with me and impacted the way I approach situations and leadership. It is not always about seeing the end result and it is certainly not about receiving the praise for it, but rather to look at life and service as constantly planting seeds that one day will benefit others.

Henriott served as an Orientation Leader in 2021.
What are you planning to do after graduation?

After graduation, I am planning to enter the field of government relations. One day, I would love to come back to UGA for government relations to work and give back to the place that has given me so much.

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

I enjoy Instagram, because although sometimes it paints an unrealistic picture of people’s lives, it allows for me to stay connected to so many friends that I otherwise would not be able to. I also enjoy how social media and particularly Instagram has the ability to raise awareness and support for a myriad of issues and promote engagement.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

It seems like the most obvious answer, but Tate is my favorite place on campus. It is the heart of UGA, and it allows me to see many people and stay connected with students. Whether that is grabbing a coffee from Starbucks, having meetings in the ELS, getting lunch with a friend in the Market, or seeing who all is tabling under the breezeway, it is always busy and exciting. 

 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Amelia Green

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

Grady offered versatility and an environment that was challenging yet welcoming to a new student at the University of Georgia. I felt as though the goals outlined in Grady coursework aligned with my personal career goals and that the Sports Media Certificate would offer me real-world experience in the sports media field. I am so grateful that I pursued my undergraduate education with Grady and will cherish the experience for a lifetime. 

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity means thriving when challenges are presented and offering innovative and creative solutions when new endeavors present themselves as difficult.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about presenting the world of sports to viewers and fans in a new and captivating way. Whether it is working for the PGA TOUR as head of event planning, the Nashville Superspeedway as a social media manager, or even the National Olympic Committee as a marketing analyst, ideally, I see myself in a field that allows me to make meaningful contributions to both the media consumers and the athletic organizations. I enjoy telling stories and I enjoy making compelling content, but most importantly I want to make people care about the why in sports. 

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

Professor Finlay had acted as my mentor for the past three years at UGA. He has given me so much advice and is always available when I need to ask a question or simply decompress about school to someone who understands the convoluted times of undergrad.

Green was selected to work as an Associated Press Photojournalist for the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment in the past year was being selected to travel to the Beijing Winter Paralympics as an Associated Press Photojournalist. Even though we were not able to go due to COVID-19, the other selected students and myself prepared for months and strengthened our skills to be able to tell stories about the incredible athletes competing in Beijing.

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

The best piece of advice I have received while at UGA has been to take risks. During my early years in the Sports Media program, Professor Finlay and Professor Michaelis reminded me that while skill is important, being willing to do any task that is asked of you says a lot about your work ethic and character. I was encouraged to make opportunities where there are none and that stepping out of my comfort zone is what will continue to give me a competitive edge in a very competitive field. I now believe that every success in your personal and professional life comes from taking risks and that is the key to being successful in today’s sports media industry.

Green is an intern for the Clarke Central High School Sports Information Department.
What are you planning to do after graduation?

I find myself striving for an opportunity in the sports media field because of its extensive range, rapid pace and growing influence in today’s society. After graduation, I will be attending Vanderbilt University for a Masters in Marketing to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the evolving, complex and global reach of the sports marketing and media industry.

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

Instagram is my favorite social media channel because of my passion for photography. Instagram allows me to follow my favorite photojournalists and photographers around the globe and provides a lot of inspiration when it comes to making engaging photographs and writing stories. 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a licensed pilot and frequently fly rescue missions for Pilots N’ Paws Animal Rescue!

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

The UGA Intramural Fields is my favorite spot on campus because I can either play in one of the many intramural sports leagues for students, take a relaxing walk around Lake Herrick or read a good book!