#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.

Public Affairs Communications Certificate welcomes newly admitted students

The Public Affairs Professional Certificate in Public Affairs Communications (PAC) has announced its newly admitted 2019 PAC cohort. With 25 Public Affairs Communications students and 25 Applied Politics students, both tracks in the certificate program are at full capacity and stand ready to prepare students for a variety of careers in public affairs.

The PAC program’s applications increased 50 percent over 2018 numbers, driven in large measure by the efforts of Tieger Fellows, PAC Ambassadors and current students under the guidance of PAC program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications, Joseph Watson, Jr. The PAC program and Tieger fellowship are the product of the vision and funding provided by Grady College alumna Carolyn Caudell Tieger.

This year’s Tieger Fellows have managed a range of activities designed to increase student involvement in and awareness of the PAC program, culminating in this growth.

The current Tieger fellows are: Maria Stagliano, social and digital media fellow; Avery Whitehead; program promotion fellow; Anna Leigh Herndon; local media relations fellow; and Madison Gable, national media relations fellow.

“I am pleased to see the continued growth in demand for our first-in-the-nation public affairs communications program,” said Watson. “This is a testament to the hard work of our fellows, ambassadors, and students. The more students learn about the unique opportunities and relationships fostered by this program, the more they want to be a part of it. We are pleased to accept such an accomplished, diverse and talented pool of students to the PAC program.”

As the first undergraduate program of its kind in the nation, the PAC program offers students a unique opportunity to develop a focused skill set in strategic communications. Through coursework and experiential learning offered by the program, students in the 2019 cohort will be trained in educating, shaping or changing public opinion on public policy, legislation, political candidates or issues.

Here is the Public Affairs Professional Certificate’s 2019 PAC Cohort:

Newly admitted PAC students.

Adia Aidoo
Alexis Brock
Abigail Chasteen
Abigail Clark
Camryn Crosby
Patrick Femia
Sarah Geary
Jessica Green
Zach Green
Karlie Hanson
Melissa Hevener
Jayla Johnson
Zoe Maher
Jessica Martin
Jordan Mikilitus
Jasmine Monroe
Bridget Nabors
Tucker Norman
Hannah Payne
Rayna Perry
Caitlin Phillips
Sethi Simran
Mary Smalley
Lauren Swenson
Grace Wilbanks


Grady Alumni thrive in Washington, D.C.

Beyond the artifacts of American history that we all know and love, our nation’s capital is a bustling city filled with countless opportunities for communications professionals beginning their careers. Grady College is actively preparing students for these opportunities through its Public Affairs Communications (PAC) program and the Grady@DC summer program. Today, Grady’s young alumni working in Washington D.C. are thriving. Recent PAC and Grady@DC graduates including Adelaide Miller (ABJ ’17), Thomas Jordan (ABJ ’17), Abby McHan (ABJ ’17) and Jenni Sweat (ABJ ’17) are already doing remarkable things in Washington, D.C.

Miller, a public relations major and English minor, knew she wanted to use her passion for communications in “a field of utmost importance to the American people: government.” Her career journey began as an intern for the Alabama Republican Party. Miller currently works as the executive assistant to the director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, which serves as the external-facing office for the White House. Her role involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of the director, communicating with senior staff in the West Wing and drafting memos for presidential events.

“Grady College prepared me well with the skillsets I need to excel in my daily work at the White House,” Miller said. “I am constantly writing official documents and interacting with key stakeholders, and I have to have a strategic mindset in every facet of communication.”

Thomas Jordan (far right) and some Semester in Washington Colleagues

Among the variety of courses that Grady offers are several classes focusing on public affairs to aid students who are interested in working in the political arena. Grady and the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) jointly offer their students the opportunity to obtain a Public Affairs Professional Certificate.

When Thomas Jordan first heard of the PAC program, he knew that “this was the direction in life I wanted to work toward.” Jordan currently works at the National Retail Federation as a media relations coordinator. He handles media inquiries, conducts media monitoring and research, coordinates interviews and tracks policy.

“Of all the classes I’ve taken in my life, from elementary school to the college level, the courses I took in the PAC program have been the most relevant and practical,” Jordan commented. “The course material has had a clear and direct connection to the work that I do daily, and it has absolutely helped me achieve the success I’ve had in my young career.”

Abby McHan and Jenni Sweat also took advantage of the PAC program during their time at Grady. Each serves as a press assistant on Capitol Hill and continues to utilize the skills they learned.

“When the PAC certificate program was announced, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to build upon my current skillset and jumpstart a career in public policy and advocacy,” Sweat said. “I’m grateful for Ms. Carolyn Tieger’s vision for this program. Without it, I would not be where I am today.”

“I chose to pursue the PAC certificate because I wanted to strength my education background in both public relations and political science,” McHan echoed. “The PAC certificate taught me a lot about the importance of building your network, and these professionals opened my eyes to the options that could become available for me later on in my career.”

McHan’s first experience in D.C. was through Grady@DC. The Grady@DC summer program offers students the opportunity to pair classroom study with experiential learning in Washington, DC.  Through this program, Grady students are able to make meaningful contributions to the nation’s public life and gain real insights into what a life and career in Washington might resemble. This experience set the foundation for McHan’s career on Capitol Hill when she landed her first congressional internship with Rep. Tom Graves. During her final semester, she interned for Rep. Doug Collins in his district office. Two months before graduation, McHan reached out to the communications director and within a month was offered a job as a press assistant in the D.C. office.

As a press assistant, McHan, supports the communications director by monitoring media hits, assisting in digital communications and drafting speeches and newsletters. She also assisted in the construction and launch of the website design, serving as the primary point of contact for the website development team.

PAC Certificate founder Carolyn Tieger (ABJ ’69) and Abby McHan

Sweat first came to D.C. during the Washington Semester program and got her start on the Hill as an intern in Sen. David Perdue’s office. The University of Georgia’s Washington Semester program provides students in all majors the opportunity to earn class credit while gaining valuable work experience in D.C. Before her final semester at UGA, Sweat was offered a full-time position Senator Perdue’s office and she finished her degree in D.C. through online classes and independent studies.

“I talked with my advisors and professors at Grady and they recognized what a great opportunity this was,” Sweat reflected. “Thanks to the support of everyone involved, I managed to graduate on time!”

Currently, Sweat works as a press assistant for Perdue. Her job duties range from responding to press inquiries to creating original video content and designing graphics.

While the career journeys of these four alumni are just beginning, they all have similar advice to pass on to the next generation of Grady grads. For those who want to be successful in their career, particularly working on Capitol Hill, Sweat advises to “find your boss’s voice, know your audience, have a message and drive it, think outside the box and learn some policy.”

“I encourage every student, regardless of their degree, to pursue internships and work experience as soon as you can,” Jordan said. “As a young professional, you will have to prove your ‘worth’ and having the experience really helps bolster your credibility and professional confidence.”

“Keep your head down and work hard,” Miller concludes. “There is so much to be learned at the start of your career, and it’s valuable to surround yourself with smart, driven people who have had a long career in your field. Learn as much as you can from them! They want to help you. “

Three students selected for Tieger Fellowship in Public Affairs Communications

Students will promote first Public Affairs Communications program in the nation

 The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of three students as Tieger Fellows for the fall 2018 semester: Sarah Cunningham, Maria Stagliano and Avery Whitehead. The Tieger Fellowship builds upon Grady College’s first in the nation Public Affairs Communications (PAC) program by providing students with the opportunity to take on real-world responsibilities consistent with the mission of the program.

The Tieger Fellows, who are in the PAC program themselves, are responsible for day-to-day public relations activities in furtherance of the program, including media relations, social and digital media and program promotion under guidance from Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded with support from Grady College alumna Carolyn Caudell Tieger, who graduated in 1969 and who also funds the Tieger Professorship currently held by Watson.

“The Tieger Fellowship is made possible by the generosity of Carolyn Caudell Tieger whose vision and support established the Tieger Professorship and the Public Affairs Communications program that I direct,” said Watson. “Carolyn is a constant source of support and wisdom for me and our students. Today’s announcement builds on the solid foundation of what we have begun and recognizes these outstanding students.”

The Tieger Fellows will work to promote Grady College’s novel PAC program.  The PAC program provides students with practical training in the strategy and practice of public affairs communications focused on public policy and politics. Grady College’s PAC courses help students develop specialized communications skills aimed at educating, shaping or changing public opinion on public policy, legislation, political candidates or issues.

“The creation of this Fellowship represents another extension of the Public Affairs Communications program at Grady by allowing the Fellows to create and manage a campaign to promote their own program,” said Tieger. “What a wonderful hands-on way of learning, and I commend Professor Watson for making this opportunity available to his students. The Grady PAC program, under his leadership, has truly caught on fire with almost triple the number of students this fall semester than when the program was launched in 2016, and I could not be prouder.”

The three students named are also in the University’s Public Affairs Professional Certificate Program and have complemented their academic learning with significant external experiences.

Sarah Cunningham, a Georgia native, is a senior public relations major and is expected to graduate in December of 2018. Last year, she interned for a local Athens nonprofit, the Economic Justice Coalition. Cunningham spent this past summer interning on the State Advocacy Media team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, D.C. Cunningham plans to return to Washington after graduation to pursue a career in public affairs communications.

Maria Stagliano, a Georgia native, is a senior earning a degree in public relations and is the co-director for this year’s AdPR Connection. She also serves as the vice president of the International Association of Business Communicators’ UGA chapter, as well as heading the fundraising committee for PRSSA. This past summer, Stagliano worked as a strategy intern for Melt, a marketing firm in Atlanta. She spent the internship mastering her video production skills in addition to her work on various strategic projects. After graduation, Stagliano hopes to work in Washington, D.C., and pursue a career in crisis communications.

Avery Whitehead is a senior studying political science and public relations, with a minor in women’s studies. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Whitehead has always been interested in politics. Whitehead worked with the Democratic Party of Georgia on Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and later interned as an Assistant Account Manager at the DC-based public relations agency Stanton Communications. This past summer, Whitehead worked with the political consulting firm Precision Strategies on their communications team. Whitehead hopes to pursue a career in public affairs communications.

The Tieger Fellows are excited to enhance their skills in preparation for their careers while also promoting the Public Affairs Communications program.