#ProfilesofTenacity: Dolores Trobradovic

Dolores Trobradovic is a fourth year public relations and international affairs student who understands the importance of getting involved on campus. Trobradovic serves as the president for the UGA Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), an organization that has had a large impact on her college experience.

What does “tenacity” mean to you?

To be tenacious is, above all else, to be persistent. Over my four years at Grady, I have learned that the key to success in academics and career is to just keep going. Natural talents can only take you so far, but in order to truly achieve your goals, you have to be willing to put in the work consistently. Tenacity means having a strong will and not giving up even when your dreams seem unattainable. It means pushing through difficult times and knowing that hard work will lead you to where you are supposed to be.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

As all public relations students do, I took Public Relations Communications my junior year with Tom Cullen. Professor Cullen’s class is by far the most difficult and rewarding Grady class I will ever take. PR communications taught me truly what PR is in terms of practical skills. Beyond that though, Professor Cullen pushed me to do my best work in that class. I grew a lot in that class not just as a PR student but also as a human being. And all of that was thanks to Tom Cullen.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
Trobradovic leads PRSSA members through team bonding exercises at this year’s kickoff meeting. (Photo/submitted)

The UGA chapter of PRSSA has had a huge impact on my time as a student at UGA. Throughout my time serving on the executive board, what I have learned about commitment and leadership through that has been so important to me as a person. PRSSA has given me invaluable industry insight, networking skills and above all a sense of community at Grady and UGA. I have made amazing friends through PRSSA and the best memories that I will take with me after my time at UGA.

What motivates you?

When I was a little girl, I loved watching my mother dress in her high heels and professional outfits. I had this admiration for her as a working woman and internalized that to create a sort of vision of myself in her position. I am motivated by that image of myself in the future all dressed up, successful and happy with the contribution I am making to the world.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?
Trobradovic poses with a friend at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. (Photo/submitted)

My most memorable Grady experience is undoubtedly my study abroad experience in France this summer. I was lucky enough to participate in the Cannes Lions study abroad where I went to the Cannes Creativity Festival. I was able to hear speakers of diverse backgrounds from the creative industry and the world, such as Malala Yousufzai, Ted Sarandos and so many more. This summer helped create a real excitement for my career and what I can do after my time at Grady that I will always be grateful for.

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

The best piece of advice I have ever received is to know your worth. It can be easy to think that as young college students with no industry experience, you should take every and any opportunity that comes your way. While you should take opportunities to get experience and grow, it is important to understand to know what opportunities will truly be beneficial for you as a person. Knowing your worth is integral to forging a successful path in your career and in your personal life. If you believe in yourself, then so too will others.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?
Trobradovic smiles for a photo with her fellow PRSSA executive board members at their kickoff meeting. (Photo/submitted)

Get as involved in clubs as you can. The earlier you get involved in organizations, the better. Grady offers so many amazing opportunities to learn and experience new things within the communications world and it is so important to take advantage of it. Don’t be afraid to run for positions of leadership and commit yourself to clubs, because they will not only teach you invaluable career skills, but they will also bring you some of your fondest memories of this time in your life.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I lived in Frankfurt, Germany for four years. From the age of 11 to 15, I experienced new cultures and traveled across Europe. Living abroad at such a young age definitely gave me a unique way of thinking and perceiving the world. It wasn’t always easy living in a foreign country, but the difficulties gave me a confidence in myself that has shaped the young woman I am today.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?
Trobradovic leads a PRSSA meeting in studio 100 with guest speaker and alumna Amanda Maddox. (Photo/submitted)

This past year I have had the honor of serving as the president for PRSSA. My proudest moments are when our members tell me how much they have learned from our speakers or enjoy coming to our meetings. PRSSA has given me so much, and as president I want to ensure that everyone else has that very same experience. Knowing that I am able, even if it is in the tiniest manner, to help someone else in their journey at Grady is so rewarding.

Where is your favorite study spot?

This may not be a very popular destination for getting serious work done, but I often find that I am most productive at the Tate Student Center. While some prefer the silence of the MLC or Grady’s fourth floor, I thrive in the hustle and bustle of Tate. The energy and spirit of UGA brings me a lot of joy and I feel undeniably comfortable in the midst of all my fellow peers going about their days throughout the building.

PR leaders raise grade to B- in the Plank Center’s Report Card 2021

Did the pandemic and social turmoil drive improved performance?  Graphic illustrating the 2021 PR leadership report card grades.

Leaders in public relations improved their performance during the volatile and challenging world of 2020-2022. For the first time since the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations launched its biennial Leadership Report Card in 2015, the grade for overall leadership performance rose to B-.

“It is promising to document the improved leadership during and after times of uncertainty and radical changes,” said Juan Meng, Ph.D., co-investigator, board member at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and associate professor at Grady College. “It is even better to observe the closed gap between men and women when evaluating their leaders. As the society is moving rapidly to embrace DE&I, leaders should rethink what kinds of effective practices their organizations need to ensure sustainable improvements in leadership.”

The 2020-2022 survey period was a volatile time marked by: 1) the pandemic; 2) George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020, which sparked protests and marches calling for greater social justice and DE&I; and 3) a bitter presidential election pounded by waves of mis- and dis-information in social and national media that further divided the nation.

Against this background, public relations leaders were resilient and improved their leadership. Did the pandemic, or a greater focus on DE&I, or concerns about truth and accuracy drive these improvements? To some extent certainly, but the survey was not designed to measure this. The 2023 Report Card should reveal whether the leadership gains in 2021 were lasting or not.

The Grades

 

Leadership Performance:   A-/C+          (2019—A-/C+)

This is a split grade because leaders’ and their employees’ perceptions of performance continue to differ sharply. Top leaders (232 or 43.3%) rated their performance (6.17 /7.0 scale) about an “A-,” while other employees (304 or 56.7%) rated their top leaders’ performance (4.75/7.0) a “C+.” Scores for top leadership performance were slightly higher than in 2019 (6.09 vs. 4.49), but the size of the gap in all four Report Cards is virtually the same. For the first time, no significant differences were found between women and men on their evaluations of leadership performance.

Job Engagement:    B                       (2019—B-)

Job engagement, based on Gallup’s engagement survey, reached its highest level versus previous studies. In addition, for the first time, no significant differences were found regarding engagement between women and men. Based on responses to the questions, respondents are grouped into three categories: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged.

In this Report Card, 61.2% of respondents were engaged (highest level in the four studies); 31.9% were not engaged; and 6.9% were actively disengaged (down from 8.0% in 2019).

Organizational Culture:    B-        (2019—C+)

Culture refers to the internal environment, processes and structures facilitating or impeding communication practices. Cultural improvements appeared across all items in this Report Card; surveyed participants graded it a “B-,” the highest (mean) score in four reports.

Rated highest again was the CEO’s or top leader’s understanding and valuing of public relations (5.69 up from 5.48 in 2019). The understanding and valuing of PR by other functional leaders, however, was rated significantly lower (5.02 versus 4.95 in 2019). Men rated culture more positively (5.23 vs. 5.07 in 2019) than women (5.04 vs. 4.83 in 2019), notably on elements like two-way communication, shared decision-making, and diversity. Among organizational types, agency professionals rated cultural factors highest (5.76).

Trust in the Organization:    B-       (2019—C+)

The overall grade for trust in the organization (5.08/7.0 scale) was a “B-,” the highest level of trust in the Report Cards to date. Trust scores once again were consistently lower at each level in the chain of command. Top leaders rated trust (5.46) significantly higher than other levels (4.71).

Women (4.96) continued to be less trusting of their organizations than male professionals (5.19), though the gap in the 2021 survey was not as pronounced as in previous surveys. The improvement in trust, after small declines in scores in the three previous studies, is noteworthy.

Job Satisfaction:    B-           (2019—C+)

Job satisfaction improved versus small declines in the two previous surveys, and the overall grade rose from a “C+” to a “B-.” In terms of percentages, the numbers rose slightly from 2019 when the percentage of PR leaders and professionals who were satisfied with their job was 62.1% versus 63.6% in this 2021 Report Card. Job satisfaction is highest among top leaders (72.8 %). Men (66.8%) were more satisfied with their job, if compared to women (60.5%).

Summary

Grades for all five areas for leaders improved, especially in job engagement and job satisfaction. Mean scores in most areas rose modestly. Thus, the overall leadership grade rose from a C+ to a B-, the first improvement since 2015. In addition, one of three crucial gaps revealed in previous studies—the gender gap—was closed in this Report Card.

The two other big gaps remain between: 1) perceptions of top communication leaders versus their employees, and 2) existing culture and a much richer culture for communication. The gaps must be reduced to strengthen leadership, practice and outcomes. The gaps may be reduced through 1) increased power sharing, or leader-empowering behaviors, 2) better two-way communication, and 3) richer interpersonal skills in conflict management, active listening and empathy, among others.

“The purpose of this biennial report is to assess PR leadership and identify enrichment opportunities for it,” said Bruce K. Berger, Ph.D., co-investigator and professor emeritus, University of Alabama. “If we identify the gaps and work to close them, we strengthen our profession’s leadership—a crucial strategic asset. This Report Card identified some improvements over the past two difficult pandemic years, but some crucial gaps and issues remain, as does the urgency to act.”   

Project Background and Demographics

The Report Card 2021 was based on responses from 536 PR leaders and professionals in the United States. A 42-question survey was distributed online to more than 22,000 public relations leaders and professionals contained within an extensive database, and 568 completed the survey; 32 surveys completed by non-US-based participants were excluded, leaving 536 surveys for data analysis. This response provides a 95% confidence level (+/- 5%) the results represent the larger population of surveyed professionals. Most participants were experienced, high-level leaders and managers. More than three-quarters (83.2%) of the 536 respondents were the #1 (43.3%) or #2 (39.9%) communication professional in their organization. More men (286 or 53.6%) than women (248 or 46.4%) completed the survey. The majority of participants worked in public (157 or 29.3%) or private/state-owned (102 or 19.0%) firms. Most participants (455 or 84.9%) were Caucasian. The percentage of non-Caucasians (e.g., Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian or Asian American, multi-racial, etc.) is 15.1%, higher than in previous surveys.

To download and read the Report Card 2021 full report, please visit the Plank Center’s website

Grady InternViews: Simi Shetty

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities:

W. P. Carey is a publicly funded real estate investment trust located in NYC. I am the corporate communications intern, so I work for the integrated communications department. I usually spend my days writing pitches, planning monthly content calendars, generating blog and media ideas, and anything else my team may need related to marketing, advertising or public relations.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

Connecting with your coworkers is so important. You learn so much from being in the office, interacting with all your colleagues, and creating a company culture. It makes the work more enjoyable once you get to know your team better in all aspects. I’ve found that genuine connections with coworkers will get you so far and will definitely make you stand out. Taking the time to get to know them makes the experience better and leaves you with so much insight!

What about this position has surprised you?

I was surprised by the management structure. Executive officers, managers, employees and interns interact constantly so it’s very “horizontal” and there’s no stark hierarchy where executives only interact with each other, or you have to go through three people before you can talk to someone higher-up. I didn’t think that would matter much to me, but I love coming into work and seeing the employees so comfortable with each other and their bosses.

Simi is interning in person in New York City. (Photo:submitted)
What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

I really appreciate the company culture at W. P. Carey. It’s so nice to see managers, officers and employees all constantly interacting. I felt so welcomed – even on the first day –  by every single person. I can see the genuine connections people have made with each other over their careers at the company, and it’s so wonderful to see. It made me realize that when I start looking for jobs after graduation, company culture and the workplace environment will definitely be important factors!

What advice would you give to students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities?

I would say never count yourself out or shy away from an opportunity that seem impossible to get. UGA and Grady equip us a lot for this industry, so we are way more prepared than we might think. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t be afraid to apply to something outside your comfort zone if it’s really something you want to try out or pursue.

As the corporate communications intern, Simi works with the integrated communications department at W.P. Carey. (Photo:submitted)
What’s the most challenging part of this position?

I had no idea what a real estate investment trust was until I applied for this internship. I was very unfamiliar with this industry, so it took me some time to really get to know exactly what the company does and the business jargon is especially hard to get the hang of. As the communications intern, it’s important for me to know how to communicate the branding and key messages of the company. I make sure to ask a lot of questions and read articles to familiarize myself with the industry.

Grady InternViews: Austin Clark

Austin is participating in the Grady D.C. program led by Professor Joseph Watson.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I support the entire communications team through compiling daily press clips, drafting press releases and creating press lists. Additional office wide responsibilities include logging voicemails and comments left for the Senator, and giving tours of the Capitol.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have been able to see how a Senate office is able to create and maintain relationships with journalists in Georgia. There is not an emphasis on national publications, but the communications team will target specific releases to markets to which the news is relevant. Seeing that deliberative process, as opposed to a mass email, has been interesting to learn.

Austin (far left) behind Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock addressing a crowd. (Photo:submitted)
How will this role guide your future career path?

I would love to make it back to D.C. soon. I am staying at Delta Hall, UGA’s dorm in D.C., and I have loved every second of it. The connections I have made so far in Senator Ossoff’s office, at networking events, and even in the elevator in the office building, will help me land a job up here when I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students looking to pursue a career in politics?
Austin is interning in Washington D.C. as part of the Grady D.C. program. (Photo:submitted)

Start looking for internships and opportunities now. The Virtual Student Federal Service is a great place to find remote, low commitment internships with the State Department and other federal agencies. I have participated in that program for two years, and I have no doubt it helped me land this internship.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

The work of drafting press releases and collecting daily press clips is nothing new to me; however, being in the Senate, in D.C., and being able to go to the Capitol building whenever I want is very, very cool. I have also been able to interact with the Senator and speak to him about policy and communication strategy.

Austin (pictured left, back) is a communications intern for the office of Senator Jon Ossoff (pictured right). (Photo:submitted)
How has the public affairs communications (PAC) certificate prepared you for this role?

The PAC certificate has given me the ability to make suggestions to this professional communications team that shows that I know what I’m talking about. Being able to ask, “Can I help pitch this story?” or “Would you like for me to find new outlets for this release?,” shows that I too am a professional communicator, and that my team can trust me with other assignments.

Grady InternViews: Caroline Parlantieri

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.

As a public relations communications intern, my responsibilities include monitoring and reporting on team coverage in new and traditional local and national news outlets, as well as maintaining and updating all media archives for press. I assist with the development of departmental publications including but not limited to press releases, media advisories, game notes and media guides. I leverage existing media relationships and cultivate new contacts within the industry and local market media and pitch compelling and creative storylines to the media.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

The most valuable lesson I have learned with Nashville SC is the impact I have as an individual working for a specific team. The impact goes far beyond the organization and its fan base. Because I am employed by a team instead of an outside publication, my work reaches countless people through different media outlets as opposed to a specific publication. This emphasizes the importance of credibility across all areas in communications.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

Along with the UGA Sports Communications staff, Grady has prepared me tremendously for this internship. The hands-on experiences I’ve had in my public relations and sports media classes helped groom my writing skills, my awareness of newsworthiness and my ability to produce quality content under tight deadlines. I have learned far more from Grady that has prepared me for this experience, but those are among the most important.

The relationships I have created with my Grady professors and other staff members have guided me through this process immensely. Their experience, expertise, advice, guidance and encouragement have prepared me and allowed me to thrive.

What qualities or qualifications do you have that you believe made you stand out in the process of getting this internship?

The qualifications that made me standout were based on my experiences working in the UGA Sports Communications department. My delegated game day tasks and duties at Georgia are very similar to my assignments for Nashville SC. This provided me with the proper knowledge, familiarity and qualifications to operate media relations with another organization.

Caroline pictured at Geodis Park, the stadium in Nashville, TN home to the Nashville Soccer Club. (Photo:submitted)
What advice would you give to other current sports media students?

It is important to get involved in sports any way that you can if that is your desired industry. You might think you want to pursue a specific path, but you never know what else is out there until you give it a chance. For example, my knowledge of professional soccer prior to this summer was very little compared to that of other sports. However, I have already gained invaluable knowledge and increased my skillsets remarkably within a short period of time. Having knowledge of multiple areas is a great way to market yourself. There are countless opportunities to get involved in sports at UGA, within the Athens community and sports media program; therefore, you shouldn’t limit yourself.

#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: Nicole García Sánchez

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

Before I got into Grady, I was planning an event called Orgullo Hispano for HSA. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted for it and I knew I wanted the location to be in Grady. When I asked Parker Middleton to help me with the event and allow me to do it in Grady, she went above and beyond. The event was a success and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the college. Even before I was a Grady student, they were extremely supportive and helping me make one of my goals possible. 

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

It has been interesting having an internship at the same time I have classes. I use most of the skills I have learned in class. This summer, my boss asked me to do a media list and I was like, “Perfect, I can do this. I literally learned how to do it a month ago.” 

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

I’m between Instagram and TikTok. I think Instagram is what you make out of it, so I follow a lot of accounts that either fulfill me or bring me joy, and TikTok is hilarious and keeps me entertained. When I first started at my internship I was doing content for TikTok, so it holds a special place in my heart. 

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

When I took Career Explorations with Dean Davis and Parker Middleton, I remember they encouraged us to get as much experience in the real world as we can while we are in college. So for a few months of my freshman year, I started looking for an internship, and I got one for that summer. As I am an international student, I have to get permission to have an internship, and Immigration Services told me I couldn’t do an internship because I was not a Grady student yet. I got mad and told them “students are supposed to get internships to be competitive” and they told me that didn’t apply for me. So instead of dwelling on that, I decided to get as involved on campus as I could, because that does count as real-world experience. Even though my situation might be different than other students, I am thankful for that advice because it pushed me to do the best I could with the circumstances I was in. 

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

I think tenacity is knowing what you want and having a plan on how to get there. 

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

My friends and the Hispanic Student Association. My friends became my home away from home, and I couldn’t have survived all these years without them. And the community in HSA has made my college experience the best it could be. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

Lake Herrick. It is super relaxing and I like to go watch the sunset there. 

Who is your professional hero?

My dad – he worked really hard to get to where he is today. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Getting my internship. I really wanted to work for this company because I really believe in what they do; I even wrote it in the things I wanted for my new year, and it happened! 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Emily Goncalves

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I actually came to UGA as an intended international business major. I switched to Grady because I wanted a smaller college with more intimate class settings, professors that actually got to know their students and of course just a higher emphasis on creativity. Grady and public relations ended up being a perfect fit.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have been to over 16 countries! Most of my family lives abroad, so I got to travel quite a bit growing up. I also had the chance to study abroad in Paris after my freshman year. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity is the force inside you, that innate drive to do great things. Tenacity has helped me persevere through hard times, and has been a driving force for me to continue to better myself.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

In January of 2020, I had the chance to travel to Washington D.C. for the Grady Agency Tour with Professor Watson. It was such an incredible experience and really inspired me to pursue a job in public affairs after graduation. I was the only sophomore on the tour and literally only knew Samantha Meyer, but I made friends with several seniors who gave me countless pieces of fantastic advice. Coincidentally, I roomed with Emma Crosby, an old PRSSA president, who encouraged me to run for PRSSA executive board. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

Definitely North Campus. It’s so peaceful! Every time I walk through, I am reminded how lucky I am to go to this beautiful school.  

What are you passionate about?

I love to travel and meet others from different cultures. Everyone has unique experiences and viewpoints that define who they are. Learning other’s stories helps give one insight into their own.

PRSSA holds its first meeting of the 2021 academic year. This year, Emily Goncalves takes charge as president of the club. (Photo/Sarah Freeman).
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

Destiny Loyd! She’s the mastermind behind the UGA Mentor Program, and the head of the UGA Mentor Program student team. She is such an amazing leader who cares deeply about helping others. Destiny has truly made me a better person, student and leader.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

I hope to have a job in public affairs or public relations in a large city such as Washington D.C. or New York City. After working for a couple years, I want to return to school and get my Masters of Business Administration. 

What was the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and early career professional?

Not seeing classmates in person. I, like many other Grady students, consider myself a people-person, and thrive on human connection and communication. Collaborating via Zoom or text message for the entirety of the semester was doable, but I missed having authentic conversations with people face to face. I am so thankful to be safely back in in-person classes!

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

Instagram! I love how interactive it’s gotten with stories and reels. It’s always getting better and better. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

I was overjoyed when I was elected president of UGA’s PRSSA chapter. PRSSA has given me so many opportunities, taught me so many things, and given me so many great friends. I am so proud that I took the leap of faith in pushing myself to take on such a big leadership role. I know it’s going to be a great year!

Hispanic Heritage Month Alumni Spotlight: Cristian Delgado (ABJ ’15)

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of spotlights highlighting the work of some of our alumni in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Please watch for more profiles in the weeks to come.

Cristian Delgado is an account supervisor for Xbox PR at Assembly Media, Edelman. Delgado graduated from Grady College in 2015 with a degree in public relations. On campus, Delgado was president of the International Association of Business Communicators, a Grady Ambassador, a member of the UGA Redcoats band, a PRSSA member and wrote for Ugazine.

What clubs and activities did you participate in at UGA and Grady that were instrumental to your success as a career professional?

The opportunities to lead beyond the classroom undeniably helped me get my start in PR. Listening to alumni speak at PRSSA helped me visualize a career path. Being part of the Bateman competition also pushed me to work as a team player and get a taste of real-world problem solving. I also had the chance to network as president of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) at UGA, where we invited marketers to speak to our growing chapter. And very close to my heart, I’ll always cherish being part of the Redcoat Marching Band. I made lifelong friends there and picked up valuable skills in confidence and coming together as a team.

Looking back, what these experiences had in common was teaching me to be accountable and resourceful. When you start your career, you realize there isn’t always a secret formula to success – we’re all equally capable and have more control over doing great work than we think. We just have to take our shot and put ourselves in the best position possible to succeed.

How does your Hispanic and/or Latin heritage influence your work? 

I grew up in a largely Hispanic community in Gainesville, Georgia, and with each change in my life (e.g. going to college, starting an internship), it was hard not to notice when others around me looked less and less like me. These changes helped me realize just how important it is to bring my unique viewpoint as a Hispanic of Mexican descent to my work and community. 

I always fantasized about working in video games and I know the positive impact gaming had on me and my childhood friends. Gaming brought us together and kept us out of trouble in a neighborhood that wasn’t always the safest. Now that I work in the gaming industry, allowing that kid from Gainesville to be heard is something I carry with me to work every day.

What advice would you give to young students of Hispanic origin who will soon enter the workforce?

Aside from getting as much experience as possible through clubs and internships, my three pieces of advice are to be confident, be pushy and be polished. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say being confident is just a little bit harder as a Hispanic. We’re often first-generation college graduates with no familiarity to office life, which can bring out imposter syndrome big time. The truth is we’re all capable of anything and our unique point of view as Hispanics bring even more value to any team. My advice if you’re starting out is to shake off those insecurities and know you’re going to be great. Your confidence will be obvious in interviews and as you set the tone for who you will be on your team.

Related, being pushy, or perhaps I should say relentless, is key to making your plans a reality. This is especially true as a Hispanic student since building your network might be entirely in your hands. For most of my career, I’ve been fortunate to work in my dream industry of gaming as a PR rep for Xbox. I didn’t accidentally stumble into this job or get approached out of the blue. I had to be very intentional about asking the right strangers for help. I remember being an intern at Edelman in Atlanta and consistently messaging members of the team in Seattle asking to learn more (and no, I did not know any of them). If there’s a passion area that interests you, don’t hesitate to get to know people in that field and ask for informational interviews (and help when you need it). More often than you’d think, people want to be helpful and will go out of their way for you if you’re genuine. 

Once you do land your new internship or first gig, always be polished in your work. Early in your career, your manager or team lead is likely going to review most of your work. Don’t lean on this crutch to skip checking your own work for typos or errors. Any work you submit to your manager should be final to the best of your ability. The more you take a step back to review and understand your own work, the more you’ll be trusted to take on larger projects. 

What classes at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your career?

The classes that stood out to me were News Writing and Reporting, which taught me to work under pressure, and PR Research, which taught me to back my work with real evidence. As a PR person, writing and proper research are fundamentals for every project. PR Campaigns was very helpful since it tied everything you learn at Grady together in a realistic setting. This is also where I learned to be scrappy and resourceful, which is valuable when working at a fast-paced PR agency. I’m thankful that Grady gave me these experiences to help make the transition to full-time work much easier.

#ProfilesofTenacity: Sydney Phillips

What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

Getting to be a part of the Honors in Washington 2021 cohort and be a communications intern on Capitol Hill, and then being selected to stay in DC through the Washington Semester Program have definitely been my proudest moments of this year. 

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

In today’s world, information is everything, and I chose my major because I love getting to shape media narratives in positive, beneficial ways that inform our public. So many people outside of Grady think journalism is the only major where students get to tell stories. They’re completely wrong. Every major here is about telling a story, we just do it in very different ways.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about people. Sounds simple, but I love getting to know people, I love telling their stories and I love advocating for them. Being in Grady has given me a space and a voice to do that. 

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

Working on the Hill this summer felt like the perfect culmination of all my Grady studies and experiences. Every time I was assigned a task by my communications director, I was able to get to work right away because I knew exactly what to do and how to do it. That’s all because of Grady and the professors here who helped me build the practical skills I needed to compile press clips, build a media list or write a press release. 

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

A secret passion of mine is filmmaking! It isn’t something that I’ve ever mentioned to my friends or mentors but I’d love to produce a film one day. 

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

The honors community at UGA has had the biggest impact on me during my time at UGA. Aside from being in Grady, the Morehead Honors College is another academic space where I thrived. It was a springboard for me to leap into so many other opportunities and connected me to friends and mentors who have inspired me, challenged me and educated me on so many issues here at UGA and around Athens. 

Who is your professional hero?

Yvette Noel-Schure! She’s Beyoncé’s publicist and an all-around icon. I deeply admire and am inspired by Black women in media and PR spaces, and she’s just one example of a woman on top of her game. Honorable mention to Olivia Pope, main character on Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal.   

Where is your favorite place on campus and why? 

I think we can all agree Snelling Dining Hall is the place to be. There’s not another place on campus where you can find students studying, sleeping, sharing a meal, having a meeting or singing karaoke all at one time. 

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

At UGA’s annual leadership conference my freshman year, there was a keynote speaker who gave the best advice I’ve heard in a while, and I heed it almost every single day. He said, “If you eat your frogs in the morning, the rest will go down easy. But if you don’t devour your frog it will turn into a fire breathing dragon.” Those words just remind me to tackle my toughest tasks first and not be afraid to dive in and really attack the day.