EMST students network with alumni and creatives in Los Angeles

The opportunity to network and learn directly from the experiences of alumni and industry professionals is one of the key advantages of study away programs. Entertainment & Media Studies students have spent nearly two months in Los Angeles as part of the Grady LA Field Study program, and the following recap follows along one week of the program. It was written by Laurena Bernabo, assistant professor and lead instructor for the LA program which included 24 students this year.


Kathryn Kostovetsky stands at the head of the table talking as a group of eight students listen.
Kathryn Kostovetsky (AB ’18), associate producer at 51 Minds Entertainment, shared her experiences moving to Los Angeles after earning her journalism degree.

The week started with guests in Tuesday’s class including Grady alumna Kathryn Kostovetsky (AB ’18), associate producer at 51 Minds Entertainment, and Lisa Steele, a three-time Emmy award winning producer for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” who earned her fourth nomination just that morning. Students were excited to learn more about the career opportunities that exist in the world of unscripted television production.

On Wednesday night, Emmy award-winning television writer Ellen Plummer sat down with a small group of students who specifically want to write for film and television. Plummer shared wisdom from her years writing on “Friends,” as well as general advice for succeeding as a writer in Hollywood. After her talk, she gave feedback as the students practiced pitching scripts they are currently writing.

The next evening, the class guests were Matt Solik, a “baby writer” for “9-1-1: Lonestar,” and UGA alumnus Brent Fletcher (ABJ ’98), established television writer and current showrunner for “Superman & Lois” on the CW. Though Solik and Fletcher met only minutes before class started, it seemed the two had been best friends for years; their chemistry was amazing, and the students learned a lot while sharing many laughs.

The week concluded with two exciting excursions. On Friday morning the group traveled to the Disney Studios lot to meet with UGA alum Mitch Powers (ABJ ’96), vice president and general manager for D23, the Walt Disney fan club. After an exclusive tour of the lot, Powers and his colleague, Patty Miranda (ABJ ’13), shared their exciting work with D23 and answered student questions. Later that evening, the group was hosted by UGA alum Jace Cook (ABJ ’90) and his wife Rachel O’Connor, an executive producer at Pascal Pictures. While students chowed down on pizza and cupcakes, Cook and O’Connor shared their career trajectories including Cook’s many years at CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and O’Connor’s success with the recent Spiderman films and “Little Women.”

Jace Cook and Rachel O'Connor talk with students outside. A grove of palm trees is in the background.
Jace Cook (ABJ ’90) and his wife, Rachel O’Connor (far right) talk with students after a dinner they hosted.

Students return from first-ever Health Journalism in Cuba study away trip

From May 30 to June 8, a group of students from Grady College participated in a new study away Maymester program in Havana, Cuba.

The program, titled “Health Journalism in Cuba,” gave both undergraduate and graduate student travelers an in-depth look at the island nation’s healthcare system and how local and international journalists find and convey health stories to the public.

Students Delaney Tarr and Keshondra Shipp learn how to dance the salsa.
Keshondra Shipp (L) and Delaney Tarr (R) learn Cuban Salsa during a class at El Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS) in Havana, Cuba, on June 6, 2022. (Photo: Maureen Costello)

“This unique, interdisciplinary program was such a valuable experience for all involved,” said Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair of Health and Medical Journalism at the College. Rice coordinated the program with the help of Hilda Mata of the Office of Global Engagement and Maureen Costello, of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. 

While there, students had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Cuban health and science journalists, and they were able to speak with doctors, nurses and sports medicine specialists about a public health system that differs from what exists in the United States.

“It was amazing to observe ‘aha’ moments as they noted the differences and stepped outside of their comfort zones for this truly eye-opening intercultural exchange,” Rice added.

Over the course of the 10-day trip, students also had the opportunity to explore in and around Havana. They toured a nature reserve, tried local honey, visited radio and television studios, and, of course, visited local hospitals and clinics, among other activities.

“It was a great atmosphere. It’s a gem. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Keshondra Shipp, a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student, said about visiting Las Terrazas, a small, rural community outside of Havana.

To document their trip, students were tasked with creating blog posts and photo stories. Regularly, they were able to converse with health care professionals and journalists, as well as mass communication students at the University of Havana, about their experiences.

“Having the opportunity to do this sort of cultural exchange while in school is so important,” said Alex Anteau, also a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student.

“Despite the fact that the planet is very large, a lot of the problems people face are very universal – especially when it comes to health communication,” Anteau added. “On the whole, we are really dealing with similar issues, and it is really interesting to see how people with different backgrounds approach those challenges.”

  • Students visit the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) in Havana, Cuba. They are seated in front of portraits of José Martí (left) and Juan Gualberto Gómez (right). (Photo/Sabriya Rice)