The welcoming atmosphere of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication convinced graduate student Marona Graham-Bailey that it was the right place for her. In her time at UGA, she’s had a chance to meet some of the nation’s leading journalists and to write about one of the university’s most celebrated alumna.
M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication
B.S. in Special Education and Psychology, Vanderbilt University
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I was selected as one of the 2008 Grady College McGill Fellows. The program is named for Ralph McGill, an editor of The Atlanta Constitution whose editorials during the 1960s challenged racial segregation, earning him the title of “conscience of the South.” As a fellow, I participated in the McGill Symposium along with six leading journalists from across the country and had the privilege of presenting Jerry Mitchell with the first McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage. Mitchell’s investigative work at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. lead to the reopening of Civil Rights-era cold cases, resulting in several convictions, including the Klansmen responsible for the assassination of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and the Birmingham, Ala., church bombing that killed four little girls. I am also an active member of Graduate and Professional Scholars, an organization that provides academic and social support to graduate and professional students of color. During the 2009-2010 school year, I served on the executive board as the recording secretary. GAPS is best known for creating the annual lecture series that celebrates the legacy of Mary Frances Early, the first African American student to graduate from the university. Last year, I had the opportunity to interview and write an article about Ms. Early for The Red and Black, which was a great honor.
Family Ties to UGA:
My uncle graduated from the UGA School of Law in 1985.
I chose to attend UGA because…
… of how welcomed I felt at Grady College. The arrival of my admittance letter came around the same time that Professor Pat Thomas made a personal phone call to me, welcoming me to Grady College. Compared to my undergraduate institution, UGA is monster-sized. On both my visits to Grady, I felt extremely welcomed by both professors and students, and I knew I could manage UGA if I felt a part of and supported by the Grady community.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… find a sunny table or bench on campus and just sit. Grady College is located across from the Tate Student Center, the hub of campus, and I love surprise spottings of friends from other colleges and departments. I also like to check out the university’s master calendar and to get around to different events on campus, which by far is one of my favorite things about being part of a university community.
When I have free time, I like…
… to spend as much time in the sun as I possibly can. For me, sitting in the sun is one of the main ways I recharge. I also make sure that I’m always in the middle of a book or two. Because both my parents were born and raised in Georgia, I have a lot of family scattered throughout the state. I love to drive, so another one of my favorite things to do when I have free time is hit the road, taking the scenic route to visit family and friends.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
…up and move by myself to a small town in northwest Georgia. Adairsville is so little that it’s only one exit off Interstate 75. Even though I grew up in the city, I enjoy the pace of small towns. I was raised in Cambridge, Mass., but as soon as I set foot in Georgia, I pretty much became a full-blown Georgia girl.
My favorite place to study is…
… Panera Bread. It tends to fill up right around lunchtime, but other than that it’s fairly mellow throughout the day. It also has Wi-Fi, yummy chocolate chip bagels and amazing iced green tea. Panera was also my favorite study spot in during my undergraduate studies, so I think I’m also hooked somewhat due to nostalgia.
My favorite professor is…
… Professor Valerie Boyd. I appreciate how Professor Boyd has always been extremely supportive of my career and research interests, even as they have evolved and expanded during the short time I’ve worked with her. I’ve also found her to be an amazing teacher, very deliberate in the way she interacts with and encourages students. Professor Boyd also has a reputation for giving off this incredibly mellow vibe, and I think it’s because of this that her office sometimes feels like an oasis from the daily hustle and bustle of the academic bubble.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… my grandfather, who passed away when my mother was young. He spent most of his life in Augusta, Ga., where my grandmother still lives. Growing up, I would always hear stories about how poised and generous of a man he was. My grandfather fought in World Word II. When he returned, he used his GI Bill funds to obtain his Ph.D. from New York University, since the University of Georgia had not yet begun admitting African-Americans. He’s said to have been the first African American from Augusta to earn his PhD. It’s a profound legacy, and I would want to spend a day listening to his experiences living in Georgia, New York, and overseas throughout the first half of the 20th century.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… institute an educational requirement for each of us to walk in other people’s shoes before graduating. I’m interested in studying the way people handle difference and diversity and often wonder how much prejudice in our society is due to our inability to empathize or even recognize others’ realities. Specifically, I’m interested in exploring the best way to teach qualities such as acceptance, consciousness and empathy, and how framing diversity in a way that honors difference but highlights commonality across people’s experiences might help reduce prejudice.
After graduation, I plan to…
… get a job that will allow me to integrate my desires to teach and write. I found the time I took off between my bachelor’s and my master’s programs extremely beneficial. It was a time to rejuvenate, reflect and remind myself which goals were the most important to me. I also plan to spend some time thinking about where and in what field I might pursue a potential Ph.D.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… when my article about a local minor league football team ended up on the front page of the sports section in the Athens-Banner Herald. It was one of the first articles I wrote when I got to UGA, and we were expected to pitch a story to a local media outlet as a component of our journalism intro course. I don’t think I had high expectations, but the article went to print very quickly. It was a pleasant surprise, and for someone who was new to the field of journalism, it was a nice welcome so early on in my first semester.