Jaylon Thompson, a senior majoring in digital and broadcast journalism, is living out his dream of earning his degree from the Grady College. His hard work paid off with the opportunity to cover the Olympics in Rio. His goal is to inspire others to follow their dreams.
Lovejoy High School
A.B.J. in digital and broadcast journalism, minor in sociology, and pursuing a sports media certificate.
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I remember sitting in my 11th-grade homeroom class, and I was thinking about that moment. You know, the exact moment that you spend countless days reliving in your mind. It is that one dream you imagine each night — engulfing your daily sleep pattern and preventing you from not being able to rest due to your pure excitement.
This particular dream for me was attending the University of Georgia. Coming out of Lovejoy High School, we really didn’t have a lot of former Bulldogs. So for me, it was important to break that trend. I knew what I wanted to do and that was to be a sports journalist. I also knew that attending the illustrious Grady School of Journalism would put me on a solid path.
With that said, I did everything in my power to make my dreams come true. I worked hard to become a Hope Scholar, a Zell Miller Scholarship recipient and a One UGA scholarship recipient. These propelled me to the front steps of North Campus.
Once I stepped on campus, I knew I wanted to make a difference. My biggest inspiration came from my grandmother, who passed away when I was in high school. She would always tell me to “work hard and always do what you can to help others.” It was at this moment, I knew my goal was to be bigger than a sports journalist, it was to also uplift others as well.
So, I joined the Red & Black newspaper and wrote sports stories on the soccer, men’s basketball and women’s softball teams that resonated with the audience. Then, I entered the Grady Sports Media program.
It was here where my journalism career took off. I met professors Vicki Michaelis and Welch Suggs who taught me everything I know — from writing game stories to operating digital platforms. They believed in me and helped me get internships with the Houston Chronicle and the Sports Journalism Institute my junior year. It was here that I honed my skills and started taking on more leadership opportunities.
These leadership opportunities led me to become a resident assistant with University Housing for two years, the executive outreach chair for UGA’s National Association of Black Journalists and a sports editor with ELITE.
In these positions, I helped others reach success by giving resume critiques, advice on internships and a general helping hand on community projects. I also was more involved with several underclassmen and have been a mentor to them ever since.
By my senior year, all of my experience manifested itself into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was able to work for my hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and attend the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA.
Here I met some of the world’s greatest athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Usain Bolt. I grew up watching these athletes on television and to be right there interviewing them was an unbelievable experience. It changed my life and I can’t thank professors Michaelis and Suggs for believing in me and allowing me to earn this great opportunity.
As I wind down my college career, each award from being a 2016 McGill Fellow to becoming an Olympic journalist has taught me that I can make my dreams come true. It also helped me realize that my life is truly meant to inspire and I hope to continue that in the future.
I currently work with the University Food Services department as a student employee at the Niche Dining Hall on the Health Sciences Campus.
Family Ties to UGA:
I don’t have family ties to UGA.
I chose to attend UGA because…
… I wanted to attend the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication and earn a top-notch education that would put me on the fast track in the journalism field. Also, the sports atmosphere didn’t hurt.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… attending UGA football games on Saturday nights and hanging out with my friends in the Tate Student Center. I also like to walk around the campus and discover everything the university has to offer. My favorite spot might have to be the Niche dining hall as I eat there a lot and work there.
When I have free time, I like…
… to play intramural sports at the UGA intramural fields. I play softball and flag football with my friends and it can get very competitive. I have been a part of my softball team for three years and we have progressively gotten better as a unit.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
… probably pulling an all-nighter trying to study for my “Communications Law” test. As a person who values sleep, it was the most tiring night of my life.
My favorite place to study is…
… the pharmacy building and the science library on South Campus. There are many places to sit and get a lot of work done in a quiet environment.
My favorite professor is…
I have two favorite professors in Vicki Michaelis and Welch Suggs. Both have helped me tremendously to get better as a journalist and I wouldn’t know where I would be without them. I truly grew under their guidance and they are the one of the many reasons I am standing here today. I am eternally grateful and I have so much love for them!
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… the late Stuart Scott. He was someone I watched every day as an anchor on “SportsCenter.” He had the rare ability to make sports relatable and interesting for everyone. He is a pioneer for many African-American journalists and I hope to one day carry on his legacy in my career.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… try to inspire thousands of kids each day to follow their dreams and pursue what makes them happy.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… open my own restaurant called 15 Minutes. It would be an American cuisine eatery that serves your traditional burgers, BBQ, steaks and pastas. But the kicker is that each item would be named after sports celebrities and people that inspire me each day.
After graduation, I plan to…
… hopefully work as a beat reporter for a professional sports team at a newspaper. Then, I would like to establish contacts that propel me to becoming a sports analyst for ESPN.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… the 2013 UGA vs. LSU football game. UGA won a thriller that caused me to lose my voice. It was so fun and my favorite live event that I have been to in a long time.