Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a few weeks now. This morning, during my usual “wake up social media checking” routine (you know, because I’m a millennial and all), I ran across a video that I had shared a year ago.

After watching the video, I knew that today was the day that I finally write this post.

As it did a year ago, this video made me think about my “Bulldog Heritage” and the struggle of actually BECOMING a Dawg, rather than just being born a Dawg.

And just to forewarn you, this is going to be a two part blog post. You have to know the background before you can appreciate the outcome.

When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was play golf for the University of Georgia and be a UGA Alumni. However, like with many of us, the universe had a different plan for me.

I ended playing golf at two different smaller universities where I broke a few records, won a few golf tournaments, but then, unfortunately, fell out of love with playing the game. It felt more like a job. So, I ended up finishing my college career as a traditional student rather than a student athlete. And honestly, it was one of the hardest, but best decisions I think I could have ever made.

By not being tied down to demanding life of a collegiate athlete, it allowed me to take on an internship, start my own creative “agency,” and gain some “real world” experience.

Fast forward two years and some change after graduating from Augusta State University (with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications) and my first full-time job under my belt (which I wouldn’t have landed if it wasn’t for starting my own business, building my portfolio, and having the experience I received from my internship), I take a MASSIVE leap of faith, sell my condo in Roswell, GA, put in my two week notice, and moved to Bulldog Country… Athens, GA.

I ended up landing a pretty sweet gig at the University of Georgia working for the Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) as their Marketing Manager (and if you haven’t heard of the UGA SBDC, you really should check it out… the organization is amazing). At the UGA SBDC, I manage their brand, manage and develop their social media channels, create the majority of their marketing materials, including advertisement pieces, as well as maintain their website, in addition to a lot of other fun organizational duties like sitting on hiring committees, managing/facilitating internal training conferences, and anything involving user experience essentially. It’s a pretty fun job.

The best part about my job though is that by working for the University of Georgia, I was given the opportunity to pursue a Masters Degree as part of UGA’s Tuition Assistance Program. Essentially, this program allows UGA faculty/staff to take courses/pursue a degree and not pay tuition. Never in my life had I EVER thought about pursuing a Masters degree. It just wasn’t something I had previously been interested in. However, by working at the UGA SBDC and being surrounded by business consultants who all have their MBA’s and what not, you start to feel a little incompetent holding just a Bachelors degree… at least I did. But, that’s probably also due to my competitive nature and my desire to be a frontrunner and not an underdog.

About six months after I began working at the SBDC, I realized that I wasn’t going to fully be taken seriously as a marketer by my colleagues until I had the same level of education (even though I could run circles around many of them when it comes to digital marketing, design, SEO, and UX already). So, I started looking at degree programs offered by UGA. At first, I thought taking a few law classes here and there would be fun and eventually take the bar exam and follow in my mom’s footsteps. But then I realized how much reading was involved with law school and very quickly re-thought that idea. I then started looking at an MBA… but then realized how much math was involved and knew that the odds of me getting an MBA within the next 10 years having to take math classes was slim to none. So, I then started looking at a masters degree in the communications field or something equivalent. Unfortunately, at the time, UGA didn’t really have a degree that I felt would propel my career as I wasn’t interested in a MPA or a masters in Journalism (an AMJ?).

By that time, my mind was made up though. I was going to get a Masters Degree… UGA TAP or not. I found two programs that I felt would help progress my career and be interesting enough for me to stick it out and be willing to pay the $40,000 tuition (yeah, graduate school is crazy expensive… it’s nuts). One of the programs was a Masters of Integrated Marketing Communications at the University of West Virginia. The other program was a Masters of Social Media at the University of Florida… I know, Gators… gross… I felt the same way when I applied to the program. Trust me.

I studied for the GRE for months, signed over my first born child and took the test (which was one of the longest, expensive, most boring and pointless test I’ve ever taken in my life), put together a dope application, and applied! The University of West Virginia actually reached out and offered to pay my application fee, which was amazing. And to give you a time frame of all of this… I started studying for the GRE around November/December of 2015. About a month later, I started the application process, which allowed me to apply for the program without having taken my GRE test as of yet. My acceptance to the programs would be pending the completion of my GRE.

Well, towards the end of February, I find out that I’ve been accepted into both programs. At UWV, they actually allowed my GRE to be exempt from my application as they counted my work experience in lieu of some test (which is what should happen anyway). As you can imagine, I was ecstatic! I decided that I needed to take the GRE to gain full acceptance into UF as well to give me options as to which graduate program I wanted to enroll into. But then something crazy happened…

My sister was looking at degree programs at UGA (because NO ONE in my family wanted me to become a Gator) and she sent me a text and was like, “Hey! Have you looked into this Emerging Media program at Grady College?” I had scoured UGA’s website for months trying to find a degree program that fit, but nothing really stood out to me. So, I assumed that I had already looked at the program and ruled it out for one reason or another. But, just to be double sure, I decided to check it out anyways.

Lo and behold, the Masters of Emerging Media program that my sister mentioned was BRAND NEW. Literally was added to the University of Georgia website towards the end of January (2016). I couldn’t believe it. The program featured classes such as graphic design, project management, user experience, website design, digital storytelling, and all of these other classes that I was already geeking out over. And then I realized that if I applied and got accepted into this program I not only could apply for TAP, but assuming I make it through the program, I would finally be come a Dawg. My heart was so happy.

…but now part two of this blog post happens… CLICK HERE.


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