A look at the last 20 years, 361 days

As my 21st birthday approaches, I have been finding myself reflecting on the last 21 years. There have been good days, stressful days, happy days, sad days, angry days, joyful days and the occasional bad days.

Isn’t it funny how you come home after a bad day and proclaim, “this is the WORST day of my life,” yet you never seem to remember those days? I can’t seem to pinpoint a single one.

I can, however, think of a few of the best days of my life. Fittingly, these are the best 21 memories of my last 21 years.

The Bateman Team

1. Just a week and half ago when my Bateman team won the national PRSSA competition and then toured the White House.

2. PRSSA National Assembly. I ended up losing, but I met so many lifelong friends and I know that I truly helped PRSSA chapters across the country learn new ways to recruit/retain members.

Chris and I at dinner after skiing in Gatlinburg

3. Skiing in Gatlinburg with my boyfriend, Chris.

4. Singing karaoke in Florence, Italy with my Aussie friends (honestly, pretty much every day I spent in Europe).

5. Eating ice cream at Coldstone senior year with Justin, Katie and Cheney.

6. Skipping first period to eat breakfast at Waffle House on senior skip day with Savannah, Bethany, Kate and Morgan.

My best friends and me on my old street in front of my house

7. The day I moved to Georgia from Michigan when all my friends came over and we had a photo shoot to remember our time together.

8. Junior prom with Kayela, Mikey and the rest of the gang.

9. Playing hide and seek in the Jonesville park with Doyce, Jayme and Mark.

10. Summer nights at Chris and Hans’ house.

My baby. I miss her!!Mercury Cougar (I MISS THAT CAR!!).

11. The day my mom bought me my dream car – Callie, my 2001 Mercury Cougar (Man, I miss that car!!!!!).

12. My first visit to the University of Georgia with my mom, Kayela and my dog, Baxter.

13. Sick days with Marlayna playing Uno, eating Oreos and watching Now and Then.

14. Winning my first cross country race – Homer in 7th grade.

At a Tiger's game

15. Watching the Detroit Tigers games with my daddy.

16. Sitting in Mr. Young’s math class paying more attention to passing notes than learning fractions.

17. Laughing for HOURS with Cassie and Korey in Mr. Gaunt’s class.

18. Being the only girl in 2nd grade brave enough to hold a 30-foot boa constrictor.

19. Winning my very own “spy kit” when I was the first to guess Whodunit at the local library.

Me and my bestie - Kayela

20. Meeting my future best friend, Kayela Martin.

21. Don’t tell my parents, but I love that when I was 3 (and I truly remember this) I, with the help of my younger neighbor, figured out how to drive my daddy’s truck! Unfortunately, we backed it into another car and did a good amount of damage.

It sure has been a great 21 years. Here’s to an equally wonderful next 21.

To the next 21 years

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Open Adoption

As you can probably tell already, I am very big on adoption advocacy and the wonderful things that adoption can bring. That being said, I of course recognize that adoption brings happiness and grieving to both parties involved. This NY Times article sums up the pain and joy that is open adoption.

Open adoption has various degrees, but all open adoptions begin with the birthmother/birthparents choosing the family that will parent their child. In closed adoptions, forever families have no contact with birthfamilies ever (besides paper descriptions). This is why I feel so strongly about open adoption. I want to meet the mother of my future child and I want her to meet me so that she can rest assured that my husband and I are excellent parents who will give her child all the love and encouragement in the world.

If you would like to know more about open adoption, visit OpenAdoption.org and OpenAdoptionInsight.org.

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Washington DC

So, I want to move to D.C. Chris wants to stay in Georgia but I’m working on him to change his mind. I spent last weekend in our nation’s capitol for the finals of the Bateman Competition (which we WON! See previous post) and fell in love with the city all over again. We got a private tour of the White House, had dinner at the fantastic restaurant Zola and had breakfast with my role model.

The Batemates in DC

WHITE HOUSE

Us with Jesse - second in command of the White House social media team

Dr. Sweetser is awesome for many reasons but the current one is because she is connected in the government and scored us the opportunity to meet with the White House social media team. We also got a private tour of the White House – including the Oval Office!

Walking along the main garden of the White House during our private tour

We learned how the social media team uses its @whitehouse account to connect with constituents, how the government is trying to be more interactive with its publics and what steps they take to ensure transparency.

We toured the gorgeous gardens of the White House, looked at photographs of President Obama’s term and saw politically-charged celebrities Kal Penn and Malin Akerman.

ZOLA

Kristin, Magan and me at Zola

This is my second time this year at this amazing DC restaurant. When I was in DC back in February for some agency tours we went to Zola, which is connected to the Spy Museum. I had goat-cheese stuffed tomatoes that may be the best side I’ve ever eaten.

My yummy steak from Zola

Sadly, they change the menu every month so I had to branch out and try something new. Luckily, my meal was just as delicious as before. I had the New York Strip but it was more a work of art than a dish to eat. It was beautiful, really.

MEG

Meg works at Lockheed Martin in DC. She is my hero. She has one of those personalities that make you instantly happy when you’re around her. I shadowed with her in February and she happily woke up before dawn on a Saturday morning to have breakfast with me while I was in town last weekend.

She is my role model because she is the person I want to be in a few years. She has a great job that she loves (with the company I hope to work for), she is always positive and optimistic, she cares about the world and works hard to pursue her passions. She makes time in her busy life for her family and friends. I can’t say enough good things about her!

So…my trip to DC was great. I can’t wait to go back to visit, however, my next trip will be to NYC to visit Lizzy who landed an awesome job in the city!

In front of the White House. See our super-cool "Appointment" badges?

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America’s PR Team

Non-PR students or professionals may not be able to grasp the reason for the immensely gigantic smile on my face right now, but it’s there because my team of five of the best public relations students at the University of Georgia just won the PRSSA Bateman Competition.

After eight months of extensive primary research, well thought-out planning, using grassroots methods to educate the Athens community and another hundred or so hours analyzing and writing up the results of our grassroots, word-of-mouth campaign for the 2010 U.S. Census, we are the winners. Our hard work paid off.

The Bateman Competition allows PR students to create a full, real-life public relations campaign for a national client. We used our great Grady College education to actually produce a campaign that truly helped our community (Census participation rates in Athens are up from a decade ago already).

I am so proud of our hard work and so grateful for the experience. Thank you PRSSA, the U.S. Census Bureau, Kristin, Debbie, Magan, Bridgett and Dr. Sweetser. Also, a thank you to our biggest fans – Charlie, Sameer, Wes, Trey and Chris.

Dr. Sweetser, Magan, me, Kristin, Debbie and Bridgett
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Celebrity Adoptions

As a future adoptive parent (we’ll get into the story behind this at a later date), I take note when adoption is in the news and seems to have been a hot topic for the last few years.

It’s almost a new trend for celebrities to adopt. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have a handful of adopted children, Senator John McCain is an adoptive parent and so is rapper DMC. Adoptive parents run the gamut from actors to politicians to rappers and of course normal folk like you and me. So, is adoption among celebrities really a way for them to do good or is it a publicity (note the word publicity, not PR because no decent public relations practitioner would advise a client to adopt a child to fix a bad reputation) stunt?

I think it’s both – sort of. I think celebrities legitimately want to use their wealth and opportunity to help a child in need. But, I also think they get the idea from other celebrities who have graced magazine covers lately and they want a piece of the spotlight.

Overall? I think it’s a good trend. Children all over this planet need homes full of love and opportunity. It’s not all about money, but money does help. Sandra Bullock can guarantee that baby Louis will get a good education and Steven Spielberg will make sure that Theo and Mikaela (his two adopted children) will have all their needs met.

But, I leave it open to you. Any opinions on the subject?

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10 Reasons UGA’s PRSSA Chapter is Ballin’

1. Our members. We had a record number of members this year – 312 – and almost all are active participants. More than 2/3 of our members are on a Creative Consultants team (our student-run PR firm) and about 1/2 are on a committee.

2009-2010 PRSSA E-Board

2. Our executive board. I’m a bit partial, but the 2009-2010 E-board was absolutely phenomenal. We all loved each other and worked together to make our organization as great as it is (that’s why we won all the awards). The new E-board is going to be great as well,  but they certainly have big shoes to fill. Thanks Debbie, Erica, Caroline, Lizzy, Amanda, Katie H., Katie P. and Rebecca. It has been a great year and I am proud to have served with each of you.

3. The Opportunities. When you say you’re a Grady grad and a member of the UGA Drewry Chapter of PRSSA, people know you’re well-prepared to become a leader in PR. We have the best professors, amazing mentors and great leaders to look up to. Several organizations only accept Grady grads which is a testament to the great education we get at Grady.

The Amazing Dr. Jones

4. Dr. Jones. For those who know her, I don’t need to say anymore. She is the most amazing adviser anyone could ever ask for. She has opened her heart and home to us and encouraged us to succeed. She is there to give professional advice as well as personal and she has helped several of us through tough times. I cannot thank you enough Dr. Jones. You will always have a place in my heart.

5. Creative Consultants (CC), our on-campus, not-for-profit, student-run PR firm. CC gives our members the opportunity to gain first-hand experience while helping small businesses and non-profits in our community.

6. PRofessional Connection and PR Workout. These are two events we hold each year that are a huge asset to members of our chapter. PRofessional Connection brings professionals in the field of PR to our campus for a day-long event with workshops, networking and resume critiques. PR Workout allows us to give back to UGA and teach other student organizations how to effectively use PR strategies to improve their organization.

The 2010 UGA Bateman Team (minus Magan)

7. Our 2010 Bateman team! Another plug because I am a member, BUT we really are great! We competed against 68 universities to create a public relations campaign for the 2010 U.S. Census and were chosen in the top three. We are now headed for Washington D.C. in May to compete for the top spot.

8. The members (again). Our members are some of the brightest and most dedicated PR majors in America. Our members have published primary research as undergrads, won countless scholarships and awards, received amazing internships and landed dream jobs.

9. The Washington, D.C. Agency Tour. Each year, Dr. Jones and PR faculty members (including the dean of Grady College) take a group of PRSSA members to D.C. where we get to visit agencies and shadow a professional for a day. This has been one of the most amazing opportunities I have ever had because I was able to see daily life in a PR agency and I made amazing connections with leaders in the field. This year we have also added a New York City Agency Tour for the fall!

UGA Organization of the Year and UGA Event of the Year (PRofessional Connection)

10. Our chapter leadership. We won UGA Organization of the year for 2009-2010 AND we won UGA Best Event for PRofessional Connection.

11. The Mentoring Committee. Okay, I know I said 10 but I wanted to mention the mentoring program for our PRSSA chapter as well. It is wonderful when you are a freshman or a sophomore to have an older student help you succeed. These contacts can be the people who will help you land a job, teach you the secrets of Grady College and support you as you follow your dreams.

In case you didn’t get it yet, I love PRSSA and I am very sad to leave – even if I have another semester! Thank you again to the 2009-2010 E-board and good luck to the incoming leaders.

2010-2011 PRSSA E-Board

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College Students Don’t Need Sleep

MYTH.

College students in movies always happily talk about the famous “all-nighter” with smiles on their faces. Untrue. I pulled an all-nighter Monday (when I started this blog) and I am still exhausted. Silly movies trying to trick us.

But, movies’ representation isn’t completely untrue. Many college students do stay up all night – especially around finals time which is right now at UGA.

As a public relations student, I have a hard time going more than a few hours without Twitter so of course I was tweeting at 4 am Tuesday morning. Much to my surprise, there were several other UGA PR students online as well. This led me to my greatest sleep-deprived realization:

PR students aren’t procrastinators, we’re perfectionists!

Any thoughts? Even after my four-hour nap yesterday I think that is still true, but I would love some other opinions.

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