Whether studying for classes at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, volunteering with a civic or community organization, interning to gain experience in her chosen profession of public relations or working at one of her many jobs to pay for her education, Courtney Garmhaus gives 100 percent of herself 100 percent of the time.
Oconee County High School
ABJ, majoring in public relations; minoring in child and family development
University highlights, achievements and awards:
I couldn't wait to begin college life at UGA! Even before my first semester, I attended two Dawg Camp sessions to familiarize myself with the culture of Georgia and to meet new people.
My freshman year, I dove right in to campus life by joining the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), several committees in University Union, Habitat for Humanity and my dorm community's student council. I also was accepted in the Honors Program after my first semester and was named a Presidential Scholar for a 4.0 grade point average my first year.
During my sophomore year, I was chosen to serve as an ambassador for the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, in which I represented the college at special events and with alumni. I was awarded the ACAD Competitiveness Grant, a Grady College scholarship and the UGA Bookstore scholarship. Also during my sophomore year, I was accepted into Grady and began my first PR classes. I was an active member in PRSSA and joined Creative Consultants, the student-run PR firm, as an assistant account executive for Mental Health America of Northeast Georgia.
My junior year, I was elected secretary of the PRSSA executive board - a position I absolutely loved. I was head of the mentoring committee and joined another Creative Consultants group. I was chosen as co-captain of the five-person Bateman Team for UGA, and we won the national competition against 77 schools for our "iCount" campaign for the 2010 U.S. Census. In my public relations research course, I worked with a team of 10 students to conduct primary research on the effectiveness of Fortune 500 company blogs. Our paper was selected to be presented at the National Communications Association conference and is awaiting publication in PR journals.
Now, it's my senior year, and I feel I have sampled all UGA has to offer. I am still an active member in PRSSA; I have won several scholarships and awards; I have numerous internships under my belt; and I have volunteered with countless programs UGA offers.
I have paid my way through college, working 30-plus hours a week the entire time. I currently work as a waitress at Logan’s Roadhouse. I also have my own consulting business, providing freelance public relations work for several businesses in Athens, including Bulldog Baskets and All About Athens.
I chose to attend UGA because...
..the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of the best schools in the country - especially for public relations. I love that UGA offers a large campus with plenty of opportunity, but Athens still has a small-town feel. And, of course, the weather is much better here than in Michigan!
My favorite things to do on campus are...
…sit outside in the sunshine while I study or relax between classes. I love to attend plays, concerts and events at UGA. I appreciate being able to attend a school that brings relevant and interesting lecturers right to me. I also love sneak previews of movies at the Tate Theater and University Union events.
When I have free time, I like...
…to try something new! Athens is the perfect place for expanding your horizons. I have taken a class in chocolate making, taken a haunted tour of campus and been a zombie in the campus-wide Zombies vs. Humans game. Fitness classes, euchre tournaments in the Miller Learning Center and trivia night at local restaurants have let me make the most of my very little free time!
The craziest thing I've done is...
…pick up and move to Georgia halfway through my senior year of high school. I left behind my friends, family and valedictorian status and headed for sunny skies and a great future. I don’t regret any of it; I am so happy to be at UGA!
My favorite place to study is...
…the fourth floor of the Miller Learning Center. It’s usually quiet, and if you can score a seat by the windows, there are beautiful views of the stadium or campus. Writing a 10-page paper doesn’t seem so bad when you can watch the sunset.
My favorite professor is...
…Dr. Betty Jones, a graphic design professor in the Grady College and the faculty adviser for PRSSA. I have had professors who are so obviously passionate about their subject that you can’t help but enjoy their class. I have had professors who go above and beyond to remember their students’ names and help them achieve their goals. I have had professors who are friendly and funny, but Dr. Jones possesses all of these qualities and more. She has opened her home and heart to me and has been my mentor as I have transformed into the young professional I am today. She is always available with a smile and a hug when things go well, and she is a shoulder to cry on when I’ve had a bad day. She knows the perfect balance between providing guidance and allowing students to learn on their own. I owe many of my college career successes to her encouragement and advice.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
…Katharine Graham, the woman who took over as publisher of The Washington Pos after her husband died in 1963. She had the guts to step into a “man’s” job, and she did it better than any man had! She led the paper through its most famous time - during the Watergate Scandal. Her leadership, gumption and positive attitude make her one of the most amazing women in the communications industry. It would certainly be a fascinating afternoon.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
…create a nonprofit that would bring parenting classes to high schools. Being a good parent is difficult, and without proper role models, too many new parents will follow in the same negative footsteps of their own parents, perpetuating the cycle of family distress. By educating high school students, we could hopefully eliminate SIDS, birth complications associated with a lack of prenatal care and child abuse.
After graduation, I plan to...
…pursue a career in public relations at a corporation. Or at a nonprofit that works with health initiatives. Or at an agency doing social marketing. I’m not sure what I want to do, but I hope that whatever it is, I can do my small part to make the world a better place.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
…winning the 2010 national Bateman Case Study Competition - and all the work that went into it. We created and implemented a campaign to support participation in the 2010 U.S. Census. We actually made a difference in Athens by educating residents on the importance and benefits of participation in the Census. It’s funny; I barely remember the 800+ hours we spent working on the project, but I clearly remember seeing the final Census results - Athens had a 12 percent increase in participation, which equates to almost $3,000,000 in federal funding for our community.