Whether twirling between the hedges at Sanford Stadium as UGA’s head majorette or leading a tour for future students at the Visitors Center, Colleen Murphy exudes the spirit of the University of Georgia. This Maryland native will graduate in spring 2012 and plans a career in public relations.
Damascus High School
BS in History, ABJ in Journalism
University highlights, achievements and awards:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
When prospective students ask me for advice as they are looking at colleges, I always tell them to follow their heart. I tell them to find a school that not only has the program they want to study, but a place that they can fall in love with for the next four years of their life. For me, that place has been the University of Georgia, where the experiences I have had have shaped me into who I have become.
This philosophy, along with other UGA fun facts I impart on guests to campus, is part of my job at the UGA Visitors Center. I am honored to be part of the community that works there and enjoy showing off campus to new faces. My passion for UGA has only been growing since I was an orientation leader in 2009. That summer was one of the most challenging and exciting times of my life, when I learned just as much about myself as I did from the incoming students and incredible team of peers around me. I have fond memories of that unique experience, from calming down nervous parents, helping freshmen get involved, and making a fool out of myself singing and dancing on stage. The leadership I learned has carried over to every aspect of my life and has encouraged me to make sure I “come alive” in all that I do.
Being in the Redcoat Marching Band since my freshman year has been the lifeline of my college experience. A self-proclaimed band nerd, I actually have no musical ability and am a proud member of auxiliaries as the majorette captain. Twirling baton has been my sport since I was a little girl, and it has been extremely rewarding to perform in the spotlight during football games, other athletic events and community appearances. I am blessed to be the Phyllis Dancz Award recipient for the 2010-11 season, which honors the legacy of Ms. Dancz, the founder of the Redcoat auxiliaries, and recognizes excellence in performance and leadership for an auxiliary member each year. Outside of football season, the majorettes attend national competitions about every other year as representatives of UGA. Last summer, we swept the division, which allowed us to be the National Collegiate Champions for 2010. Not only was it an exhilarating experience to hear “UGA!” called out in the arena at the competition, but the recognition for Redcoats and the sport of baton twirling came in the form of congratulatory acknowledgement from bulldog fans, President Adams and then-Governor Sonny Perdue.
Most recently, I spent my 2011 summer break working as a public affairs and communications intern for Coca-Cola in Atlanta. I was fortunate to work under UGA Grady alum Scott Williamson, VP of North America Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola, who was a phenomenal mentor and employer. My summer projects included writing press releases, tool kits and other documents; government relations; social media; film editing; media relations; and lots of fun in between at the “Happiness Factory.” Coca-Cola is truly a company made up of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” and the team I worked with, along with the skills I learned, have prepared me for the real world post-graduation. My internship would not have been possible without my previous involvement in Public Relations Student Society of America and Creative Consultants, a student-operated public relations firm based in the Grady College. I have been a member since my first year at UGA and have been exposed to the professional world of public relations and gained hands-on experience. I have worked with Rally Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research, to raise awareness on campus through an annual softball game for charity. I also worked with Peachtree Publishers in the spring of 2011 as a publicity intern, in which I expanded my social media expertise. All of my public relations experience would not have been possible without the support and influence of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
My time so far at UGA has encompassed all I dreamed a college experience would be and so much more. I am looking forward to my final year on campus as an undergrad, and I am excited for what lies ahead.
I currently work at the UGA Visitors Center, which is the best job a student could have. Giving tours on campus and speaking to visitors is gratifying, especially when you see prospective students get excited about the university for which we are all so passionate. The people I work with at the VC are like family, and I am so proud and honored to call my amazing co-workers my friends.
In my free time, I teach baton-twirling classes to young girls. I work with a high school majorette line in Gainesville, Ga. each week and teach individual lessons to future UGA majorettes. I absolutely love sharing my passion for twirling with children and am proud to watch their accomplishments throughout the year.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am proudly the first member of the Bulldog Nation in my family. Being the first, I took it upon myself to educate my family about the importance of football, Southern food and calling the Dawgs. As a result, many in my family are now passionate UGA fans themselves, except for some old-fashioned rivalry between my step mom, who went to Auburn, and me!
I chose to attend UGA because...
I visited the campus on a college tour and simply fell in love with it. Being from out-of-state, I had no idea what to expect. But the combination of great educational opportunities and Southern hospitality hooked me. I knew I wanted to go into the field of journalism, and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers some of the premier programs in the nation, allowing me to explore my options and be successful. Also, I have always been a warm weather girl at heart, so sunny Georgia was the place to be.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
walk through Tate Plaza, hang out at Jittery Joe’s in the Miller Learning Center and stroll through North Campus. Being in the center of campus, especially during the busiest parts of the day, offers the true college experience. I love the quiet history that North Campus has to offer and the contrast of the busyness of students sharing their passions in Tate Plaza.
The craziest thing I've done is...
travel to Peru as a baton twirling ambassador. I have had the opportunity to go to Peru to perform in annual spring festivals twice, in 2007 and 2010. Baton twirling is a tradition at these festivals, so each year a handful of baton twirlers from the U.S. are invited for two weeks. We traveled around Peru performing at orphanages, Lions Clubs and for heads of state. We also performed in parades, attended cocktail parties, were interviewed (in Spanish) on national TV and helped with different service projects. These trips were life-changing for me – they let me experience a different culture and see firsthand how people around the globe live. They also combined two of my favorite things, twirling and traveling, making the opportunities all the more memorable.
My favorite place to study is...
Jittery Joes. I study at the JJoes in the Miller Learning Center until 2 a.m. on a regular basis and also spend a lot of time at the JJoes in Five Points, especially when the weather gets cooler and I can sit outside. Not only is the coffee delicious, but I get to see any number of friends when I’m ready for a study break!
My favorite professor is...
Wow, I have to say that I have been taught and influenced by some of the most remarkable professors within Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Many of my teachers have impacted me, but Justin Pettigrew and Dr. Kaye Sweetser have been vital to my undergraduate experience. Professor Pettigrew brought the real world to the classroom in his public relations writing class through tangible application. Through his mentorship, I was able to start making the jump from student to professional that has, in turn, helped me be successful. Dr. Sweetser also is an incredible teacher who challenges her classes to stretch the way they think in her public relations research section, making me a more critical student. She also is an inspiration as an individual, since she currently is deployed overseas serving our country as part of the Navy. Dr. Sweetser is a living example of service both in and out of the classroom.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
..former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Her iconic style is legendary, but she, as an individual, was remarkable as well. I have always held much respect for strong women in the spotlight and believe that she would be fun and inspiring.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
...become a famous country singer. Since moving South, I have fallen in love with country music and the stories that the songs tell. I also got my first pair of cowgirl boots recently and love them, so an excuse to wear them even more would be fun. Truly though, music is inspiring. To be able to share that with others would be an incredible gift.
After graduation, I plan to...
tavel. This year I am working for Global LEAD, an innovative study abroad program, as a public relations intern and will have the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa immediately after graduation. I am looking forward to taking part in the leadership, education, adventure and diplomacy experiences that await me on the trip.
Once I return, I hope to work for a public relations agency. I believe agency work can teach me the most and expose me to different types of clients. I have no set idea of where I would like to be, and I’m a big believer in taking advantage of opportunities as they come. I am excited for a new chapter of my life that’s just around the corner!
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
my first time performing as a majorette in the UGA Redcoat Marching Band between the hedges in Sanford Stadium. Freshman year, our first home game was against Georgia Southern and it was also the first time I experienced SEC football. I had no idea what to expect, but I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for stepping in front of 92,746 screaming fans. I remember looking around Sanford before the trumpet Battle Hymn solo during pre-game – the entire stadium fell silent to listen to the first couple of notes, and then there was a swell of Bulldog pride as the fans started cheering. I still get goose bumps every time I think about it.