It may be a coincidence that Grady College and Grady County share the same namesake in Henry W. 格雷迪, but they also share something else: a group of dedicated students making an impact with their skills and talent.

学生们 from the New Media Institute in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication spent the past semester helping 格雷迪 County officials develop a plan to increase the visibility and tourism potential in the small, rural south Georgia community.

The students worked through the 格雷迪 County Archway Partnership, a UGA public service and outreach unit that helps communities tap into UGA resources to address its individual challenges.

For their capstone project, the seven New Media Institute students created a new logo and slogan for the county, took high-quality photographs to be used in promotional materials, produced a 90-second video to be shown in visitor’s centers in neighboring states, designed print advertising and a one-page tourism guide, and enhanced 格雷迪 County’s Facebook and Instagram presence. They also created a 网站 for the community.

“Our goal was to change this county for the better,” said Kelly Buckman, a 格雷迪 College student majoring in Entertainment and Media Studies.

Since January, the students made the 500-mile round trip between Athens and 格雷迪 County three times, getting to know the community, meeting and talking with residents and discovering hidden gems that make the community special.

Their guide was Sharon Liggett, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership. Liggett’s role is to match designated Archway Partnership communities, like Grady County, with UGA resources. When the 格雷迪 County Archway Partnership executive council determined in needed more contemporary, current messaging focused on tourism, Liggett turned to the New Media Institute, which offers an interdisciplinary certificate program focused on using technological applications to address problems. The certificate is open to all majors and is housed in 格雷迪 College.

“This was a pretty exceptional project for Grady County and we couldn’t have done it without the New Media Institute students,” Liggett said. “There is a real source of pride that we are bringing UGA home to 格雷迪 County. It’s exciting to have students share their experiences with community members, and to have the residents share their community with the students.”

Projects like this are a win-win, Liggett said. 社区 get fresh ideas from the students and materials the county would not have been able to afford, while students get to use their academic education in a practical, real world setting. The students learn how to work with clients, meet deadlines and manage expectations.

“This is a real project, not just a class project,” said Megan Flory, who is majoring in graphic design in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. “It has the potential to change people’s lives. That is more pressure, but it feels really good.”

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Word of the project spready quickly in the small community, said Tony Phan, an Entertainment and Media Studies major, who served as the group’s photographer.

“Most of the residents were super welcoming and were really interested in everything we had to offer,” Phan said.

格雷迪 County residents opened their homes to the students, inviting them to dinner, showing them their personal car collections, introducing them to sited known only to locals, and hosting bonfires where the local and students shared stories about their work and studies.

Community leaders are pleased with the outcome.

Writer: Baker Owens,, 706-542-1667

Contact: Rob Gordon,, 706-542-3268