Two weeks ago, junior Ashlyn Miller traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, met Gavin DeGraw, attended sessions on the latest technology and strategies for broadcasters in the hotel where part of the Hunger Games was filmed, and networked with media professionals, all while on a student scholarship.
On Sept. 29, Miller traveled to Atlanta for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Radio Show conference as part of the Student Scholars program. The conference is run by a partnership of three national organizations that bring together radio and television broadcasters across the U.S.
“This year they started a new program, called the Student Scholars program, that offered scholarships to help students like me be able to go down and take part in this conference. They wanted to hear our ideas, what we’re up to, and what our career aspirations are,” Miller says.
She first heard about the program in the beginning of May, when her advisor emailed her about the opportunity.
“I hadn’t gotten a chance to go to a conference-like event yet, and just from talking to different friends in journalism and other majors who had been to those experiences, it seemed like it had been really beneficial to them.”
Miller submitted her application along with a few essays, a recommendation letter, and a portfolio at the beginning of June. She had started to wonder about the status of her application when she finally received an acceptance email while on vacation in late July.
It was after her acceptance that SGA and the Career and Professional Development Center stepped in to help out. Miller received a grant from SGA after a student panel approved her funding requests. The Career and Professional Development Center administered the grant.
“The scholarship that I got through the NAB was for the conference, which was great, but I had to find a way to pay for lodging and air-fare down (to Atlanta). That’s where the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) and SGA stepped in. They really helped me offset that expense and make it possible for me to go,” Miller says.
The experience was once in a lifetime. Miller says interacting with professionals and learning more about her future employment opportunities was invaluable.
“I think it was beneficial just putting myself out there and being able to practice sharing my experience with people, knowing that they’re in these important companies. Normally that can be scary, even when you’re interning,” she says.
Besides attending helpful sessions on topics like streaming companies, new technologies, and legal issues, Miller was able to work the Marconi’s, the “Oscars” of radio. While back stage at the event, she met Gavin DeGraw.
“I was walking through the green room, kind of nervous and then Gavin DeGraw comes over to me and says, ‘Hi I’m Gavin DeGraw. Nice to meet you.’ I was thinking, ‘What is happening right now? This is awesome!’ I had my little 5-second meeting with Gavin Degraw,” she laughs.
Besides the opportunity to meet a celebrity, Miller says she would recommend students reach out to the CPDC about other available career opportunities.
“Besides financial support, the CPDC really has a lot of resources that help you prepare for that kind of trip. They can look over your resume and give you advice. I benefitted from their help before, so I feel really positively about doing things with them.”
If you or any other student you know of is interested in receiving a Professional Development Grant through SGA, such as Miller’s, contact the Career and Professional Development Center. Who knows, you may even get to meet Gavin DeGraw.