Amazing Students

Emily Giambalvo

Emily Giambalvo, a Ramsey Honors Scholar, started in sports journalism at The Red & Black on a whim. It led to nearly 300 stories, multiple awards and the opportunity to cover the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for The Associated Press.

Hometown:

Easley, South Carolina

High School:

Easley High School

Degree objective:

B.B.A. Management Information Systems
Grady Sports Media certificate

Expected graduation:

Spring 2018

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

When I think about what the University of Georgia has given me, my mind rushes to the people who have enriched my time in Athens. Every day I am surrounded by mentors who push me toward my goals and professors who pass along their enthusiasm.

The Bernard Ramsey Honors Scholarship gave me one of the greatest gifts simply by enabling me to attend Georgia as an out-of-state student. Since I arrived on campus, the program has encouraged me to pursue the paths that give me joy. The community of Foundation Fellows and Ramsey Scholars challenges me to grow into a better student and friend. Whether I am hanging out in the Fellows library or at home with my roommates, the people in this program are a daily source of support, thoughtful discussion and excessive amounts of laughter.

During my first week of freshman year, I attended an information session at The Red & Black on a whim. I thought it might be an enjoyable hobby for a semester or two. Three years later, I still haven’t left the student-run newspaper and have written close to 300 stories. My work with The Red & Black showed me how much I enjoy telling stories and has shaped how I want to spend the rest of my life. In the fall, I was the sports editor and covered football. I received a first-place award for the best sports story of 2015 from the Georgia College Press Association, and I placed second in the student division for the best sports writer in the South in the 2015 Green Eyeshade Awards.

As a sports journalist, one of my most rewarding experiences in college has been getting to cover the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Through the Grady Sports Media program, I went to Brazil for two weeks in the fall to write for The Associated Press. I got to cover an international sporting event for the first time, and I had stories published in news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.

This summer, I will be in Seattle writing about sports as an intern at The Seattle Times. Last summer, I interned for USA Track & Field in the communications department, where I wrote about U.S. athletes and assisted with the organization’s day-to-day media relations. I also spent two weeks in Eugene, Oregon, for the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Between sports coverage, conferences and Ramsey spring break trips, I have gotten to go to over 20 states since I began college and have spent time in a few other countries. In addition to going to Brazil, after my freshman year, I lived in Saint Petersburg and Moscow while taking classes at Russian universities for the summer.

Current Employment:

I am currently working for The Red & Black, writing mostly sports feature stories. Once spring practice starts, I’ll also be covering Georgia football. In the fall, I was the sports editor and covered football.

Family Ties to UGA:

My mom and dad both swam for Georgia and were NCAA All-Americans. My sister, Lauren, went to Clemson but is now in her first year of law school at Georgia.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I never wanted to go anywhere else. When I came to campus for the Foundation Fellowship interview weekend, I realized how special the FFR community was and felt confident that being part of that group would help drive me toward my goals. I was attracted to the program’s resources devoted to travel for the chance to experience other cultures, which I knew would help me grow as a person. I’ve had many professors who are both brilliant and approachable, which creates the ideal educational environment.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… interview athletes, ask questions and learn about people — everything that comes along with my job. I remember when I covered gymnastics as a sophomore, every time I left media availability, I walked through the parking lot by Snelling. I would feel this odd, bubbling sense of excitement in anticipation of sitting down to write the story using the interviews I had just completed. Those moments made me confident that I picked the right career path.

When I have free time, I like…

… to revisit my favorite stories. My Harry Potter books, particularly the fifth one, are falling apart thanks to how many times I’ve read them. I have a bookmarks folder packed full of my favorite pieces of journalism. I often rewatch episodes of “Friday Night Lights” or “The Office.” I also like to look back on my own story, whether that be my time as a gymnast or my experiences in college. I’m abnormally introspective, and I enjoy thinking about who I am.

The craziest thing I've done is…

This winter break I drove to Utah, about 4,000 miles round trip, so I could volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society. I left Athens the morning after my last final and booked my first hotel 12 hours before I left. When I was driving through a canyon in Arizona, I accepted an internship for this summer and ate the best molten-centered chocolate cake to celebrate when I made it to my destination in Utah. At the animal sanctuary, I spent my days doing everything from walking dogs through snowy trails to cleaning rooms with birds landing on my head and being chased by a wild coyote. It was awesome.

My favorite place to study is…

… the Fellows library because there is always someone to talk to and it is near plenty of great Athens restaurants.

My favorite professor is…

… Vicki Michaelis, who is the director of the Grady Sports Media certificate program. She’s always willing to help, whether it’s editing a Paralympics story with me at midnight in Brazil or answering questions when she happened to walk by me in the MLC while I was writing. Professor Michaelis offers both encouragement and criticism, and every one of her assignments has the purpose of steering students toward success in the real world. Each time I leave her class or her office, I feel excited to be a journalist.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… Wright Thompson. He writes for ESPN The Magazine, and is, in my opinion, one of the best journalists out there. His stories show an insane degree of in-depth reporting, and I’d be interested to hear more about his writing and reporting process. On multiple occasions I have relistened to a podcast he was on after he wrote a story about Tiger Woods because part of me likes to desperately hope at least an ounce of his knowledge will seep in through my headphones.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… play quarterback for a Red & Black flag football game and lead the sports desk to a massive victory over the news desk.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… visit Russia for a week every year. When I went as a freshman, I enjoyed getting to dive into another culture, while realizing it’s not so different from the United States. I think it’s valuable to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations and to be forced to think hard for simple tasks, such as ordering your meal at a restaurant. I’d love to one day go to Russia with my former gymnastics coach, Anatoly, who lived in the Soviet Union for most of his life.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

I believe that sport is one of the most powerful pieces of a community. It unites and inspires. Journalists not only have the ability to write compelling stories about the relatable conflicts and quests of athletes, but there is also the potential to humanize major global issues. Sports are a comfortable lens through which people are generally willing to look at uncomfortable topics.

After graduation, I plan to…

… get a job in sports journalism. The more I write, the less preference I have for what sport or team I cover. There are stories everywhere. I do think it would be cool to eventually work for ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated or a major newspaper.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… the little things. Playing football in the Red & Black parking lot late at night with Wilson Alexander, John Durham and Alex Makrides. Leaving an empty Sanford Stadium after covering a game. Getting milkshakes with my roommates. Walking through Herty Field toward Moore College and seeing how the white building looks against the sky in the spring. Those are the moments I feel incredibly thankful I get to go to this school.

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