Amazing Students

Jason Hafford

Jason Hafford has been a campus tour guide at the UGA Visitor Center since his freshman year. As a tour guide, he shares his enthusiasm about UGA with prospective students and their families.

Hometown:

Snellville, Georgia ("Where Everybody's Somebody!")

High School:

Shiloh High School

Degree objective:

A.B.J. in Digital & Broadcast Journalism

Expected graduation:

December 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

When I arrived at the university, I wanted to get involved in the broadcast journalism department as soon as possible. I volunteered most of my free time working on the UGA NewSource student broadcast and I was quickly promoted to a show manager for the program. Managing and directing a show and staff mostly composed of graduating seniors as a freshman student was a challenging and rewarding experience for me. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve the university as an orientation leader. This was the most fun and most demanding job I’ve ever done. Spending a summer welcoming new students, serving as a small group discussion facilitator, passing on UGA traditions, scheduling classes, calming down stressed parents, singing, dancing and making a complete fool of myself on a daily basis was an absolutely incredible experience. I learned more about myself and grew more as a leader in those short months than at any other point in my life.

Study abroad has had an enormous influence on my life at UGA. In the summer of 2010, I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa with the Global LEAD Program. I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to adventure through the African countryside, explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and give back by serving in impoverished township communities. It was the experience of a lifetime. Then, in the summer of 2011, I got the experience of a lifetime again. I was hired as the assistant director of the Global LEAD Program’s study abroad trip to Greece. I led students from around the Southeastern Conference across Greece touring the ancient sites, sailing the Greek Isles, assisting asylum-seeking refugees and getting out of our comfort zones by bungee jumping and cliff jumping at every available opportunity.

Before the start of my last semester at UGA, I will be traveling to Cuba with a humanitarian aid visa from the US State Department. I will be working with ADDO Worldwide to provide quality of life support to children with Down syndrome, cancer, and HIV in Havana. As a member of the executive board of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, I worked with a great team to revitalize the organization’s presence on campus. This summer I was selected as the student representative on the board to search for the John Huland Carmical Distinguished Professor of Sports Journalism. The chair is the first of it’s kind in the SEC and it continues the Grady College’s commitment to be a frontrunner in advancement of new media and journalism today.

Current Employment:

I’m fortunate enough to work at the “happiest place on campus.” I’ve been a campus tour guide at the UGA Visitor Center since my freshman year and I could not ask for a more wonderful job. I love showing off UGA to prospective students and their parents, working for truly inspirational leaders and alongside some of UGA’s brightest and most involved students.

Family Ties to UGA:

I’m the first in my family to attend the university, but I’ve converted my family into supporters of the Bulldog Nation (even my mother, who is a University of Tennessee alumnae)!

I chose to attend UGA because…

…I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to study business or journalism and I knew that UGA had great programs in both. I was really sold on Georgia though when I attended the Grady College Journalism Academy. We spent a week on campus learning more about the journalism field and getting acclimated to life in Athens. By the end of the program I didn’t want to go home. I knew that UGA and Athens would be the perfect home away from home.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

1. Give campus tours at the Visitors Center
2. Attend UGA sporting events (I’ve been to every sport except equestrian)
3. Hang out with friends in Miller Learning Center near Jittery Joes
4. Take a nap or read my Kindle in the Founders Memorial Garden

The craziest thing I've done is…

…cage diving with great white sharks off the coast of South Africa. During my study abroad to Cape Town, we had the opportunity take part in this crazy adventure. After returning home, I found out from the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” program that the spot I dove at in South Africa is the single most dangerous part of the ocean in the world. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have stuck my hand out of the cage and touched the great white sharks swimming at our boat.

My favorite place to study is…

…The Miller Learning Center next to Jittery Joes. I love to pop in my headphones and get down to business here. I have a hard time concentrating unless I’m around a busy atmosphere. I love the MLC because you are sure to find a friend or classmate around to distract you if you need a study break.

My favorite professor is…

…Steve Smith in the broadcast news department. Professor Smith has been a mentor and friend to me since the first semester of my freshman year. He has taught me to always strive to be the best journalist possible. I cannot imagine the broadcast journalism department without him. His class is challenging but it is an amazing experience because he expects excellence out of his students. Professor Smith prepares you to go out into the journalism world by giving you the best education possible.

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

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with… Nelson Mandela. After studying in South Africa and delving into the history of apartheid, you cannot help but love President Mandela—or ‘Madiba’ as he is affectionately known as in the country. Mandela served 27 years as a political prisoner and still had the courage and foresight to want a peaceful resolution to the racial problems of his country. Visiting Robben Island outside of Cape Town, where he served most of his prison term, was an incredibly humbling experience for me. The world needs more leaders like Nelson Mandela.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

...start a TV network that highlighted the lives of underrepresented individuals around the world. I would love to have programming that focused on communities in need across the globe and the organizations that work tirelessly everyday to provide support to them.

After graduation, I plan to…

…this is the million dollar question! I’m exploring options in everything from working as a reporter at a local television station to moving to Los Angeles and working on the production side of the entertainment industry. I know I want to work in the television business and I want to eventually focus on international broadcasting.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

cheering on the Dawgs in every sport! Seeing the Gym Dogs capture the NCAA National Title at home in Stegeman Coliseum and watching the football team crush Auburn in the Blackout game are two of my most memorable experiences at the university. I love rooting for the boys in the silver britches and losing my voice from screaming so loud at UGA athletic events.

Published Saturday,