Amazing Students

Kevin Schatell

Kevin Schatell, who is graduating in May with a journalism degree, says “the fire that’s inside of me as a result of my education at UGA is vast, blazing and infinite.” He’s left his mark on the campus, and remember the name — you just might see him on his own talk show some day.

Hometown:

Grayson, Ga.

High School:

Mountain View High School

Degree objective:

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Entertainment & Media Studies)

Other degrees:

Certificate in Personal and Organizational Leadership

Expected graduation:

May 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

Early on in my college adventure, a very special person (named Calli McRae) shared a piece of wisdom that’s changed my perspective on life: to bloom where you’re planted. The concept is that you should dig your roots in deep no matter where life takes you, make the most of whatever you’re given, absorb everything around you, and grow. That is something I live by, and that is the metaphor I’ll use to tell you about my journey at the University of Georgia.

I arrived on campus on Aug. 8, 2012, completely unaware of what the next four years would hold for me. I soon found that the opportunities here are abundant and rich, and that if I were to truly bloom at UGA, I would need to take advantage of those opportunities. Freshman year, I joined the Student Government Association’s Freshman Board, Dawg Camp staff, and the Dean William Tate Honor Society, all of which hold a special place in my heart. I was hired at the Visitors Center my freshman year, which changed my life forever. I had surrounded myself with the most extraordinary, inspiring people. For me, that was the key to establishing my roots at UGA: investing in other people and learning their stories.

Once I’d planted my roots, it was my time to branch out. I became a Grady College ambassador, which allowed me to connect to my college on a much deeper level. I joined Terry College’s Institute for Leadership Advancement, where I participated in the most transformative academic experience of my life. I also became a part of the team at Seacrest Studios in Atlanta, which allowed me to broadcast in the studio in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and get to know the hospital community there.

This past summer, I was a part of the International Radio and Television Society’s Summer Fellowship Program, an expense-paid summer in New York City where I worked with ABC News and the Emmys. I had the time of my life in New York, but throughout my time there, I missed Athens more than I can explain. I returned home with an even greater love for my university. This past fall, I was a part of UGA’s Homecoming court. I will never forget taking my parents between the hedges and soaking in that special moment with them; it was one of the greatest blessings of my life.

Throughout my time at UGA, I’ve grown into the person I always wanted to be. I’ve become a better student, leader, son, brother, uncle and friend because of the experiences I’ve gained and the people who’ve poured into me here. For the rest of my life, I’ll continue holding onto that lesson of “blooming where I’m planted.” You can’t control what life throws your way, but you can choose to make the most of your situation, love the people around you, and watch yourself bloom into a better version of “you.”

Current Employment:

University of Georgia Visitors Center

Family Ties to UGA:

My sister, Allison, and my brother, Greg, are both graduates of UGA. We’re all four years apart in age, so the three of us have consecutively been attending UGA for 12 years without any overlap. (I want to give a huge shout out to my parents for being so unwaveringly supportive of us all. I love you, Mom and Dad!) Also, my nephew recently turned 1, and I’m already decking him out in adorable little Bulldog swag. Gotta start ‘em young, am I right?

I chose to attend UGA because…

People mean everything to me. I knew I wanted to choose a university with a strong sense of community and unmatched school spirit—a place where the people loved and supported one another to learn and to grow. That is the University of Georgia to a tee. Growing up, I’d visit Athens for football games, and the passion that overflowed from Sanford Stadium never ceased to amaze me. I always loved that UGA’s campus was rich with history and stories, but I also loved that the people were also rich with history and stories. From the outside looking in, I could sense that the Bulldog Nation was an extraordinary network of people, and I wanted to be a part of that so badly. And now I can tell you from the inside that I was so right. There’s nothing like being a part of this family.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I’ve worked at the Visitors Center since I was a freshman. Nothing brings me as much fulfillment as guiding visitors around our beautiful campus. Our mission at the Visitors Center is to “awaken possibility” in guests; we want to spark something in the hearts and minds of every visitor we meet. The Visitors Center is my home, and the people inside are my family. If I wanted to do an adequate job explaining my love and appreciation for the Visitors Center, it would take, I don’t know, about seven months or so. So I’ll leave it at this: Showing guests around campus these past four years has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

When I have free time, I like…

Throughout my time at UGA, my wonderful friend Alli Dickinson and I have coached youth basketball teams at the East Athens Community Center. That might come as a surprise since I’m not the most athletic person (in fourth grade I played football for three days and then quit). The reason I love coaching in my free time is because it gets me plugged into the city of Athens and allows me to develop the kids I coach into outstanding people. In four years of coaching, our teams have only won one game. But, it’s not the score that matters … right? I want to say a huge “thank you” to everyone who’s come to our games over the years to cheer on our kiddos. Go Sparks, Clippers, Hawks and Pacers!

The craziest thing I've done is…

Well, I’ll preface this by saying this isn’t one of the most “traditionally” crazy things like bungee jumping or deep sea diving, but this is one of the craziest, coolest things that’s ever happened in my life. In 2014, I attended an event on campus where Amy Robach (one of UGA’s most remarkable alumni and one of the world’s greatest journalists) spoke. I got to know Amy and her mom, Joan, and to this day they both remain friends and mentors of mine. This past summer when I was living in New York City, I spent some time on the set of “Good Morning America,” and Amy and I shared some coffee dates in her dressing room. The fact that I get to call Amy a friend, after admiring her for so long, is still crazy to me. It’s a connection made possible because we’re both Georgia Bulldogs. (And on that note, please run to your nearest bookstore and grab Amy’s book, “Better.”)

My favorite place to study is…

… the Jittery Joe’s on the second level of the Miller Learning Center. I love sitting in that space, smelling the fresh roasted coffee and getting work done. It seems impossible to be in that area without seeing several of your friends. I’m actually sitting here right now as I write this, and as I look around, I’m reminded just how much I’m going to miss this place and these people.

My favorite professor is…

One professor in particular will always hold a special place in my heart. Vikki Clawson (“Doc C”) is, undoubtedly, one of the most compassionate and inspiring human beings I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. The second I stepped foot in her classroom, my life changed forever. I took her “Leadership and Personal Development” class in the Institute for Leadership Advancement. Throughout that semester, my peers and I worked on service projects in the community as well as constructed 70-page books about ourselves—our values, leadership styles, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Needless to say, Doc C and I got to know one another on a deep, personal level. Doc C retired after our semester together, and I will always give thanks to God that I was able to sit in her classroom and learn from her. That’s how transformative her class was for me, and how impactful her love was on my heart.

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

Oh, I love this question so much. So, I have this dream where Ellen DeGeneres and I share an entire day together. Our agenda would include a nice brunch, taping her talk show where I could co-host (during 12 Days of Giveaways), and then returning to her home for a dinner party with various celebrity guests. My goal is that by the end of that day, Ellen and I would become inseparable and she and Portia would be forced to adopt me.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

During my first-year orientation, one gorgeous orientation leader announced to everyone that her dream was to be an anchor on E! News. Because I shared that same goal, I audibly gasped, she and I locked eyes, and the rest is history. That beautiful friend is Emily Curl, and back in 2013, she and I started our own YouTube entertainment talk show called “The Dish.”

“The Dish with Emily and Kevin” was our own passion project, and it proved to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. So, if I knew I couldn’t fail, I would make “The Dish” a full-fledged live talk show in New York City. I would build a beautiful studio, invite all of our family and friends, and host a show that would allow us to entertain, inspire and give back. That’s the dream.

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

… travel the United States. I have such talented friends who are experts at writing, photography and videography, so I’d get together with them and road trip across the country, documenting our adventure along the way. We’d meet with people in each state and share their stories (“Humans of New York” style). So, if anyone’s willing to drop everything and do that, please let me know. I’ve got my car warming up as we speak.

After graduation, I plan to…

I’m a firm believer in this quote: “Dreams come a size too big so that we can grow into them.” The ultimate “big” dream for me, one day, is to host my own talk show. In the meantime, my post-graduation plan is simple: to seek happiness. I trust in God’s plan that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. I’m not exactly sure where or what that is yet, but I know that whenever I do solidify that plan, I’ll likely blog about it. So if you want to stay invested in my journey, subscribe to my blog at www.kevinschatell.com/blog!

Eric Johnson, my boss at the UGA Visitors Center, is one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve ever met. He is truly one of the most remarkable individuals to walk this planet, and I wouldn’t be who I am without him. EJ once shared this quote by William Butler Yeats that says: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” I feel so blessed to have received my education from the University of Georgia. The fire that’s inside of me as a result of my education at UGA is vast, blazing and infinite. For the first time in my life—and I truly mean this—I feel that anything is possible. That’s a huge blessing, and I have UGA to thank for that.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

This past year, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication celebrated its 100th year anniversary. The centennial celebrations culminated in April 2015 at a huge gala in the Classic Center downtown. So many notable alumni, along with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, attended the event. I interviewed guests on the red carpet, and I delivered a speech on behalf of current and future Grady students. One of our university’s most important alumni, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, also delivered a speech at the gala. Standing at the same podium as Charlayne was the honor of a lifetime. She is such a crucial part of our history at the University of Georgia, and she is one of the kindest, most graceful human beings I’ve ever met. I’ll never forget that night of celebration with my Grady College family.

But here’s the thing about college (and really, life in general): There’s immense beauty in the little things. When I remember my time in college, I’ll remember the late nights in the MLC studying and eating Jimmy Johns until a point of delirium, early mornings going to Athens Church, running into friends on campus between classes, staying up with friends to watch meteor showers, movies nights on a megabed, snowdays and gamedays and every day in between. Each and every moment is intrinsically special. Ultimately, college is about a journey, not a destination—and I feel so blessed to have had my college journey at the University of Georgia. And to everyone who’s been a part of it, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. And Go Dawgs.

Published Sunday,