May 2020: Communication major overcomes hurdles to thrive at Georgia College

May 2020: Communication major overcomes hurdles to thrive at Georgia College

S enior Brighton Sandt is bursting with energy. He has a positive outlook and easy smile. But, unless he’s chosen to tell you, you’d never know about disabilities that could’ve derailed college and limited his options.

Sandt has severe dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). Growing up in Savannah, he was educated at a school for children with special needs. In time, he felt restricted and wanted more. He knew he’d have to work especially hard to break free and go to a regular high school and college.

Having disabilities, it gives me an almost irrational drive to succeed. I want to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard and I want to continue working hard to change people’s mind about disabilities because, really, you can do anything you set your mind to.
– Brighton Sandt
"Having disabilities, it gives me an almost irrational drive to succeed," Sandt said. "I want to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard and I want to continue working hard to change people’s mind about disabilities because, really, you can do anything you set your mind to."

Senior communication major Brighton Sandt
Senior communication major Brighton Sandt
In the early years at Georgia College, Sandt took advantage of disability services. That support enabled him to do well academically and participate in multiple extracurricular activities. Sandt was director of entertainment at GC Miracle and a member of the comedy troupe, Armed Farces. He was also an event planner and public relations officer for WGUR student radio and social chairman of his fraternity ATO (Alpha Tau Omega).

He joined CG Miracle freshman year and despite being nervous—everyone already knew each other—he stuck with it and made friends.

Sandt started on GC Miracle’s special events committee. His outgoing, easy manner made people-oriented tasks a snap. By sophomore year, Sandt was the special events committee assistant and, junior year, he was on its executive board. They raised $12,000 as a committee last year. During his tenure, they also implemented a new event on campus—a bachelor-style auction called, “Miracle Man.”

True to his inquisitive nature, Sandt wanted to branch out and try something new this year. As GC Miracle’s entertainment director, he makes events fun by designing activities, games and playlists for music.

“I wanted to get experience on the active side, as well as the planning side,” he said. “I enjoy brainstorming. How can I get people to stay at events? How can I increase attendance? How can I get people to fall in love with this organization I love so much?”

Sandt also joined Armed Farces without knowing anyone. He’d been in a few high school musicals and was the costume assistant for Georgia College’s production of “Stick Fly.” The improv team met Wednesday evenings at Blackbird’s Coffee Shop in Milledgeville. Sandt would “hang out” there by himself. Eventually, he was asked to sit with others. Then, he was invited to practices and, finally, he was performing onstage.

“I was terrified and caught off guard,” Sandt said. “With improv, you have to think on your feet, and the acting situations are constantly changing. But I push myself to get out of my comfort zone and explore as much as I can.”

Sandt
Sandt
This driven nature, along with Sandt’s courses and activities, prepared him for a paid internship last summer. He wrote press releases and created media bios at Gulfstream Aerospace’s corporate communications department in Savannah. Sandt thinks his experience with Armed Farces gave him an edge. A woman there had also done theatre. When she held a crisis communication workshop last summer, she asked Sandt to teach an improv game for the group’s leadership development. Crisis management is a lot like improv, he said.

The internship helped Sandt realize he doesn’t want to write press releases for a living. His dyslexia complicated things, and he dreaded making spelling errors. But the experience did help Sandt “chill out.” He now knows it’s OK to make mistakes and learn by them.

In the future, he’d like to work behind-the-scenes in public relations—doing account and project management. He wants to be active, not sit behind a desk all day.

But wherever he ends up, Sandt is confident of success. The skills he developed in college—broadcasting, graphic design and video editing—have tailored him for victory.

Georgia College has prepared me for life. It’s given me an outlet to practice and hone my skills, and it taught me to fight for myself.
– Brighton Sandt