Class of 2022: Mass Comm student chosen for prestigious youth exchange program to Germany

A  graduating mass communication major is the first Georgia College student to be awarded a competitive young fellowship award through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Senior Jenna Byrd of Alpharetta was named a fellow for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program for Young Professionals. She will join a cohort of 75 other young graduates of all majors and disciplines from around the United States for a yearlong learning and working adventure in Germany.

“This is a very exciting program that is going to allow Jenna to have an immersive experience in Germany, where she’ll put into practice skills she learned in her German classes at Georgia College, as well as in her mass comm classes as she will complete an internship. It’s a very competitive program, so it says a lot that Jenna was selected,” said Anna Whiteside, coordinator of the National Scholarships Office at Georgia College.

The entire program is formatted to make us young diplomats.
– Byrd
The CBYX program is completely funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. State Department. Each year, 75 American and 75 German young professionals, age 18 ½ to 24, swap countries. Many live with host families for an authentic experience, immersed in a new culture, while taking language and university classes in their chosen fields. The program ends with a four-month-long paid internship abroad.

Byrd flies to Washington D.C. July 27 for a three-day orientation then to Germany on the 30th. The first two months are spent learning German—something that won’t be as difficult for Byrd, since she took four years of German in high school and two in college. After language classes, she’ll be assigned to a German university to learn more about mass communication and other related topics. Her time there will end with an internship.

“The entire program is formatted to make us young diplomats.” Byrd said. “I’ve been in ambassador positions with other companies but being an ambassador for Congress is really exciting. I’m told a lot of alum from this program tend to work in international marketing or international relations. I wouldn’t mind that at all. It piques my interest because I love traveling.”

Jenna Byrd
Jenna Byrd
Byrd describes herself as an extrovert. It’s an understatement to say she’s been busy at Georgia College, putting her university years to good use.

Her resume is hard to fit on one page. Byrd worked with Bobcat Media Productions for three years. She’s a member of Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity, Order of Omega Honors Society, the American Marketing Association’s GC chapter and the student chapter of the Broadcasting Education Association.

Byrd worked as director of public relations and vice president of the university’s PRSSA organization (Public Relations Student Society of America). She is in the national communication association honor's society, Lambda Pi Eta, and found time to walk dogs at Baldwin County Animal Shelter. She also volunteers with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Macon.

One summer, Byrd did an internship with a small coaching business, Mitchell+McClure in Atlanta. She did photography, graphic design and general planning for them. On campus, she promoted Guayaki Yerba Mate, a Brazilian tea, and worked with Amazon Prime Student.

Byrd gushes with thanks to all her professors, who prepared her for this next challenge in life. When she arrived, Byrd thought she’d immediately transfer to another school. But she’s grown to love and appreciate the small-school atmosphere and deep connections she made here.

Being a young woman, I will never be quiet. I will always be talking and fighting for what’s important to me. This little tightknit community really changed that for me, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.
– Byrd
Her advice for incoming freshmen is to speak up in class and get involved in organizations. A lot of “amazing people come out of Georgia College,” she said, “and if you utilize your tools, you could be one of them.”

“When I first got here, I was extremely and deeply insecure,” Byrd said. “I had a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ mindset. Eventually, I stopped faking it. I realized you can take pride in small accomplishments; you don’t have to be humble all the time; you can brag on yourself.”

“Being a young woman, I will never be quiet. I will always be talking and fighting for what’s important to me,” she said. “This little tightknit community really changed that for me, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.”

Byrd particularly thanks Dr. Mikkel Christensen, assistant professor of strategic communication. In May, she’s going on a study abroad trip with mass comm students and Christensen to his home country, Denmark. One of their excursions there will be to the National Danish Broadcasting Corporation, where Christensen used to work.

In June, Byrd will visit with family at Lake Tahoe in California. Then, she’s off to D.C. and Germany in July.

This hectic lifestyle fits her bubbly personality. She loves hiking, kayaking, swimming, traveling, modern art, podcasts and Squishmallows™® stuffed animals. Her dream is to live in a beach house near a nice city and one day own a public relations agency.

“When I get back from Germany,” Byrd said, “I see myself putting the work in and reflecting on what I took from being a young diplomat, because that’s just the craziest thing. I’m some college kid from Georgia. It’s weird to be flipping gears and working with Congress in this internationally recognized organization.”

“But it’s also really cool, and it’s something I’ve worked hard for,” she said. “So, I have a feeling only good things will come from it.”