I Am West Georgia
Dr. Amber M. K. Smallwood
Years at UWG:One.
My job title: Assistant Professor, Mass Communications.
What I really do: I teach public relations and research nonprofit media organizations (aka PBS, NPR, community radio, etc.).
Birthplace: Athens, GA.
Family: Almost all live in a 60 mile radius, except a cousin in Austin and my sister at Texas A&M University (she’s finishing her doctorate). My aunt Zina Coley works at UWG too! I am married with 2 cats.
People describe me as: Caring and lucky.
My favorite things to do: I love to take road trips and send postcards from all the places I visit. If they’re saving them, my family probably has at least 100 postcards by now.
My proudest accomplishment: I’ve worked in all sorts of positions: waitress, massage therapist, receptionist, production coordinator, line cook, gift shop cashier, volunteer manager, winery tour guide, fundraiser, on-air talent, researcher, baker and teacher. I learned so much from each of those positions, and I am lucky that I’ve never had a job I hated.
My passion: Public broadcasting. Seriously, I think that public broadcasting is so important that if I ever leave teaching, I will return to working in public broadcasting—in whatever way I can help.
My pet peeve: E-mails without a subject line.
Before UWG, I: Worked for KLRU-TV, the public television station in Austin, TX. I started in educational programming, moved into production then development (fundraising, event planning, volunteer management) before going to graduate school. I miss all my public broadcasting family but feel close to them when I get to watch their work, like “Austin City Limits,” on GPB.
I joined UWG because: I grew up here. My parents are alumni of West Georgia College and I spent years on this campus. My mom was a nursing student and my (late) dad studied geology under Dr. Tim Chowns, among others. I attended the pre-kindergarten program here in 1980; my favorite teacher was Miss Ann.
I stay because: I’m learning so much from everyone. I think students know more now than they did when I was in school. I am always learning from them and from my colleagues on campus. When I’m no longer learning, I’ll know it is time to move on.
The best advice I’d give to new faculty and staff: Find out what people are doing at UWG and in the community. There are so many talented people here and they are doing some amazing things.
When I was a child, I wanted to be: A songwriter for Sesame Street. I watched Sesame Street religiously and would sing along and even make up my own versions of the songs.
Most people don't know that: I used to be a registered massage therapist in Texas.
My favorite quotation: “Raindrops splash rainbows,” from a song called “Pure” by the Lightening Seeds. Does that count? I know it is not very scholarly, but it’s my favorite.
The book I think everyone should read: The Giving Tree.
My favorite memory: Living in Austin after graduation, I worked two jobs but still didn’t have enough money to connect electricity at the house I was renting. I would come home in the evening, light candles and re-read some of my favorite books.
The person (alive or dead) I’d most like to meet: Jim Henson.
What I would do if I won the lottery: After an extended road trip to visit America’s National Parks, I would fly to India and study “Galli Galli Sim Sim”—the relatively new Indian version of “Sesame Street.”
What I most want to contribute to students: I’ve probably heard too many commencement speeches, but I hope students know how important lifelong learning is. It is important to make an effort to expose yourself to new ideas, new places and new people both in your field or profession and outside of it.
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