By Libby O'Neall (Jour'21)
Photo by Kimberly Coffin (CritMed, StratComm’18)

When fourth-year student Grace Channell thinks back on her time in college, she finds that her studies not only enriched her education, but her relationships as well.

With a major in communication and double minors in journalism and business, Channell considers herself a lifelong learner. As a student, she launched into new experiences, becoming co-lead organizer for TEDxCU and diving into University of Colorado Boulder Student Ambassadors as a team leader. Through time with mentors, teachers and friends, Channell said she learned about herself and how she works best.

“I have learned what friendships serve me and how to have fun! I have learned the value and importance of great relationships with mentors, teachers and friends,” she said. “All in all the main thing that I would synthesize this to is that I have learned how relationships can change everything.”

Channell will graduate this month with a degree in communication and the honor of being named the Department of Communication’s William W. White Outstanding Senior, an award given to students in each department based on a combination of academic merit, professional achievement and service to the college.

We chatted with Channell to learn more about the wisdom she gained and what it means to her as she pursues her next step after graduation.

 Was there a project you worked on or a real-world experience that you gained as a student that you’re especially proud of or that taught you a lot? Why are you proud of it, and what did you learn
TEDxCU is an organization that brought my college experience to life. It was my gateway to friends as a freshman. Little did I know that it would open my eyes to so many different people and ideas. I am incredibly proud of it because it is full of people that make one another better. They are smarter and more creative than I will ever be, and I thank them all the time for making me a better person. 

The sense of pride I have in this community will be carried with me to wherever my life takes me."

 A huge part of college is finding a community of people to support you, work with you, mentor you and encourage you. Who was in your herd during college and how did they shape your experience
Jeff Motter is the professor, mentor and friend who held me accountable all throughout my experience here at CU. Jeff and I met in my freshman year when I joined his vibrant  programming team on TEDxCU. He took a chance on a freshman to be a speaker coach, and I could not have been more grateful he did. I had the privilege of taking two classes from Jeff in political communication and rhetorical thinking. He challenged me to think outside of my comfort zone and create pieces of work that challenged me to think critically. Jeff Motter was often the sound voice that I needed, and the professor that brought me to new conclusions.   

 It’s clear that you took academics very seriously during your time at CMCI. Outside of classwork, what’s something you learned about yourself during college?
I learned that I need a consistent balance of work and play. One without the other made college for me not as fun. But when I kept them balanced, my time was fruitful and memorable. I also learned that college is a time to fail. CU has provided me with space to make sure that I fall down to get back up. Being encouraged to take leadership positions showed me how to engage with others on new levels. It also allowed me to bring new students into leadership positions and watch them grow as well.  

 From your time at CU, what will you carry with you into your next chapter?
From my time here at CU, I will carry on a sense of wonderment and curiosity that academia has presented to me. I will find ways to connect with many people from all walks of life and continue the relationships I have created. These friends and mentors have greatly impacted me throughout my academic, professional and personal life. The sense of pride I have in this community will be carried with me to wherever my life takes me. 

 Based on what you know now, what is your best piece of advice for other students?
The best piece of advice that I could give to any student is to learn, act and listen. Learn from making mistakes and taking chances. Act like the person that you want to be day in and day out, and the right things will come your way. Listen to the people around you and hear their stories. Stories will forever be the best way to communicate.

 What does graduating from college represent for you?
Graduating college means to me that I am able to start a life with a rich education. Education has given me the freedom to see what would be possible for my professional career and the rest of my life. Graduating represents the next chapter of my life that will blossom due to the amazing community that has grown me into the lifelong student I am today. 

 If you’re up for a challenge, try to sum up your college experience in three words!
Fulfilling, chaotic and joyful.

Connect with Grace Channell on Instagram at gracechannell.