Young Alumni Spotlight: Grace Reynolds, '20, producer at WTVY Dothan
Finding a career in storytelling was inevitable for recent alumna Grace Reynolds. In high school, she found her passion after taking a newspaper class, where she fell in love with storytelling.
“Whether the storytelling takes place in the commercial television field, or working for a university, I am excited to tell stories and showcase programs and people that are exciting and making a difference,” Reynolds said.
As a student at Auburn, Reynolds worked at Eagle Eye Television and the University’s Office of Communication and Marketing. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Reynolds, a 2020 journalism graduate, is now a producer for WTVY in Dothan, AL.
The York, South Carolina, native (and oldest of four siblings) tells us about her decision to attend Auburn, how she made the most of her time on the Plains, and what a typical day looks like for her as a producer.
What made you decide to attend Auburn?
I chose Auburn because I fell in love with the campus. Everything was beautiful and bright and clean. Seeing things like people hanging out on Samford Lawn and the pride the city has for the school made it easy to love. I hadn’t heard much about it before I visited campus other than knowing FSU beat them in the 2014 National Championship (my parents are both FSU grads). And, I had only ever driven through Alabama. My mom and I took a college road trip where we toured a bunch of schools in a week, and I knew as soon as I got to Auburn that there wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be. Although Auburn is six hours from my home in SC, I knew it was the right place for me. I went home after that trip and did everything I could to get the scholarship money I needed to make going to an out-of-state school a reality.
How did you choose your major?
I chose journalism because I knew I wanted to share stories that were important to a community. I wanted a job that was different every day and felt like I was making a tangible difference. I’ve always liked to write, and I really enjoy getting to talk to people that I wouldn’t otherwise talk to. I also like staying busy and knew that journalism was a field where there was always work to be done.
What was your Auburn experience like as a student?
As a student, I was most involved with Eagle Eye TV. I met some of my very best friends there and had some of my favorite memories. I spent almost all of my free time there and got to work alongside some really talented people and great advisors (Billy Ferris!). Eagle Eye also refined who I wanted to be as a journalist, as I got to experience what it was like being in front of and behind the camera. I had the freedom to do stories I wanted to do and was able to make mistakes there that made me a better journalist. Outside of Eagle Eye, I worked in Samford Hall in the communications office. There, I got to refine my video skills and really grew to love the university more as I got to see parts of it I had never seen before through the videos we shot. Plus, I loved being able to say I worked in Samford and had some of the best bosses (Jim Jackson and Kevin Fichtner!). And, I was deeply involved with the Navigators Christian ministry.
What is your favorite memory or tradition at Auburn?
My favorite memory is the 2019 Iron Bowl. I don’t think I have ever been that excited for that long. It was the perfect last game as an Auburn student and one I won’t ever forget. Rolling Toomer’s with the rest of the Auburn Family is always so special, but that night was extra sweet.
What was your career path after graduation? And do you feel your Auburn experience helped prepare you for that path?
I work at WTVY in Dothan as a producer. My experience at Eagle Eye was definitely what got me where I am. I also interned at WSFA in Montgomery and was able to make a lot of valuable connections and learn what the TV industry really was, outside of learning about it in the classroom. In the classroom I think I became a better writer, but it was at Eagle Eye and at my internship that I learned the most about the TV industry.
Tell us a little about what you do, or what a typical day might look like for you.
I’m the evening producer so I get to work at 2 p.m. I produce the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. shows. My job is to write stories, cut video and make graphics for the shows. I check to make sure reporter’s stories are in on time, and I make sure the show flows smoothly from one story to the next. When the show is live, it’s my responsibility to make sure it starts and ends right on time, which sometimes means cutting stories out if we’re going to go over our time limit.
Why is it important to stay connected to Auburn?
It’s important to stay connected to Auburn because Auburn is a family. Auburn’s the kind of place that dreamed up in books and movies, and it’s the kind of place that you just can’t resist going back to. I think a lot of schools try to give students that same experience but Auburn does it better than anyone.
What advice do you have for those looking to work in your field?
I would say to remember that the work you do is important and necessary. Even when people don’t like the stories I work on, I know those stories matter. There’s a quote that says “journalism is the first rough draft of history” and I really believe that’s true. It’s a privilege to get to be the first to tell people about some of the most important things going on in their world and give them the information they need to form opinions and make informed decisions. Journalism also connects readers and viewers with the stories from worlds they will never experience. Also, I know everyone says connections are important, but I found that to be true when it came time to get a job. When COVID-19 hit and I wasn’t getting any of the jobs I had applied for, I was losing hope and facing the reality that I wouldn’t have a job when I graduated. But, because of a connection made at Auburn, I had a news director call me out of the blue and pretty much offer me a job on the spot because he had heard about me through a mutual friend.