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Pulitzer winner Bragg addresses GRU freshman class

Pulitzer winner was 'very lucky'

Friday, Aug 16, 2013 8:20 PM
Last updated Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 6:47 PM
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The inaugural freshman class of Georgia Regents University got a reading assignment and an opportunity to meet the assignment’s Pulitzer Prize-winning author Friday.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg speaks Friday during Georgia Regents University's freshman convocation at Maxwell Theatre. Bragg admitted he never finished his bachelor's degree.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg speaks Friday during Georgia Regents University's freshman convocation at Maxwell Theatre. Bragg admitted he never finished his bachelor's degree.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

Rick Bragg, who rose from Alabama poverty to win the Pulitzer for feature writing for The New York Times, conceded at GRU freshman convocation that he had never completed the bachelor’s degree he began many years ago.

“I am technically a freshman at Jacksonville State University,” said Bragg, now a professor of writing at the University of Alabama.

Bragg said that he began writing when his “craft was still blue collar” – but that for all in the audience, that has changed.

Bragg said he had been “very lucky” to travel the world .

“I’ve seen a holy man at the edge of the Saudi desert sing and call a beautiful prayer” and had “a voodoo priest in Haiti look at me and try to turn me into a goat.”

“He was only half-successful,” Bragg said.

His hero, “a little bitty woman in south Alabama called Harper Lee,” managed to leave him nearly speechless, however.

Bragg said that in a meeting with Lee – a Pulitzer winner for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird – he could manage only four words, after showing her his Harper Lee Award for being Alabama’s distinguished writer of the year: “Yes ma’am, it’s huge.”

GRU freshman Dalton Long said he had just finished the reading assignment, Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ and was impressed by the author.

“I wasn’t expecting him to be that cool,” Long said.

GRU President Ricardo Azziz said Bragg’s rise from poverty to great acclaim “could be a role model for many.”

“Mr. Bragg made the most of his opportunities,” Azziz said. “He knew that he needed to seize the moment to fulfill his role in his life.”

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Young Fred
Young Fred 08/17/13 - 03:54 am
I'll have to check out his

I'll have to check out his work. Every since Anwar won his Pulitzer I've realized how little and how PC the prize means. Doesn't mean this guy isn't deserving. Also doesn't mean my opinion holds weight.

corgimom 08/17/13 - 05:34 am
You've never read Rick Bragg?

You've never read Rick Bragg? He is INCREDIBLE, all of his books are marvellous.

He is one of my favorite authors.

Young Fred
Young Fred 08/17/13 - 06:18 am
"You've never read Rick

"You've never read Rick Bragg? He is INCREDIBLE, all of his books are marvellous. "

Can't say that I have, But I'll surely look him up. Wasn't there a little controversy associated with this guy a few years back<

kdsa 08/17/13 - 06:35 am
Registration challenges

While GRU was conducting freshman convocation many returning students faced challenges registering for fall classes. IT changed to a new system, password resets were a challenge, fees could only be paid a certain way ( certain credit cards were accepted while Visa cards were not ), etc. A suggestion would be for GRU to acknowledge these challenges to students and communicate frequently among students and departments. I personally know of several students who have had enough of these types of challenges and are ready to,find education elsewhere without feeling like they are being forgotten and frankly yanked around during this time of change.

Young Fred
Young Fred 08/17/13 - 07:10 am

You have to remember that GRU is basically a bureaucracy. To realistically expect things to run smoothly is to have high expectations indeed!

No matter how frustrating, take it as a life lesson. Does incompetence tick you off? Believe me, you'll experience more of the same.

seenitB4 08/17/13 - 08:58 am
I love his books

It's all over but the shouting is a fantastic book.....I shared it with others.....he is a down home kinda writer.....just like most of us on here......he deserves the praise.

JustAJoe 08/17/13 - 01:15 pm
He is not without his

He is not without his controversy:
" On May 28, 2003, after being given a two-week suspension for writing a story that was reported by an uncredited stringer,[1] Bragg resigned from the New York Times.[2]
For the story, an account of Florida Gulf Coast oystermen culture he had written the year before, Bragg relied on the reporting of volunteer intern J. Wes Yoder. The article ran with a dateline of Apalachicola, Florida, and began:
"The anchor is made from the crankshaft of a junked car, the hull is stained with bottom muck, but the big Johnson outboard motor is brand new. Chugging softly, it pushes the narrow oyster boat over Apalachicola Bay, gently intruding on the white egrets that slip like paper airplanes just overhead, and the jumping mullet that belly-flop with a sharp clap into steel-gray water."
The Washington Post reported that "Bragg freely admits that he sent his intern, Yoder, who was compensated only with lunch and rent money, on the boat." A review by the Times found that while Bragg "indeed visited Apalachicola briefly and wrote the article, the interviewing and reporting on the scene were done by a freelance journalist, J. Wes Yoder. The article should have carried Mr. Yoder's byline with Mr. Bragg's."[3]
Bragg's defense — that it is common for Times correspondents to slip in and out of cities to "get the dateline" while relying on the work of stringers, researchers, interns and clerks — was contested by Times reporters, and sparked "more passionate disagreement than the clear-cut fraud and plagiarism committed by fellow reporter Jayson Blair."[4]

raul 08/17/13 - 04:24 pm
Just put a hold on a couple

Just put a hold on a couple of his books at the library. I'll give him a try.

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