Ever since Kelli Gemmer could remember, she wanted to write. Feeding her hunger for storytelling, Kelli spent her high school years putting together the yearbook. When college rolled around, she transitioned seamlessly into Florida State with dual majors in Media Communication Studies and Editing, Writing and Media.
During her undergraduate career, Kelli uncovered a huge piece of southern history as a research assistant for Professor Davis Houck. Kelli was in Houck’s Persuasion course and when he sent out a call for research assistants, she gladly volunteered her time. After hours in the Strozier basement pouring over microfilm, she stumbled onto something huge – Stanford University’s Project South interviews, which took place during the summer of 1965, when a group of eight students traveled the Southern United States and gathered more than 300 hours of audio recordings.
After hours in the Strozier basement pouring over Project South’s microform documents, she decided to reach out to Stanford University and see if they had any audio recordings. What she uncovered was more than she could have ever dreamed. Through gracious help from Stanford University’s special collections, Kelli secured MP3 audio originals and PDF searchable transcriptions. Prior to Kelli’s discovery, the content was only available in certain libraries via microfiche cards that could only be read using a microform reader.
As she sifted through the audio recordings, Kelli came across recordings from Dr. Martin Luther King, Freedom Labor Union, Congress of Race Equality, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Ku Klux Klan meetings. Houck has since been featured on NPR for the relatively obscure archives, calling them “just remarkable… there’s simply nothing else even remotely like it.”
In 2014, Kelli graduated summa cum laude with two majors and a minor. The Monday after graduation, Kelli started her new gig as a Media Specialist for the FSU College of Education. In her day-to-day, she handles alumni relations, social media management and event coordination. Each year, the College of Education releases its annual magazine, The Torch, which Kelli writes and edits content for.
“In a way, my current position is yearbook on a University grand scale,” she laughed. “In other words, I’m doing exactly what I dreamt of doing after college.”
Slowing down isn’t in her plan and Kelli looks forward to start graduate school in the Fall. The College of Communication graduate will return to complete a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communication. After she secures her degree, she sees herself doing much of the same – social media, writing and digital media.