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Making waves

University of West Georgia alumna Brittney Castona is not only going places; she’s already been to some most people could only dream of. 

While working toward her Bachelor of Business Administration from the Richards College of Business at UWG, Castona was a member of the university’s co-ed cheerleading squad and represented UWG in all-girl stunt competitions. By the time she graduated, Castona had won four national championships, contributing to the cheerleading program’s 25 national titles.

As graduation was approaching, her former cheer teammate and UWG graduate, Taylor Jordan, reached out to Castona about the opportunity of a lifetime: becoming a cast member of Cirque du Soleil aboard the cruise ship MSC Meraviglia. 

Jordan – already a member of the cast – informed Castona that a cast member had been injured and invited her to join the show in that performer’s place. 

“The timing could not have been more perfect since I was about to be done with school, and I had not committed to any other jobs,” she said. “I made the decision to join the cast in March and got on the boat in May.”

Castona said the first day was “a little scary,” but she warmed up quickly to her new environment. Before long, Castona began to feel at home on the ship. Each day brought excitement and new, gratifying experiences. 

“The best part was having the chance to use my talents in order to entertain people while getting to travel the world,” she said. “It was also very rewarding to continue to use my cheerleading skills that I had worked so hard on at UWG.” 

The ship journeyed to three ports in Norway as well as one each in Russia, Finland and Estonia. Passengers boarded the ship at ports in Keil, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark. During her three months onboard, Castona performed two shows per night, six nights per week. 

Castona said this once-in-a-lifetime adventure wouldn’t have been possible without the comprehensive, top-tier education she received at UWG.  

“My time at UWG helped prepare me for this trip in a couple of ways,” Castona said. “One of them being an international management class I took which helped me understand the many different cultures around the world and how to work together with them. Also, UWG Cheer taught me so many life lessons, and I know I couldn’t have done this without that program.”

Castona said she is proud of her accomplishments made possible by the opportunities, support and encouragement she received as a whole at UWG. 

“The university works hard to help its athletes be successful in every area of life from the mat to the classroom and then to the business world,” Castona said. “All of the professors I had in my four years were encouraging and supportive of my cheerleading career while also helping me succeed in my classes. They want you to be successful.”

To make a donation to the Richards College Visionary Endowment Fund, visit giving.westga.edu/rcob, or donate to the Wolves Fund at giving.westga.edu/wolvesfund

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Sam Gentry is a lifelong resident of Carroll County, Georgia. In August of 2007, while enrolled at the University of West Georgia, Sam worked at University Communications and Marketing for two semesters as a student assistant. He began writing for a local newspaper that same year. After graduating from UWG in 2010, Sam continued working for the same paper, where he made his way through the ranks, eventually becoming General Manager in 2017. Sam joined the UCM team again in January of 2020 where he serves as Manager of Media Relations. Besides being a liaison to media outlets, Sam’s writing efforts are focused on the Richards College of Business. In his free time, Sam enjoys writing songs, woodworking, and traveling with his wife, Becky, and four children: Samantha, Will, Audrey, and Gracie.