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Alum shares how UWG experiences led to CNN

As an Emmy-nominated CNN correspondent, University of West Georgia alumnus Darryl Forges ’14 is one of the most trusted names in news. 

He’s been with the network for more than two years, traveling across the country covering hard-hitting stories. In Minneapolis and Houston, covering the murder and funeral of George Floyd. At Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, reporting on the manhunt for fugitive Brian Laundrie. In Surfside, Florida, detailing the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse. 

Forges said he’s always felt driven to help keep others informed. As a kid in the 5th grade, he was also charged with delivering a vital piece of information that was on everyone’s mind: lunch.

“I did the announcements each morning – simple things like bus reminders and what the cafeteria would be serving,” he recalled. “Everyone would ask, ‘Hey Darryl, what are we having for lunch?’ I was that guy who knew everything. For some reason, that really excited me. I liked being able to tell people things they didn’t know.”

Although his interests in broadcast journalism increased, college wasn’t necessarily on his radar. But then he received special guidance.

“My fiancée, Kia – who I’ve known since 11th grade – encouraged me to do better in school and apply for college,” shared Forges, a first-generation college graduate. “The best decision I made was giving her my gradebook password so she could go online and look at my grades.”

Forges applied to several universities, eventually deciding on UWG. At first glance, he said he enjoyed the atmosphere but still considered transferring.

“Once I experienced what was going on at the university, I saw the potential,” he said. “I thought if I can continue to do things here, the sky’s the limit. I wanted to be part of something that was being built and decided to stay.”

While at UWG, Forges experienced what researchers coined the “Big Six,” which are factors that build student engagement and outcomes both while enrolled and after graduation. He participated in experiential learning opportunities that the School of Communication, Film, and Media (SCFM) is known for, which helped provide a solid foundation to build his career upon. 

Forges served as the news director for WUTV, the university’s student-run television station, where he also had a show called “The Conversation.” 

“WUTV was my baby,” he beamed. “It taught me not only how to balance myself but how to deal with people from all different walks of life, religions and political backgrounds. It took some trial and error, but I was able to learn so much. When people thank me at work for understanding them, that was really because of WUTV.”

Concurrently, Forges was also receiving hands-on experiences off campus as an intern with WXIA 11Alive and WSB Radio, applying what he learned there to his classwork.

Along the way, Forges had mentors who encouraged him to pursue his dreams and invested in his future. Faculty members like Sonya Barnes, instructor and WUTV general manager.

“She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he shared. “She told me I had a lot of potential and I had to keep going and not be complacent. Her guidance was really crucial for me. She prepared me for what was next once I graduated.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Forges moved to Montgomery to work as a bureau reporter for WAKA, also known as the Alabama News Network. As a multimedia journalist, he mastered a wide range of skills that included not only writing his own stories but shooting and editing them as well. 

Forges’ career escalated quickly. He was promoted to the main newsroom at WAKA where he stayed for a year before moving to WTVJ NBC6 in Miami. During his three years there as a reporter, he was nominated for an Emmy.

Today, as a national correspondent for CNN, he covers a variety of topics from natural disasters to New Year’s Eve in New York City.

But no matter where he is reporting from or who for, Forges never forgets where it all started. He returns to UWG often for various alumni events and annual Media Day celebrations. This weekend, he’ll serve as co-master of ceremonies for the university’s Presidential Black Tie Gala with Dr. Nancy Irwin ’77, who recently endowed UWG’s Inge Manski Lundeen Opera Scholarship.

During Alumni Weekend next month, Forges will be honored at the 45th annual Alumni Awards program with the Spotlight Award, an award that recognizes an alumnus who has brought credit to the university in a relatively short period of time.

“UWG means everything to me,” he concluded. “It’s exciting to come back, talk to students and see the professors. UWG was a game-changer. I was the first male in my family to attend and graduate college. Because my siblings saw their older brother going to college, it inspired them to continue their education. UWG opened that door for all of us.”

If you’re interested in sharing your UWG story, email [email protected].

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Julie Lineback
Originally from East Tennessee, Julie Lineback joined the University of West Georgia in August 2006. Her career started in 2000, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While serving as a communications specialist at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, she received an Award of Quality from the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest public relations organization, for her work on a catalog. She also worked as a website editor, copywriter and search engine specialist for BellSouth, where she was a certified Google AdWords Professional. Most recently, she received the UWG School of Communication, Film, and Media's Distinguished Service Award for 2023.