After graduating from the University of North Carolina with a degree in journalism and Spanish, Keely Stockett Hungate ’05 would first explore other career paths before working as a creative lead at 26 Tools, an independent brand consultancy based in Chattanooga.
Unsure of committing to reporting, Hungate considered law school. A new job at a Washington, D.C., law firm led to another at the American Red Cross National Headquarters Office of the General Counsel, but neither felt like a perfect fit. “I’m grateful for both of those experiences,” recounts Hungate. “They helped me decide that the legal world wasn’t for me after all, and that I would rather pursue a career more closely related to journalism.” She moved back to Chattanooga where she handled marketing and public relations for Four Bridges Capital, a boutique investment banking firm. She also took on freelance projects, which led to meeting Caleb Ludwick, the founder and principal of 26 Tools and father of two Baylor students, Ada ’19 and Evelyn ’21.
Hungate’s work at 26 Tools certainly resonates with Ludwick. “Since Keely has joined our team, the dynamics in the office have changed for the better – better dialogue, better collaboration, better multi-tasking, better design direction, better long-term thinking, more heart, and more soul. She’s changed what’s possible at 26 Tools. We’ve gone from one guy writing for esoteric projects to more than 18 subcontractors working on a cadre of cool projects, and that’s integrally related to Keely’s involvement.”
Hungate believes that the brief sidetracks were important even as they led her all the way back to her first love, and she credits Baylor with giving her the confidence to explore her options. “I still think of myself as a writer first, and I probably always will,” she says. “Baylor nurtured that passion in me, from my very first English class in the seventh grade with Shaw Wilson ’84. But it wasn’t just English; every course, from Eastern religions to environmental science to calculus, shaped the way I learn. My Baylor teachers showed me the importance of keeping an open mind, of asking the right questions, of being receptive to the thoughts and ideas of others while confidently communicating my own. I truly believe the opportunity to attend Baylor led me to where I am today.”