Kelly O’Brien ’15, Broadcast and Digital Journalism

Ready for the Job

Kelly O'Brien

When Kelly O’Brien ’15 started her first position as a TV photojournalist just out of college, she felt right at home at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina, even though she was a long way from NVU.

“Everything I saw being done in the newsroom I already knew how to do. It’s what I learned and lived at News7,” says Kelly, a broadcast and digital journalism major.

As a student, she developed skills as a reporter, web editor, and producer at NVU’s News7-TV, the Emmy award-winning, student-run campus station that covers about 15 nearby towns with a live newscast every weeknight. “I was more prepared than anyone else for the job because of News7,” she says. “It’s very important to know every position and be multiplatform in a newsroom. That’s where the industry is going.”

An Alumni Network That Opens Doors for Graduates

In North Carolina, Kelly soon connected with other EJA alumni who worked at another TV station in the Greensboro area.

“When I went there, I was in a new city and didn’t know anyone. But suddenly I had this network of people in the area. I didn’t know them in college, but they really helped me out,” she says. “Even when you graduate, you never leave NVU because you always have that alumni network…You always meet someone from NVU” working in broadcast journalism.

Kelly was promoted early on at WFMY, where she received an Employee of the Month award. She was on the station’s investigative team when she accepted a position as bureau chief at WCAX-TV in Plattsburgh, New York. Many of her WCAX co-workers are NVU alumni. “NVU was the best experience of my life,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without NVU. It opened so many doors for me.”

Supportive Faculty Helps Students Excel at NVU and Beyond

Some of those doors are connected to News7, which was a big reason Kelly chose NVU.

“How can you turn down an opportunity to go live five days a week at the station? People can’t even believe that News7 lets college students go live every day,” she says. “It’s a real-life internship.”

In addition to opportunities at News7, Kelly was drawn to NVU by the mountain views and small, friendly campus. “I didn’t want to be just an I.D. number. I wanted to make sure I was going to get a good one-on-one experience with teachers,” she says. “The broadcast and digital journalism program was as close-knit as you could get. I could write novels about how much I loved the professors.”

NVU faculty members have broad experience in their field and teach students the most relevant skills for the workplace. “You succeed because the professors are so well-versed in their expertise,” Kelly says. “Everyone I know from NVU is doing something that they went to school for. It’s awesome.”

A High-Impact Career Already Filled with High Points

Kelly’s journalism career has had many highlights so far, including, in her current position, covering President Donald Trump’s visit to Fort Drum, New York, and interviewing actor Ben Stiller. Her story on a skier missing at Whiteface Mountain resort in New York state was carried nationally. For WCAX, she covers three counties, and as a one-person bureau she interviews, does photography, writes, edits, and creates social media content.

“I share the best days of people’s lives and the worst days. I just love my job,” Kelly says. “It’s incredibly rewarding. If I can make a slight difference in anyone’s life, that’s all I ask. As journalists, we have the power to make change sometimes. That’s a luxury not everyone has.”