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"From the close friends that become family, to the challenging professors that become close resources, everyone has made my experience the best it could be."

By Jayna Morris | Photography by Scott Beseler | Published June 2020
Josh Kelly

HOMETOWN: Owensboro, Kentucky
MAJORS: Journalism
MINOR: Sociology and Organizational Leadership

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky, where we are one of the bigger cities in Kentucky. However, we’re not the known throughout the state.

Why did you choose NKU? What kept you here?

Owensboro is a growing city, but we aren’t big. I wanted to be able to learn from the talented faculty and get a great plug into Cincinnati. I knew going to a school that was close to Cincinnati would be great for me to get my start somewhere. I stayed for the people. From the close friends that become family, to the challenging professors that become close resources, everyone has made my experience the best it could be.

Can you tell me a little about what you're studying?
I am a Journalism major with minors in Sociology and Organizational Leadership. I want to be able to interview, learn and tell the stories that matter to people. I want to learn how things that I see and encounter impact the people around me and be able to help make a change. Journalism is helping me learn to write these stories, while my sociology is teaching me how to research these and find how change has happened. Organizational Leadership is what’s going to help me take this change and move it forward.

Describe NKU in one word.
Intimate. Everything about this university is very personal and deeper than the typical connection. I have always felt my teachers have cared tremendously and wanted to see me succeed. The staff throughout the campus wants the best for everyone and tries to get to know you personally and how to help you specifically and not blanketed.

What’s your favorite class?
The best class I’ve had was my Media Literacy class (EMB105) with Tracy Songer. I took it my first semester of college, and it changed my entire trajectory for college. First, it introduced me to Tracy, and she has pushed me to seize every opportunity I’ve had. Then thereafter, I started to learn how the media we consume has an affect on us as people and how I want to change the media. Which then evolved into helping everyone.

Where is your favorite spot on campus? What makes that spot so special?
Health Innovation Center. There have been several times I’ve been in a study room until late at night doing homework and bonding with friends. It has become a place where a lot of the black students study during the night, so I’m there learning from the older students while also uplifting the underclassmen.

Where’s the best place to study on campus?
Health Innovation Center. In one of the rooms, you barely realize when people are walking by and you are able to have a lot of students meet in the meeting room and conduct meetings and goof off with a TV screen for Netflix if you want.

What is your greatest passion?
My greatest passion is to help people. I want to help people reach their best potentials and get to a place that they feel comfortable and help change the things that don’t allow people to be successful.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?
The summer before my junior year, NKU’s Staff Congress fully paid for me and three other Journalism students to go to the National Association of Black Journalists national conference in Miami, Florida. We were able to network with professionals, some for the first time, and we got to witness a debate with the 2020 presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I don’t have much free time, but when I do, I’m with The Northerner staff. 

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)? Why?

Tracy Songer! She has inspired me to follow so many passions that I didn’t know were in me. She has pushed me to apply for a lot of opportunities, read my resume and been a reference for me on multiple applications.

What advice would you give to a first-year student?
I would tell them to allow themselves to grow. There is so much that NKU has to offer, and to come into this experience without giving yourself the chance to improve your skills, to alter your circumstance and to find the best parts of your heart, you’ve missed out. There’s going to be some struggles along the way but you need to be able to grow along the way.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
I’m looking forward to taking the skills and abilities that I learned here and honed in on to make an impact on the world around me.

What does getting your degree mean to you?
Getting my degree is huge. I am a first-generation college student and the fifth in my family and the only child to make it passed sophomore year. Being able to graduate and know that I have overcome so much to get to this point and it’s only possible because of the people that I have had supporting me thus far.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?
-Join at least one basketball game! Getting involved will be so important to making connections on and off campus.

-Go to VictorFest! It’s one of the best things you can do in the fall semester, so much to do and get involved and stay entertained.

Tell me anything else about yourself and/or NKU that you want folks to know.
The Black community on campus has been one of the most crucial communities I’ve been a part of during my time at NKU. They have given me friends, family, role models and pushed me to places that I didn’t see myself before. A freshman wanting to get involved should join NKU R.O.C.K.S. to learn about what the Black community can do and help them with during their time at NKU.