Kimberly Chexnayder was one of SRL’s original all-stars who traveled to Washington, D.C. from Kansas City, Missouri in 2013. At the time, she was attending Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. Fast forward five years and Kimberly is now wrapping up her degree in journalism and mass communications, with a certificate in critical cultural competence, from the University of Iowa. Immediately after graduation, this all-star will start her professional career at the National Football League (NFL) as a junior executive in New York City, and will also be working with ESPN to cover college football on weekends. Kimberly says SRL’s ability to connect young students to a wider audience and national platforms helped her see her potential as an influential journalist.
What experiences or lessons do you value most from your time with SRL?
I think that SRL gave me the outlet and opportunity to have my work published on a large scale. Having that opportunity, and being able to share my work nationally gave me the confidence and feedback that encouraged me to continue on this path of becoming a journalist and change agent.
What advice do you have for current SRL participants?
Seize the moment! This program is so amazing and gives you connections and resources that benefit you years down the line. Pitch every story, create every package and go for it because SRL gives you the ability to change the trajectory of your career.
How has being a student journalist helped you grow as an adult?
Being a student journalist has made me so much more aware of our country and society. In every situation I am in, I am wondering what stories are around me and how I can narrate the information I’m consuming. Journalists have been under attack lately but we must not forget how important the fourth estate is. We are the information gatherers and the people who can inform the world with facts they deserve to know.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will be starting my professional career with the National Football League (NFL) in New York City as part of their Junior Rotational Program. I will have the option of rotating departments and cities every six months to a year. My possible placements could take me to New York City, Los Angeles, London, Mexico, Washington D.C. and New Jersey. On top of that, I am in negotiations with ESPN to be a production assistant for this upcoming college football season.
How do you think your SRL experience helped you make decisions around what you would like to pursue as a career?
Journalism has changed my life and I am so proud to be a part of this profession, and to be trusted to gather the news in the most concise and truthful way. My life is going to be consumed with football but I am so excited to start my career with the two largest sport organizations and media outlets in the world!