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NBC’s Meet the Press selects Laken Kincaid for 2024 fellowship

Laken Kincaid is the 16th recipient of the Meet The Press fellowship.
Laken Kincaid
2024 Meet The Press Recipient Laken Kincaid is pictured at NBC’s studio during the final leg of interviews.

On April 2, Meet the Press welcomed Laken Kincaid ’24 to the newsroom. In honor of Tim Russert ’72, the fellowship was created selectively with John Carroll graduating seniors in mind. With impressive academics and accolades, Kincaid was selected, having been preparing for this fellowship since their enrollment at John Carroll in 2020.

Kincaid’s accolades showcase their stamina for news and the community. Kincaid served as editor-in-chief at The Carroll News for their senior year, previously serving as staff reporter from 2020-21, campus editor from 2021-22 and managing editor from 2022-23. During their employment with the student newspaper, they have earned 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalist Mark of Excellence Award for Region 4 and 2 honorable mentions from the College Media Association.

Kincaid wears many hats, dabbling in other related fields. Other accolades include news director at WJCU 88.7, captain of Speech and Debate, senior resident assistant (SRA), founder of Art with the Elderly and peer learning facilitator for communications. Outside of John Carroll, Kincaid writes political satire for The Hilltop Show and is a feature writer for The Borgen Project.

Dr. Brent Brossmann, Chair of the Communications Department, explained the interview process at John Carroll this year.

“We opted to interview 7 candidates this year. Each of those had to come in and were given a prompt where they had to go spend 30 minutes beforehand researching the prompt– something very similar to the job that they will be doing at Meet The Press– going 5 to 7 minutes making a pitch [and] answering that prompt with detailed research they had done on a news story.”

A panel of six determined the candidates, consisting of Brossmann, Associate Professor of Political Science Colin Swearingen, Chair of Political Science Andreas Sobisch, Director of Blue Streak Media Kyle Hartzell, Associate Dean of Communications Lisa Shoaf and Associate Dean of Humanities Dr. Maryclaire Moroney.

After interviewing the applicants, the panel narrows down the pool and selects a few candidates who are “truly deserving and excellent.” Once they are selected, the panel sends them to Meet the Press; it is no longer in the university’s hands.

“If we only have two, we’ll only send two. In a year in which we have four that meet the requirement, we might very well send four,” emphasized Brossmann.

At the Meet The Press studio located in Washington D.C, more interviews are conducted in early spring between Executive Producer David Gelles and Senior Broadcast Producer Sarah Blackwell. The selected candidates then gain a lay of the land. Brossmann recalled that the group sat right behind Gelles and Blackwell and “watched them build the show” this year.

“I would have been happy had Meet the Press chosen any of them,” said Brossmann.

When speaking about the selectee, Brossmann had nothing but confidence in Kincaid’s abilities. “They’re dynamite, a force of nature,” he commented. “You’re starting over and it’s a new opportunity to grow.”

“I have every reason to believe that Laken will succeed, grow and do tremendously there,” concluded Brossmann.

Director of WJCU Jasen Sokol was also more than proud to see all Kincaid’s hard work and talent pay off. He has seen their growth since their freshman year, where they took their Radio Boot Camp class on Zoom due to COVID-19.

“I could already tell at that point how impressive Laken was going to be,” explained Sokol. “Being able to pick all of that up in an online format is not easy… Laken handled it really well and just kept growing from there.”

Sokol was ecstatic to see how far this growth has taken them. “My reaction was pretty much the same as what I do when the [Lake Erie] Monsters score a goal to win a game in overtime,” commented Sokol. “Laken is not just a leader among things here at John Carroll; Laken’s a leader among college media nationally.”

In addition, 2023 Meet The Press Fellow Nora McKee ’23 is excited to see Kincaid follow in the role and had wisdom to offer.

“Be patient with yourself. You’re starting from scratch. You’re also working a full-time job that has a wacky schedule. It’s going to be amazing. You’re going to feel like you’re going through a tornado [but] you get [out] what you put into it.”

McKee further went on to acknowledge the incredible team that Laken is joining at Meet The Press and encouraged them to take advantage of their presence. “You’re surrounded by so much support and so much pride for what you have done in school.”

“That’s been my favorite part of the job, having a team that is so thoughtful,” added McKee.

Kincaid will embark in September on a 9-month internship with NBC’s Meet The Press, meeting renowned politicians and reporters, working long hours in the newsroom and representing John Carroll with pride. Applications for rising seniors will open for the 2024-25 fellowship on Wed., Nov. 1 at 5 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Vic Jackson
Vic Jackson, Student Government Beat Reporter
Vic Jackson is the Student Government Beat Reporter for The Carroll News from Akron, Ohio. He is a sophomore at John Carroll University double majoring in Communications (Digital Media) and English (Creative Writing) and minoring in Peace, Justice & Human Rights (PJHR). Aside from The Carroll News, Vic is a DJ for The Heights, a student researcher for the Tim Russert Department of Communications, part of Black Students in Action (BSA) and the East Asian Student Association (EASA), a member of JCU's acapella group Sweet Carrollines and a barista at Saxby's, among other things. In their free time, they enjoy listening to R&B and jazz, writing poetry, admiring art and fashion, spending time outdoors and hanging out with friends. After graduation, Vic hopes to work at a major broadcasting station or be a world news journalist for a national news organization. To contact Vic, email him at [email protected].
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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