Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting candid with Kelsey




Moving to New York hasn’t been a lifelong dream for Texas-raised Kelsey McKinney. No lofty aspirations for this girl — she just knew she’d end up here.

First, it was her passion for art that initially put her on this one-stop trajectory to NYC, cultural mecca of performers and artists. She attended a fine arts high school where her concentration was in — get this — 3-D sculpture.

“If you ever need a picture hanged, I can do it,” she explains.

Her specialty? Steelwork. Yes, like Jennifer Beals’ character from “Flashdance” — blowtorch and all. Which explains the now-faint scars on her forearms from once-ragged steel and hot flames. One sculpture she made of a 3 by 3.5 feet feather won her the gold seal for the state of Texas.

But for someone who has already had articles published in both the Atlantic and Slate in addition to her ASME internship at Reader’s Digest, her path to Coral Towers has been anything but straight and narrow. 

Though she held the position of Life and Arts editor for The Daily Texan this past year, she’s actually a journalism major dropout. After seeing that she’d have to take typing tests to get into entry-level journalism, she decided to drop the journalism major to focus on her liberal arts honors program.    

A lifelong journaler, she’s honed her writing and editing chops in other ways: from a high school internship at The Dallas Morning News to a stint at “Delayed Gratification,” a London mag known for it’s “slow journalism” approach to news. All of this, she hopes, will prepare her for her dream job of one day becoming a cultural critic.

“I’m more about content, and online is more content-based,” she says. But the self-proclaimed workaholic notes she doesn’t expect to be able to do this right away.  

“There are so many things that I would do during the day, and then write what I want at night,” she says. 

During her freshman year at the University of Texas, she says she read around 200 books and wrote about them for fun.

“I had friends and everything," Kelsey says. "I just didn’t join any activities.” 

“Kelsey is lucky that writing is both a hobby and a job for her,” says her boyfriend of six years, Trey Dondrea.  Having known each other for a while, Kelsey says she finally got his attention in the ninth grade by handwriting a note to tell him that she liked him.

It worked.  

Though Kelsey says she knew she’d end up in the city, New York is actually growing on her.

“Everyone here is something more than they’re telling you,” she says. And sort of like the scars on her arms that you wouldn’t know about unless you asked, Kelsey is a part of that, too. 

When she gets back to The University of Texas in the fall she’ll focus on revamping The Daily Texan’s online presence as associate managing editor in charge of online content.

“It’s going to be a total disaster,” she laughs.

But for her, this is just another challenge to tackle.

By Michela Tindera, Indiana University, Family Circle
Edited by Morgan Grain, Florida A&M University, InStyle

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