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April 6, 2009 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Former Salienteer heading to Columbia

Former Salient News Editor and Feature Writer Nicola Kean has laid waste to her student media heritage by becoming the second Salienteer to be accepted into the prestigious Columbia University in New York.

Kean, who graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2007 with first class honours in political science, gained entry into the Ivy League School of Journalism following a lengthy and arduous application route.

“Applying for any US university is quite a lengthy process. You have to fill out online forms, pay a fee, get referees to write letters of recommendation and put together various essays as requested by the university,” Kean said.

“For Columbia, I put together a collection of my best articles, wrote an autobiographical essay and a professional statement about my career goals. That was all due in December [2008], and then the waiting began. The whole process was pretty intense, but obviously the effort was worth it.”

Kean, who intends to complete a Masters of Science in Journalism, has dabbled in mainstream journalism with The Southland Times.

She anticipates, however, that the spectre of reporting in New York will be something beyond anything she has encountered before.

“New media [will be] my concentration. It’s a 10 month long course, with the first half learning the basics and the second half doing work experience,” she said.

“The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism has been consistently rated as one of the top journalism schools in the world. I visited the campus in 2007 and was seriously impressed with the intelligence and dedication of the faculty staff.”

Her success, however, has been tapered somewhat by the daunting prospect of financing her Columbian adventure.

The flaccid New Zealand dollar, coupled with the exorbitant cost of studying abroad, has left her needing to accumulate approximately $120,000 NZ.

“International student fees are around US$40,000, but living in New York is also quite expensive and you can’t work on a student visa in the States,” Kean lamented.

At the time of printing, Kean had secured a $7000 US grant from the university itself, but remained hopeful a complete solution would rise to the fore.

“I applied for a Fulbright scholarship last year, but narrowly missed out, so I’m contacting community organisations and other potential funders to ask for grants,” she explained. “I’ve got about three months to get it sorted.”

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism was founded by famed journalist Joseph Pulitzer. As well as offering three postgraduate courses, it awards the renowned Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.

Anyone wishing to help Nicola can do so by sending an email to with “Columbia” in the subject line.


About the Author ()

Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (4)

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  1. Laura McQuillan says:

    I’m keen on Kean. Dayyyyuuum

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    There is also a Facebook group which you can join

  3. Fiddy Cent says:

    I got fiddy cent for her cakehole.

    Dat’s how fat.

  4. Fundraiser this Saturday at Mighty Mighty!

    The Cupcake Diaries is a project combining baking, literature and good old-fashioned commerce – basically our stalls sell various flavours of cupcake accompanied with thematically appropriate short stories.

    Anyway, we’re at Mighty Mighty Markets this Saturday from 4pm and will be donating all proceeds to Nicola’s Kean On Columbia fund. You get a cupcake and a story, Nicola gets $2 and we get a sense of smug self-righteousness. Everybody wins!

    Link to the Facebook event is on the left. Hope to see you there!

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