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Acting Skills Propel Scholarship Winner into Broadcasting

Nina Sveinson, winner of the Don Kinney Scholarship, says that this award for a student "who has a bright future in broadcasting" was a vote of confidence that came at just the right time. A journalism major and communication studies minor, Sveinson was finding her course load so demanding that she started to wonder, "Am I good here?" 

But her hard work paid off in more than the confidence boost from the scholarship. The $1,900 award is important to her financially as well. Sveinson has worked summers to pay her way through college (she expects to graduate this spring), but the financial boost allowed her to accept an unpaid internship in Missoula with ABC Fox last summer.

Ann Krueger Kinney established the Don Kinney Scholarship in 1994 in honor of her husband, Don Kinney '64, who worked for Missoula's KGVO radio, went on to work at CBS News in New York, and in 1969 landed in Denver, where he worked for CBS, NBC and PBS. He won many international awards for his reporting and writing.

Sveinson is delighted not only with her scholarship but also with her internship.  "I'm getting so much hands-on experience," she says. At ABC Fox, she works as a reporter, producing two to three stories a day for broadcast. The fast pace is a challenge, but Sveinson says she is up to it.

Sveinson grew up an only child in West Yellowstone, a tourist community that afforded many opportunities for someone like her - in her words, "an outgoing person who likes to meet people and discover new things." She says her class was so small she, "kind of did everything: sports, basketball, volleyball, singing and drama." 

She worked in addition to keeping busy with extracurricular activities. "Tourism is the main thing," she says. Sveinson worked at her mother's resort on Hebgen Lake, the Kirkwood Resort and Marina, and at a souvenir shop.

But her interest in journalism was shaped by two summers acting at the Pinecone Playhouse in West Yellowstone (the playhouse has since moved to Island Park, Idaho). Drama was Sveinson's first focus, but she knew that was not where she wanted to go. She "stumbled on" journalism as she searched for a new direction to take her acting skills. Her choice was a good one: "I love it," Sveinson says.

The School of Journalism's reputation was one thing that attracted Sveinson to UM.  Another was the distance -- "close enough I could go home, but far enough away I wouldn't go too often."

She loves the School and finds the faculty and staff helpful. Sveinson is especially proud of her performance this most recent semester, when she and other students created television newscasts from start to finish, writing, producing, videotaping and anchoring their own shows. 

Nonetheless, finding her way at college has been her biggest challenge. She started as an "awestruck freshman" from a small town with no radio or TV station, so she lacked the experience many of her peers had going in. "The first time I had a video camera was my first class," she says.

Sveinson has high hopes for the future. She wants to be a sports or entertainment anchor, though she knows she'll have to "work her way up." Her ambitions are likely to land her in a bigger city, but she feels that Montana will "always be some kind of home base."