Laura McKinney: Communication is Key

Photo by Jordan Pietrafitta

If there’s anyone who can do everything, it’s Laura McKinney. A Penn State sophomore, McKinney is heavily involved with the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), broadcast journalism, Ms. Media and the Caring House Project Foundation.

McKinney grew up as the only child in Delray Beach, Florida of two entrepreneur parents and knew that she wanted to do something special with her life.

“Growing up, I always felt a little different than everyone else. I always kind of felt like I went to a different beat. When all of my friends were doing one thing, I was usually doing another thing. Not on purpose, but that’s just how I was,” McKinney says.

At four years old, she became involved with the Caring House Project Foundation, a foundation created in 1998 to provide sustainable villages for the people living in Haiti and other third world countries, such as Nicaragua and Honduras. McKinney grew with the foundation, taking initiative over certain aspects of it and eventually becoming an executive board member, while the foundation has successfully built 25 sustainable villages.

Her main focus, as a part of her position as an executive board member, is to make sure that the children and orphans in these third world countries have clothing, toys and school supplies. As much as McKinney believes that her heart is in the United States, it is as equally abroad in these third world countries with these children.

“Kids need to grow to their full potential and not be afraid. They need to have the resources to be able to do so because the next generation is key,” she says.

Back in the United States, McKinney has been a keynote speaker for young entrepreneurs and leaders. She absolutely loves talking to these kids and being able to tell them not to be afraid to take the first steps and try their best, especially because of her own childhood.

“When I was really little, it was kind of isolating, and I got really lonely. I see myself sometimes in these timid kids because that was me. When I speak to them, I want them to know that it’s okay. That isolation and that loneliness can feel really scary, but if you embrace it, it can actually be really empowering and people will gravitate to them.”

McKinney also worked as an intern for the media management firm, Ms. Media, which is based in Washington D.C. She has been hired part-time as a producer correspondent for The Fem Word, a loudspeaker for badass women and girls who are doing amazing things, and focuses on the university aspect.

“The most important part of the job for me and for the future is making human connections and connecting those people with each other,” she says.

As a part of her broadcast journalism studies, McKinney is involved with PSN News, 46 LIVE and CommRadio and was elected as the student representative for the College of Communications in UPUA. She works closely with the dean of students in the college to solve any issues that students may be having during their time at Penn State.

Her true passion is focusing on the empathetic side of journalism, and she would eventually like to become a news anchor and use her entrepreneurship minor to innovate the business.

“I love listening to people, I really do. I like to hear their stories because everyone has one. I just know there are a lot of people who are quiet and have things to say. Hard news is cool, but I’m really passionate about approaching it in a more empathetic way,” McKinney says.

A final piece of advice that McKinney has is “that the key to life is gratitude. I love the quote by Iyanla Vanzant … ‘if you made it through the past, you passed.’ You made it and you’re still trucking.”


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