Less than a decade ago Katie Kerbstat was still writing for The Quadrangle.
About one month ago Kerbstat accepted an Emmy for her work with CBS’ “60 Minutes”.
She helped produce “A Crime Against Humanity”, which aired in April 2016 and told the story of a 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria.
Kerbstat credits Manhattan College for helping her find and pursue her career in journalism.
“After high school I had no idea what I wanted to major in in college, let alone do with my life,” Kerbstat said.
“Luckily upon admission to MC, I got one of those Quad scholarships to write for the newspaper and I liked it so I majored in communications with a concentration in print journalism.”
Kerbstat was a member of the first graduating class of MC’s Communication program.
Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D., is the founding Chair of the Communication program and said he immediately knew that Kerbstat was a promising student.
“She went on and did tremendously and graduated with honors. With being a volleyball player and being the editor in chief of the Quadrangle, we might say she was an overachiever,” Gencarelli said.
Kerbstat said that some of her professors at MC had real experience as journalists which allowed them to show her what the industry was like from the inside.
“I was captivated by classes taught by adjunct professors like Marek Fuchs who worked at the New York Times and Joe Lauria who covered the UN beat for the Wall Street Journal,” she said.
“I knew I was hooked on news after a day following Lauria around the [United Nations]. I was in awe of his access to interview ambassadors, humanitarians and world leaders face to face.”
While she was a student, Kerbstat interned at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CBS 2 News and CBS’ “60 Minutes”.
Gencarelli said that Kerbstat found her internships on her own and she was so capable and driven that she didn’t need his help.
However, after Kerbstat graduated she was able to help a MC student get an internship at CBS.
Gencarelli said that he had a student who was in her senior year and she sent out seven resumes but did not get an interview for a single internship position.
“I went to check my Facebook and there was an instant message from Katie Kerbstat. I don’t remember what it was about but I responded to her and hit send,” Gencarelli said.
“Then I typed, ‘By the way, I have a really capable student who is looking for an internship for the spring. Do you guys still have any openings for anything?”
He said that within a couple of minutes, Kerbstat replied and said she would do her best to help.
“Low and behold, that person is now an associate producer for CBS,” Gencarelli said.
He said that Kerbstat was responsible for helping this MC student get to where she is now.
Gencarelli said that it’s not always easy to connect students with alumni because the Communication program only has five graduated classes so far.
“We want to take over the world and Jaspers will look out for Jaspers. And because we only have five years of Jaspers looking out for Jaspers, people have to work their way up the ladder in order to be in positions to help others,” Gencarelli said.
Kerbstat said that the small size of MC’s Communication program alumni has not hindered her ability to achieve success.
“I think MC also gives students a certain underdog mentality too, which helped in a competitive, post-recession work world. We’re a small school but just like our sports programs, we’re use to uphill battles,” Kerbstat said.
Kerbstat continues to face uphill battles in journalism with every story that she tells.
But the stories are worth it whether she wins an Emmy or not.
“It was nice for the story to get the attention I think it deserves,” Kerbstat said about her recent Emmy win.
“Working for months on this tragic story wasn’t easy on our team’s and interviewees’ hearts. We were so honored that our interviewees trusted us to tell their stories. The [Emmy] gives us the motivation to keep at this kind of work.”