Jeanine Ikekhua ’24 is heading to NYU with the Payne Fellowship Program

Adapted from DASA News

Jeanine Ikekhua ’24 will be heading to New York City in August to attend New York University after receiving the Payne Fellowship. She will be pursuing a double Master’s in International Relations and Journalism. Jeanine is a Park Scholar in the Class of 2024 and graduated in May with Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Communication, with a minor in Chinese Studies. 

The Payne Fellowship Program awards up to thirty fellowships for a two-year program. At the conclusion of two years of study, the Payne Fellow is expected to obtain a degree in international development or another area of relevance to the work of the USAID Foreign Service at a U.S. graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program.  Fellows who successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Jeanine is the second Park Scholar to be named a Payne Fellow, following in the footsteps of Naila Segule ’20.

“I knew the Payne Fellowship would be the best thing for my future. It aligns with everything I want to do- study abroad, public service, have an impact the global community and make connections with people all over the world. Everything I do, I’m focused on raising awareness on issues in the immigrant community and outside of the US,” said Jeanine when asked why she applied to the Payne Fellowship. “If people knew what was happening, I think there would be more respect towards people across the world.”

“I’m taking things step by step. I know how I want to advocate for people. It’s through news. I want to be the one in the newsroom, in the communications department, making sure these stories are told right.”

Jeanine Ikekhua ’24

“I’m taking things step by step. I know how I want to advocate for people. It’s through news. I want to be the one in the newsroom, in the communications department, making sure these stories are told right. I want to making sure their social media is diverse and accurately represents what this company is. There are different ways to go about it, but I’m choosing to use journalism to make a difference.”

Jeanine is also one of the recipients of this year’s Ebony Harlem Awards for Excellence. The awards, which began in 1993, are sponsored by the African American Cultural Center. The awards are the annual celebration of Black life at NC State, and recognize undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, staff, mentors and the community at large.This award recognizes “undergraduate students involved in formal and informal campus art programs that share their literary talent with the campus community through prose, poetry, blogging, journalism and other forms of writing that keep the tradition of Black literary expression alive.”

Jeanine and her classmates at Senior Retreat
Jeanine at her internship at WUNC

As managing editor of Nubian Message, the student newspaper that serves Black and marginalized students, she oversaw production of 13 print editions that focused on the experiences of Black students and students of color.

“Being at the Nubian Message, it was a really good space to explore what journalism looked like for me outside of college,” said Jeanine. “Through this work, I realized that I wanted to be a leader who puts diversity first. That is at the forefront of everything I do.”

Jeanine studying abroad in Manchester, UK

Jeanine also was a co-host of the award-winning podcast “On Black” from WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1/HD-2, which explored topics like family, education, marriage and friendship. She also served as host of WKNC’s public affairs program “Eye On The Triangle.”

Outside of NC State, Jeanine was a part of the 2022 Youth Reporting Institute at North Carolina Public Radio/WUNC Radio, sharpening her journalism skills and producing a piece about how transitioning to NC State disconnected her from her Nigerian culture. She also served at ABC11/WTVD as a Disney community engagement intern, and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“While her work speaks for itself, the best reason Jeanine deserves this award is her ‘demonstrated willingness to share this talent constructively to make significant contributions to the cultural enlightenment and development of Black people on campus,'” said Jamie Lynn Gilbert, student media associate director. “I could not have said it better myself.”

“Her strong sense of social justice and how her work can amplify the voices of students of color is at the heart of her journalism,” said Editorial Advisor Ben McNeely. “What I admire the most about Jeanine is her self-awareness and maturity beyond her years. She has a strong sense of curiosity about her, tempered by a no-nonsense attitude.”