Wildcat Tracks: Claire Kopsky ’14
Often, without even realizing it, the choices we make early in life wind up preparing us for what’s down the road. Claire Kopsky was one busy high schooler while at Westminster: volleyball, soccer, golf team, chamber choir, chapel band, and the lead in two musicals. “My senior year fall was the epitome of my high school career as I was the captain of the golf team and the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie—leaving golf practice to go straight into the Theatre. Diving in both athletically and musically allowed me to meet so many more students and grow in my passions,” Claire said.
Fast forward to 2020 where Claire is currently a multimedia reporter and anchor at the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Ky. “I never know who I’ll meet or what I’ll learn,” she said. “I usually walk away from the day with a new perspective and a better understanding of my community and the world at large. I wake up at 2:15 a.m. to be at the station ready to work by 3:30 a.m. It’s a rigorous schedule but that’s the nature of morning news!”
For someone who originally thought about obtaining a medical degree, this job doesn’t feel too far removed. “God had a different plan. I knew I wanted to help people and also knew from my experience on stage throughout my life that public speaking was a strong suit,” Claire said. “My St. Louis television mentors including KSDK‘s Art Holliday and KMOV‘s Cory Stark—along with learning more about the impact of investigative storytelling—are what sold me on my career path.”
The job has its perks; Claire has traveled the world as a journalist and these experiences have made her grateful for the many freedoms we enjoy in the U.S. “I spent about two weeks in China as one of six English speaking reporters for the China Open tennis tournament, plus spent a summer in London reporting about threats to free speech in many parts of the world,” she said. “In Beijing, I learned just how lucky we are to live in a country with a free press. Every story I wrote was copy-edited by a Chinese native, which meant they added a line in the story about how wonderful China is. I was reporting about a tennis tournament—their additions weren’t exactly on-topic!”
Part of a reporter’s role involves working on difficult or emotionally-charged stories. “I recently did a story with a family who lost their son to congenital heart disease. This was one of the longest interviews I’ve ever done and was highly emotional,” Claire said. “Beyond telling a newsworthy story for American Heart month, my task was to commemorate their son’s death. It was incredibly heartbreaking and an immense challenge. But, like any story, after the interviewee sees the final work and says thank you, that’s when you know you’ve done your job accurately portraying the person and/or events.”
Claire doesn’t always report on stories that make people happy. In fact, those are the ones she feels called to dig her heels into. “Once I worked on a three-part investigation into a local school board member who broke election rules weeks before he was hoping to win his seat back onto the board,” she said. “After I had pressed him and revealed to the public what he did, he apologized publicly but the damage was already done. He lost the election weeks later.”
Looking back on all her interviews to date, Claire has some favorites: “Last year, I reported live from Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby! Eight of my stories aired live that day,” she said. “In preparation for Kentucky’s most celebrated day of the year, I learned a great deal about a state and an industry I otherwise would not know about or have a deep affinity for. You could say Kentucky has stolen a piece of my heart!”
At the heart of it all, Claire feels blessed to truly be thriving in an industry she loves. “As long as I’m in this business, it’s important that I’m truth-telling while also story-telling,” she said. “My goal is to pose questions to make leaders, lawmakers, or your average Joe stop and think. To challenge systems and ask questions such as, ‘Could you do this better? Is it the most thoughtful way? Do you realize who/what the collateral damage will be?’ To me, my job is to find stories that matter and make a difference.”
For more, visit clairekopsky.com.
This alumni spotlight was originally featured in the February 2020 issue of our alumni newsletter, Wildcat Tracks.