Outstanding Young Alumni Award Winner 2013
When Kate Briquelet attended UW Oshkosh, she went to prison for the sake of landing a story.
At the time, she was reporting on cocaine trafficking for her Advanced Reporting class, and she wanted to speak to someone especially familiar with it. From behind a glass barrier one fall day in 2007, a convicted trafficker told her he sold drugs in an attempt to raise money for his brother in a Chicago lockup.
The article focused on an uptick in Fox Valley drug deals, and she wanted to cover the issue from all sides. Her homework would later be published in the Oshkosh Northwestern, while Briquelet was a full-time student and part-time copy editor for the newspaper. She would often ask the editor in chief to publish her UWO assignments.
Briquelet says the journalism program taught her important lessons that helped her future career: “Don’t assume people won’t talk to you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone has a story to tell, or knows someone who does.”
Fast forward to 2018, and Briquelet is a senior reporter for The Daily Beast, an American news and opinion website focused on politics and pop culture. She covers true crime and corruption within the justice system on a national level, and was featured on Dateline last year for her reporting on California love triangle gone wrong, and on CBS 48 Hours in March for her coverage of the George Burch murder trial in Green Bay. She’s regularly appeared on CNN and MSNBC to weigh in on the Stormy Daniels scandal and what it means for President Trump. In the summer of 2017, she traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to write a longform piece on two childhood friends who were wrongfully convicted for a drive-by shooting and had spent two decades behind bars. The confession of a death-row inmate set them free.
The ’08 alumna and 2013 Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner never thought she’d be a journalist. Still, when her English adviser at Oshkosh North High School learned she was dropping a drama class, only days into the school year, he demanded she enroll in his Journalism 101 course.
She soon joined the North Star, the student newspaper, and eventually became the paper’s editor.
At UW Oshkosh, she joined the student-run Advance Titan as a budding news reporter and later became features editor. She also helmed the student chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. “When you’re in the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Journalism program you’re not just a student,” Briquelet said. “I think once you enroll, you’re a student and you’re a journalist.”
Briquelet said UWO prepared her work outside the classroom because her professors weren’t just academics but professional writers themselves. She noted many had worked or were still writing for publications in the national spotlight, including the New York Times, People, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
“All of these professors at the top of their game helped me realize that I could do what they were doing some day,” Briquelet said. “They were mentors, not just instructors.”
“It’s the kind of mentorship a lot of us working in journalism wish we still had,” Briquelet added.
From UWO, Briquelet was accepted into New York University journalism master’s program. Her first job out of grad school was working as a copy editor and writer for a Business Traveler, globe-trotting to cities such as London, Moscow, Istanbul, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Missing the hard news side of journalism, she then worked as a reporter for The Brooklyn Paper and then as an enterprise reporter for the New York Post, the fourth largest paper in the United States. Briquelet’s first front-page cover story was about welfare fraud at liquor stores and strip clubs—and featured an image of a pole dancer with the headline: $WEET CHARITY. Another cover story exposed how one city luxury building was banning low-income residents from using a wrap-around patio.
“A mentor once said there’s nothing better than reporting: you get to travel the world on someone else’s dime,” Briquelet said. “You get to see how things work and how people live and gain an understanding that’s important in increasingly divisive times.”
Even though it’s been a few years since she sat in a classroom at UWO, she still practices what she’s learned. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” Briquelet said, quoting the well-known cliché. “You may not see it at first, but there’s a story behind everything.”