Kenan “Slade” Rand

by Veronica Graff

"Applying to colleges with no declared major, Kenan Slade Rand chose The University of Mississippi because it felt like home, being from the South, Mississippi felt familiar in many ways. It was his curiosity and varying interests that led him to the university’s paper, The Daily Mississippian, and ultimately to a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

The 22-year-old will now spend the summer in Connecticut interning for The Hartford Courant and is eager for a change in scenery but will be taking certain “southern values” with him. A New Orleans native, Rand is privy to the eccentricities of his hometown and emphasizes the influence it has had on what he deems important—a sense of community, hospitality.

The culture of the deep South is unique, according to Rand, and unparalleled in Northern states. But he has the memories of sweltering, swampy summers commiserating with friends, spending days at the movie theater because it’s too hot to step outside and crawfish boils in the front yard.

Rand reminisced fondly over the way family and friends would gathered around a long plastic table lined with old newspapers and chat for hours over crawfish and cheap beers from a keg.

“New Orleans is a city but it doesn’t necessarily operate like one, it’s more of a big town that just happens to have big buildings,” he said. “So, I’m excited to know what an older, big city is like in Hartford.”

The city, famed as the birthplace of Jazz and renowned for its seemingly endless nightlife has, according to Rand, shaped his identity going into college and will continue to shape his identity in his next endeavors.

“I know I’ll be back here,” said Rand. 

Rand has many interests, but his passion isn’t in a certain beat—it’s in people. He is fueled by the challenge of finding emotion behind the numbers, recalling a time not too long ago when he was covering his college town of Oxford, Mississippi where enrollment rates are making it difficult for the city to accommodate a rising influx of students.

Spending his last semester at Ole Miss uncovering those human stories through college administrators and the university’s numbers made business reporting feel like the natural next step, according to Rand.

Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media and faculty adviser for The Daily Mississippian, is someone Rand grew close in his time at Ole Miss. Thompson said she saw Rand every day for three years while he was at the paper and was not surprised he landed a spot among 17 other journalists as a Dow Jones News Fund business reporting intern.

“I think he will really excel in the business reporting program,” Thompson said. “He’s really good at gathering up a lot of information and analyzing it and writing authoritatively.”

Between chuckles, Thompson talks about a little notebook that Rand carries wherever he goes and any kind of conversation he has with anyone, he’ll jot down notes in it. She said the staff at the paper, her included, would tease him every now and then about it.

“He writes in his tiny little handwriting and he goes back and he pours over his notes for everything—he’s just really, really organized,” she said.

Thompson cites the notebook as just one example of the range of interests Rand has. He’s also dabbled in music journalism and loves talking to musicians about why they do what they do.

Despite finding fervor in such diverse areas, Thompson said Rand has a real knack for looking at something and just figuring out the trends and the patterns and being able to bring it all together.

Having worked on Sen. Michael Bennet’s, D-Colo., political campaign in the summer of 2016 in Colorado, Rand has already gotten a taste of life outside the South and is looking forward to getting to know Harford.

“I’m a little bit nervous though, because it’s totally a different crowd of people than I’ve been around,” Rand said, “but people are people.”

Thompson’s not worried at all.

“He’s the kind of person that he can adjust anywhere,” said Thompson. “He’s going to do great.”"