Megyn Kelly returned to the place where she found her mojo on Thursday evening during a visit to Albany Law School.
The lawyer turned broadcast journalist visited the campus to speak with students and for a book signing, which was open to the public.
While this wasn’t the first time Kelly has made her way back to the Capital Region -- the 1995 graduate returned to give the commencement speech in 2016 -- this time the focus was on her autobiography, “Settle For More,” and her experience at Albany Law School.
During her years at the school, Kelly was on the school’s trial team and wrote for the Albany Law Review.
On Thursday’s visit, Kelly spoke in the school’s moot courtroom, where most of her work for the trial team took place.
She likened the experiences of being on moot court to being in the Marines.
“If you were in, then you were all in,” Kelly said.
After she read a short excerpt from her book, students asked about her experiences in law school and advice for going through internships and working in law.
After graduation, Kelly went on to work for Bickel and Brewer in Chicago as an associate and then as a corporate litigator for Jones Day in New York City.
Just before she was about to make partner at Jones Day, Kelly felt drawn to a career change.
“You can do anything with a law degree,” Kelly told students.
Kelly’s story is proof.
Alicia Ouellette, the dean of Albany Law School, said Kelly’s career change was part of the reason the school wanted Kelly to have the chance to talk with students.
“So they know they really can do anything,” Ouellette said.
Leaving a 10-year career in law, Kelly decided to jump into broadcasting. In 2003 she began reporting for a local station in Washington D.C. Four years later, Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News, offered her a position on America’s Newsroom. From there, she began "The Kelly File," where she reported on late-breaking stories and investigative reports.
While the show put her further into the public eye, her “year of Trump” moved her further into the spotlight.
“It led to a year of hell and I was scared at times,” Kelly told students.
Through a hailstorm of Tweets and a tense moment at one of the first Republican debates which Kelly co-hosted, Trump went up against Kelly, with many of his supporters following suit.
She began receiving death threats from Trump supporters and threats from representatives of the Trump Organization, which Kelly spoke of briefly with students.
However, when asked whether she would ever go back into law, Kelly said absolutely not.
“This is really what I was born to do,” Kelly said.
While Kelly remained a presence on Fox News through the 2016 election, her career took another turn just a few days into 2017.
Kelly decided to leave Fox for NBC News.
Although she hasn’t been on air yet in her new position, she’ll soon be a regular contributor to some of NBC’s morning shows and will also have her own Sunday evening news magazine show with the network.
It was a change that some students were curious about.
Chris Capoccia, an Albany Law Student, asked Kelly for her perspective on the problem of fake news and on President Trump’s tendency to share it.
“President Trump doesn’t always have an adult relationship with the truth and it’s our job as journalists to hold his feet to the fire,” Kelly responded.
David Cooper, a fellow classmate, remembers Kelly well and besides asking Kelly to sign his copy of her autobiography, he brought along “The Verdict,” their 1995 yearbook.
“She was very intense,” Cooper said. He is practicing law in Albany and although he hasn’t watched very much of Kelly’s reporting so far, he said that he’s looking forward to seeing her on NBC.
Kelly said that her new position with NBC is a good move for her.
When one student asked her, “What’s next?” Kelly had the answer at the ready: “I’m embarking on my next goal which is to launch a program that’s more consistent with who I am,” Kelly said.
But she credited Albany Law School multiple times for giving her a the confidence and the belief in herself.
“I’ve always been a confident person, but Albany made me believe in myself and in my abilities,” Kelly said.
As Capital Region residents Dave Kupiak and Pattie MacMaster stood in line to get their books signed and meet Kelly, they reflected on her family and on Kelly’s career.
While Kupiak knows Kelly’s mother -- Kelly graduated from Bethlehem High School and her mother still lives in the area -- MacMaster went because she’s become a recent fan of Kelly’s work.
“I think it’s impressive, the way she handled Trump,” MacMaster said.
It may have been a year of hell, but it was what many in the crowd said was one of her shining moments. It also has local residents interested in what Kelly’s new broadcasting platform will entail.
“I’m excited to see her on NBC,” Capoccia said.
But while at Albany Law on Thursday, Kelly was focused on reminiscing about her time there, signing books and taking in the place where her career began.