WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861, celebrating its 160th birthday this year. The state’s colorful composition is shaped by many historical events and prominent personalities — both past and present. One such well-known Kansan is Wichita’s very own Sheinelle Jones.  

Sheinelle Jones is co-host of the 3rd Hour of “Today Show” on NBC. Since joining NBC News in 2014, she has covered a variety of breaking news events, notable newsmakers, and human-interest stories. Jones, who comes from a family of educators, takes a special interest in activities involving education.

As Kansas paces midway through its 160th birthday, Jones was asked a few candid questions about her home state. Here are her responses. 

When you think of Kansas — what thoughts come to your mind? As an adult, I had no idea that other people I’ve met from other states don’t have as much pride in their home state as I do. As my colleagues on the TODAY Show will tell you, I’m quick to sing the state song, talk about the state bird — even my love for sunflowers! All remind me of home. On a deeper level, when I think of Kansas, I think of a community that has supported me throughout my life, and no matter where I travel — there’s no place like home.

What are the joys of being from Kansas? Especially because now I live in the heart of NYC, I appreciate the open spaces, fresh air, beautiful land, and plenty of parking! 

What can Kansans of all ages do to enhance the future of their state? I think we can do what I hope everyone around the country will do, which is to lead with kindness and to do our best to take time to think about people whose lives may differ from yours. We’re better – together. Always. 

Any favorite Kansas-originated sentiment, quote, or motto that inspires you? Our state flower and my favorite is — the sunflower. They often turn to the sun to help them thrive. I see a lot of meaning in that. 

What wisdom would you like to share with young Kansans? To all of my young Kansans – you live in a beautiful place. I spent many a days literally staring at the beautiful sky, wondering where life would take me. Soak up all that is positive…and dream big. 

Jones is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and Spanish. She attended Brooks Middle School and Heights High School in Wichita, Kansas.

Jones is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and The Links Inc., an international group of women devoted to enriching the lives of families in their communities.