O'Brien Traces Career Path in Talk at UF

Soledad O'Brien spoke at the University of Florida this month about the path that led her to her current position as reporter for CNN.

She told the audience that she didn't always want to be a reporter, and began her college years at Harvard University as a pre–med student. An internship at a Boston television station set her thinking that journalism was where she wanted to be.

“It was weird, because I just knew,” she said in an interview before her speech at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Her speech, cosponsored by Accent Speaker’s Bureau and Hispanic Heritage Month, included stories about her career, including what it was like to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and travel to Thailand, Russia and Cuba.

In Cuba, she was able to visit relatives as well as work. O'Brien, who is of Afro–Cuban, Australian and Irish decent, also spoke about diversity and being a woman in the workplace.

“If there’s one message for women, it’s possible to do it all, but you have to think very realistically about what ‘all’ is for you, and what is success for you,” she said.

Family is important to her. She is the fifth of six children and has four of her own. With a big family and a demanding job schedule, she said her life is a crazy balancing act.

“Where you come from defines your perspective, so I felt like I had a lot of different perspectives growing up,” she said.

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