Thursday, April 22, 2010

O'Brien Speaks to Grambling Students

Grambling State University students heard from Soledad O'Brien this month.

Sponsored by the Tech's Student Government Association, the event was the first of a series of inspirational engagements to be hosted by GSU's Student Lyceum.

O'Brien's topic of discussion, "Pioneers Paving the Way for Tomorrow's Leaders," included her thoughts on the importance of diversity in a competitive society.

"Diversity is an opportunity to hear from a wide range of voices. As a team, we have to start using our diversities to advance in our careers. Expertise is not the only quality of importance; diversity should be brought forth so a variety of ideas and personalities are involved."

O'Brien has worked as a special correspondent for CNN since 2003. She started at the network as the co-anchor of the American Morning program. The past few years, she has focused on long-form documentaries such as "Black in America" and "Latino in America."

Her recent coverage of the Haitians' struggles after the earthquake, and her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Thailand earned her the first Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Goodermote Humanitarian Award in 2008.

"The stories I feel blessed to be able to tell are the ones that push people to think." They are about 2-year-olds in Haiti after the earthquake, when all they knew had been destroyed, with eyes like 85-year-olds. A story I felt compelled to tell was the time I met with the FEMA director after Hurricane Katrina and he bragged about a response to the wounded and homeless that came five days after the storm; that was a little too much for me to keep to myself.

My mother is half Cuban and half black, and my father is half Caucasian and half Australian," O'Brien said. "They faced being turned away from restaurants in Baltimore in 1958, and everyone advised them to never have children because they would be different. It turns out I am number five of six children they had, and we learned from our parents that being different is a good thing. My mother always told me you can't let other people's ideas define what you do or how you think."



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