Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soledad O'Brien - Growing Up on Long Island

Long Island Pulse Magazine did a cover story recently on Soledad O'Brien who grew up on the island in St. James and attended Smithtown High School.

Though she now splits her time between a Chelsea apartment and a country house in Putnam County, she also spends an incredible amount of time on the road.

She talked about growing up in St. James, at a time when being biracial was certainly less accepted. She wrote about that time in her recent book The Next Big Story: My Journey Through the Land of Possibilities.

A younger Soledad
She graduated Smithtown High School East in 1984 and describes the feeling of being of mixed-race heritage like being in “perpetual motion,” as in a dodgeball game. "When you move, you can’t get hit, ” she wrote.

Still, Maria de la Soledad O’Brien, the next to youngest of six children, followed in the footsteps of all her siblings and attended Harvard.

Her family was well associated with education. Her mother, black and Cuban, taught Spanish and French in the Smithtown high schools. Her father, Australian of Irish and Scottish descent, was a professor of mechanical engineering at Stony Brook University.

One of her early passions was horseback riding (She mucked stalls to pay for riding lessons.), a passion that she still pursues.

It may be hard to believe with her current fame and popularity, but she never dated in high school because she was considered “different.”

The Pulse article covers growing up on Long Island, balancing career and parenting, returning to college as an adult, experiencing changes in journalism and finding ways to help students.

"My parents were really good at making us very aware of who we were, where we came from, what we had to be proud of, and not to worry so much about fitting in and blending in. That was not really the goal. There are lots of good things to get out of growing up on Long Island, and that’s what we were there for."
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