My first real act as a young journalist was setting out to explore the world with only a camera, notebook and backpack. I was roughly a year out of college and had already worked at both a national magazine and television network. I wanted more and knew I’d find answers on the road.
I strategically planned the trip in my parents’ kitchen. Tracing my finger along a map of the world which my dad had spread out across our white formica table. I would travel to Western & Eastern Europe, North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. I was gone for almost a year.
Everywhere, I met people from every corner of the globe and listened to their stories. I drank tea in ancient markets and slept in ancient Inns. I climbed mountains and watched sunrises that inspired me with their timelessness. I danced at festivals and wandered through cities, wondering about their history and the people who had come before. I travelled with new friends, heading in the same direction, until it was time to say goodbye. I learned that endings make way for beginnings and that course-correction is always an option. I learned to appreciate the bitter-sweet beauty of a skyline as it slips from view and anticipate the excitement of a new city as it appears on the horizon.
After several years in local news, I landed my dream job at CNN. For nearly two decades I criss-crossed America as a National Correspondent investigating stories of heart-wrenching tragedy and the unbreakable human spirit. I delved into critical social issues, sharing stories which people from every walk of life entrusted me to tell. The diversity of awards I’ve received includes awards for investigative journalism, crime and justice, as well as awards from Black Journalists, Women’s organizations and Muslim associations.
My travels, the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had, have instilled in me an open mind, sincere curiosity, compassion, the ability to think critically and fairly and put issues in context to understand issues that matter most to people.
After two children and two decades in news, it was time to take another Gap Year. This time as a seasoned journalist. In 2017, once again, I spread my map and set off just as I had on my first journey. This time, I headed to India, Poland, Chile, Argentina, Italy, South Dakota, Seattle.
I’ve created this space so you know where I’ve been and where I’m going. I offer you a glimpse into my travels and the people and stories that have impacted and changed me. It is my hope they will inspire, inform and create deeper understanding of the world in which we live.
It is in the sharing of our experiences that we find common ground, acceptance and connection. To quote the great poet Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” For me that is true no matter where you come from or where you are going.
We can all rise together.