Thursday, March 4, 2010

CARINA 360°: CNN's Soledad O'Brien, the exclusive

It was weeks ago. I walked into classroom A-8, as always, but it was different.

“Yo Karina!” Mr. Bott was calling me. Maybe not in those exact words, but mind you I have a bad memory.

He told me
Soledad O’Brien was to speak at the University of Pacific on February 3rd. And The Stagg Line had an exclusive interview with her. My heart stopped.
Soledad O’Brien? The woman from
CNN? The woman I look up to?

Fast forward to that magical day and I’m shaking hands with the one and only O’Brien.

On the day of, after school I shivered with excitement. In a few hours I would be interviewing one of the best journalist in the field. But a sense of fear also ran through me body.
I have a lame habit of saying lame jokes when I’m nervous. And seeing as this was no average Jane, I was somewhat scared.

Once we arrived at UOP, minutes later we walked into the room, a mob of four. Mr. Bott, me, Lissette, and photographer Claire.

In her neat pony tail and Chanel-like black suit, it was O’Brien. All smiles as she shook each of our hands.

“Hi, Soledad.”
“Hi! Karina Ramirez.”

It was somewhat surreal. We high school teenagers from Stockton were interviewing a CNN big shot from New York.

Within the 30 treasured minutes with her, we asked a variety of questions. Ranging from diversity to her documentaries.

We asked her if she ever faced discrimination, she said yes, but not because of her gender or ethnicity. Surprisingly, It was when she was pregnant.

"I remember trying to go to the tsunami, and I had just had my twin boys, and people would say ‘You’re not going to want to travel, you’re a mom.'"

She also said to us that variety matter’s in the job market. Sometimes those skills a person has, such as being bilingual, is vital. She explained her “okay-ish” Spanish helped her when she traveled to Haiti to report on the earthquake.

“I’m ahead of the game. I’m in a country where they speak Spanish … and I can do interviews and run threw that country. We could navigate our way around”

Things will only improve saying, “As the world is more global, and becomes more interconnected to a wider range of people - that has value.”

Latino In America,” was a documentary she made exploring how the Latino community is changing the face of America. One question we asked was when reporting, was what did she learn about the school systems.

O‘Brien found that the results are not reaching the expectations needed for a proper education.

“We are really undeserving our students in public schools.”

The Latino demographic is the fastest growing demographic than any other. O’Brien says the problem is that if the fastest growing demographic is not graduating from high school in high numbers, the outcome for the future is looking bleak.

“We’re all in this boat and if a part of the boat springs a leak - that’s big trouble.”

As a Cuban-Black-Irish-Australian in a less than diverse profession, she beat the odds and became successful. For the next generation of journalists, having passion is key, she told us. “First thing is to be really good … in anything whether it’s TV reporting or any job, … because at the end of the day that’s what you’re going to be judged on. It’s just a matter of staying in the game, simple as that.”

Being CNN enthusiast and mere seventeen year olds, I don't think anything else can top how overwhelmed and thrilled we were. How many high school teens can say they've interviewed Soledad O’Brien?

*photo credit: Claire Scheffer

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