I’m an optimistic, multinational, millennial with more ideas about the future than I know what to do with. Recently married to my love and anointed father to a puppy, my life now is a far cry from where I started.
I've worked my way up from being a gap-toothed kid in Milton Keynes, England to occasionally asking the president questions as I report from the American capital for the most-watched broadcast network in the country.
Those who've beaten the odds inspire me and in many ways, helped me try to do the same.
I was born in the UK and moved to the US with my older sister, mother, and American stepfather at age 10. But within a few short and turbulent years, my sister passed away; my mother fell into depression; my stepfather left the family; and my world simply imploded. My teenage years were incredibly challenging, so I threw myself into school, sports and any extra curricular activity I could find. Young, foreign, and unsure of my role in the world, it would be journalism that gave me a sense of purpose more than anything else.
In a way it was therapeutic, as I found comfort in asking people about their situations while I was still confronting many of my own.
The day I turned 18, a current events program tailored for teens called Channel One News hired me, based me in Los Angeles, and sent me throughout the U.S., reporting on major news events to their audience of millions. I learned so much about the size and diversity of America from Itasca, TX to Seward, AK. Best of all I worked alongside the likes of Seth Doane, Melissa Knowles, Gotham Chopra, Maria Menounos and others who each showed me something unique in their approach to reporting. The salary I earned allowed me, as a first-generation college student, to earn a political science degree at UCLA.
The week after graduation, I was hired by CNN International as an anchor/correspondent, ultimately working from their bureaus in Atlanta, London, Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg and all over the African continent. Hosting “Inside Africa” exposed me to people and adventures in 22 countries in two years and without a doubt was the most incredible assignment of all (thank you Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tunisia and the DRC to name a few). Looking back, it feels like I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in these places, and made so many good friends in my eight years there. Most recently, I co-anchored eight live hours during the week on CNN and CNN International with Rosemary Church in a broadcast seen in more than 300 million households around the world.
You can see some of my work from this time here.
It's said, "to whom much is given, much is also required." So as someone who found purpose through journalism, I guess I'm required to report what I've learned; We do share more in common with each other than it appears.
Or even start smaller.
If I have any influence among readers and viewers (and that's a big "if"), I would just encourage us to be a consistent force for good. And hey, why not make it exciting while we're at it!