I’ve always known that I wanted to be a reporter. I started watching the news around 10th grade, and I was a big fan of WNBC. I learned that you could make so much of an impact on people’s lives as a reporter, and that really motivated me.
So, as soon as I got to college, I declared my major as broadcast journalism. While I was still in undergrad, 9/11 happened. As a native New Yorker, I wanted to do something for my country; I wanted to be a part of something bigger, and I was drawn to the military.
I initially planned to join the Marines, but I ran into an Army recruiter before my decision was final, and they were able to offer me a schedule that worked better for pursuing my education and military service at the same time. I started as an enlisted soldier; then, after completing basic training and receiving my master’s degree in mass communication and media studies, I was commissioned and became a public affairs officer. I started out as a private; now, I’m a major in the Army Reserve.
I moved my way up the ranks while moving around the country: in South Carolina, I worked as an assignment editor for WIS-TV; in Kansas, as a television news reporter for WIBW-TV; in Missouri, as an anchor for KMBC; in Washington, D.C., as a multi-platform reporter for ABC.
During that time, I remained in the Reserve, reporting to units that corresponded with each new location, participating in training exercises and taking military courses. In 2008, while I was in Kansas, I deployed to Baghdad for the first time for a year, serving as a historical ambassador at Camp Slayer in Victory Base Complex.
Initially, finding out I was being deployed was a shock, but I also knew that that’s what I signed up for. I had about a month to pack everything up, tell my employer, then take off. My employer was very understanding; we even did a lot of stories about me leaving: the process and the steps you have to take to put your civilian life on hold before deploying to another country.
Being away from home was hard at first; it was lonely. What I tried to keep in mind during that year was not to become complacent. While deployed, I volunteered with the Iraqi Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which was the most meaningful experience to me; they were so aware that they were in the middle of a war—they knew why we were there—and still, they just had so much joy. I could never get over that.
A lot of the luxuries that we have here, you don’t have over there. I realized that I don’t need much, as long as I have my health and my routine.
Eventually, when I returned home, I settled into my current role as an ABC News national correspondent, covering stories that range from military issues—including the murder of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old U.S. soldier who went missing in April 2020 and was later found to have been killed by fellow solider Aaron David Robinson inside an armory at Fort Hood, Texas—to mental health crises in Latinx communities to Miss USA cheating allegations.
Balancing two careers at the same time has been challenging, but my time in the military is also what helped me in the news business. Anything can be thrown my way, and I’m just like, “Everyone calm down, we can do this. It’s okay.”
Read the complete article originally posted on Women’s Health Magazine here.