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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Award-winning journalist speaks to SBU students

When she came to Stony Brook University last Thursday, Nov. 29, CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller spoke about her life, career and some of the stories she covered.

Some of her notables stories include Nelson Mandela’s release from jail, Hurricane Katrina and two presidential elections.

CBS correspondent Michelle Miller was last Thursday's "My Life as" guest speaker.
CBS correspondent Michelle Miller was last Thursday’s “My Life as” guest speaker.

Miller, who has also interviewed Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton, joined the School of Journalism’s “My Life as” lecture series in the Student Activities Center’s auditorium last week.

The award-winning journalist said it was not easy to get her first job.

“When I got to college, I didn’t know what I was going to do for the rest of my life, so I started searching for inspiration,” Miller said in reference to her years at her alma mater, Howard University.

“When I graduated from college, I got a few internships and jobs at many different companies including the ‘Los Angeles Times.’ I handed my resumes all over, and even with all my experience, I still didn’t get a job.” She continued on, emphasizing the value of perseverance. “I always wanted to see the world. It was the best decision I made in my life. I went on a backpack road trip to London, and that was when my career as a journalist started,” she said. After this, she went to the “Los Angeles Time,” where she got a job. “I got to know my community in was I never thought – there I got to cover Nelson Mandela’s story when he came out of jail,” she explains.

She gave the students in the audience a few points of advice that will help them on the road to success. As students diligently annotated her words, she said that “I like to put my life out there. What comes up comes out. So when talking to a potential employer, it should all come out… in some respects.” Among these students was Valerie Polite, a junior majoring in journalism who said she “found it inspiring because she has overcome so many obstacles. She really has prevailed through it all. She found a way to inspire herself and never gave up.”

Freshman business major Sylwia Tuzinowska, who added “I am thinking of changing my major to journalism now because of her. I love her and how she goes about her job. It’s amazing.”

Miller also explained that she is grateful for being hired by CBS News, a position which she called “a long, arduous time but I could not possibly trade it for the world.” Miller says that while working for CBS News, she had learned much, including standing up for herself and learning from her colleagues.

By the end of the event she showed pieces of news she has covered, including two hurricane stories. Before showing the clips, she advised students that it is important to open up to the people you deal with when covering a story.

“It is important to get to the people. It is also important to talk to people and find that one story that has an impact than those other five stories,” she said. “I think that my best skill is interviewing people and leading them to open up. I think that shoes a lot on the pieces I do… I just think it is a different way of doing things. I like to do things differently.”

At the very end, students were given the opportunity to ask Miller questions. One of the questions that intrigued the audience the most was, “With all the obstacles you’ve been through, why didn’t you ever give up or settled or did you ever feel settled?” Miller’s answer to this was: “I do not feel settled. I would always tell my younger self that no matter what level of success you reach, you should always keep going.

She also told aspiring journalists in the audience that journalists, like all people, develop opinions over the course of their lives but must cast them aside, no matter how hard that task may be. Miller also advised her audience to “never forget that no one is objective.”

Before taking her last question, she emphasized that personality is key when achieving a goal in life. “The ethics of who you are and what you bring as a person is what will get you far,” another advice which a great majority of students annotated.

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