- - Sunday, January 31, 2016

Do you know what can happen when you don’t quit? This month is Black History Month. We will celebrate many trailblazers that have come before us, and created the very situations we now enjoy. Their stories and contributions span a huge range, yet one thing remains the same: They did not quit. Today I want to celebrate millennials that are carving out their piece in history, and are trailblazers in their own rights. I will like to introduce you to Mikea Turner and tell you about her path to success.

Ms. Turner was born and raised in Prince George’s County. She attended Thomas G. Pullen, a performing arts school in Landover. Growing up she had dreams of being a singer or an actress. During her high school days at Eleanor Roosevelt, Mikea began to really consider her future. There she participated in the work-study program and her sights were now set on law. She interned at a firm in Bowie, the federal courthouse in Greenbelt and the county courthouse for Prince George’s County in the state of Maryland. In these environments Ms. Turner saw first-hand the impact a good lawyer could make, wanting to help individuals solidified her desire to practice law. Ms. Turner has always held a dual interest in law and journalism. She was not given the chance to get much exposure in the field of journalism until college. When she attended Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, she immersed herself in journalism classes and on-campus media opportunities. It did not take her long to declare a major in journalism/media studies as she pursued a minor in Japanese. Ms. Turner knew she had chosen the correct path, (and just considered taking up law after undergrad).

When she combined her love for storytelling, people and a platform to make a difference, broadcast journalism felt so natural. Her roots growing up in a performing arts school were lodged deeper that she realized. She loved being on stage; lights, camera and attention did not bother her. Her first act was to change the trajectory of her studies and to focus on a career in broadcast journalism. She became involved with Rutgers radio station, WRSU, highly regarded as one of the oldest college radio stations in the nation. Reporting the news fueled her ambition. No matter if the story shared local, national, or even international news, she was truly interested in the chance to inform. For the first time, she was really in love with class. Ms. Turner found all of her coursework to be exciting. Homework? Couldn’t get enough. Exams? Eager to take them. Group assignments? Please sign her up for more, this was an opportunity to work more intimately with others and share ideas. She honestly could not get enough. With a passion like this, it’s no wonder Ms. Turner soon acquired event credits. She used those opportunities to further hone her craft and gain real-life experience reporting, starting with an internship at WUSA9, (a CBS affiliate in D.C.) under a legendary news anchor with more than 40 years in the business. From there, Ms. Turner went on to enjoy an internship at Entertainment Tonight/The Insider in New York City, while still working for Rutgers Television Network.

Despite her plethora of experiences, after graduation finding a job proved more difficult than she expected. After spending copious amounts of time searching for a job, Ms. Turner decided it was more important to hold onto the skills she had acquired. She asked to volunteer at Prince George’s Community Television, which gave her the start she needed. For Ms. Turner, it was not about the pay, it was about the experience. It was about working hard to reach new heights. After a month of working at that local news channel a few times a week, she became a freelancer. A couple months later she was hired in a full-time role as a general assignment reporter and co-anchor. She launched her own inspirational segment, “Inspirational Moments with Mikea,” which shined the spotlight on ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Close to a year later, she moved on, earning a spot with WBOC-TV, a CBS/FOX affiliate on Delmarva (Delaware, Eastern Shore of MD, Eastern Shore of VA).

From there, her skills, career and proficiency in so many areas of the profession took off. She had an accelerated experience; from working her own geographic beat grass-roots style to developing relationships with people in several communities. She did it all and stumbled across some incredible stories and people in the process. Her true passion for serving manifested because she was finally able to provide a voice for the people who never thought they’d be heard. From storyboard conception to the shooting, writing and finishing with editing; she did it all for her pieces. Live shots with no cameraperson were not a problem — she connected herself on a mobile machine and made it happen. Web stories were also part of her duties. She really did it all, living life by deadlines resulting in very long tiring days. Also during that period, she was the weekend evening news anchor producing one of three weekend shows and solo anchoring them all for 10 months.

In 2015, she was promoted to the morning shift. Yes, waking up in the wee hours of the morning is a promotion in this business. Working morning shifts also requires even MORE independence. She was now the only morning reporter. And many times would fill-in for the morning producer, meteorologist and anchor. Again, Ms. Turner found herself in a position doing it all. Fueled by the struggles she endured in the past, Ms. Turner was glad to finally be entrenched in the work she loved. Soon the time came to look for her next job. This time the response was astounding. A number of agents reached out to her after finding her news reel on YouTube; news directors from all over the country did the same. Her hard work was paying off in a major way. I asked Ms. Turner, “What thought was going through your mind at this pivotal moment?” to which she replied “God is amazing!” She missed the job conference the National Association of Black Journalists holds every year due to a lack of funds and an overwhelming work schedule. Disappointed but not in despair, Ms. Turner hoped and prayed she’d still have a good shot at meeting news directors for potential employment.

Through the power of technology and divine intervention, it happened. Her heart was filled with joy as she remembered her favorite scripture, Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This Bible passage is resounding God’s love for us by saying, “I will show up and take care of you as I promised. I know the path your life will take, and it will result in you having the future you hoped for.” WUSA9 was one of several stations that believed in Ms. Turner’s talent and capabilities. She chose to work with them, because it presented the ultimate challenge. Grateful for her decision, support system and finally having the opportunity to lead in the community she grew up in. She ended the interview by saying “My mother is from D.C., my father is from Virginia and I’m from Maryland. I’m grateful for the best of both worlds: telling stories in my own ‘backyard’ and getting to know and serve the people living in a part of the region that holds a special place in my heart.”

After speaking with Ms. Turner, and hearing her story the message that was imparted in me was to have faith and worker harder when things are not working out. If you need a team and have to be that team, then make it happen. Sooner than later it will turn in your favor and your story of triumph will have a transformative effect on all who hear. As I welcome Ms. Turner to my great city of Washington D.C., I am excited for the path she took and the faith she kept that brought her here. Her story has inspired me and I’m eager to see the stories she brings out of Washington.

Ms. Turner is a morning reporter for WUSA9. You can catch her and the morning team on “Wake Up Washington” between 5 a.m. and 7a.m. Her Twitter handle is @MikeaWUSA9.

Maurice Nick is a writer, public speaker, and youth leader living in Upper Marlboro, Md. He is the associate editor of American CurrentSee.

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