CNN anchor speaks to Del. community

By Megan Bernatavitz
April 23, 2009

On Wednesday, April 15, students, parents and members of the community arrived to the Bob Carpenter center at the University of Delaware to see CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper. Little did they know that by the end of his speech, their perspective on the outside world would be greatly changed.

A University of Delaware jazz band played as everyone was taking their seats and anxiously awaiting the speech. President of the university’s Student Government Association Teagan Gregory gave a brief introduction. He elaborated on how University of Delaware’s SPEAK program is dedicated to bringing speakers who influence others to come and interact with the community.

Cooper then took the stage to a rousing applause. He began by talking about his history, where he went to school, how he did not know what he wanted to do with his life and how he became actively involved with issues around the world.

After graduating from Yale University, Cooper worked for ABC’s “World News Now.” When working as a correspondent he reported from many places such as Sarajevo, Somalia and Iraq. He used the experiences he gained from reporting abroad to create opportunities for himself which enabled him to later work for CNN and “20/20.”

The then 26-year-old, who could have gotten any job because he is part of the Vanderbilt family, decided to start from the bottom and risked his life to bring the hard news stories to the public.

In 1994, Cooper went to Rwanda and witnessed hate at an unprecedented level, yet kept reporting from many similar countries.

“The thing that keeps me going all of these years is that when I go out to report in these countries I expect to see the hate and horror, but see humanity as well,” Cooper said.

He wanted people to realize that hate, hunger and controversy will always exist. He said that instead of turning our backs we need to look directly at the things that matter most.

Cooper reported in Louisiana right after Hurricane Katrina. He stayed in New Orleans for months and brought media attention to the situation.

“I saw college students coming to New Orleans during their spring break to help clean up from the disaster instead of going to the beach and partying,” Cooper said. He witnessed the good people have to offer.

“During the aftermath of hurricane Katrina the government failed,” Cooper said. “But the individuals did not and that is what gives me hope.”

Students listened to the things Cooper experienced since he has become a news correspondent, such as covering stories in the Middle East to meeting President Obama.

After encountering people floating through the water in New Orleans tied to poles with their shoelaces, constantly being reminded that he is a target in Iraq and seeing first hand the conflicts that are going on throughout the Middle East, many would think it is too much for anyone to bear.

For Cooper it is the opposite. He makes a point to report from war zones or extremely devastated areas at least once a year.

Cooper wanted students to know how big of an asset they are and how individuals can make such a difference. It just takes one person to stand out and others will follow.

“Yes, there are going to be things in your life that are going to fall apart,” Cooper said. “But nothing is going to last forever.”

Megan Bernatavitz

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