Where are you now and what are you doing?
I have been a photojournalist at CNN since 1980. I have covered assignments on all seven continents and all 50 states while documenting the news. Assignments in war zones have included the first Gulf War, the war in Croatia, the Bosnian war, the war in Kosovo, the war in Lebanon, conflicts in Israel and the West Bank, the first Chechen war, the war in Afghanistan, and the second Iraq war.
I have witnessed almost every type of natural disaster, including earthquakes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City, and Haiti, volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, many hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, an avalanche, landslides, blizzards, and floods. I have covered every U.S. presidential election since 1980, and elections around the world. I have also covered the rise in mass shootings around the nation.
Over the years I have worked on numerous documentaries and was the primary camera for stories on baseball in Cuba, life at the South Pole, and a scientific expedition under the Arctic ice cap in a fast attack nuclear submarine.
Tell us a little bit about your Shaker experience.
I was born in Southern California. I enjoyed a happy, laid back school life...until the end of my junior year of high school. My father was asked to relocate to a company in Cleveland, Ohio. I didn't know much about Cleveland, but my expectations weren't very high. When I first drove through Shaker Heights, I was pleasantly surprised.
On my first day of school at Shaker Heights High School, the vice-principal informed me that I wasn't wearing a belt and therefore was in violation of the school's dress code. He let me stay in class that day, but I needed to correct the violation by the next day. Things did get better. I found students and teachers to be friendly and welcoming. It immediately became apparent that the school was dedicated to developing the academic ability of its students.
After graduation, I went to Kent State University. I was on campus when students decided to torch the ROTC building after the revelation that U.S. forces had secretly bombed targets in Cambodia. I was in ROTC at the time. Soon the National Guard appeared on campus and the protests escalated until four students were shot and killed by guardsmen on May 4,1970. During the four days of demonstrations, the events were covered first by local media and, eventually, by the national media.
I was fascinated by how the coverage was orchestrated and presented on television and in the newspapers. I didn't always agree with what I saw, but it sparked an interest in learning about journalism.
I returned to California and began taking journalism classes at Pasadena City College. In 1980, I signed on with the first 24-hour television news operation, Cable News Network (CNN).
How did the Shaker schools prepare you for your future? Any advice for current students?
Shaker laser focused on preparing us for college and long term education after high school. Academically they made me step up my game and put me on a road to take advantage of career opportunities when they were presented.
I will always remember my chemistry teacher, Mr. Melick, who helped me learn how not to procrastinate. I appreciated the time he spent to nudge me in the right direction and I still think about his words to this day.
My advice to current students is to find something that you are passionate about. Don't be afraid to venture into different directions until you find that passion. Life is too short to spend your career laboring to make money without getting personal fulfillment along the way. During my career I never cared about the paycheck but found the passion I had for the job resulted in more financial satisfaction that I ever expected.