Honored to Be Following a Trail Carved by Women Who Look Like Me

It felt like I got lucky. It’s not every day you get a chance to sit down and talk with trailblazing women from The New York Times. It’s not every day you get a chance to have a candid, heartfelt discussion with the online fashion editor, a top video producer, a senior page designer, copy editors and seasoned reporters from The Times who have literally changed the face of modern journalism. And it’s not everyday that you see women of color in these positions.

My female colleagues from the institute and I were itching to pick the brains of these women.

While gathered in an intimate circle in the lobby of the Student Union building at Dillard University, we munched on pizza and bread sticks. After a long day in the newsroom, we relaxed while listening to these women tell of how they made it to The Times. Their stories were both relevant and real.

Seeing professional women of color was both overwhelming and relieving at the same time. I’ll be honest; initially coming to the institute I expected to be surrounded by older white men in suits. Instead, to my surprise, the staff was mainly made up of young, beautiful women in all shades of brown, with full lips and natural hair, tattoos and some wore stilettos.

Jenna Wortham shares the story of how she got her job as a technology reporter at The New York Times. On May 22, young female students from the Institute sat down with women from The Times, who shared their stories and offered advice on how to be successful in the news industry. Barbara Corbellini Duarte | NYT Institute

Many of them are still in their twenties and early thirties but are already commanding the industry, at the top of their game. I loved their authenticity. They exuded an unashamed confidence that was an inspiration to us as we listened intently to what they had to say.

As I sat in the circle, I began to look at the faces of the women around me. I was surrounded by the past, present and future of journalism. I saw Hispanic women, black women, white women and Asian women. It made me proud to know that the cultural perspective in newsrooms everywhere is expanding because of us.

Many of the students from the institute were inspired by staff editor Sandy Harvin’s journey. Her wisdom was contagious. She represented a seasoned perspective of how The Times has evolved through the years.

Later in the discussion the floor opened for questions, and I immediately raised my hand.

But in an attempt to get my words out, I became overwhelmed with emotion because I knew this moment would never come again. A moment where I could speak freely with the women who are paving the way for future female reporters to be more accepted in the news industry.

All I could think to say was thank you.

I tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come out right. When I finally mustered the courage, I felt tears run down my cheeks. As I began to open up, I saw tears in the eyes of others. I knew we were feeling the same way. It was emotional. It was positive. It was historic. At that moment, I felt so lucky.