Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.
This week, the spotlight is on Cori Coffin (BFA/TBJ and BA/PRA ’08) who is a reporter and fill-in anchor with FOX News in Washington, DC.
Dodge: Where are you now and how did you get here?
Cori: I’m now a reporter and fill-in anchor in Washington, DC. It’s been quite the experience getting here, as is the wild news business! I started off reporting and anchoring in Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s a tiny town (market 185) with a surprising amount of important issues, from election coverage to the legalization of marijuana. But one-man-banding in a place where it’s cold six months out of the year is definitely tough! Next, I headed to Austin, Texas (market 39) to report and anchor for ABC’s morning show. If it weren’t for the 3 a.m. wake-up calls, mornings are where it’s at! There’s room to have fun and get interactive but also make an impact with important issues like immigration. It was in Austin I earned my first Emmy for general reporting. The following year, I earned my second Emmy for my investigative political/government piece on the rape-kit backlog, titled, “Texas Sex Crimes.” I’m so incredibly proud of that piece. Now I am in market 7 following local, national and even global news at times. But my success never came from an innate talent at what I do. I don’t think I was the absolute BEST candidate for any of the jobs I got. But I was willing to work the hardest and be a team player, and that’s what bosses like more than anything else.
Dodge: What is the best experience/highlight of your career so far:
Cori: There have been a few, but I think it has to be the impact I was able to make with my investigative piece. It was the first time I could see my work impact someone’s life. That’s all we can ever really hope for right?
Dodge: What was the biggest adjustment after graduation and how did you overcome it:
Cori: Oh gosh, this one’s easy. PAYING THE BILLS! First, there’s a bit of shock between the insulation you have in college, and the sharp reality of just being an adult. You do whatever you to have do. And that’s what I did. I worked odd jobs and applied for dream jobs in my off time. I networked everywhere I could and offered up my skills for free to anyone who was willing to let me gain the experience and build my resume. Finally, something took hold. All it takes is for one person to give you a shot. Then you take it and RUN.
Dodge: What is the best advice you have received? What advice would you give current students?
Cori: The best advice I have received is to take every opportunity given to me – and to keep my passion alive. Don’t let others dictate how you will act or who you will be in your career. Go with your instincts. And don’t ever stop striving for more.
The best advice I can give to current students is to create your OWN opportunities. Don’t wait for the boss to come to you – that’s never going to happen. They are to busy putting out fires all day. Assert yourself, and offer MORE than just your job description. Offer solutions to problems. Offer creative ideas and projects that you are willing to give at no cost to prove yourself. Create your own job description and then strive to make yourself indispensable. That’s how I achieved ANYTHING of note in my career – not by waiting for someone to give me something cool to do. By finding a way to do it along with my daily duties.
Dodge: What is your favorite memory from your time at Chapman University:
Cori: Nightcap with Pete Weitzner. He’s among the best professors I’ve ever had. He was a visionary in the program and allowed us to explore our creativity and break the boundaries for what we could achieve. He encouraged us to think critically about our craft and to be better than the typical product out there. And even when my student work…excuse the language… *sucked* he was still wildly encouraging. Made you feel like you could achieve anything. And that’s what kept us going!
Same goes for Cory O’Connor, who passed away in 2016. Cory was my professor in the public relations and advertising program, and he was beloved. He was an incredibly inspiring person. I remember my senior year I got really sick and had to turn my final project in a week late. He could have been really stern about it, but he was nothing but understanding and even gave me one of the most memorable reviews that I’ve ever had for that project. I still have his note to this day.
Dodge: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
Cori: I’m a member of SAG/AFTRA and the Society of Professional Journalists. I’ve also had various regional memberships throughout my time in Colorado and Texas.
Thank you, Cori for sharing.