By Alex Harmer
Wendy Tokuda has touched the lives of countless underprivileged kids and families throughout her career, something you don’t always see in the television industry.
Tokuda, the first Asian American Monday-Friday female Television anchor, has been doing on air anchoring for 30 years.
After graduating from college, Wendy had no idea what she wanted to do, but after visiting a newsroom she knew immediately, “this is what I want to do.” Ever since that day, she has had nothing but success.
In the 30 years since she began she acknowledges, “the industry has changed so fast with technology. There was cable, then internet, then cell phones, but one thing hasn’t changed and that’s good journalism.
It takes a broad knowledge about a lot of things to be a good anchor because you never know what breaking news could come through the newsroom on any given day. That is why she loves her job, “I love news, it is a job where you learn as fast as you can and you only learn about cool things.”
It seems though, that the most important, meaningful, and pivotal part of her career is right now. She stepped away from daily anchoring in 2010 to focus on her new passion.
Ms. Tokuda has used her local fame to send underprivileged kids to college and completely transform their lives. Tokuda established the non-profit organization Students Rising Above. She uses segments of the nightly news to bring the light the issues facing underprivileged high school students who want to go to college but don’t have the support system to do so.
These kids are often supporting themselves and rarely have parents in their lives; they are some of the most high-risk youth in America. The exposure the program has garnered have resulted in massive financial support.
Students Rising Above has raised over $9 million dollars since it began, every penny of it going to student’s tuitions and other fees that are inevitable in college, like school supplies and dorm room necessities.
The video testimonials that these students do is heart-wrenching, and you can see the joy their success brings to Wendy Tokuda’s face.
Through the organizations and student’s success Tokuda refuses to take the credit she deserves. “I’m a reporter, not a social worker… I just take the money from the viewer and give it to the kids who are prepared to make it in college.” This is true, but if it wasn’t for her compassion, caringness and perseverance many of these kids could face the troubling future of their parents, in jail, dead, or on the streets.
Though she is modest about it, the public understands her important contributions. The Students Rising Above Program has won countless awards nationally, including the Peabody Award and a National Emmy for Public Service, and her personal awards are to many too list, but include the Governors’ Award.
“I know more people who have been shot then gone to college,” says one student. If it wasn’t for Wendy this promising scholar could of faced the same reality.