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Award-Winning Bilingual Journalist Inspires Students

The freshmen sitting in Pope Lecture Hall on Wednesday had never met Carmen Cusido before that afternoon, but they already had something in common with her: like Cusido, many of them were bilingual.

As part of the Center for English Acquisition and Culture’s (CELAC) discussion “Using Multiple Languages in the Workplace,” award-winning journalist Carmen Cusido spoke with the students about how being bilingual served as an asset throughout her successful career.  Born in Cuban household, Cusido was raised not too far away in Union City, NJ where she made it a point early on to master the English language in hopes of pursuing a writing career.

“I said ‘I’m going to be a writer’ and when I overcame the hurdle of learning English, I said ‘now I’m going to make it a career,’” Cusido added, smiling.

And she did. With few bilingual journalists in the news industry, Cusido thrived at newspapers in New Jersey and North Carolina and went on to have her work appear on CNN, NBC and The Huffington Post. Additionally, she has been interviewed by ABC News, The Guardian, The Star-Ledger, amNewYork and Univision. Currently, she freelances and works full-time in the communications department of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Being bilingual has been a very big asset for my career,” she told the students.

As a Cuban-American, she expressed great pride of her heritage.  However when asked, she said she identifies primarily as simply being American.

“I grew up here; my culture is here, but I am proud of my background because that is who made me who I am,” she added. “Yeah, I’ve drawn away from my [Cuban] culture a little bit, but I’ve expanded to include other cultures and voices in my life.”

Cusido went on to encourage the students to make choices and do things that they think is right for them. She also imparted a few pieces of advice she wished she had known when she was pursuing her journalism degree at Rutgers University.

“The major you have may not be the career you do — and go out network,” she said. “You never know when you might find internships and it’s never too early to start looking into that.”