Thirty years ago, my family moved from a military base overseas to the United States. The move came after my biological mother passed away giving birth to my younger brother at a U.S. Naval hospital. Under these unfortunate circumstances, we set out for a new life in the U.S.
Despite these hardships, I always believed in the American dream - that through hard work, determination, and integrity, this was a nation where you could accomplish great things no matter your background.
During college, I simultaneously studied, worked, and interned at a local news station. I was not born into a connected family, but was convinced remaining dedicated would allow me to accomplish my goals. So I took every opportunity.
After college, I freelanced at a local news station as a writer and producer, then moved thousands of miles away to be an anchor and reporter at a news station in Saipan, a Commonwealth of U.S. in the Pacific.
In 2011, an international cable news outlet called RT contacted and recruited me. During this time of a “Russian reset,” they said it was an opportunity to cover stories neglected by the mainstream media and that would give a voice to the voiceless. This mission resonated with me.
In 2014, the station took a turn for the worse and morphed from an alternative news platform to a full-blown propaganda machine, churning out disinformation on the wars in Ukraine and Syria. That’s when I decided to take action and resign on the air. That viral moment helped to spark awareness about Russian disinformation and foreign meddling in democracies. Today, it’s a top national security issue.
Since then, I have traveled to several countries, speaking about democracy and disinformation in the digital age. I have advised government leaders, diplomats, journalists and students around the globe on how to understand and tackle this growing threat.