New graduate follows her path to broadcast journalism

Dara Khaalid earned her degree from the University of South Carolina this month, ready to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. It’s a path she started on years earlier — when she was a fifth-grader.

That’s when she completed a school assignment by creating her own talk show.

“My mom was the guest, my dad was the cameraman. My mom was (pretending to be) Maya Angelou and I interviewed her,” Khaalid says. “Then in high school in Rock Hill, I got involved in the journalism program and that kept the love going.”

While she was a student at South Pointe High School she won a videography contest, and her journalism teacher took a few students to UofSC to attend an awards ceremony and explore the campus.

“I bookmarked it in my mind as one of places to go. My high school journalism teacher encouraged me to come here,” she says. “I fell in love with the experience. Everyone raved about the journalism program, and they were right. I definitely see now that everything they said was true.”

Khaalid spent her first two years of college at Midlands Tech before transferring to UofSC. She remembers being nervous in her first days on campus, but soon found out about student organizations, including the National Association of Black Journalists, and met faculty and staff members who took her under their wings and connected her to the community.

“If I could give advice to other students, it would be, ‘Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors. Don’t be afraid to express your dreams.’ You’ll see how willing people are to help. That’s what surprised me. There were so many people rooting for me at the J-school. I’m not alone. I may get rejections, but they’re always there to lift me up,” she says. “Find your support system, find a good group to help you get through those tough days.”

She is in the midst of applying for reporting jobs at TV stations, with her ultimate goal of hosting or anchoring a morning news show.

This fall, Khaalid was part of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ “senior semester” – the capstone program for senior broadcast and journalism majors. Senior semester students produce, report and anchor a daily news show and write stories for the website.

Khaalid also worked as a digital content producer at WACH Fox on the weekends, after spending last summer as an intern at the station. She said the two experiences helped her improve her writing and reporting skills, and gave her insights into the types of stories she is interested he wants to tell.

“I want to try to tell stories about people who don’t get a lot recognition — women, people of color, people who are impoverished,” she says. “My professors have taught me ways to tell those stories better — with research, statistics and finding the human element.”

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