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The first Vietnamese-American to anchor a national newscast, Betty Nguyen has reported major stories around the world for CNN, CBS, and NBC. She can currently be seen breaking stories on NBC’s Early Today, MSNBC’s First Look, and The Today Show.
A fervent believer that journalism can impact positive change, Nguyen has fearlessly pursued difficult and dangerous stories throughout her career. She reported from the AstroDome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, went undercover in Myanmar to expose a lack of aid following the fatal Cyclone Nargis, and was on the ground during the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe. In recent years she has covered the terrorist attacks in France, the Ebola outbreak, the missing Malaysia planes, and the war in Syria.
Nguyen was born in Vietnam. Her family fled during the fall of Saigon and lived in three different refugee camps before settling down in Texas. Her parents instilled a hard work ethic in her from an early age along with the importance of giving back. Nguyen established a foundation called “Help the Hungry” in 2000 and every year travels to Vietnam with her family to deliver food, medicine, and other life-changing supplies.
Betty Nguyen is an award-winning journalist whose work has taken her across the globe. She has interviewed some of the most important newsmakers and celebrities of our time, including the Dalai Lama, President George W. Bush, Sir Richard Branson, Lenny Kravitz, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Usher, Charles Barkley, Michael Douglas, William Shatner, and Christian Louboutin, among many others.
Nguyen currently anchors Early Today on NBC, First Look on MSNBC and is a correspondent for the Today Show. Since joining the network in 2013, she has covered the terrorist attacks in France, the Ebola outbreak, the missing Malaysia planes, the Boston Marathon bombing, the war in Syria, the election of Pope Francis, the birth of Prince George, and the death of Nelson Mandela.
Prior to that, Nguyen was news anchor for CBS This Morning Saturday, a correspondent for The Early Show, and anchored the CBS Morning News. She joined CBS News in March 2010. While there, Nguyen covered the 2012 Presidential election, the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Royal wedding, the Arab spring, and 2010 Gulf oil spill.
In 2012, she took on the additional role of serving as Special Correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, reporting celebrity news and covering the People’s Choice Awards.
Prior to that, Nguyen anchored the weekend edition of CNN Newsroom. Since joining the network in 2004, she contributed to CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina that earned a George Foster Peabody Award and coverage of the 2006 tsunami in South Asia that won an Alfred I. duPont award. Nguyen also anchored the network’s coverage of major news events, including the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI’s first papal visit to the United States in 2008, the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2005, the London bombing attacks in July 2005, the Iraqi elections in January 2005 and the June 2004 handover of sovereignty to Iraq.
Nguyen traveled to Constitución, Mexico in 2009 to cover Hurricane Jimena. In 2008, she reported from Texas during Hurricane Ike. Also that year, she went undercover in Myanmar for a series of exclusive reports exposing a lack of aid following Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 140,000 people. Nguyen traveled to Africa in 2007 to cover the presidential elections in Sierra Leone, the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe, and apartheid-era prosecutions in South Africa.
In September 2005, Nguyen reported and anchored from the Houston Astrodome, where thousands sought shelter after Hurricane Katrina. Later that month, she went on assignment in her birth country of Vietnam to cover the deadly flooding caused by annual monsoons.
Before joining CNN, Nguyen was an anchor at KTVT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Dallas, where she covered numerous breaking news events, including the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. She also served as a freelance correspondent for E! Entertainment Television during the 2003 California gubernatorial election. Nguyen began her career as a morning anchor and reporter at KWTX-TV, the CBS affiliate in Waco, Texas.
In 2015, Nguyen was inducted into the Asian Hall of Fame. The Smithsonian Institute honored Nguyen in 2007 for her work as the first Vietnamese-American to anchor a national television news program in the United States. In 2003, Nguyen won a regional Emmy Award for “Outstanding Noon Newscast,” and received an Associated Press Award in 1998 for breaking news coverage.
Nguyen graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. She created The Betty Nguyen Scholarship in Journalism in 2007 at her alma mater to assist students pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. In 2008, she received the Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award.
Nguyen is also the co-founder of Help the Hungry, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid to poverty-stricken families.
Betty Nguyen discusses breaking into the increasingly competitive field of journalism and the biggest lessons she learned from the fascinating career she’s had so far. Though the faces of journalism are becoming more diverse, Nguyen notes that when she started out, she didn’t see anyone in the field with a background similar to hers, so rather than looking to a role model, she focused on building up her skills and gaining a competitive edge.
Broadcast journalists generally differ little in what they do, she points out, so setting yourself apart can be a challenge. Bringing her authentic self to her craft rather than aspiring to someone’s style proved to be the “best way forward” for Nguyen. “It allowed me to be the best me that I can be, and that’s really your only calling card in this business,” she says. “That’s the way you get ahead, because there’s no one else like you.”
As a major network reporter, Betty Nguyen has seen the world and understands the unique opportunities and diversity that make the U.S. great. The seasoned journalist discusses her experiences as the first Vietnamese-American to anchor a major network news show as well as the steps she took to master her craft. Just like she has connected with millions of Americans by bringing her authentic self to every story, Nguyen instantly resonates with audiences as she shares her insights on diversity practices, journalism, and living a purpose-filled life.
The road to success may seem long, but it doesn’t have to take a lifetime. A little luck and a lot of hard work can get you there quickly. You just have to be up for the challenge. You have to make the choice to excel. In this presentation, Nguyen offers her secrets to a successful career and provides an inside look at covering the story.
Diversity: Don’t Hide from It, Celebrate It!
Diversity is all around us—in our schools, in our offices and in our communities. Often, what sets us apart is what makes us great. By pooling together our diverse backgrounds and experiences, we increase our knowledge and find new solutions to the problems we all face as humans. Nguyen shares stories of how diversity has enriched the media and our lives.
Humanitarian Work: It Will Change Your Life
We’re all searching for that sense of purpose. The answer to the question: why am I here? While family and career may drive your life, helping those in need will change your life. You’ll be surprised how much you truly get from the act of giving. Nguyen takes audiences to some of the poorest regions of the world by sharing stories from her humanitarian aid trips.
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