Philadelphia (Chestnuthill Local) : “Growing up, I saw very few Asian-Americans on television. Those I did see were journalists. They were confident, informed about the world and respected, things that even as a child, I aspired to be.”
Trang Do, 34, who uttered those words in an interview last week, has certainly achieved her goal.
The highly respected reporter for CBS-TV3 in Philadelphia was chosen out of countless thousands of accomplished Central High graduates to be the featured speaker at the Central High Alumni Association annual dinner on May 2 at the Sonesta Rittenhouse Square Hotel. Do graduated from Central in 2002 as a member of the 261st graduating class.
“My parents were refugees from Vietnam,” said Do, “who came to the U.S. in 1981 with my three older sisters in tow. They waited in a refugee camp in Hong Kong until they received sponsorship from a church in Kensington that brought them to Philadelphia.”
Do, who grew up in Kensington, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with the highest honors and worked as an intern at CBS-3 during her senior year at Penn. After earning her B.A. in communications and Spanish at Penn, she went on to complete a Master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University.
While at Northwestern, Do was a Washington, D.C., correspondent for KTVQ and other media outlets for a year.
After earning her Master’s, Do worked at TV stations in Baltimore for two years, Alabama for three and a half years and York, Pa, for two-and-a-half years.
“I have a great fondness for Huntsville, Alabama,” she said, “because it’s where I worked my first paid reporting job. We were all so young starting out at our very first station, so it was like an extension of college in a way. “I became very close to all my co-workers because we were all broke and struggling to chase this crazy TV news dream.”
Nevertheless, Do has “definitely encountered ethnic bias in my work. Since I am an Asian American, people will often falsely assume that I wasn’t born in the U.S. or make remarks about my perfect English.
“This is why I believe so strongly in diversity in the media. Many people live in communities where they just aren’t exposed to other races and cultures. As journalists, we have the opportunity to educate and inform people about the world around them and ensure that an array of voices is being heard and represented.”
Of all the stories Do has worked on over the years, the most memorable ones “were the ones that tug at your heartstrings. In 2017, for example, I did a story about a Vietnam veteran and a former Vietnamese orphan who reunited here in the U.S.
“While serving in the Vietnam War, the soldier volunteered at the orphanage where this young woman spent the early years of her life. Given my background, covering their reunion was especially impactful to me. The story ended up being nominated for a regional Emmy award.”
Among other mountains still left to climb, Do would like to teach journalism and write a book about her life since “people often tell me I have an interesting and at times, comical life story and suggest that I write about my upbringing and career in TV news.”
Regarding her selection to be the featured speaker at the Central High Alumni Association annual dinner on May 2, Do said, “I am so glad that they did (pick me). Central played a huge role in shaping me as a young woman. I know so many accomplished alumni within my own class and others, so it is such a great honor to be chosen…
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the Asian American female broadcasters who have come before me and paved the way for me to be here.”