Shannon Nia Alomar
(BA, Journalism, '15)
CNN Tonight Production Assistant
Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
In my time at Hofstra, I experienced so many transformative moments, but the one I would crown my fondest moment was being named "New Student of the Year" in spring 2012. For me, being recognized by Hofstra in this way was more than a title or an award; it was an affirmation for me that my voice and works did not go unnoticed.
As a first-year student, I dove into student involvement right away. My high school in the South Bronx was small and did not offer an abundance of extracurricular activities, so one thing I always said I wanted to do was get involved – and Hofstra provided me with so many ways to do so. Also, as a New Opportunities at Hofstra (NOAH) scholar, I was taught very early on that nothing was impossible to attempt, achieve, or conquer; I truly took this message to heart. Prior to beginning my journey at Hofstra, I often felt that I was in the shadows or that my passive voice was not recognizable. Regardless, I always poured my heart into everything I did, and I still do. Little did the Hofstra officials, peers who nominated me, and friends who supported me know that they were propelling a young woman dealing with thoughts of doubt, wavering confidence, and untapped power into a new realm of self-discovery.
I will never forget that moment. As they read my bio and information submitted on my behalf, I never for a moment thought they were reading about me – even though the story sounded awfully familiar (Ha)! From that day to today, I thank Hofstra for that moment. It is one I often reflect upon when I am feeling defeated or questioning my voice.
What was your first job after graduating Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job (and my current job) since graduating from Hofstra is working as a production assistant at CNN for the primetime show CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. I began working for the team as an intern my last semester at Hofstra, and a week after I walked across the stage, I was hired as a production assistant – a blessing I still cannot get over. The most valuable lesson I have learned on my team is the importance of letting things go. Working in the news industry,especially for a live weekday show, things change very often. News breaks, assignments change, and there are times something you have been working on all day gets scrapped – but it is the nature of the business. Surprisingly enough, letting things go at work has shaped my everyday life. I always considered myself a flexible person, but my work environment helped me grow in the ability to adapt and understand that not all changes are personal.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
At this point in my career, I am still defining my specialty; however, production is where my focus lies. It is funny to me because while at Hofstra, through my studies and extracurricular activities (such as WRHU-FM and Hofstra Today ), my focus was on becoming an on-air talent. Although I have not given up on that possibility, thanks to my internships and current position, I have fallen head over heels in love with production. Looking toward the future, I hope to one day marry my love of production, visual content creation, advocacy, and education to positively affect communities on a local, national, and international level.
What advice would you give Hofstra students?
The biggest piece of advice I could offer any Hofstra student is to get involved, be open-minded, and remember what you are there for, but have fun! College comes and goes, and how those years pass by is totally in your hands. When I look back at all the amazing opportunities I had – being a NOAH scholar, being a radio host for WRHU-FM, going from a weather presenter to a woman-on-the-street producer/reporter for Hofstra Today , writing articles for The Hofstra Chronicle, serving as a fellow for Hillel's Ask Big Questions cohort, participating in the Office of Student Leadership's Gold Leadership Series, showing my school spirit as a mascot (yes, you read that right), greeting students as a Welcome Week leader, holding leadership roles in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Hofstra Chapter and Collegiate Women of Color Organization, and the countless trips I took, people I met, and of course things I learned – none of that would have been possible if I were not open to possibilities. For it all, I am so thankful.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What are your responsibilities as production assistant for CNN Tonight?
When describing my role as a production assistant, I like to describe it as this: We are teamed up with a producer, or producers, for the day and help gather whatever is needed to bring their segment to life. Whether it's video, audio, graphics, transcriptions, etc., it is our job to find it and use it to enhance segments. Something I love about my team is that all parts of the team work together to produce the best broadcast we can night after night. I am able to pitch, learn new positions, and even help producers put together segments if the opportunity arises. From my first day to now, everything I do is super hands-on, and I love it!
What do you find to be most rewarding about being part of a television production team?
The most rewarding part of being part of a television production team, especially for a company like CNN, is knowing that the information you gather and put out every day is reaching/helping masses of people all over the globe. Some days it is so easy for us to forget how many people tune into our show at night because we are in the control room just seeing our team's faces, but in reality, we are in millions of homes night after night. It is truly incredible! Also, those moments when disaster strikes and you are able to connect heroes with the people they saved, or share stories about amazing people doing great things in their community, or provide a voice to those who often feel voiceless, or spark national conversations in a real and open way – those are the moments I love the most.
As an experienced writer, what do you most look forward to writing in the future?
In the future, in terms of writing, I hope to write novels that not only entertain audiences but are also informative, and readers walk away with relatable life lessons. I have been writing all my life in a multitude of capacities. I mainly would like to write fictional novels, but one day I hope to publish a book dealing with the criminal justice system's impact on modern families. That book, for me, would be an autobiography of sorts.
Shannon Nia Alomar is a Hofstra alum working as a production assistant for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. In addition to her position at CNN, Shannon plays Queen Nefertiti for the performance company Your Queens and serves as the company's visual content/web director. She also serves as the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority's Atlantic Region webmistress, Atlantic Advance editor-in-chief, and New York state public relations coordinator.
From a young age, Shannon recognized her love of writing, communicating, and advocating for those who are not able to tell their own stories. Shannon's goal is to become a visual content creator and social advocacy reporter. She also aspires to write fictional novels that not only entertain an audience but also teach them valuable life lessons in a relatable fashion.
Professionally, Shannon has interned for The Crime Report, WABC's Here and Now with Sandra Bookman, Blavity, and Embrace Life Media. She has also written for The Tempest and has ghostwritten how-to books for a publisher.
Throughout her time on Hofstra's campus, Shannon was involved with various distinguished organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Hofstra Chapter; Collegiate Women of Color; African-Caribbean Society; The Hofstra Chronicle; WRHU-88.7 FM, Radio Hofstra University; Hofstra Today; and Hillel Ask Big Questions Fellowship. Shannon works diligently to give back to her hometown community in the South Bronx.