I remember the day I decided to be a storyteller.
I was a high school freshman. It was career day and by chance, I wound up in a talk about journalism. It wasn’t my first choice. I desperately wanted to be an engineer. I was really good at math; and for 14-year-old me, anything that involved mechanics or numbers was a dream. Journalism wasn’t even an option that I considered. But I decided, ‘why not.’
That day, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.
The speaker described how exciting it was to tell stories that impacted our community — stories of resilience, of pain, of inspiration. She explained how it felt to see a story published with her byline. I can’t remember her name, but she changed my path in life.
I was a girl from the small town of Wahiawā. If you’re not familiar, it’s smack dab in the middle of the state, in the heart of Oahu. I graduated from Leilehua High School in 2011 (Go Mules!!!) and was deeply involved in my community. I was student body president and section leader in my school’s marching and top concert bands, I organized a recycling drive in our town’s shopping center, and even helped organize rallies.
Outside of school, hula was my passion. I went on to compete in the world’s most prestigious hula festival: The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival (an event that I eventually got a chance to cover as a field producer).
But it wasn’t until college that I actively started to pursue journalism.
I attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where I earned degrees in journalism and English. I even got a minor in political science and studied the Hawaiian culture. During this time, I helped produce and report for Ka Hui Hoʻolauna — a show that my classmates and I aired on KFVE. I did some freelance work for The Hawaii Independent; our school’s newspaper, Ka Leo; and, was an intern at KHON2 News.
Then in February 2015, Hawaii News Now (HNN) hired me as an SPJ Intern. It’s where my mentor (and now-boss) really taught me what it took to be a producer: exceptional time management, urgent writing capabilities and creativity. Needless to say, I’ve been at HNN ever since.
I’ve produced every single newscast my station has to offer: from morning news to all our early evening and late night newscasts. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t feel fortunate to work alongside talented and hard-working journalists who truly want to make an impact in the community.
I am so lucky to share unique stories that can only be told in my beautiful island home. From covering explosive eruptions, devastating lava flows and historic floods; to the biggest hula competition in the world and lei day, I am truly blessed to tell meaningful stories.
Jennifer Wong is an Emmy Award and Associated Press award-winning journalist and news producer. She started news in 2015 at Hawaii’s leading news station, Hawaii News Now (KGMB/KHNL/KFVE).