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Conversations with Monique Robinson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monique Robinson.

Hi Monique, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My name is Monique Robinson. In high school, I participated in a television production program called “WANT-TV.” I was the host of the show! Every Friday, we would run a live broadcast that would air to all of the students in the school. I loved it! I thought I was on target to be the next Oprah.

With broadcasting as the goal, I decided to attend a school with an amazing journalism program that had a similar push for school pride as my high school. I chose the University of Maryland, College Park. I grew up and lived in New Jersey all the way up until venturing off to college, so UMD was quite the adjustment.

It wasn’t an easy transition. I dearly missed my high school television production teacher who is truly one of a kind. None of the professors in the journalism school at the time had the same degree of passion that my high school teacher did. I felt like I didn’t belong at the school. In fact, I even had one professor who told me he saw no potential in me. I was at my wit’s end. I really didn’t think I was meant to be a Terp, nevertheless a journalist!

But, I don’t give up easily. I decided to stay another semester. I decided to take “Weather and Climate” as a general elective course for the following semester. That is when I fell in love with the weather. I loved learning about it so much so, that I decided to add it as an additional degree and thought: How about I pursue meteorology?

I was the first student to dual degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When you are a pioneer, you can be very ambitious and often blindsided by the realities that the new venture entails. I wanted to be a broadcast meteorologist. Television is a show-and-tell business where you have to show what you can do, not just say you’re good or submit a resume.

So, in my senior year of college after completing the majority of the necessary course work to graduate, I realized I was missing one of the most heavily weighted components of a broadcast meteorologist job applicant: a reel. I needed a recording of myself in front of a green screen doing the weather very similarly to how broadcasters do on television.

Unfortunately, since my university did not have this opportunity on campus, I created it! I went to a nearby fabric store, got some green fabric, and started practicing in my apartment kitchen doing the weather. I would set up my camera to film, prop up my PowerPoint slides of original graphics and make it happen!

From that practice work, I was able to establish a club of broadcast meteorology students and eventually land my first job as a meteorologist in Wilmington, North Carolina!

Within my first two months of working in Wilmington, Hurricane Florence was headed towards the coast. It was expected to be a major hurricane. Fortunately, the tropical system weakened, but it still was quite frightening forecasting this event.

My news team including me was on the air for 82.5 hours! It was quite the learning experience, but it helped me to see firsthand the importance of my weather knowledge and why God sent me to that city!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a broadcast meteorologist in Greensboro, North Carolina where I forecast for Central Piedmont.

But, most folks in the area know me as “Mo” because of my series “Mo on the Go” wherein I interview phenomenal women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields across the Triad. I love the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and inspire future generations of minority young girls.

I advocate for embracing your uniqueness and I actively reflect that passion whenever I speak to students in classrooms or virtually! I am most proud of young girls that share with me their accomplishments knowing they always have me rooting for their excellence.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
When working in Wilmington on-air as a meteorologist, I also was a substitute teacher at a local all-girls charter, middle school. I recall teaching one day and asking the class “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The students stared back at me with blank faces. I waited. One young lady finally muttered, “to get an apartment.” It hurt my heart to believe that young girls in this classroom had no aspirations. They didn’t have dreams, have the care to build a legacy, or a desire to build wealth.

Five to ten years from now, I would love to have my own show where I can still live out that “Oprah” dream!

The world needs more individuals sharing real stories. I believe stories are where our power is and providing a space
and platform for ordinary people who do extraordinary things will inspire more young minority curious minds to aspire for excellence.

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