Soledad O'Brien is one of the most trusted names in broadcasting and journalism. She first rose to prominence as an anchor for CNN's "American Morning" in 2003. O'Brien has contributed to shows on MSNBC, NBC, Fox, A&E, Nat Geo, and PBS NewsHour. She was also a special correspondent on Al Jazeera America's news program, “America Tonight,” and produced several documentaries on social issues for the network.
Since 2016, O'Brien has been the host for “Matter of Fact with Soledad O'Brien,” a nationally syndicated weekly talk show produced by Hearst Television. In addition, she serves as chairwoman of Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production company and distributor that she founded in 2013. Throughout her long career, O’Brien has received numerous awards, including an Emmy, the NAACP’s President's Award, and the Gracie Allen Award. In 2008, she was the first recipient of the Soledad O’Brien Freedom’s Voice Award from the Morehouse School of Medicine and was the first recipient of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Goodermote Humanitarian Award. In 2010, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Following in the footsteps of her three older siblings, O'Brien entered Harvard University as a freshman in the fall of 1984. On campus, she quickly immersed herself in college life. When O'Brien took a break from studying for her pre-med and English concentration classes, she played club and intramural rugby; and volunteered with community service organizations, including Housing and Neighborhood Development and the Phillips Brooks House Association. But hers would not be a conventional track. Instead, O'Brien left Harvard towards the end of her junior year. She wanted to start working as an associate producer and news writer at WBZ-TV, an NBC affiliate in Boston. However, years later, she returned to school. Despite being pregnant with her first child, she fulfilled the rest of her academic requirements at Harvard and in 2000 O'Brien received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American literature.
In 2013, O'Brien was back on campus after being named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for the 2013-14 academic year. This was just one way in which she has maintained strong ties with her alma mater since she graduated. During her tenure at Harvard, O'Brien explored a wide variety of topics related to public education in America – including the influence of income on educational equality, the role of gender specific education, and efforts to overcome racial and ethnic achievement gaps in education.
Also in 2013, O'Brien delivered the Class Day speech before Harvard's 362nd Commencement. The acclaimed journalist implored the new graduates to ignore the advice of others. "Not taking advice means you will break those boundaries — those walls that exist that make us feel like we are different from other people we meet," she said, drawing from her own vast experience as a breaker of boundaries since leaving Harvard. "Find greatness and seek out goodness in other people."