Television grad chases dream of storytelling
Before attending NAIT, Kathy Le (Television ’11) was at a crossroads. Should she continue on her path to study optometry, or pursue her undeniable passion for broadcasting?
She previously graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and biology from the University of Alberta. As she investigated into post-graduate programs in optometry, she also looked into journalism. NAIT’s Radio and Television Arts (RTA) program stood out to Kathy for its hands-on curriculum and 4-month internship. Kathy laughs when looking back on the application process.
“One of the questions was ‘What’s your plan B?’” she says. “I didn’t even answer it. I was that determined to get in.”
She knew acceptance into the RTA program would be competitive with only 18 seats available. But that just made getting in all the more exciting.
“I never felt so much joy in my life,” says Kathy. “I applied with a glimmer of faith. That’s all I had in my pockets: hope, faith and my work ethic.”
After completing the RTA program, Kathy began her broadcasting career in Lloydminster before joining CTV Calgary as a reporter in 2012. She has hosted CTV Morning Live, and reported from the red carpet at the 2016 Juno Awards. She’s also covered hard-hitting stories from investigative journalism to national breaking news.
She says her work can be emotionally difficult, particularly when reporting on stories like the Brentwood murders of 5 young people in Calgary, and improper patient care at a private rehabilitation centre in Alberta.
“I become so immersed in the story, because I care about every single person I talk to,” Kathy says. “They are people, human beings.”
A passion for storytelling
It was her mother who first ignited Kathy’s passion for storytelling. After her first year of university, she and her mother travelled Vietnam for a month. While on a boat in the countryside, her mother shared how she escaped the Vietnam War and found refuge in Canada.
Kathy believes it’s her mother’s story that gives her a different perspective and hopes that contributes to a better story, such as when she’s reporting on Syrian refugees’ integration into Canadian society and sharing issues faced by newcomers, including language barriers, culture shock and homesickness.
“I hope to tell the story so people can relate to it, or have a better understanding, a little more compassion,” says Kathy. “Or they might get up and say ‘I want to do something.’ I feel that is the whole point of being a journalist. It gives us the platform and the responsibility to create change.”
Back at NAIT
NAIT RTA instructor Chris Durham says his former pupil was a hit with television students when she came back to the classroom to talk about her career.
“Kathy’s enthusiastic and passionate about this industry,” says Chris. “I think [the students] appreciated hearing from a recent grad and I hope it helped them realize that their dreams are within their grasp.”
Kathy, however, doesn’t want to gloss over how difficult it can be for budding journalists to carve out their niche.
“It has been a struggle for me to get where I am,” she says. “It’s not easy. I’ve had many nights where I cried myself to sleep. But you have to put in the work.”
Kathy says that to succeed in such a highly competitive industry, “you have to persevere. When the opportunity is right, it will come. Keep your eyes on the big picture.”