Catherine Combs

December, 2018


Emily Sauchelli, 2018 Loreen Arbus Scholarship Recipient

At the Gracie Awards Luncheon, on June 27th 2018, I was living a dream. I never thought in a million years I would be receiving an award of this type of grandeur and prestige. I never fully had confidence in my capabilities until that day. That moment opened my eyes and made me realize anything is possible if I just believe in myself.

At the Gracie Awards Luncheon, I was inspired by so many women. I was particularly inspired by PBS News Hour Editor in Chief, Judy Woodruff. Anyone can be a journalist, but it takes someone special to be a storyteller. Judy Woodruff is a master at her craft. From watching her on TV, to seeing how she carries herself, Woodruff cares about the message she is sending out to society and does not care about putting on a persona for viewers. The best moment was when I got the opportunity to talk with Woodruff at the luncheon. It was a moment that I will never forget.

After I introduced myself, she was so gracious and asked, “What was your story?”. She told me she was going to look through the stories of all the winners on the plane back to Washington DC. From that moment, I knew the kind of person she was – kind, caring and inspirational. One of my favorite quotes from Judy’s speech was, “We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. We need more women in decision-making jobs, more women doing the hiring, more women deciding which stories get covered and more women reaching out to bring along younger women like the remarkable women we are seeing here today.” I agree with Woodruff that, as women in the media, we need to start uplifting each other and praising each other for our achievements in the industry.

Besides being a great storyteller, Woodruff cares about those with disabilities, as her son has spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Due to her son’s conditions, she is able to relate to others who are going through similar circumstances. That is another reason why she is great at her job. Audiences don’t just see a woman doing her job as a journalist, they see a woman who has opened part of her private life up to the world, in hopes that others can understand and know more about those with disabilities. Every single one of us is different on this Earth, and it’s time that everyone respects one another and our differences, no matter the severity.

What I took away from this experience – becoming a Gracie award winner and being in a room full of talented journalists and storytellers – is that everyone has his or her own story. The road to success is different for each person. I learned that no matter the struggles people have in their lives, it matters how they persevere and continue to achieve their goals. To me, that’s true inspiration.