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THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

Susan Wornick opens up to students, faculty about lifelong passion

Former+reporter+and+news+anchor+Susan+Wornick+spoke+to+students+and+faculty+during+period+five+in+the+Black+Box+on+March+7.+She+shared+experiences+from+her+life+spanning+from+high+school+to+her+career+as+a+television+broadcaster.
Former reporter and news anchor Susan Wornick spoke to students and faculty during period five in the Black Box on March 7. She shared experiences from her life spanning from high school to her career as a television broadcaster.

Former reporter and news anchor Susan Wornick spoke to students and faculty during period five in the Black Box on March 7. She shared experiences from her life spanning from high school to her career as a television broadcaster.

Photo Maggie Del Re

Photo Maggie Del Re

Former reporter and news anchor Susan Wornick spoke to students and faculty during period five in the Black Box on March 7. She shared experiences from her life spanning from high school to her career as a television broadcaster.

Carey Davis, Online Editor

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She has met every living president, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Oprah, and Tom Brady. She takes pride in her career dedicated to reporting the news and connecting with people. She laughs openly about her many mistakes and her imperfect hair.

As retired Channel Five WCVB reporter Susan Wornick began her narrative, the Black Box bubbled with anticipation as students and teachers leaned in to listen to her animated stories, reflections, and advice.

“To make a connection with another human being is what it’s all about,” Wornick said. “And I’m all about connection.”

Flying up from her current residence in Florida, Wornick traveled back to her home state and spoke to a full audience in the Black Box during fifth period on March 7.

As the adviser to Speech and Debate Team, Spanish teacher Jennifer Sousa reached out to her former drama teacher, Jerry Dyer, who in turn put her in contact with Wornick. Sousa decided to open the opportunity to other classes and clubs in order to maximize the opportunity.

That’s how it all started. They put me on the radio as a joke, just to see how people would react.”

— Susan Wornick

“It was great because she really related to everyone who was there,” Sousa said. “She’s a warm speaker who knows how to reach groups and individuals.”

“When I watched her talk I could see why she’s as successful as she is… She knew exactly how to keep an audience engaged,” senior and president of Speech and Debate Team Erika Lu said. “In Speech and Debate you can tell that people make a conscious effort to create that sort of effect, but Susan Wornick did it so naturally, it was astounding.”

Wornick dedicated over thirty-five years to television reporting in Boston after beginning her career as a radio broadcast journalist in Manchester, New Hampshire in the early 1970s.

“I got a job at a radio station selling ads and that was my first job in the business,” Wornick said. “I had a news director who said ‘You know what, Susan? We’re going to put you on the air. People will drive off the side of the road when they hear a woman on the radio.’ Because back in those days, women were not on the radio. That’s how it all started. They put me on the radio as a joke, just to see how people would react.”

That joke launched Wornick into a long career where she fostered her passion for communication and connections, as well as burgeoning her interest as a lifelong learner of myriad subjects. She has reported at WHDH Radio and WBZ Radio, with her last and longest position posted at WCVB Channel Five.

“I’m very grateful because I had the wonderful opportunity to learn pretty much every day from whatever story I was covering, whether I was learning about a human condition or a state or federal law or just circumstance,” Wornick said.

As she shared her story with the audience, Wornick admitted she did not “apply herself” in high school. Rather, her love of school was driven by the social aspect, by formulating connections and working with others.

“I was always committed to the whole,” Wornick said. “I was very much about working on projects and with the community. When it came to acing tests, I was not very much about that.”

Despite the incompatibility with homework and assessments, Wornick values her high school experience and attributes one of her teachers as a major impetus in her narrative.

“I was really lucky, I had a great teacher… His name was Jerry Dyer and he helped the speech team,” Wornick said. “He told me ‘You talk a lot’ and I said ‘I know.’ And then he said ‘Well why don’t we channel that?”’

… It was about a teacher who saw promise in me, it was about a teacher who cared, it was about a teacher, and it always is about a teacher.”

— Susan Wornick

Dyer encouraged Wornick to apply to Emerson College in Boston, which has a strong communications program. However, Wornick found herself following a different path.

“I went to one of the best communication schools in the country and never took a communications course, and ended up in this business,” Wornick said. “How? Because, again, it was about a teacher who saw promise in me, it was about a teacher who cared, it was about a teacher, and it always is about a teacher.”

“That’s why I think teachers are so important, because at a time when students are in their formative years, and trying to figure it out, they look to others for reinforcement,” Wornick said. “And teachers aren’t doing it for the money, they’re doing it because they love the responsibility, and I can tell here at this high school, at Algonquin Regional, I can tell you have some very committed teachers. You’re very lucky.”

Wornick said the late psychology professor Dr. Corea continued the pattern of influential teachers in her life, because he encouraged her to pursue a major in psychology. Wornick attributes him with saving her college career, and she graduated from Emerson with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and two minors, one in history and one in English.

Speaking to the audience, Wornick presented students with a piece of advice.

“When you leave here today, there’s a couple things I want you to remember, but one of them is to respect and love those teachers because you have no idea at this very moment how important they are in your lives,” Wornick said. “If it wasn’t for my teachers, I wouldn’t have had this wonderful career.”

Wornick then opened up the discussion for a period of questions and answers.

A student voice called out, “What were some of the biggest challenges you had to face in your career?”

“I had to work a lot of hours,” Wornick responded. “There were two times in my career when I was working seven days a week. But I was trying to be in a position where I would be next in line for the opportunity.”

She paused, and then continued thoughtfully, “You have to put in the hours and you have to be able to distinguish yourself. You have to be someone to remember for a reason.”

From the back of the room, a student asked “So you’ve been reporting for thirty-five years, do you have one event that stood out to you as your favorite?”

“I have so many, I could really go for hours… But I would have to say that for all time, for all everything, it was Nelson Mandela. He was amazing. But it’s also a very close call with Mother Teresa, because she was someone, when you were in her presence, you just felt that everything in the world would be fine. Those two people are tied for me.”

After a few more exchanges, the volatile subject of fake news was proffered and a silence crept over the audience as if everyone had been hesitating to inquire about the contentious subject.

“As a consumer of news, really pay attention to whom you are watching and where you are getting your information” Wornick answered. “Don’t broad-stroke the media. That’s what I think is one of the biggest problems in this country today, that people aren’t really specific about where they’re getting their information and how they’re getting it.”

Wornick said she worked to remain impartial and prudent about her presentation as a reporter, constantly aware of the power she harbored as she bore the responsibility of disseminating information to the public.

“To feel the responsibility of being the conduit to pass that [information] onto other people [is incredible] and I think you’re seeing how important that is now because there’s so much talk about the media.”

Wornick dedicated her life’s work to the reporting industry, and although it was not always easy, it was where she found her passion, and she encouraged students to do the same, to find what makes them happy.

“[Students should] figure out their passions and their joys and the things that give them satisfaction,” Wornick said.

A pause, then she laughed, “You don’t take the path of least resistance.”

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The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA
Susan Wornick opens up to students, faculty about lifelong passion