PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - From Ohio to South Florida and many places in between, Laurie Jennings' television career has spanned three decades with some incredible experiences along the way.
Growing up in Connecticut, her passion to perform propelled her onto the stage, singing and acting from childhood through her teen years.
"By high school I was the lead of every play and people were telling me to forget college and to go to Broadway," Jennings said.
Instead of following that advice, she applied and got into Cornell University.
"And the next thing you know, I saw the microphone and for me it was the right combination of the reporter in me and the performer in me," she said.
After getting her masters in journalism at Northwestern University, Jennings landed her first full-time position in television news at WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio.
Two years later, she moved to a major TV market: Cleveland.
"I was morning anchor. I was their weekend anchor. I was their specials reporter and that was when I got to do my best reporting early on," Jennings said.
From Cleveland to Boston to Miami and New York, Jennings built a name as an anchor, ultimately landing the top spot at Local 10 in 2004, and the globetrotting started all over again.
"My very first big trip when I came to channel 10 was Rome," she said.
Jennings was there for the death of Pope John Paul II and the installation of Pope Benedict.
"We got there -- made it just in time," Jennings recalled. "We got to this location and I swear within an hour and 15 minutes we were live on the air and I anchored a Saturday morning newscast for 2 1/2 hours live from the Vatican."
The trip to Rome was followed by a journey to Switzerland to cover Art Basel in 2009, and then a heartbreaking trip to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
It was there that viewers witnessed Jennings' emotional side.
"I've never cried like that on the air. I remember the tears were pouring down my face," she said. "It was by far the most intense human suffering I've ever seen."
The longest and farthest trip she ever took was to South Africa to cover the death of Nelson Mandela.
"It was just my chief photographer and me," Jennings said. "We did newscasts live, covered stories live and it was just a really, really powerful trip."
Her work has been rewarded with many honors, including six Emmy awards and numerous "Best Anchor" distinctions.
Most recently, Jennings received proclamations in her honor from officials in both Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
When Miami Mayor Francis Suarez expressed hope that her departure from TV news was not a departure from South Florida, Jennings said, "I will always live here and I will work to make Miami shine."
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