by Donna Parker
Uma Pemmaraju, who earned a degree in political science in 1980, built an award-winning television news career that has catapulted her all the way to the No. 1 news market in the country. That makes it even harder to believe that her first job as a journalist, while still a Trinity student, was writing the fishing reports for the San Antonio Express-News.
"I used to talk about the best kinds of bait," she says laughingly, "But I knew it was the way to get my foot in the door."
That door opened wide in 1996 when Fox News ushered her in to host the hard news daytime program, Fox News Now. Uma spent the next 11 years anchoring various news shows on Fox, but is just now following her passion of profiling famous people who've become enormous life contributors.
"We look for people who've given back and approach life in a positive spirit," says Uma.
"These people, such as Pastor Joel Osteen, resonate with their audiences. Dikembe Mutumbo, the tallest NBA star, originally came to the U.S. from Africa to study to become a doctor. He's now focused on building a hospital in the Congo - inspired by his mother who died just 10 minutes from the nearest hospital, simply because there was no ambulance to take her there."
"Their sense of spirituality comes through. I've always believed TV can be used to make a difference. That's why I got into this business long ago to use this medium to educate and enlighten."
Uma, a native of India who grew up in San Antonio, is herself a giver and has served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club and the Big Sisters organizations in New York.
"I still maintain a connection with the real world," says this beautiful television journalist, who understands how easily one can get caught up in the fame and insular environs of the TV news industry.
"It's very important not to get jaded by the news - to stay involved and see how people are dealing with life's challenges."
Uma also stays grounded by her nine-year-old daughter, Kirina.
"She's nine, going on 25," she jokes. "She's very excited about life and my husband, Andrew, and I just want to give her a most special childhood."
Uma, who remains very close to her family in San Antonio, also holds a special connection with Trinity, where she was editor of the Trinitonian.
"I shook things up a bit and changed it from reporting solely on sororities and fraternities to reflect on community issues."
"My journalism professors were the best. Marian Pfrommer, department of communication, inspired me to dream big, but get my facts straight. She also introduced me to the world of politics in D.C."
"Trinity was a small and private world which allowed a real relationship with my professors. They made time to work with their students and, in turn, I felt I could express myself in positive ways. I was allowed to be an individual and dream big."
For Uma, those dreams have become reality. Her television specials begin airing on Fox television in June.
You may contact Uma at Uma.pemmaraju [at] foxnews.com.