Traveling the world at the age of 18 as a reporter for Channel One News led television journalist and Carmichael native Lisa Ling to want to share people's stories with a greater audience, Ling said Tuesday in Sacramento.
"For a girl from Carmichael who didn't have money to travel, those experiences were so rich," Ling said during her remarks as part of the Sacramento Speaker Series at the Community Center Theater.
Ling, a 1991 graduate of , was introduced by her former English teacher Jim Jordan.
"I thought back then 'this young woman is going to run the universe someday' and in the (Del Campo) yearbook she was voted as 'the next Connie Chung'," Jordan said. "She is telling stories that need to be told and standing behind voices that need to be heard."
Ling, who currently hosts a series on the Oprah Winfrey Network called Our America with Lisa Ling, spoke about her sister Laura, who was imprisoned in North Korea in 2009, and ultimately released thanks in part to a diplomatic visit by former President Bill Clinton.
"My sister Laura is doing incredibly well," Ling said. "She reports on teen issues, including bullying for the E! Network."
She began her remarks on a lighter note by answering questions people most often ask her.
"Oprah is very cool," Ling said of her boss. "And I've never been in any Charlie's Angels movies... (actress) Lucy Liu has told me people come up to her and say they're glad my sister was released."
Ling said her reporting career began when she auditioned at Sunrise Mall for a locally produced news show called "Scratch" that became nationally syndicated. That led to a job at Channel One News, where she got to go to Afghanistan and worked with a young Anderson Cooper.
Ling has served as field correspondent for the Oprah Winfrey Show and is a former contributor to ABC News' Nightline and National Geographic's Explorer. She has also worked on ABC's The View.
Although she is known for her international reporting, Ling's current show Our America, whose new season airs Sunday evenings beginning in June, has a domestic focus. The show's subjects include a polygamist family, a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, an adult film actress and a man struggling to find steady employment after serving several years in prison.
"Everyone has a story to tell and everyone wants to be heard," Ling said in a promotional video for the program she shared Tuesday.
Following her remarks, Ling was asked audience members' questions by Kelly Brothers, a local financial advisor, business reporter and graduate of .
"I love Sacramento," Ling said. "I had incredible teachers at Del Campo."
Brothers later asked her what was her next career step.
"I love what I'm doing... and want to continue doing it as long as I can," Ling said. "People ask me 'are you an activist or a journalist?' and I say I'm a little bit of both."
Ling is now endorsing Del Campo's fundraising efforts for a new athletic stadium.