TACOMA, Wash. – Rachel Martin ’96, distinguished broadcast journalist and host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday radio show, will deliver the 2014 Commencement address at University of Puget Sound.
A former NPR national security correspondent and ABC News White House correspondent, Martin has informed and inspired national audiences with hundreds of far-reaching stories during a 14-year journalism career.
Since the Idaho native graduated from Puget Sound with a degree in political science in 1996, she has reported extensively from Afghanistan and Iraq, chronicled the anguish of the Virginia Tech massacre, and reported landmark changes in the U.S. military, among many other stories. At theMay 18 ceremony, her outstanding contributions to her profession and society will be recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
“Rachel Martin’s work is a breath of fresh air and a rare treasure in modern broadcast journalism,” said Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas. “Her curious mind, incisive clarity, and impassioned professionalism in understanding and interpreting world events as they unfold make us all better informed global citizens and make us at Puget Sound proud to call her one of our own. It is a privilege to have such an inspiring model of integrity and achievement return to campus as we congratulate the Class of 2014.”
The Commencement Ceremony will be held 2–4:30p.m., Sunday, May 18, at Baker Stadium on campus, rain or shine. Everyone is welcome to attend. A link to a map of campus is below.
Rachel Martin has worked in television and radio, never hesitating to move across the country or around the world to a war zone to fulfill her ambition of becoming a foreign correspondent. She began her radio career at San Francisco’s NPR affiliate KQED in late 2000, and two years later moved to New York to attend Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
In 2003 she took up an opportunity to work as a radio freelancer in Afghanistan, where local insurgent violence was threatening the aspiring democracy. She headed off for the Middle East, reported from the ground of the war-torn nation, and then returned to finish her degree in international affairs at Columbia.
Over the next few years, in various roles with NPR, ABC, and other broadcast media, Martin covered the first democratic presidential election in Afghanistan in 2004, the 2005 London terror attacks, the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the so-called Sunni Anbar Awakening in Iraq that same summer, credited for turning around the war. In Afghanistan she reported on the fledgling governance system, on women’s issues, and on the U.S. NATO fight against the insurgency. At home in the United States, a piece she produced on Islam in America was awarded the 2007 “Best Radio Feature” by the Religion News Writers Association.
During her time in Washington D.C. with ABC News, Martin covered politics, foreign affairs, and faith and values topics for World News with Diane Sawyer and Weekend Good Morning America. In 2010 she returned to her radio roots and became national security correspondent for NPR. Covering the Pentagon, military, and intelligence issues, she traveled regularly to Iraq and Afghanistan, and documented changes in the U.S. military—from women entering combat units to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Interviewed by Arches alumni magazine in 2011, Martin said that she began to envisage a career in international politics while still studying at Puget Sound. Her classes and professors made her look beyond the newspaper headlines to try to understand how and why events occurred, and what the broader implications might be.
“How do politics affect the world we live in? That was the question that first really opened doors intellectually for me at UPS,” she said. “Now I think about it for a living.”
Martin acknowledges the challenges that radio and television present to both journalists and their audiences because of the brevity of broadcast stories. However she argues that media communication needs be seen as a two-way street. Journalists deliver the news, but the consumer has to take the information, learn more, and build their own opinion about the truth of an issue.
“You can always find a way to tell that story, and you can always find a way to create a narrative and to compel people to then go and find out more information about something,” she said in a 2010 talk at Stony Brook University in New York. “You can leave a powerful impression on your audience—which is what you want to do as a journalist.”
At the Commencement Ceremony in which Martin will deliver the address, University of Puget Sound also will be awarding honorary degrees to three other distinguished individuals: writer Amitav Ghosh; business leader and philanthropist Mark C. Pigott; and Tacoma civil servant, activist, and community leader James L. Watson.
For more about Commencement Weekend: www.pugetsound.edu/
For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: pugetsound.edu/directions