By Temitayo Odulaja
To mark the final Brain Food Series for the academic year at Dillard University, WWL-TV Anchor, Sheba Turk, detailed her life experiences and her journey to becoming a reporter. Turk shared from her newly published book, “Off Air: My Journey to the Anchor Desk,” which offers advice on how to overcome life’s obstacles and to establish one’s “own brand.” In the spirit of playing it forward, Turk allowed her mentee, Tassion Lott-Minor, a Senior Mass Communication Student at Dillard, to host the event. Turk told the audience that it was her passion that helped her to secure a position as an anchor.
“I loved acting in high school and I think it helped me in this job, as there is a lot of acting,” said Turk, a native of New Orleans, who started off as the associate producer of the morning news for WWL-TV. She recently moved from associate producer to anchor of her own show “The 504,” named after the New Orleans area code. Turk shared important aspects of her life, as she was raised by caring parents who helped her to secure a quality education.
“I had the most loving parents who would sacrifice anything for me,” she said.
Turk graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican High School, in New Orleans. She then continued her higher education at New York University. However, her college education in the Big Apple was cut short, as she was unable to continue schooling at the university, due to the cost of tuition.
“I owed $26,000 when I got kicked out,” she said. She was then forced to relocate back to New Orleans, after which she enrolled at the University of New Orleans. Thanks to scholarship aid, personal savings, and support from her parents she completed college back home.
Turk didn’t start out in the media. She enrolled as a Pre-Medicine student, but later discovered that the coursework did not suit her.
“I had to take calculus and found that it was not for me,” she said. So, she had to follow the path that worked well with her. She decided to pursue English and winded up an English major.
“For me it was very strategic, and I always loved writing,” she said.
She then decided to go into journalism as a profession, due to her love for writing. However, when she received her first job at age 24 as a traffic reporter for WWL-TV, she discovered that journalism was not what she expected; as she had taken up the position of a reporter, solely due to her love for writing.
“I really did not want to do this, and I could not handle the pressure,” she said. Eventually, she learned the ropes and rules of journalism and stuck with it.
“I am learning to know my worth,” she said. She further encouraged the audience to change themselves into what they desire to become. For Turk, this is “one of the keys to being successful.”
“You can force yourself to be anything, it is just about how much effort you put into it,” she said.
Although she is well-known in front the camera, Turk said initially it wasn’t her plan.
“I never dreamed of being on TV,” she said. “The TV is just a part of my job,” she said.
She later stated that things will happen that will discourage someone from following their passion, but as a word of encouragement, she advised the audience to remain positive and endure life’s hardships.
“Real life will come in and hit you hard,” she said. “I would say explore and be open and be okay with changing your mind,” she said.
Although she has a lot to say, as a professional she has learned to measure what she shares with her viewers.
“Life is an interview and I am an opinionated person, but you have to keep that to yourself,” she said.
The viewers expect the media to present the facts and be transparent about bias said Norwood Sears, Dillard’s webmaster, who attended the event.
“Bias should just be destroyed, fact is fact,” he said.
Dillard officials said Turk’s journey was important because it allowed students to see how a hometown girl went on to achieve success.
“She gave real good advice, practical advice and she is a young person giving advice to young people,” said Marc Barnes, Dillard’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement.