DURBAN-born television journalist Shahan Ramkissoon is living his dream in the US. He was recently appointed US correspondent for Arise News, a new international TV network.
He landed in the US last month to start his new job and spent his first week in Washington DC covering the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Ramkissoon said the broadcaster was based in New York City and its focus was mainly on the UN, but he would also be anchoring shows that will air in the US and the UK.
“The feeling is still surreal. I’ve only been here for a few days and I keep thinking is this really happening? It’s the best time of my life and I strongly believe that Christ opened this door for me — dreams come true through him. “Being in a place I longed to be and doing the job I love is something I can only be extremely thankful for.”
As a teenager, Ramkissoon was inspired by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He said he was enthralled by the way Cooper told a story and this sparked his dream of working for a major news network overseas.
“I worked hard … really hard and now it’s paying off. I started writing for the Young Daily News at the age of 14. I realised the power of journalism when I wrote about my school withholding report cards and not letting students go on excursions because they couldn’t afford the fees. The education department officials read my stories and intervened and I had a sense of accomplishment knowing I could help my peers.
“I then got into SABC radio and TV news for a couple of years. “My ultimate workplace of growth was eNews. I learned how to tell strong, powerful TV stories there and was given amazing opportunities to grow, like going to the CNN Journalism Fellowship.”
Raised in Kharwastan, KwaZulu-Natal, Ramkissoon said his family enjoyed a simple, humble lifestyle. His parents, Virginia Ann and Kenty Ramkissoon, instilled in him the will to always overcome obstacles and stay focused on his career.
He matriculated at 16 and was accepted to study journalism at Natal Technikon (now Durban University of Technology). “I worked for Arise News as the South Africa correspondent just after I left eNews. I’m the first person the company has relocated as it expands coverage.
“Leaving home was a bittersweet moment for my family and friends, but they are ecstatic — they knew this has been a lifelong dream for me.” Although he may lay his hat in New York for now, Ramkissoon’s heart still belongs in South Africa.
He said he hoped that one day his job would bring him back home.
– Sunday Times Extra
Pictured: Shahan Ramkissoon is the US correspondent for Arise News