Wendy Tokuda: Students Rising Above

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
5pm reception, 5:30pm talk

CERAS Learning Hall, Stanford

Wendy Tokuda will be speaking about “Students Rising Above,” a nationally recognized television series she has spearheaded for over sixteen years on low-income, San Francisco Bay Area teenagers who have overcome great adversity. A majority of these kids live below the federal poverty line and are growing up without their parents. About half have been homeless at some point. Many have been abandoned, neglected or abused. Many have witnessed regular violence or drug abuse in their home or neighborhood. But they have figured out that education is their one great hope—and for them, this means going to college.

“Students Rising Above” has won national and local awards including a Peabody Award, a National Emmy for Public Service, the National Sigma Delta Chi award, the National Broadcasters Association Education Foundation’s “Service to America Award,” the Edward R. Murrow RTNDA award, and multiple local awards including two local Emmys.

When Tokuda began these profiles, she and the Community Relations Manager at her network KRON, Javier Valencia, set up a scholarship fund through a local foundation and asked people to help send these kids to college. Viewers sent money, and kept asking to do more: to volunteer, mentor, take the kids shopping. Eventually they formed a board, which later became a non-profit. This non-profit is now a multi-million dollar organization (studentsrisingabove.org) which will send one hundred new freshmen to college this year. Its commitment has grown to include seeing these students through to graduation. Towards this end, the program provides a professional advisor, a volunteer mentor, a computer, bedding and dorm supplies, a summer internship program, financial aid workshops, medical and dental care, and financial aid.

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Wendy Tokuda has anchored and reported in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. While Wendy retired from daily anchoring in 2010, she continues to profiles low-income, at-risk Bay Area teenagers in her series, “Students Rising Above.”

This nationally-recognized series has won the Peabody Award, a National Emmy for Public Service, the national Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award, the NAB Education Foundation’s “Service to America” Award and most recently, the Temple Award for Creative Altruism. The series led to the creation of the non-profit Students Rising Above, which has raised millions of dollars to help send these students to college.

Tokuda began her broadcasting career in Seattle as a secretary in public affairs and then as a news reporter.  Next, she worked at KPIX for 14 years as an anchor/reporter, co-anchoring the first-place 6 and 11pm news. She then moved to Los Angeles and co-anchored the 6pm news for five years before returning to the Bay Area and KRON 4 in 1997 as an anchor/reporter. She returned to KPIX in 2007, anchoring the 5 o’clock news.

Tokuda’s awards include the Governors’ Award in recognition of her television work and public service from the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences’ Northern California Chapter in 2010; the RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award that same year; an AP Stan Chambers Award for Extraordinary Achievement and the Good News Award from the American Women in Radio & Television, Sacramento Chapter (recognizing Broadcast News that furthers the Triumph of the Human Spirit); the Edward R. Murrow Award 2012 Regional Award for Feature Reporting, a Peabody award; a national Emmy for Public Service; the national Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award; and the NAB Service to America Award.  She has also won many regional awards, including seven Emmys, three first-place awards from Tri-State United Press International, two Northern California World Affairs Council Awards of Excellence, four California AP Certificates of Excellence, five first place RTNDA awards, three Peninsula Press Club awards, a Golden Mike Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award and the Lincoln Child Center’s James Mann Award 2011 for Community Service.

She is currently a fellow with the Renaissance Journalism Project working on a project on the Opportunity Gap.

She attended Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington, holds a BA cum laude from the University of Washington and attended the Tokyo School of the Japanese Language. She is also the co-author of three children’s books, has two daughters and lives in Oakland.