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Shining Light: Nicole Young '00

Shining Light: Nicole Young '00
Nicole Young ’00 wins an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in 2017 for her work on a segment for “60 Minutes” called “The White Helmets” about the Syrian Civil Defense. This is just one of her 11 Emmys. (Photo Credit: Marc Bryan-Brown Photography)

While many children grow up wanting to be movie stars, athletes or some other “glamorous” profession, Nicole Young ’00 wanted to be something all-too-rare: a humanitarian.

“I remember the famine in Ethiopia when I was 12 and 13 and thinking, ‘How can this possibly happen?’” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something in some capacity, try to figure out how to make right some of the wrongs in the world. I decided journalism was a kind of way I could help shine lights on dark corners of the world.”

As a producer for “60 Minutes,” Young has produced segments on the refugee crisis in Syria, the famine in South Sudan, the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Sandy and the election of Pope Francis. For her efforts, she has received a host of accolades, including 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

The Most Opportunity

How did a girl from Hopatcong, New Jersey, become one of the most celebrated broadcast journalists under the age of 40?

“If I were to tell myself, my freshman year self in Scranton, I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I probably wouldn’t believe (it),” she said.

Young’s interest in international events sprang from the summers she spent as a child with family members in Jamaica. When it came time to research college, someone at her Catholic high school suggested she look at Scranton.

“Scranton ended up giving me the most opportunity,” she said. “Looking back, they were some of the best years of my life.”


After graduation, Young earned her master’s in international journalism at the City University of London. She began working as “60 Minutes” Correspondent Scott Pelley’s assistant in 2004 and was soon producing his work, thanks to her dedication and persistence.

“You may be smarter in some capacity, you may have better grades than I have, you may have more resources than I have, you may have more connections, but you’ll never out-work me,” she said. “I’ll stay up later. I will work harder. I will race longer. I will run longer. I will do jobs you don’t want to do.”

With Pelley, Young found a kindred spirit.

“The same stories that as a kid I wanted to tell are the ones he has the most passion telling,” she said, “epic stories of human struggle.”

And, with an audience of millions, Young’s work makes an impact, such as when her 2017 Emmy-Award winning coverage of the Syrian Civil Defense (also known as “The White Helmets”) helped inspire millions of dollars of donations within days of airing.

“That is the most fulfilling part, that people are seeing it,” she said. “I’m glad I showed you something that you should know about, because there is no reason for people in other parts of the world to be dying or starving by the millions.”

Although Young’s job can occasionally be dangerous, she doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon, even with a baby on the horizon.

“With Baby, I’m more dedicated to continue the kind of work I’ve been doing,” she said. “I can’t stop my passion. I don’t think that does Baby any favors, to see mom not do the thing that gives her the greatest satisfaction, other than now raising this child.

“There are so many places and so many people who need their stories to be told, and if I work for a place that allows me to still continue to do it, I’m going to keep doing it as long as they allow me to. And then, who knows? … Maybe I’ll be a professor at Scranton, if they’ll have me.”

Read the script from "White Helmets," an Emmy Award-winning segment by Young, here.

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