For the month of December, I’ll be shining light each day on some extraordinary women I know. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. These are bold, beautiful, brave women — artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses.
Jessica Aguirre is the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. evening anchor at NBC Bay Area News and an Emmy Award-winning journalist. She has been a primetime evening anchor in the Bay Area for more than 20 years.
Jessica began her career at the Spanish language network, Univision, while attending the University of Miami. Before arriving in the Bay Area in 1998, she anchored and reported in Los Angeles and Miami, earning Emmy awards for her series on the struggles of migrant children and for her investigative work on child molesters. Her journey to Cuba following the steps of boat people fleeing Cuba won an Associated Press award. During her tenure at NBC Bay Area, Jessica won an Emmy for her poignant series on the emotional journey of an East Bay transgender teen and her efforts to preserve her fertility before undergoing sex reassignment surgery, another Emmy for her live coverage of the “Ghostship” warehouse fire in Oakland and for field anchoring from the deadly Sonoma and Napa county firestorms. Most recently, Jessica was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle for 25 years of excellence in television journalism.
As the daughter of immigrant parents, Jessica is fluent in Spanish and deeply involved in organizations that promote literacy and help stem the Latino achievement gap including The Silicon Valley Education Fund and The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. Her devotion to learning, supporting children, and local charities has her routinely on the lecture circuit in the Bay Area discussing education, gender equality, and minority advancement in the workplace.
Jessica resides in the East Bay with her two daughters and her fiancée. Follow her on Twitter @JessAguirreNBC
1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” I actually wanted to be a lot of things, none of which included being a journalist. None of my life goals growing up matched my talents or abilities. I thought astronaut sounded interesting, but I have awful claustrophobia and I am horrible at math. I was enamored of the idea of being in a Broadway show and although I studied dance for years (even in college) and can carry a tune, I really didn’t have the level of talent to make it to the “Great White Way.” It was my mother who steered me toward journalism. She told me I should be the Hispanic Mary Tyler Moore, that I had all the right qualities. I can still hear her words … “ you are very nosy, you ask a lot of questions and you TALK a lot.” She was right.
2. What makes you the most proud of yourself? I am ferocious. Life has thrown a good amount of obstacles in my path but I always remain undeterred. It has knocked me down a few times but I always liken myself to a “weeble” — that 70s egg-shaped toy that when tipped over would always right itself. Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. That’s me. My other mantra, also based in 70s TV memories, is from “The Great Gumball Rally.” There is a scene when one of the drivers engaged in a cross-country car race rips off the rear-view mirror and tells his passenger “what’s behind you is not important.” That is how I live, my gaze is always fixed on my windshield and on moving forward.
3. What darkness have you overcome? How did you find strength? I thought my father’s death from brain cancer five years ago was difficult as I tried to be “point person” from 3-thousand miles away, but nothing compared to the death of my 23-year marriage. Navigating a court system that punishes working women was brutal. I stayed in a marriage fraught with negativity and pain in order to save my children and my career. Instead of rewarding me, it punished me financially and still does to this day. I have full custody of my girls and have been the sole source of income, care, love, and support for the last 5 years. But, ever the optimist, I see how much I have gained and how strong I am. I see light, I see love and I see a new future for all three of us.
4. Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.? I wish I could say I have a favorite Saturday activity but my weekends are so varied: from visiting one daughter in college to attending my other daughter’s dance competitions, every weekend is jammed packed. I love to start it with a spin class or a hike to rid myself of the negativity of the news and then I go head into whatever lies ahead. In the summer, heading out to the lake with my family and friends is top of the list. My latest passion is heading to my new home in the Calaveras wine country with my fiancée where we feed the horses and drink wine!
5. What makes you smile the most? I do a lot of smiling. Actually, I do a lot of laughing. I find humor in everything. I hope I always do.
Today’s #OneGoodThing is sharing this extraordinary woman and my friend and colleague at NBC Bay Area, Jessica Aguirre, with all of you! We are stronger together, so let’s shine a light on our extraordinary sisters! If you’d like to participate or nominate a woman to participate, please send me a note or leave a comment! What was your #OneGoodThing today? Please share in the comments! Kindness is Everything.
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3 years ago today: Jewish Christmas