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Life is a marathon, not a sprint

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I am persistent and driven. If there is something I want to achieve I tune out the distractions. For me, achieving my life goals is more important than any party or lime.

Neki (short for Nekisha) Mohan is an anchor/reporter in South Florida with strong Trini ties. Mohan grew up in Trinidad from the age of three through high school, age 17. Mohan moved to New York in 1988 after completing O-Levels and credits her success in part to her upbringing in Trinidad’s multi-racial society. Be it a hurricane or a political campaign, she has covered it. Before settling in South Florida, Neki, a fitness enthusiast, worked with award-winning teams in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Washington and Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Maryland, her first job was at ABC in Washington, where she assisted a number of news legends and sharpened her skills as a roving reporter. Having had the opportunity to be mentored by journalism greats like Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, Carole Simpson, David Brinkley, Bob Schieffer, Cokie Roberts and many more, Mohan understands the power of mentoring. An adjunct professor at Barry University in Miami, Mohan is a mentor in the Women of Tomorrow organisation in Florida where she empowers high school girls to discover their full potential. She also lectures at journalism seminars for the National Association of Black Journalists as well as the Asian Association of Journalists. Mohan, who is extremely proud of her Trini roots, is the wife of T&T’s former star athlete, now sports commentator/analyst/coach Ato Boldon.


Q: Where in Trinidad did you grow up (from ages three-17) and tell us about those years…family, schools, etc?

A: My mother and father moved to NY in the 1960s. I was three years old when I came back to Trinidad with my grandmother, I was a sickly baby and they figured the warmth of the Caribbean was a better place for me. I lived with my grandfather and grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins in Belmont from three to 17. I went to Belmont Girls’ RC School then Holy Name Convent after Common Entrance. I have great childhood memories....a sense of community, diversity and pride. I love coming home and going to Panorama.

As a child, we played with Nelson Street Primary School Kiddie’s Carnival band, and then a portion of my family ran Rabs Immortelle. I also played with Poison and Tribe. I love Panorama and Kiddie’s Carnival. My daughter is a regular at Miami’s Junior Carnival.


When and how did you get into television, and tell us about the inspiration to do the type of work you do.

I always knew I would work in life and I wanted to make sure I did something I loved. I have always wanted to be a journalist. Growing up in Belmont I used to get the newspaper for my grandfather everyday and read it with him. I always wanted to know more about the people who got the information and wrote the stories. I love being where the action happens. I take the responsibility very seriously, I love learning new things everyday. I joined the National Association of Black Journalists in college and there I found new mentors and new opportunities. I always gain new skills going to the convention and enjoy listening to the amazing speakers.


What are the main reasons for your success?

I am persistent and driven. If there is something I want to achieve I tune out the distractions. For me, achieving my life goals is more important than any party or lime. That said, I love a good lime! Do your work first, the party isn’t going anywhere. I believe your first inspiration comes from your family...your parents. They were hard-working people, my grandparents were senior citizens and they worked hard to care for us, my mother and father were immigrants, my aunts and uncles helped take care of me as well.

I knew I had to earn my own fortune and I knew I wanted to do a career I was passionate about. If you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. I read a lot of the biographies by other journalists, I always want to learn new things about my craft.


How would you describe yourself?

I am energetic, passionate and always up to something! I could get my hands in ten different projects at once. Along with my job and my family, I am extremely passionate about mentoring. I would not have been able to break into the business without help. Even now, I have several people in my life that help guide me in many different things.

I mentor a high school class in Broward County…anything from finances, college applications, stress management to healthy living. Each one teach one! I believe in giving back to others, helping people help themselves. It enriches my life immensely.


Something about you that people would be surprised to know?

I had a bad stutter as a child. Singing and acting helped give me the confidence to kick it. Fellow stutterer James Earl Jones once said, “The cure for the stutterer is the scripted word.” I used acting classes to help me overcome it.

My grandfather, Hypolite Sosa, is one of the first inductees into the Sports Hall of Fame in T&T I could run around the Queen’s Park Savannah at ten years old. I am not a fast runner or talented one, but I did run the Trinidad marathon in 2006. It was the most beautiful and spiritual experiences to run from Chaguanas to Port-of-Spain. I don’t run much any more because of a back injury but I am working on getting back on the road. Life is a marathon not a sprint!


Who and what were your inspirations in life?

I have to thank Aunty Hazel for my first TV appearance on Twelve & Under as a child. I used to watch the show every week and went and auditioned one Saturday morning. I couldn’t believe I made the show. That was a big deal for me. No formal training, just a gut feeling that I could do it. I also appeared on Teen Talent.

The best thing to come off of that show was that one of the judges was Pat Akien, a teacher at Holy Name Convent, she led the theatre group Masquers. I was introduced to Shakespeare and so many classic playwrights. A great night at the theatre is still the perfect date-night for me. Imagine my surprise when I ended up going to the school the next year and she was my teacher.

Ms Akien was a big influence on my life. She encouraged us to perform at the highest level, be disciplined and aim high. We worked hard in all our performances and loved every minute. At Holy Name, I also played football and was in the choir. I know I probably wasn’t the easiest student to teach, always had lots of energy! I appreciate all the teachers who put up with me and helped me stay the course.


What is the best advice you have ever received?

I have gotten a lot of advice and I am always open to more: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail; Aim high work hard; Treat people like you would want to be treated; Work hard worry less; Chose faith over fear.


What do you feel are the greatest accomplishments of your career thus far?

I won a journalism award for a series I did on the Haitian/Dominican border about a deportation crisis. I also travelled with Pope Francis across the United States. I also just returned from the Academy Awards where I watched some kids who grew up in the inner city win an Oscar. It brought tears to my eyes, the challenges they had to overcome to be there was so inspiring.


What are the main trends, risks, opportunities in your industry currently?

People are turning off television news, they get information more quickly and conveniently on their mobile phones. As a reporter, you have be a good storyteller and writer for all mediums including social media. You have to be willing to change constantly.

The biggest risk in the industry is to become complacent. Keep hustling and don’t be afraid to evolve.

You have to really be willing to evolve. My position at the station has changed many times. I jump into each role and do my best. I have worked at ten TV stations in five cities. I love living in South Florida because I am so close to home.


What daily motto/credo do you live by…your recipe for success?

Never forget the relationship with yourself; as a spouse and mother, it’s easy to forget that. The relationship with yourself is what makes you better for everyone else. I have learned to filter my comments with maturity. I do as much research as I can on subjects before I weigh in but, I am not afraid to speak my mind. If I want something, I don’t stop trying, I don’t give up. In the beginning of my career, I drove to Jackson, Mississippi, from DC with a friend for my first full-time on-air job. I knew one person there. I worked every day with the underlying faith it would pay off. Two years later, I got a job in Miami.


What goals do you still have?

There are so many other things I would like to accomplish. I am working on a few. I would like to add entrepreneur and author to my accomplishments one day. I would also like to see more mentoring organisations in the Caribbean, we have a lot of underserved talented youth.


What is the most difficult part of your job?

The most difficult part of my job is the time constraints. TV stations never close. So yes, I have to work some holidays...I don’t want to, but I have an understanding team at home.


Your favourite calypsoes/soca?

My favourite calypsoes are old school…Sparrow, Calypso Rose, David Rudder. From the more current crew, I like Kes, Machel and Bunji.


Typical daily job routine?

M-F (Monday to Friday), wake up at 5 am, meditate, stretch, coffee, catch up on overnight news, check email for urgent matters. 6 am, gym for an hour. 7 am, wake up daughter, get her to school by 8 am with lunch packed. Leave home at 8 am to make it to 9 am editorial meeting. Work is an adventure! Hopefully I am home by 7 pm. Check homework (dad or sitter does school pick up). Sometimes I go back to the gym if I have the energy and decompress with a small workout. In bed by 10 pm…hopefully!


Describe yourself in two words, one beginning with N, the other with M (your initials)?

Never-ending, motivated.


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