CNN Correspondent Kaylee Hartung has packed a lot into 31 years. Hartung grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from Episcopal High School in 2003. After college in Virginia she worked at CBS in New York for Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation. Then Hartung spent five years as a reporter for ESPN. Recently, she made the jump to CNN as a national correspondent, and was part of the team reporting live on the ground as Hurricane Irma battered Florida. We talked with Hartung about how she does it.
Next: Did you always want to be a journalist?
KH: I actually did. My father was a pilot, and he died in a plane crash at an air show in Lafayette when I was 10. I remember watching CNN that night and being very confused. The most important man in my life was gone, but they were just reporting on it as an event. I understand that now, but then, I couldn’t. But in that moment, I recognized that I wanted to tell people’s stories.
Next: You’ve met and interviewed so many people. What are some of your favorite memories or moments?
KH: I was Bob Schieffer’s researcher when he moderated the 2008 presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I also remember the adrenaline rush I felt when I worked my first football game for ESPN. I have never been so cold in my life! Then there was the first time I went live for CNN—on a bus full of activists going to a climate change rally.
Next: What advice do you have for teenagers?
KH: Be ready when that opportunity comes along. You don’t know when that door will open in front of you. When it does, you have to run through it.
Next: What’s the most Louisiana thing about you?
KH: I have a penchant for spicy, well-seasoned food, and I bleed purple and gold! I look forward to getting back to LSU as a fan. Last year, I think I covered four LSU football games for ESPN, plus other sports.
Next: Besides friends and family, what’s something you miss about Baton Rouge?
KH: Mansurs, Gino’s, Ruffino’s and Phil’s Oyster Bar [local restaurants].