UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — John Quiñones, author, broadcast journalist, motivational speaker and host of ABC’s reality show ‘What Would You Do?’ will present “A 20/20 Vision for Our World: Building Bridges, Not Walls” as part of the 27th Annual Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture Series, at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 24.
The event will take place at the State Theater in downtown State College and is free and open to the public. Registration is required and the event will be broadcast live. Visit shc.psu.edu/luchinsky for registration information and important health and safety protocols.
The Luchinsky Memorial Lecture Series was endowed by family and friends to honor the memory of Penn State alumnus Mark Luchinsky with the support of a speaker who exemplifies academic honesty, personal integrity and joy to learn. The 27th annual event is co-sponsored by Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Department of Journalism, the Multicultural Association of Schreyer Scholars, the Multicultural Resource Center, Penn State Educational Equity, Penn State Gender Equity Center, Penn State Hillel, the Presidential Leadership Academy , Rock Ethics Institute and the Schreyer Honors College Student Council.
Quiñones grew up in the neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas. He only learned English when he started school. As a child, he dreamed of being a television journalist, but with his heavy Mexican accent, “it was a difficult dream to achieve,” he said. Through acting classes and school plays, he worked on his English enunciation.
After earning a degree in voice communication from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, he rose through the ranks from local radio to television in Texas. He earned a master’s degree in journalism on a scholarship to Columbia University. He became a journalist for a television station in Chicago. He eventually got a network job with ABC “doing stories in places no one else would go”, he said; when a journalist was shot and killed in Nicaragua, Quiñones was sent to replace him. He spent nearly a decade covering conflict in Central America for “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.”
Throughout his career, Quiñones has been recognized for his excellence in broadcast journalism. He has won seven National Emmy Awards for his work on “Primetime Live”, “Burning Questions” and “20/20”. His first Emmy came when he swam across the Rio Grande to find out why so many Mexican immigrants take that risk to enter the United States. It has also been praised for its coverage of the Congo rainforest; blood diamonds from Sierra Leone; homeless children in Bogota, Colombia; and child sugar cane cutters in the Dominican Republic.
Quiñones said he viewed the adversity he faced growing up as an opportunity to continue proving himself. His parents dropped out of elementary school to help support their families. When her father lost his job as a janitor when Quiñones was a teenager, the family became migrant farm workers, picking cherries and tomatoes in Michigan and Ohio. That experience was key in inspiring the Quiñones to greater things, he said. According to a “20/20” profile in 2009, as they knelt in the mud to pick tomatoes at dawn, his father asked him if he wanted to do this job for the rest of his life or go at University. The answer was “a no-brainer,” Quiñones said.
In the talk, Quiñones will tell the story of where he comes from, what it was like to work as an international journalist and how he got to where he is today. He will share scenarios and lessons from “What would you do?” and his perspective of years of observing the best and worst of human nature.
About the Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture
Luchinsky was a Schreyer Schreyer and biochemistry major at Penn State, who died in 1995 at age 20. A Pittsburgh native, graduating first in his class from Thomas Jefferson High School, he was a member of the Penn State Golden Key Society and the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society. Known for his intellectual honesty and integrity, Luchinsky enjoyed the study of all subjects and enjoyed the classics, sports, poetry, history, and geography.
Past Luchinsky speakers have included former NASA astronaut and former NFL wide receiver Leland Melvin; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For All and Teach For America; Sean Misko, Special Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Schreyer Scholar alumnus Mary Beth Long, former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense. Additional information about the Mark Luchinsky Lecture and a list of past speakers is available at shc.psu.edu/life/programs/luchinsky.