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Go West, Young Man!

Or, at least spend this Media Monday getting to know Rebekah Sanders, a fabulous reporter in the Arizona Republic’s West Valley office. As you can imagine, from the Coyotes to the Fiesta Bowl, she has had a lot on her plate thus far in 2011.

If you are new to the blog, Media Monday is a weekly post here at HMATime that aims to help folks get to know members of the local, regional and national media a little better.

For a full listing of previous Media Monday posts, please click here and enjoy.

So, Rebekah, what do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?

My aim to be a foreign correspondent started early. I’m not there yet but hope to be one day.

I grew up with ASU students living in our house hailing from Turkey to Japan to Brazil, who showed us how to roll sushi and simmer beans and rice for hours. My family taught international students at our church. And by the time I graduated from high school, I had studied and traveled in Europe.

I decided I wanted to go into journalism so I could continue discovering how other people lived. And I hoped to eventually do it in their countries.

In Los Angeles, I studied print journalism and international relations at the University of Southern California. I still salivate over the array of foods there – from bulgogi in Koreatown to Trinidadian curry and plantains in South L.A. It was heaven. (You’ll notice me recounting places by meals I had!) I also worked as an international dorm advisor and wrote for L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Business Journal, The Arizona Republic and Daily Trojan.

While in college, I visited China – the best spicy beef soup was in a Beijing alleyway – and studied Spanish for a semester in Nicaragua – fresh-caught lobster was $5 and nacatamales came almost the size of a baseball mitt.

As graduation neared, I applied to newspapers whose locations promised to immerse me in a far different culture – the deep South. I landed at the Beaufort Gazette in South Carolina, where I spent pre-dawn hours shadowing a shrimp boat captain, covered plans for a massive shipping port and fell in love with live oaks. If you’re down that way, don’t miss the shrimp burgers on St. Helena Island.

When I came to the Republic, I was assigned to what seemed like another country – Buckeye. The one-time farming town was on the far outskirts of the Valley and in political upheaval after the sudden real-estate boom and bust. There were plenty of growing pains for me to cover.

I switched to Glendale City Hall, where the financial problems of the Phoenix Coyotes and Jobing.com Arena emerged. I’ve covered that saga as the team declared bankruptcy, two investors failed to buy the team and a third is on a rollercoaster with the city to clinch the deal. I’ve learned more about sports business, municipal bonds and terms like net present value than I ever expected – and became a West Valley business reporter in the process.

For now, I’m enjoying my hometown and can only imagine where else my career may take me. But I know as long as I’m in journalism, it’ll be interesting, and hopefully delicious!

HMA Public Relations
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