Jennifer Brookland

American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow

Jennifer Brookland
Credit Jennifer Brookland

Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.

Jennifer grew up in Baltimore, MD and studied International Politics and African Studies at Georgetown University. She spent four years as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in North Carolina and Maryland, and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Islands.

After earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University she contributed to News21, a national reporting project on transportation safety in America. She also interned at PRI’s “The World” and in Nairobi with IRIN, the United Nations’ humanitarian news and analysis service. She received a master’s degree in human security and NGO management from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jennifer spent three years producing content for international development organizations in D.C, highlighting aid work in countries including Tajikistan, Haiti, Honduras, India and Tanzania. She moved to Durham in 2015 and began freelance writing, editing and producing, including a yearlong stint as producer for "The State of Things." 
 

Ben Raynal / Flickr Creative Commons

Women in North Carolina are likely aware that they make, on average, less than men do. New analysis from the National Partnership for Women & Families shows just how much and to what effect. Their new report reveals that women in North Carolina could afford nearly nine additional months of rent, close to a full year of child care, or more than five months of health insurance premiums if the gender wage gap was closed. 

Photo courtesy of David Wimbish.

Singer-songwriter David Wimbish had a tumultuous couple of years. He weathered a lengthy divorce process with his ex-wife and former bandmate, saw multiple friends pick up and move to the west coast and struggled through the near-dissolution of his large and boisterous band, The Collection. But Wimbish decidedly chooses gratitude over grumpiness. He used his enduring spirituality and awe for the natural world to start writing songs that would become The Collection’s latest record, “Entropy,” released in Oct. 2018. 

The Cape Fear river continued to rise due to rainfall Hurricane Florence
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Six months ago Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas and doused the region for days with heavy rains. The historic storm broke 18 flood records across North Carolina, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Coastal communities remain in recovery mode, with businesses attempting to finish repairs by the next tourist season and residents still trying to navigate complex housing, insurance and unemployment processes.

Scott Huler

It seems young Englishman John Lawson wanted to leave his mark on a rapidly-changing world. In 1700 he journeyed to the port of Charleston, SC and later set off on a two-month voyage through what was then colonial Carolina. His notes and observations became one of the earliest and most important travel records of the area, though Lawson himself was killed in 1711. More than 300 years later, author Scott Huler decided to re-trace Lawson’s route and see what remained of the world he once documented. His own book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition” (University of North Carolina Press/2019) emerged from that journey of discovery.

Courtesy of Bennett College

The Bennett College accreditation fight goes on. The historically black liberal arts college for women lost its accreditation on Friday, Feb. 22, then almost immediately had it temporarily reinstated by a court order. 

Courtesy of Keri Brown

Winston-Salem appears to be moving forward with the removal of a Confederate monument in the city. The statue’s contested ownership is complicating attempts to remove it. The United Daughters of the Confederacy has requested an injunction to prevent the city from moving the Confederate monument. 

Courtesy of Natalie Rodriguez/NC African American Heritage Commission

Negro Motorist Green Book was a critical resource for African-American travelers to find safe places to eat and sleep where they would not be targeted for their skin color. The resource was used by acclaimed musicians like James Brown and Ray Charles when they visited North Carolina. 

Courtesy of Jose Galvez

José Gálvez was a 10-year-old shoe-shine boy when he first stepped foot in the newsroom of the Arizona Daily Star. His entry into that building was his first step in a decades-long career as a photojournalist that would eventually earn him a Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism. His winning series, like much of his work, showed the positive and mundane side of life in Latino communities in America.

Courtesy of Edwin Castellanos

When thousands of Central Americans moved en masse toward the border between Mexico and the U.S. in 2018, violence and poverty were named as the culprits behind the immigrants’ journey. But according to Edwin Castellanos, another factor could be just as much to blame. 

'We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.'  - Sandra Cisneros
Courtesy of Keith Dannemiller

Sandra Cisneros is best known as the author behind the literary classic “The House on Mango Street,” a book that has been translated into over twenty languages. She has penned poetry, short stories, novels and essays. These days, beyond writing, the acclaimed author is spending a lot of time listening. 

Transitioning from economics to art, this Cameroonian sculptor is inspired by the environment around him.
Courtesy of Jean Michel Dissake

Jean Michel Dissake was an economics student at the University of Douala in Cameroon when he made a radical shift: He left school and spent the next nine years living in the forest. He spent his days interacting with the trees and the river, and this deep connection with nature spawned an artistic passion and a career as a sculptor. 

Matteo, left, and his older brother Caleb play in their backyard in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Kindergartener Caleb practices lockdown drills at his school and so does his little brother Matteo, who is in preschool.
Courtesy of Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

Last year more than 4 million children participated in a school lockdown drill. The exercises are ostensibly a way to train and prepare students, teachers and administrators to keep safe in the event of an active shooter. But no research has been done into the psychological effect of these drills on the children they aim to protect.

Professor and Performer E. Patrick Johnson.
Courtesy of E. Patrick Johnson

Scholar and author E. Patrick Johnson knew from experience what it was to be “othered.” As a black, gay man who grew up in the South, he belonged to multiple communities that were marginalized and attacked. He documented oral histories of men with similar identities in his 2008 book “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South.”

As a little girl in Taiwan, Jan-Ru Wan grew up expressing herself not by speaking but through making things. Creating art and working with material allowed her to connect her feelings to the world around her. 

Courtesy of Aaron Pruzaniec

The Great Recession is behind us, and business is booming: new business especially. After a major slump, entrepreneurs are opening shop every month, from mom-and-pop stores to high-growth tech firms. But not all aspiring business owners are able to create the companies they would like to. 

ILO in Asia and the Pacific / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/2PSyGCE

State employees in North Carolina spend a lot of money on healthcare and cost their employer millions. State treasurer Dale Folwell has argued these fees are obscure and out of control. He has called the financial reimbursement model unexplainable, unacceptable, and unsustainable and says the state is at risk of overpaying medical claims since it cannot independently verify it receives the proper contractual discounts. Now his proposal for how to fix it—and save the state $300 million—has been unanimously accepted by the state health plan board. 

Jason DeBruyn / WUNC

 The historic flooding from Florence has eased, but communities and environmentalists are just beginning to take stock of the damage it caused.

Courtesy of Georgann Eubanks

Being able to walk into a supermarket and pick up a carton of strawberries in January makes it easy to believe that all food should be available at all times. 

Courtesy of Noran Sanford

As a counselor in Laurinburg, North Carolina, Noran Sanford provided therapy to young people whose backgrounds weren’t too far removed from his own. These boys came from broken homes, struggled with poverty and addiction and lost family members to violence. But as he stood over yet another grave of a talented young man he had tried to help, Sanford knew he hadn’t done enough.

Barak Richman
Barak Richman

New York City’s Fifth and Sixth Avenues are home to some of the world’s biggest, richest retailers and financial giants. But on a stretch of 47th Street that connects these two thoroughfares, an ancient barter economy for diamonds still holds sway. The diamond industry is built on family relationships and ethnic networks, and it operates independent of modern legal and financial institutions.

Donna Hodgins

The cases of around a dozen missing or murdered young black women in Rocky Mount scarcely made headlines when they occured in the early 2000s. City officials seemed more concerned with public perception than in finding the murderer and meting out justice. Meanwhile, the vagrant killer of a white woman in the same city was apprehended within the day.

Lisa Philip / WUNC

Though Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, its floodwaters continue to wreak havoc on North Carolina communities. 

Vehicles drive through water from the White Oak River flooding Highway 24 as Hurricane Florence hit Swansboro N.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
Tom Copeland / AP Photo

North Carolina is feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence. The major storm is expected to cause catastrophic flooding and long power outages. Host Frank Stasio talks to WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii and WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs for the latest from the governor and on state response.

courtesy of Rodrigo Dorfman

Many cultures mark the end of childhood with a rite of passage. And for many Latinas, the transition from girlhood to womanhood often includes a giant party – the quinceanera. A growing number of Mexican families in the Triangle are keeping that tradition alive despite how costly these lavish events can be for low-wage workers. And for the teenagers being feted, the whole experience can make them feel both connected to their heritage and extended family, and like helpless victims of their mothers’ projections. 

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Public hearings on environmental issues are often publicized in the back of the newspaper and roundly ignored. But amidst alarm over GenX and other contaminants in the Cape Fear River, Columbus County residents showed up in droves to two public meetings on the proposed use of methyl bromide in a local logging operation. 

Courtesy of Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

When six-year-old Ben arrives in the emergency department of a Rhode Island hospital, the physician who attends to him uses her medical training to try to understand his trauma. But as the boy’s memories start returning, and they don’t seem to be his own, she must expand her understanding of how people are connected and what kind of phenomena might be possible.

Cover of Coconut, Ginger, Shrimp, Rum cookbook
Brigid Washington / Skyhorse Publishing 2017

Brigid Washington grew up with the Caribbean flavors of her family's native Trinidad. Ginger, coconut, fresh seafood and other ingredients shaped her palate and her experiences in the kitchen.

But food was not an important part of her adult life until, as a dissatisfied writer living in Raleigh, she felt compelled to walk into the kitchen of Bloomsbury Bistro and ask the chef to teach her the culinary arts. That brazen request led to culinary school and a cookbook. “Coconut. Ginger. Shrimp. Rum.: Caribbean Flavors for Every Season” (Skyhorse Publishing/2017) highlights the mainstay flavors of the islands with American fusion twists. 

Courtesy of Kurt Gray

The Book of Genesis says that man was created in God’s image. But a new study finds human beings may be returning the favor.

Courtesy of Asha Bala / North Carolina Arts Council

When Asha Bala was born, her mother looked at her and declared that she would be a dancer. Her country, India, was a newborn as well, recently independent from British rule. So many parents were keen to revitalize ancient cultural and spiritual practices like Bharata Natyam dance, once practiced in the temples and based on epic tales and mythology.

Courtesy of Martha Quillin / News & Observer

When Hurricane Matthew flooded low-lying areas across Eastern North Carolina in October 2016, thousands of people were displaced. As Martha Quillin writes in the News & Observer, it wasn’t just the living who moved.

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