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." 
 

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.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in 'Roman Holiday'
Classic Film / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/VkLRWH

Vacation movies may show off some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, but the most compelling films are the ones that show characters another side of themselves. Take a protagonist out of her usual environment and anything can happen.

child drinks soda
Staff Sgt. Matt McGovern / U.S. Air Force - Commons

Researchers have long been aware of a link between exposure to violence and obesity in adolescents. Now a new study is untangling some of the reasons that connection exists.

The study used smart phones to monitor adolescents in California and North Carolina. It tracked their exposure to violence and subsequent activity levels, fatigue, and consumption of fast food and soda.

photo of a man in a congregation, praying
Courtesy of Pastor Ronald Godbee

When Dr. David Casarett asks patients with a terminal illness what they would like to do with the time they have left, some stare blankly back at him. Others have a big list of family members they want to spend time with and to-do list items to check off.

photo of henderson county courthouse
Todd McDougal / Wikimedia Creative Commons

A brush with the criminal justice system for something as small as a busted tail light or speeding ticket has outlandishly large implications for people who cannot pay the fines, fees and surcharges associated with a court appearance. These costs add up for people, and they add up for the court system too. Last year North Carolina brought in more than $300 million dollars from assessing these charges.

students in a Chapel Hill elementary school.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

New research from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation found that companies across the state are interested in making their businesses more family friendly. That includes policies from offering health insurance and family medical leave to paid time off, job-sharing and flexible work hours.

Photo of hand holding two paint brushes in a 'v' shape
V-Day Raleigh

 When Eve Ensler first unleashed a string of feminist, body-positive, pro-sex monologues onto a New York City stage in 1996, the themes resonated with many women. “The Vagina Monologues” went on to have a successful off-Broadway run, an HBO adaptation and an annual performance slot on college campuses around the country, and even the world. They also spawned a global anti-violence movement called V-Day, which opened a chapter in Raleigh in 2016. 

Photo of Carlton-LaNey teaching a class
Courtesy of Iris Carlton-LaNey

Iris Carlton-LaNey is often impressed by the resourcefulness and strength of those living in poor, underserved and rural communities. As a social worker, she has spent a career observing how many in those communities have a strong commitment to hard work, family and religion. And those are values she recognizes from her own upbringing on a tobacco farm in southeastern North Carolina, where education was valued above all. 

photo courtesy of Young Yonder

The members of the band Young Yonder all have day jobs – in fact several of them met while helping customers at the Apple store. They make music work by packing in practices and tightly coordinating schedules. 

Ryan Melaugh/Flickr Creative Commons

A new public health report from ECU shows that the death rate for midlife whites in the state increased 6 percent from 2000 to 2013. Many of these deaths can be attributed to so-called diseases of despair, like suicide, drug overdose and liver disease caused by alcoholism.

Photo of the Uncle Sam 'I want you for the U.S. Army' poster
Wikimedia Commons

Last spring, the Army told recruiters it expected them to enlist 6,000 new soldiers – the largest mid-year increase in its history. It recently also upped its yearly recruitment goal to an unexpected high of 80,000.

courtesy of Daniel Bolger

In 1968, brothers Tom and Chuck Hagel volunteered for an infantry unit bound for Vietnam. One of them believed in the war; one was staunchly opposed to it. 

 

Courtesy of Mysti Mayhem

Growing up in a small town in the Poconos, singer-songwriter Mysti Mayhem knew her big dreams needed to find a big stage.

Photo of prescription bottle and pils
Eric Norriss / Flickr Creative Commons

Jeffrey Halbstein-Harris had already beat addiction twice by the time he was in his 30s. But a doctor assured him that the opioids he was prescribing for Halbstein-Harris’s diabetic neuropathy were both effective and non-habit forming. Nevertheless, Halbstein-Harris became dependent and went through a painful withdrawal process.

child and man playing chess outdoors
Frankie Torres / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/agWs9r

Human beings have been learning long before schoolhouse walls were ever built, bubble tests invented and recess bells rung. So why is there still so much confusion and debate about the purpose of school, the goals of education and the best ways to empower students to succeed in life? 

Erin Flynn, Hank Pressley, and Paul Ringel getting ready to go on stage at the Triad Stage in Greensboro.
Jenn Brookland / WUNC

High Point University history professor Paul Ringel wanted to give his students a lesson in local history that took them beyond traditional sources and into the very community they were studying. He led students through an oral history project in which they interviewed community members about their experiences living through and participating in the civil rights movement from the base of William Penn High School, which was then a segregated, African-American institution.

Flickr Creative Commons/Stephen Melkisethian

By their own admission Republican lawmakers have purposefully drawn the state’s election maps in favor of their own party, sending 10 Republicans and just three Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives.

man preparing injection
Carol E. Davis - US Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/axqcCi

The American medical system is good at providing care to people in the middle: those who need regular doctors’ visits and a few medications. But the system is inadequate for many patients with complex needs. And although they make up a tiny proportion of healthcare users, these high-need patients end up using a shockingly high percentage of health dollars.

courtesy of Natasha Powell Walker

Visual artist Natasha Powell Walker was struck by the dichotomy required of her as a woman in corporate America: at work she had to be cutthroat and self-promotional, while her friends and family expected her to be loving and nurturing as soon as she left the office.

infant sleeping
Andrés Nieto Porras / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Doctors at fertility clinics often recommend women test their ovarian reserve to see how many eggs they have left. While the test can show how long a woman has before menopause, it was also commonly used to evaluate women’s likelihood of naturally conceiving. 

the cover of Joshua Davis's book, "From Head Shops to Whole Foods."
Joshua Davis

In the 1970s, independent bookstores, local food co-ops and credit unions shaped a new consumer landscape that was as much about protest as it was about purchase.

In his new book “From Head Shops To Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs” (Columbia University Press/2017) history professor and author Joshua Clark Davis digs into the unique environment that led to the rise and demise of these businesses.

mist rises off the Cape Fear River
Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Creative Commons

State lawmakers are expected to make addressing the water pollutant GenX a priority in their upcoming legislative session. Republican Rep. Ted Davis may introduce a draft bill as early as Jan. 4 that is expected to have bipartisan support. But as News & Observer reporter Will Doran points out, a lack of funding for its provisions will likely be a sticking point.
 

Host Frank Stasio talks to Doran about the latest on GenX. He also speaks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about other items the state legislature has on its short-term and year-long agendas.

Main character from 'Get Out' in 'sinking' scene
BagoGames / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/SEjzLj

2017 was a big year for new movie releases, but film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes managed to narrow down their lists of favorites to share.

Selections include “Kedi,” a documentary about the cats of Istanbul, Netflix original “Mudbound,” about two sharecropping families, and the box office-crushing release of “Wonder Woman.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about 2017 movies of note. 

Laura Pellicer

Go behind the glass with The State of Things producer Jennifer Brookland, whose picks for best segments of 2017 included conversations on a civil war mystery, an overhaul of higher education, and the efforts of a hustling young entrepreneur.

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Jennifer Brookland about her favorite interviews she produced this year including conversations with Charlotte teacher Justin Ashley, food company founder Becky Holmes, UNC allergist Scott Commins, biomedical engineer Rachel Lance, ichthyologist Alex Dornburg, education visionary Cathy Davidson and author Shawn Wen. 

IV fluids
Mads Bodker / Flickr - Creative Commons

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 26, 2017.

North Carolina has been battling a growing opioid addiction epidemic. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from North Carolina hospitals show the rise in intravenous drug use is also causing a sharp increase in the rate of heart infections. 

Drawing of Donald Trump scrambling to charge his phone and continue tweeting.
Dwane Powell, The News and Observer

There was nothing in Dwane Powell’s upbringing to suggest he would end up a political cartoonist. 

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