Today and always, it's about the BLUE & GOLD.
UCLA's entrance to the Final Four has sparked so many 8-claps.
I would like to introduce you to one of the coolest, True Bruins and all around ballers, Jinah Kim.
I met Jinah at a virtual Dinner for 12 Strangers on February 27th, 2021. Dinner for 12 Strangers is a 50+ year UCLA tradition that has become a global phenomenon. Every year, on one of three nights, alumni, faculty and students come together to enjoy good food and great conversation. This past year, alumni hosted more than 500 dinners around the world involving more than 3,700 Bruins. And it was all VIRTUAL! Thank you, Covid-19.
Due to the current pandemic affecting the world, they kept the program going by transitioning to an online virtual gathering format. UCLA believes in the power of community and the Bruin network to inspire and guide one another. And it sure lived up to its beliefs...Thank you, Mitch Sodikoff (another awesome UCLA Solid Gold Sound Marching Band Alum), for letting me off the waitlist and for the honor to join your eclectic group of UCLA Bruins. The awesome Italian themed dinner was delicious and engaging, even behind a screen. Shoutout to my wife, Kayla, who made homemade pasta. Her Italian roots came out in full force for this meal with homemade tomato sauce and crab (Maryland roots as well, might I add). The saying "Happy wife, happy life" was also something I was cheering, in addition to the several 8-claps during the D12 dinner.
As fate would have it, Jinah Kim was also at this dinner. Located in Simi Valley, not too far from us here in Camarillo, we bonded right away. Her broadcast journalism background and career as a reporter caught my attention from the get-go. Note to all: My first job out of college was at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. My middle school goal was to be an On-Air Sports Broadcaster, so naturally, my first job was at the "Worldwide Leader of Sports".
Thank goodness for Zoom's private messaging, I hit her up instantly. Being Bruins, we bonded and exchanged info. Community and family are two things UCLA ALWAYS took pride in. Jinah loved the idea of Covid in California, so I asked her if she would like to be interviewed. And...here we are.
A week later, in early March, I met Jinah in person, and I interviewed her. She showed up wearing shoes with RAINBOWS on them. Another sign of fate. This woman is all about bringing color and positivity into the world. She looks for the good in everything, something I was brought up doing, too.
Not only has Jinah been a successful reporter and anchor, but she is also quite the entrepreneur and super mom. This woman does it ALL! Another UCLA trait. We love variety and we like to live life to the fullest, taking advantage of any and all opportunities that interest us.
Jinah is the inventor of the US Patented Niko Easy Wash Children’s Car Seat covers, which are "selling like hot cakes for spring break right now because people are able to travel again!" Her other company, WorldWise Productions, is currently producing 115 videos for a hospital client thanks to all healthcare workers being vaccinated and Covid restrictions easing! "Those are two Covid related positives in my life for ya! I am also covering the Oscars for NBC on April 25!" Talk about a Bruin Badass.
Why did Jinah choose UCLA, you may ask? Well, "UCLA was the best school I got accepted to. I got into a couple other schools, including the red and yellow that we can’t mention, but for me, UCLA was the clear choice". Goodbye, U$C.
As we say, "A Trojan is only good once, but a Bruin lasts forever." Sorry for all those of you that attended USC or for you Trojan fans, we clearly have our own set of opinions.
Anyway, back to Jinah Kim. She enrolled at UCLA when I was just a one-year old. Not trying to age you, JK, but trying to put things into perspective. She graduated from UCLA when I was entering Kindergarten. Crazy how that makes us all feel. Time is truthfully relative.
And my point is...it doesn't matter how old you are, it matters how you live your life and connect to those around you. I felt Jinah's young energy from the Zoom D12 Dinner. Also, look at her youthful skin and ask her what her secrets are. I did! ;)
Jinah's positive attitude and ability to look at the good in everything, are two things I noticed off the bat. Even though we are talking basketball today, it doesn't hurt to use a baseball analogy, right? It is the NCAA tournament, after all. #Sports.
See below for my interview with her:
RR: How has Covid-19 impacted you personally?
JK: "The toughest part was having to explain the pandemic to, and restrict the activities of, my six year old (now seven). 'No, you can't go to school. No, you can't play with the neighborhood kids right now. No, you can't take your mask off.' He's a super social kid and we had to do a lot of television and divide time to supplement what he would typically do outdoors with other kids."
RR: Did you or anyone you know get Covid-19?
JK: "Yes. My cleaning lady and her whole family got it. My cousin in Texas got it. My husband's best friend got it, and same with his entire family. One of my dearest friends also got it. Thankfully, no one in my immediate family got it."
RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time? I.E. what daily routine did you have to adjust?
JK: "My son was the most deeply impacted, as well as my step children, who we didn't see as much ,as we would have liked to because they wanted to keep their own 'bubble'. I was also constantly worried about my two businesses and whether or not I would have to lay off any of my employees."
RR: Is there a story behind your mask?
JK: "I love to smile and show warmth with my facial expressions. It's been hidden for much of last year. So much of humanity is lost when you can't see someone's whole face."
RR: What do you miss most about life before Covid-19?
JK: "Everything! Being able to stop into a restaurant and actually being able to sit down and enjoy a meal. Being able to schedule a lunch or dinner date with my friends, and not worry about optics, whether they are going to give me a disease, or whether a certain restaurant we wanted to meet at is going to have outdoor seating or not. Or even if the restaurant is still in business! Not having to wear a mask every single place I go to. Being able to do fun activities at museums or parks or theme parks with my kids."
RR: What has Covid-19 made you grateful for?
JK: "I am so grateful that I can work from home. I know so many moms who have to work outside the home, and both they and their children suffer when someone isn't there to monitor the kid's zoom schooling. I am grateful that I can still nurture, cook meals, and be an emotional comfort for my kids."
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
JK: "I am very lucky in that I had and continue to have financial, mental, and social stability during this time...especially compared to so many others who have been struggling so much during this past year. I would rather not complain about my challenges, because I realize I am extremely grateful and fortunate, even though it hasn't been 'easy'".
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
JK: "Seeing my family and friends without restriction! Being able to travel! Supporting local businesses and venues in person! Not wearing a mask every single moment I'm outside."
Thank you, Jinah, for your motivating words and affirmations. You are someone worth knowing and someone who inspires us all. UCLA, please win tonight so Jinah and I can do an 8-clap via FaceTime!
Follow Jinah and her companies on Instagram: