I have been following Veronica De La Cruz's career since her time at CNN, where she made a significant mark on the news industry. As an Asian Pacific woman, I often wondered about her life as a child; and, what important lessons and experiences she was passing on to her son. I got a chance to ask her some questions about her cultural past and how that has shaped her as a woman, mother, and journalist.
Veronica De La Cruz is a national news anchor at Newsy, the Scripps owned national news network. Currently, you can find her anchoring Newsy Live, from 12-3pm eastern. Prior to that she was the evening anchor at CBS San Francisco. She was also this year's host of the Coachella music and arts festival, live streamed to more than 250 million people around the world. An award-winning broadcast journalist, she is also a speaker, host, emcee and streaming video and social media pioneer. She is a community leader who is passionate about health care, emerging technology and diversity and inclusion. Prior to her move to CBS in SF, she lived in New York City and worked at NBC News, MSNBC and CNN. Throughout her career as a storyteller, she has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and is the proud recipient of an Emmy Award, a DuPont Award and a Peabody Award.
In 2017, Veronica was invited to the White House by President Obama to discuss health care after losing her only sibling, Eric. He needed a heart transplant and passed away after struggling to get health insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition. Taking her brother's fight to Twitter, Veronica was able to garner the attention of celebrities like Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails to raise funds and public awareness regarding the nation's broken health care system.
Tragically, her brother lost his battle, inspiring Veronica to travel to Washington, D.C., where she met with lawmakers and shared his story. During that time, she made numerous appearances across national talk shows, newspapers and magazines to promote health care reform. She spent considerable time in Europe reporting and researching the international differences in health care policy and continues to raise money for pediatric heart transplant patients in memory of her brother through a non-profit she created, the Eric De La Cruz Hope for Hearts Foundation.
While working for CNN, she founded and anchored the network's first streaming news product, CNN Pipeline, and created the segment "Dotcom Desk." In 2008, Veronica was one of the first broadcast journalists to use Twitter live on-air and pioneered the use of social media to gather news during breaking events on live TV. During her tenure at CNN, she also served as a technology correspondent and was recognized as one of the earliest adopters of emerging technologies bridging the gap between TV and the internet. She has covered CES and has interviewed countless politicians, executives, entrepreneurs, and other notable celebrities, from Bernie Sanders to Bill Gates and beyond.
She has also anchored and reported live coverage of major breaking news stories, such as Hurricane Katrina, the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, a special CNN series on diversity entitled "Asian in America," and the current global Coronavirus pandemic.
WOULD YOU SHARE A STORY ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE OR SOMETHING YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU WANT TO PRESERVE?
Before my mother died, she left me with a few stories that will stay with me forever. One story was about the importance of education in her family. My mother grew up in the Philippines and was the fourth of eighteen children. She told me they would save money to send each child to school by storing cash and coins in bamboo shoots. When someone was ready to go to school, they would cut the bamboo stalk and all the coins would come raining down. Though I never got to see it for myself, I will never forget the visual. It taught me the importance of hard work, saving and education.
Years later, my mother came to the United States as a registered nurse and worked hard to bring her siblings to North America. I watched her save diligently. Her loyalty and dedication to her family is something she instilled in me. One of my mother's greatest lessons was that anything in life is possible as long as you work hard, believe in yourself, have faith and persevere. She also taught me that, no matter what, family is everything.
WHAT IS AN HISTORICAL LESSON YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH AMERICANS TO MARK THIS ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH?
The history of Filipino Americans began in the 16th century when Filipinos first came to what is now the United States. They traveled on merchant ships coming from Spain and Britain. In the 1700's, they set up a fishing village in Saint-Malo, Louisiana, about 40 minutes from New Orleans in Saint Bernard Parish. Historical markers exist there today acknowledging the fishing village as one of the first Asian American settlements in what is now known as the United States of America. If more people knew Filipinos were here even before the United States was established in 1776, perhaps the same amount of racism and xenophobia wouldn't exist. Filipinos were perhaps the first Asian Americans to settle here.
WHAT IS AN IMPORTANT EVENT THAT SHAPED YOUR LIFE?
My only brother Eric was my hero. He passed away more than ten years ago after being denied a heart transplant because of a pre-existing condition. He was a college kid with minimal health insurance and private insurers denied him coverage. At the time I was working at CNN as the technology correspondent and had just started using social media to tell news stories. I started tweeting about his plight and amazingly, in what was most likely the earliest form of crowd sourcing online, strangers started rallying around him. Led by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Tony Hawk, the professional skateboarder and a few other celebrities, thousands of dollars were raised for my brother. People started wearing banners on their social media profiles that said #<3Eric or hashtag, heart for Eric.
A heart never came soon enough for my brother and he passed away after a few months of struggling. In his name I went to Washington to lobby Congress for change in the health care system. I wanted to see the end of insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. I pushed for change until the Affordable Care Act passed. I set up a non-profit in his memory, The Eric De La Cruz Hope for Hearts Foundation, to help others facing the same plight.Today, I am lucky enough to have a young son in my life. I named him Hartley Eric in memory of my brother. I will never forget the way thousands of strangers rallied around Eric in support. Even though Eric is gone his memory lives on in everything I do. He lives on through a nephew he never knew, yet looks like him. He lives on through the music we still listen to, the lives we are grateful to live and the help I will always continue providing others. My brother's story, spirit and legacy have shaped my life completely. I pray it shapes my son's life as well. It's his namesake now, so I hope it teaches him to always love and treat others with the same kindness and compassion that was provided for his uncle in his time of need.
WHAT'S A NOTE OF POSITIVITY THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE OUR READERS WITH?
Veronica De La Cruz