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The Brilliance Behind CB Alumnae Brianna Pressey

Over this past summer, I received a Schoology message from KBFT Program Director Mr. Brendan Hogan ‘95, inviting me to be a KBFT summer camp counselor for two weeks. We counselors would be under the wing of one of his former students, Ms. Brianna Pressey ‘13. After spending time with Brianna and assisting her with […]

Over this past summer, I received a Schoology message from KBFT Program Director Mr. Brendan Hogan ‘95, inviting me to be a KBFT summer camp counselor for two weeks. We counselors would be under the wing of one of his former students, Ms. Brianna Pressey ‘13. After spending time with Brianna and assisting her with the bunches of future Falcons, I got to know her and her passions and have been eager to share her story since.

Brianna entered the Falcon nest as an A-Level freshman (accelerated as we know it today), not even considering the fact that she may find her future passion here on campus. However, after stepping foot into Room 608, Brianna just knew journalism and video production was for her.

“I really took KBFT because I didn’t have an interest in any of the fine arts — it didn’t appeal to me to do drawing or anything like that,” Brianna shared. “I didn’t sign up out of thinking that I would like it.”

Clearly, Brianna loved the course. Besides, if it was not for her signing up for the class, she would not have had the opportunity to be the first to win the Commentary competition at the STN Convention (Student Television Network) in back-to-back years. The annual STN Convention gives students an outlet to work with fellow peers from around the country on producing and editing videos.

“STN was one of my highlights of high school for sure,” Brianna says. “It was kind of a little taste of freedom, I got to travel to a new place, meet a bunch of kids from different high schools, and I like working under pressure so it was fun.”

The journalistic freedom Brianna experienced was not completely new to her. Mr. Hogan continuously inspired and pushed Brianna to be the absolute best journalist she could be, but also facilitated her talents that she already possessed. As soon as Brianna entered the studio-style classroom, Mr. Hogan knew that she was there to be the best she could be.

“Some students come in and want to make films, some students come in and want to make YouTube videos, and she came in wanting to be a journalist,” Mr. Hogan explained. “She focused on it real quick and just took off.”

Telling stories is the basis of all journalism, and Brianna explained that sharing other people’s stories is what pushed her towards reporting and video production during her high school career. 

“I’ve always been intensely curious,” she says.

On December 14th, 2012, during Brianna’s senior year, she was sitting in her KBFT classroom watching one of the most horrifying and eye-opening breaking news segments imaginable. The Sandy Hook shooting was taking place in Newtown, Connecticut, and Brianna remembers exactly the news reports that she was listening to and seeing while sitting with her classmates. This horrific moment in time happened to be the exact thing that made Brianna want to tell people’s stories.

“The Sandy Hook shooting happened when I was in high school, and I remember watching the footage as it was happening in KBFT and being horrified and scared for our world and also feeling like I wanted to kind of be a part of helping people figure out and navigate that trauma and that pain and kind of just wanted to see more of the world.” Brianna says.

Curiosity in the world of journalism is one of the most important attributes a reporter can have. It pushes journalists towards asking the unaskable and discovering the undiscoverable. Curiosity allows for journalists to tell and produce the best, most memorable stories. 

Someone who Brianna believes nurtured her thirst for knowledge and knowing more about the world around her is recently retired CB English teacher Ms. Marian Shackel. After having her in class for Accelerated Freshman Literature and AP English Literature & Composition, Ms. Shackel knew that Brianna was special and considered her one of her closest students.

As Ms. Shackel sat in her at-home study, there was a photo of Brianna and a few other students at graduation propped up behind her.

“My fondest memories of Brianna happened in senior year,” she said with the biggest, proudest smile on her face she shared. “I like to say she just availed herself of every possible opportunity that came her way and every experience that she had resulted in an amazingly mature young woman as she left CB.”

Every single experience and opportunity Brianna took advantage of here at CB allowed her to continue her journalistic endeavors into college. Brianna attended a top journalism and film school, Chapman University in Orange County, and graduated with a double major in television/broadcast journalism and political science. After spending four years dedicated to studying what she truly loved at the time, she immediately hopped right into the workforce after her college graduation.

“I, straight out of Chapman, went to a fellowship at The Atlantic Magazine in Washington D.C. and it was specifically for their video team.” After a year, Brianna was hired onto The Atlantic’s video team and began creating a documentary which took two years to finish. 

Then, during her third year at the publication, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The Atlantic began to lay off most of their staff, including their video team almost entirely. Brianna took this as a sign — she had begun to fall out of love with journalism and knew she needed a change in her life.

“I love telling people’s stories, but there were things about it I didn’t love. I didn’t love the industry and how it operates, so I decided after I was laid off that I would go back and get my teaching credentials.”

Brianna is currently at the University of San Diego receiving her teaching degree and following her current dreams. Brianna realized that what she always thought was her dream and passion was no longer — she now has new goals she wishes to pursue.

As Brianna follows her new passions and leaves behind her old ones, Mr. Hogan says he is proud of her “in tons and tons of ways.”

“I’m proud that she worked hard toward becoming a journalist and achieved it only to realize that maybe she wanted something else…then to go back to school continue to work toward a new career goal is impressive.”

And for all of those wishing to follow their dreams, Brianna says “keep your eyes open and stay curious”. Curiosity will carry you far and will aid you in reaching every aspiring goal you have, just like it did for Brianna.

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