Jun. 8, 2013  

23 & CRAZY


Yeah, it’s short notice.

But having only a few days’ warning to meet Alex Pena in a bar for free food and cheap drinks is probably what the foreign correspondent would call a First World problem.

Pena is in town for only a few days before heading back overseas. He’s been featured on NBC, BBC, and CNN for hanging out with Syrian smugglers, Mexican cultists, and Kenyan Defense Forces.

But perhaps most impressive was his footage from the murder capital of the world, Juarez, Mexico, and from the flattened capital of Port-au-Prince after the Haitian earthquake in 2010 – because he was still in college when he went there.

Right now, he’s only 23. Yet Pena works for Star & Stripes in Afghanistan, embedding with troops in Kandahar, Zabul, and Uruzgan Province.

Meet Pena this Wednesday at the R.E.D. Stripe Cafe in downtown Hollywood. Nosh on free appetizers, savor some drink specials, and hear him talk about more than just war stories.

Besides showing some fascinating footage, Pena will also describe how he created his own media job during a topsy-turvy time in the industry. Even if you want your own career to stay closer to home, there are lessons to be learned.

And, in fact, Pena is from here. While he graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, his family lives in Pembroke Pines.

“Fun fact,” says Caity Kauffman, Pena’s college pal and an SPJ South Florida board member. “After his first trek to Juarez, his mom tried to hide his passport. He stole it back and promptly went to Haiti after the earthquake.”

Another fun fact: Pena’s very first national broadcast was about a homeless wedding – in the same downtown where you can meet him.

See? You don’t have to go far to create compelling journalism.


An Appetizing Hour with Alex Pena

where: R.E.D. Stripe Cafe, 2001 Harrison Street, Hollywood
when: starting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 12, 2013
other details: Street parking is free, and you don’t have to be an SPJ member to imbibe
questions: email event coordinator Caity Kauffman

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