TV anchor puts Duluth life on hold to help in HaitiJulie Pearce leaves next week to help those injured in Haiti's earthquake.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Julie Pearce could no longer watch videos from the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti while working as a weekend anchor at Northland’s NewsCenter.
So she gave notice to the local NBC affiliate and bought a one-way ticket to Haiti.
“In good conscience, I could no longer sit back and read those headlines knowing that I have the skills they so desperately need right now and the ability to make a difference,” Pearce said in an e-mail interview.
Pearce, in addition to a being a journalist, is a newly licensed registered nurse who said she is being called in a new direction. The 29-year-old will anchor her final shows this weekend. She has been with the television station since 2006.
Pearce graduated from the College of St. Scholastica’s post-baccalaureate nursing program in August and has passed the Minnesota boards. She is working on getting her master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner — a process that she will delay while in Haiti.
Pearce, who goes by the nickname “Jitterbug,” said she still is a little inexperienced as a nurse. But two weeks ago she returned from a humanitarian medical mission in Belize, where she gained experience with medical triage and setting up clinics in third-world nations. She also has worked with St. Mary’s Duluth Clinic and Hennepin County Medical Center’s emergency department in Minneapolis.
KBJR colleague and "adoptive mother" Michelle Lee said she wasn’t at all surprised by Pearce’s decision.
“That’s Jitterbug,” Lee said. “She wants to reach out and help. And she wants to use her talents to where they work out and help the people in need.”
Pearce will travel by plane from Miami to Port au Prince on Thursday. She will connect with a group called Team Rubicon when she lands, before moving on to assist children from a Haitian music school with connections to the Northland-based KAKO Foundation. She plans to move on to Cap-Haitien, where she will join EFCA’s TouchGlobal Crisis Response team.
Pearce is bringing along just the barest necessities: three pairs of scrubs, a pair of boxers, four clean shirts, a water filter, a week’s supply of water, high protein food, a global phone, a camera and medical supplies.
“I snapped my toothbrush in half because the whole thing takes up unneeded weight,” Pearce said. “Right now, the most important things I can fill my pack with are antibiotics, wound-care supplies, and sterile surgical equipment for the hospital in Cap-Haitien.”
Pearce has pets, a house and her incomplete master’s degree to come back to.
“She has a bucket list that is probably a mile long,” Lee said. “She’s already gone through half of the list.”
Don’t be surprised to see occasional updates from Pearce from Haiti, or freelance contributions when she returns.
“After all,” she said, “There will always be part journalist that runs through these veins. However, right now I have to follow my heart into an open-ended journey where I am needed most. And that is as a nurse administering to those undergoing great suffering.”