This article first appeared in the summer 2017 Harker Magazine.
By Vikki Bowes-Mok
When Tiffany Liou ’08 arrived at Harker in seventh grade, she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. What she did know was that she was interested in a lot of different things, so she jumped in and got involved.
“I remember her start to announcements at school meetings with her energetic ‘Hey, guysssss’ – drawing out the second word and giving her classic huge Tiffany smile,” said Evan Barth, upper school academic dean. “Her energy was contagious, and her peers loved to follow her lead as much as Tiffany enjoyed leading.”
From being president of the Spirit Club and serving on student council to playing varsity basketball and golf and participating in Junior State of America, Liou’s enthusiasm for life and learning led her down many different paths. “High school was one of the best times of my life,” she said with a smile. “Harker gave me opportunities to test the waters wherever I wanted to and taught me to always try new things.”
She attended Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, where she studied marketing and communications. While in college, she did a marketing internship at KGO-TV, an ABC-owned television station in San Francisco. As Liou crunched numbers for Nielsen ratings, she watched the newscasters and realized she wanted to be in front of the camera, not behind it. Although she was intrigued with broadcast journalism, she wasn’t sure about her next step.
She took a job with Salesforce.com out of college but decided to take a TV broadcasting class at Ohlone College, which she absolutely loved. This led to an internship at KTVU, a Fox-owned station, and then she was hired as the overnight assignment editor. Liou juggled two jobs for more than a year, working at Salesforce.com by day and KTVU at night. She took catnaps in her car and learned the power of 5-Hour Energy shots, while working 70-80 hours a week.
“Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve earned through hard work,” she said. “I don’t think everyone can say they love their job, but I do!” Once she realized her dream, there was no stopping this driven young woman. Her first broadcast job offer came from West Monroe, La.
“This was one of hardest decisions I’ve ever made – to quit a great job at Salesforce in the Bay Area near all my family and friends for a producer job in Louisiana, a state I had never even visited!” she recalled.
After some tears and soul searching, she knew she had to go for it. So she packed up and trekked across the country. This was her first stop on her broadcasting journey, which has taken her from Louisiana to Iowa to Oklahoma, where she is now a reporter at KWTV News 9. She covers everything from hard crime to tornadoes but always works to find a human element in her stories. “There’s always a reason to tell a story because there’s always a group of people it impacts,” she reflected.
Liou learned this firsthand on her way to a new job in Iowa, when her airplane had to make an emergency landing in Greenville, Texas. “Smoke filled the cockpit, panic was everywhere, but we all stuck together and landed uninjured thanks to the leadership of our flight crew,” she reported. “I sent one viral tweet, and ended up on NBC Dallas, Today and CNN before I even started my first day of work. What an entrance!”
Her arrival in Oklahoma wasn’t as action-packed, but she is now enjoying a full life there with her fiancé, Allen, and their two dogs, Suki and Bacon. They are planning a wedding in March 2018 in the Bay Area – where Liou also hopes to fulfill her career dreams. She may not have known her passion when she started as a middle schooler at Harker, but she definitely does now.
As Liou said, “Reporting is my passion and I will go anywhere at any time to cover a story.”
Contributor Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.