For Alli Joseph, the “curse of no focus” has been a blessing.
A self-described “specialized generalist,” the native New Yorker has worked as everything from writer to model and TV host to Native American documentary filmmaker. But Tuesday afternoon in the Lory Student Center Joseph worked to provide a handful of students with wisdom from her sporadic life experiences.
“I would’ve been dissatisfied doing something with stability,” she told the crowd.
Joseph said her diverse skills and interests are what make her stand out from the cookie-cutter crowd. She is a certified EMT, has dabbled in modeling and raced cars in rallies, such as the Bullrun, before giving birth to her first child last year.
She also explained several of her mottos that begin with a “Be,” all of which helped her be different in her life: Be bold, be your own self advocate, be on time and be focused and organized.
“If you don’t like what you’re doing, move on,” Joseph added.
She said that although it may not seem like some experiences in life will mean anything later, everything in life will at some point have a nice confluence.
“She is an intriguing person,” said sophomore microbiology major Alex Bochim. “I like the diversity in what she’s done and how it has all come back together.”
With her tall stature and dark complexion, Joseph said she does not give any one person or experience credit for her immensely dynamic interests, and that each interest arose from a unique circumstance.
Her interest in writing came from her father who wrote with her as a child. She developed her interest in studying dolphins when she moved to Hawaii after graduating with a degree in sociology.
“I didn’t want to take the traditional route despite everyone telling me to,” Joseph said.
From Hawaii, she went on to work as an independent “cyberpersonality” on the Web, covering stories from sports to the Oscars, something she enjoyed for the laughs she drew out of others.
“I didn’t know I was funny until I got on the air and people reacted,” she said. “That’s when I realized I really like to make people laugh.”
Joseph’s work in the journalism world took her through her many different arenas as she went from reporting, to authoring a book and even to starting her own business.
Her partial Shinnecock Indian ancestry adds to her personal dynamic and is what sparked her strong interest in producing Native American documentaries. She has a home in New York City, and one in South Hampden, New York, which is where the people of the Shinnecock Nation live as one of the few tribes that has never been removed from the land.
“It’s not like a lot of reservations and poverty you see in the Southwest, but there are a lot of people struggling,” Joseph said.
Joseph’s documentary film, called “The Last Piece,” depicts the Shinnecock Indian tribe’s effort to keep their land in a place that is constantly expanding and being built upon.
As a representative for the Native American Journalist Association, Joseph works with students of tribal colleges that may not have many opportunities to do what they want.
“We mentor them to inspire them to develop their skills,” she said. “Advocacy work is really important to me.”
Joseph and CSU’s Campus Television news and public affairs advisor, Julia Sandidge, worked with students two years ago at a boot camp for broadcast students in tribal colleges through the NAJA.
“She is so remarkable and so genuine,” said Sandidge, who is now good friends with Joseph. “She was never willing to do ordinary things. You have to be brave to compete at that level.”
Staff writer Chloe Wittry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.