“The key to immortality is living a life worth remembering.” These words, oft quoted and variously attributed to Bruce Lee, Jesus, and St. Augustine, are what led Vladimir Duthiers ’91 out of a successful career in finance and back to his true passion, a seed first planted when he was a student at URI.
When this son of Haitian immigrants came to URI as a journalism major in September 1987, he quickly became involved in media, writing for The Good Five-Cent Cigar and hosting a program on the campus radio station. Though a keen interest in history and political science classes led him to change his major, he continued to take journalism classes throughout his years at URI and intended on a career in writing.
Sixteen years after the scarcity of jobs in the writing world led Duthiers to a successful career on Wall Street, he began to think about his time as a college student and aspiring journalist. “I had always been passionate about news. Watching the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize in an American history class, I remember thinking, that’s what I want to do – find interesting stories, put things into perspective, and provide context so people can understand this world we live in.”
Before long, he was in graduate school at Columbia University, studying broadcast journalism and interning as a production assistant for fellow URI alumna Christiane Amanpour ’83, then CNN’s chief international correspondent. When the 7.0 earthquakes rocked Haiti in January 2010, Duthiers’s fluency in Haitian Creole opened the door to a spot on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s team in Haiti as an interpreter. They stayed in Haiti for four weeks and ultimately won two Emmy awards for their coverage of the quake. Since then, he’s covered, among other stories, Haiti’s child trafficking industry, the fight against terrorism, and the massacre of 25 college students in Nigeria.
Today he still draws on the lessons he learned at URI – from his ROTC training to his political science and history classes to his journalism work. “A lot of my professors at URI helped shape my worldview. I learned a lot about the way countries work, how governments operate and interact with each other, how the things you see on the surface are not necessarily what is going on behind the scenes.” It is in his work of bearing witness that Duthiers finally feels he’s doing something worth remembering. “It’s a huge responsibility to report the news and give voice to the voiceless. I never lose sight of that.”