Augusta native in Ghana to help

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Allison Samuels' mother said she realized her daughter had a thirst for information early on, when she'd sit down and watch Barbara Walters on TV.

Samuels  Special

"She really enjoyed watching the news, even as a little girl," Classie Jo West said.

"She grew up as an only child and paid attention to all of my conversations," she said.

That commitment is paying off for the Augusta native.

Ms. Samuels is visiting the Volta region of Ghana and will stay in west Africa until the first week of March while volunteering with a program called Cross-Cultural Solutions.

Since graduating from Glenn Hills High School and Clark Atlanta University, Ms. Samuels has enjoyed a 13-year career as a journalist. She works as a senior correspondent with Newsweek magazine in Los Angeles.

On the night before flying to Africa last week, Ms. Samuels discussed by telephone her cross-continental trip -- her second to Africa in two years.

In 2006, she accompanied Oprah Winfrey and reported on the TV mogul's mission to provide a new school for South African girls.

"After making that trip, it just seemed like I could do so much more," said Ms. Samuels, who describes her latest trip as a perfect blend of tourism and volunteerism.

Cross-Cultural Solutions is available to the public and is growing in popularity, she said.

"While you're visiting there, you want to do so much more than visit," she said. "There's so much poverty and the kids want to learn. The mission is to provide assistance to children who have been orphaned by parents who are victims of the AIDS epidemic there.

"The people are either very young or very old," she said, adding the illness has devastated a generation of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

As a journalist, Ms. Samuels has interviewed several internationally known people, including Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

She describes her career as fulfilling.

"I don't consider myself a role-model, but I would hope that I am encouraging," she said. "Even if you're not a straight-A student, they should realize there's always a chance."

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or


BACKGROUND: Augusta native, graduated from Glenn Hills High School and Clark Atlanta University

JOB: Senior correspondent for Newsweek magazine


- Author of Off The Record, Harper Collins Publishing, 2006

- According to her mother, Classie Jo West, Ms. Samuels will be featured on the PBS network broadcast of Legacy: Being Black in America, which will air locally in April.

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iakovos 02/14/08 - 06:58 am
Great job,Ms Samuels Augusta

Great job,Ms Samuels Augusta finest we can do this!

GSneed 02/14/08 - 09:38 am
ANOTHER shining star from

ANOTHER shining star from Richmond County's Glenn Hills High School! Way to go Ms. Samuels!

Edward B. Turner
Edward B. Turner 02/14/08 - 10:43 am
WoW! I wish every teacher in

WoW! I wish every teacher in high school would read this to their students-what an inspiration! One person CAN make a difference. You are yet another local hero, Ms. Samuels!

bluelight 02/14/08 - 10:43 am
Hooray for Ms. Samuels. It

Hooray for Ms. Samuels. It is so good to know that someone is realizing their dream and contributing to mankind as well. Kudos.

Rozzie2003 02/14/08 - 11:06 am
My 'Girl" Allison---great

My 'Girl" Allison---great writer and person. Her book is a knock-out and if you haven't read it ---you must get it.

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