Lights, Camera, Ali!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ali Foreman eagerly crowded in front of the television with her mother and sister. Clad in Sailor Moon pajamas, young Ali and her sister were an unusual audience for ABC’s World News Tonight. But they were ready to enjoy a beloved Foreman family tradition—watching a live report from Tom, the family’s patriarch and a national correspondent for the network.

Immediately after Tom completed his report, he called home to speak with Ali and her sister. Unbeknownst to the Foreman girls, their mother had already informed him of what they were wearing.

“We would say that we saw him,” Ali remembers. “And he would say that he saw us—describing our kiddy pajamas down to the Sailor Moon patterns.”

The experience was repeated countless times, but remains one of Ali’s fondest childhood memories. Now she’s ready to make her own memories in journalism.

Her first opportunity came in fourth grade at community skate night.

“I spent hours editing and voicing over shaky footage I’d taken of 6-year-olds falling down and PTA parents ripping ticket stubs,” Ali says. “From then on, I was hooked on using the camera to tell stories.”

Ali eventually began submitting her work to film festivals, and a few even won top prizes. By the time Ali graduated high school, she was making trailers for community stage plays and parody title sequences for her school’s morning announcements. The parodies merely skimmed the surface of Ali’s sense of humor and the “hilarity” of growing up in Washington, D.C.

“Being a D.C. kid means that everything you do seems to be surrounded by national importance and depth,” Ali says.

In middle school, she frequently went sledding down Capitol Hill. In high school, her prom photos were taken next to the Lincoln Memorial. Ali witnessed more than one argument about who would be a better president resulting in a trip to the principal’s office. Almost everything received a political theme.

“My sister and I got busted for a Secret Service version of tag we invented called ‘Get Down Mr. President,’” Ali says. “Let’s just say it involves pretending to talk on an earpiece and then dogpiling on some unsuspecting kids.”

Despite all of D.C.’s charms, Ali still set her sights on the Southeast for college. Although her older sister Ronnie was already attending Georgia Tech, Ali was smitten with another school and seemed unlikely to follow her to Atlanta. But she visited campus anyway, and that’s when everything changed. Ali absolutely loved campus—and the President’s Scholarship Program. Initial disinterest in studying anything technical subsided when she discovered computational media.

“The blend of art, media, and coding was everything I could want in a major I didn’t even know existed,” Ali says.

Tech made Ali completely rethink her college search. She became a Yellow Jacket less than two weeks later.

“It’s been the best surprise of my life so far,” she says.

What’s not surprising, though, is everything Ali has accomplished since. She joined WREK 91.1 FM as a freshman, intent on just making a few friends and attending concerts. Instead, the station’s rich history resonated with Ali, who’s subsequently ascended from board operator to the current general manager.

Her love of journalism hasn’t diminished either. She interned with CBS News in D.C. during the summer of 2014. Waking up at 4 a.m. daily to work for CBS This Morning, Ali did everything from research to live shots. The internship only reaffirmed Ali’s desire to follow in her father’s footsteps.  

Ali at the White House during her CBS News internship.

Tom Foreman’s influence isn’t just evident in Ali’s journalistic pursuits. Ali’s father jokingly dared her to try standup comedy in early 2014. Her first performance with Geekapalooza during Engineering Week shortly thereafter was a resounding success. Ali’s advanced to bigger stages since with performances at Dragoncon and the SweetWater 420 Fest. She opened for Saturday Night Live alumna Nasim Pedrad, when the comedienne performed at Tech, Feb. 16.

“Once you realize you can make people laugh, you never really want to stop,” she says. “Even when your five minutes are up.”

In April, Ali will join her fellow computational media majors onstage for the first-ever Computational Media Talent Show. She organized the talent show as president of the Computational Media Ambassadors. 

“Ali is a highly-driven student who exudes impeccable leadership skills,” says Wes Kirkbride, her academic advisor. “I know the talent show will be an incredibly exciting event for the entire program.”

And that’s no joke. After all, a young reporter might cover it and discover his or her true calling. Just like Ali did.