Emmy Award-winning Meteorologist Raphael Miranda ’06 partners with the Magner Career Center to mentor Brooklyn College students.
In a large triangular space just to the right of the main set of WNBC, and behind a thick Plexiglas structure where social media and other images are projected, is Storm Team 4 headquarters. It is from this space that two-time Emmy Award-winning meteorologist Raphael Miranda ’06 delivers the weather forecast for millions of people in the Tri-State Area. He is very proud that at the core of his work as a weather anchor is service to communities. He is probably most proud of the work he and the WNBC Storm Team did during Superstorm Sandy, for which he won his second Emmy in 2012 (the first was for his coverage of Hurricane Irene in 2011).
“We were working non-stop leading up to the storm, and forecasting through the storm, and in the aftermath—just working around the clock to warn people that this storm was serious and that their lives could be in danger,” he recalls. “We weren’t certain to what extent the storm would play out because we had never seen anything like it before. But we knew it was going to be scary and we knew had to get the message out in a way that was calm and informed, in a way that protected people and property. And that’s what we did.”
Events like these inevitably lead to discussions of catastrophic climate change, and while Miranda is not a climatologist, he does ensure that he continually educates himself about the science and the impact climate change has on the weather.
“Part of the climate change education that happens now is explaining the difference between climate and weather. That confuses a lot of people,” he says. “Climate and weather are connected, but they are not the same. Just because we have a cold snap, it doesn’t mean global warming is not occurring. It’s a matter of looking at things globally as opposed to locally, and looking at weather systems over a period of time. We are getting better at being able to communicate that climate change makes certain events more likely to happen. So, for example, you can’t say that having a 100-degree day means that there’s global warming, but you can say that we are likely to see an increase in the frequency of 100-degree days over a certain period of time and attribute that to climate change.”
Miranda, or “Raffi,” as he is known to his colleagues, was born in Putnam County, New York and raised in Westchester. His father is a Brazilian physician and his mother a Russian Jewish artist. His academic career did not begin in meteorology. Miranda attended New York University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, with a concentration in Latin-American literature. After conducting some research on affordable colleges with reputable journalism programs that were also close to home, he discovered that Brooklyn College met all of the criteria. He enrolled in the Journalism and Media Studies (JAMS) Program at the college and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism. He also holds a degree in geosciences/meteorology from Mississippi State University.
“Brooklyn College prepared me for the reality of working in this business. The courses in my major were very raw and real. My professors were people who worked in the newspaper and television industries. They were academics, but they were also people who worked in the business and were sharing invaluable knowledge of it—including the not-so-glamorous side of journalism and the difficult aspects of it. I was receiving a real-world education in the classroom; information that you can’t get out of a textbook.”
Miranda noted, in particular, that the rigorous demands of the Department of Television and Radio‘s Summer Broadcast News Institute were instrumental to his ability to succeed in the business. The institute requires that students design and develop their own news broadcasts, which typically take an entire semester to produce, and air on CUNY TV once completed. He also benefitted from the internships he participated in as a Brooklyn College student, including working at ABC’s Good Morning America and at WNBC. It is the college’s contributions to his success that inspires Miranda come back to campus to speak to current Brooklyn College students and use his talents and resources to prepare students for internships at WNBC and elsewhere.
“I’ve been very lucky and I’ve been given great opportunities in my career. So, I want to give back,” Miranda says. “There’s no reason not to share the knowledge and help others.”
One of the ways Miranda gives back is working with the Magner Career Center. He has participated in several Magner panels, including “Secrets of the Successful Latin@” and “LGBTQ Out in the Workplace.” And he has mentored students referred to him by the center as well.
“Raphael is a perfect example of how eager and excited our alumni are to give back and inspire our current generation of Brooklyn College students,” says Michael Sarrao, the center’s career education and training specialist. “Through a mentor, a student can make informed decisions on how to succeed in their careers.”
One of Miranda’s Magner mentees is senior Hope Osemwenkhae, who also interned for him. Osemwenkhae is majoring in earth and environmental sciences, and minoring in television and radio. She became interested in meteorology after watching the 2004 climate catastrophe film The Day After Tomorrow.
“The first time I met Mr. Miranda, he invited me to the WNBC weather studio to get to know me better and find out why I’m interested in meteorology,” says Osemwenkhae, a Brooklyn native of Nigerian descent. “I asked him how he got started as a meteorologist and what advice would he give me as a student interested in broadcast meteorology. He said ‘Everyone’s path is different, but get some internships in the weather/broadcasting field, graduate, and you may have to move and start working at a smaller station and work your way up.'”
As a result of the advice and mentorship she received from Miranda, Osemwenkhae scored her first internship with WNBC in the fall of 2016.
“It was an amazing experience and opportunity,” she says and adds that after graduation, she hopes to work for NBC as a meteorologist. “I was constantly learning something new about meteorology and the television industry. Although my major is not in meteorology, the meteorologists at WNBC taught me how to forecast the weather, create a weather forecast using their weather service programs, and what causes different types of weather conditions to occur,” I was able to see behind the scenes of tracking Hurricane Matthew and what goes into finding out how might a storm progress/digress, and the safety precautions for people in an affected area.”
“She was a wonderful intern,” says Miranda. Osemwenkhae will return to WNBC for a second internship this semester, before graduating in May. “What I remember most about her is her attitude, her sunny personality. Even when she encountered tasks that were outside of her scope of experience, she still tried and did the best that she could. She would never let any obstacles get in the way.”
Miranda is also an active participant in WNBC’s Weather Kids initiative, an elementary school program and community enterprise that provides children with personalized weather instruction, taught by experts like Miranda and other WNBC weather personalities.
“We’re very excited about Weather Kids,” Miranda says. “The Storm Team is getting more involved in schools and doing school visits. We teach them about our radar and Storm Tracker, sharing the love for weather that we have and maybe sparking a love for it in some of the children we talk to.”
Miranda and his spouse Doug live in New Jersey and became parents for the first time last year. Their child is now eight months old. After struggling with his sexuality as a teen, Miranda is openly gay as an adult, which may not seem like such a big deal these days, but was very much so when he allowed public insight into his life a decade ago, giving LGBTQ youth someone inspiring to look up to. While this makes Miranda’s decision to live his truth out loud a pioneering and transformative one, he humbly does not think of himself in such terms.
“I was lucky to have received a great response from the public,” he says. “People hadn’t really seen that before in terms of a television personality and were hungry for that type of openness. So I’m glad to be a part of that.”
For the latest on Raphael Miranda news, please follow his Facebook page.
The Magner Career Center, founded by Marge Magner ’69, provides students like Hope Osemwenkhae the assistance, skills, values, and opportunities that are essential to fulfilling their career aspirations thanks to the generous support of alumni and friends received through the Brooklyn College Foundation. To make a charitable donation to the Magner Career Center, please visit the center’s website.
Contact: Ernesto Mora | 212.662.9939 | firstname.lastname@example.org