Right now, Corinna Halloran is on a sailboat somewhere in the ocean, braving the harsh winds and towering waves as she heads towards her destination. In the midst of these conditions, she is responsible for taking pictures, recording videos, maintaining a daily blog, and transmitting live reports.
Halloran, who graduated from USF in 2007, set sail on April 24 from Lanzarote, Spain with Team SCA, an all-female sailing team. In approximately five days, the crew will arrive in Newport, Rhode Island, but Halloran hopes that her work will not end there. She is hoping to be named Team SCA’s on-board reporter for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, one of the world’s most renowned and challenging boat races.
The Volvo Ocean Race is an around-the-world yacht race that has occurred 11 times over the past 40 years. The upcoming 2014-15 race begins on Oct. 4, 2014 and will stop at 11 different ports while spanning 38,739 nautical miles (44,580 miles). Team SCA, which will be the first all-women’s team to participate in the race in over a decade, received around 2,000 applications from reporting hopefuls and has narrowed its search down to two people – one of which is Halloran.
As part of her evaluation, Halloran is serving as the crew’s reporter on the nearly two-week trip from Spain to Rhode Island. In June, she will find out if she has been chosen for the Volvo Ocean Race job. While the last year-and-a-half of her life has been dedicated towards accomplishing this goal, she has been setting herself up for this type of work since her college years.
At USF, Halloran majored in English non-fiction writing and minored in photojournalism. A focus in both writing and photography helped her become experienced in multiple aspects of reporting, and she points to professor Tracy Seeley as one of the teachers that influenced her the most.
“I was able to have [Professor Seeley] every year,” Halloran said. “By my final semester, she knew my writing so well, and I knew her and her expectations so well, that it pushed me as a writer, and trusting myself as a writer. It’s just all about trusting yourself and trusting your gut, and that’s what this job’s going to be about.”
During her time as a Don, Halloran also worked as the photo editor for the San Francisco Foghorn from 2005 to 2007. At the Foghorn, she learned valuable lessons about what life after college is like.
“You got to work in a situation where you were managing people, as well as managing yourself on top of coursework,” Halloran said. “Those late Monday nights were such great experiences, but it transcends so much into the real world later on, and it’s made me such a better editor.”
After graduating from USF, Halloran spent time exploring her love for sailing, which would lead to her finding work in locations such as the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. In 2010, however, Halloran returned her concentration to photography and writing, and decided to combine her passions by pursuing a career in sailboat photography. She went back to school at Maine Media College and Workshops, where she obtained a professional certificate and was trained in photography and video. After attending school in Maine, she was more prepared than ever to apply for the coveted Volvo Ocean Race on-board reporter job.
Now that Halloran has sailed for many years and trained with Team SCA, she has seen first-hand the dangers and struggles that being on a boat in the middle of the ocean presents. Still, when preparing for her current transatlantic trip, she knew that the difficulties would reach an entirely new level.
“[Picture] the USF basketball team asleep on the basketball court, and then you have the entire student body chanting, ranting, and pelting basketballs at them for 13 days,” Halloran said. “So it’s like you’re in a carbon washing machine, there’s wind constantly, water constantly, so that’s why you have the noise, that’s why the student body is there.”
Halloran is also excited about the evolution of sailing as a sport. She believes that sailing has received increased media coverage and attention in recent years, and cites the recent America’s Cup in San Francisco as an example. With her work, Halloran hopes that she can help raise awareness about sailing and connect viewers and readers with the individual women on Team SCA.
“It’s fulfilling a marketing role, it’s fulfilling a story,” Halloran said. “And the story, that’s the best part, isn’t it? What these women are doing every day to just live, and then every day to race in these conditions, it’s unreal.”
Halloran is also motivated by the prospect of using her work to turn people who know very little about the sport into fans.
“To get to the person who doesn’t understand sailing – that’s what excites me,” Halloran said.
With the Volvo Ocean race nearing, Halloran is on the cusp of being chosen for a position that many photographers dream about. While most young photographers and reporters are not ready to sail around the world while serving as a media specialist, the USF alum has advice for aspiring photographers and anyone else looking to succeed in their field.
“Write down what you love, and include all passions,” Halloran said. “By saying ‘how do I do what I love?’ then everything’s just going to fall into place. Because I find that when it’s really meant to be, it’s just so easy and so natural, and doors just open.”
Halloran’s story is a clear example of how taking this approach can reap benefits, and as promising as her future in sailing media looks, she has never lost sight of the instrumental role that USF played in shaping her perception of the world.
“[USF] forces you to think not just about yourself,” Halloran said. “[You are] thinking about your position in school, but also in the global community, and how you affect other people and how other people affect you. The way they worked their mission statement is such an integral part of who I essentially am as a photographer.”