Courtesy News Deeply

Eight years ago, an old high school friend of mine, Lara Setrakian, came to visit me at the hospital. In light of the chemotherapy and sedatives, the specifics of our conversation remain a blur. Yet I remember Lara looking at me with deep compassion, wondering out loud about the human impact of her job.


She wasn’t the only friend to have an in-hospital epiphany at my bedside. Yet over the years, most of these insights had dissipated into life’s daily fog of chaos and self-indulgence—and I speak from personal experience.


Post-college, Lara worked as analyst in a consulting firm, a career which at the time felt legitimate and pleased her parents. I wanted to interview Lara to ask her about the rest of her 20to30 journey. What had happened since her consulting days?


In 2005, Lara had been sent to Jordan and found herself in Beirut close to the explosion that killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. That was Lara’s “wake up call,” she adds “the right place at the right time, in the wrong job.” Lara left consulting for media and worked her way up to become a Middle East foreign correspondent for ABC News. She would cover Iran’s 2009 election protests and the Arab Awakening of 2011.


In 2012 Lara left the security of her TV job to co-found Syria Deeply, a news platform which explores a “global model of story telling around the Syrian conflict.” Syria Deeply provides a layered context to the headlines with a map of Syrian refugees and fatalities, teaching tools for high school students and a summary of historic events. Syria Deeply is not only transforming the content but the platform of digital news.


A month ago, I logged onto Syria Deeply to watch Lara host a live event with Google + Hangout entitled “Syria: weighing the U.S. response.” Lara was joined by NYtimes columnist Nicholas D Kristof and Secretary of State John Kerry. I watched as John Kerry thanked Lara for all her work on Syria.


I thought about our conversation in the hospital some eight years ago. Lara’s humanity had always been present, but her impact had grown digital and boundless.


Watch Lara’s interview here.

Laura is the founder of She decided to create an online community to share those universal 20to30 moments that never made it onto CVs, bios or wikipedia entries.

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