Jennifer Brookland

Producer, "The State of Things"

Jennifer Brookland
Credit Jennifer Brookland

Jennifer Brookland is a temporary producer for The State of Things.

Jennifer grew up in Baltimore, MD and studied International Politics and African Studies at Georgetown University. She spent four years as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in North Carolina and Maryland, and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Islands.

After earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University she contributed to News21, a national reporting project on transportation safety in America. She also interned at PRI’s “The World” and in Nairobi with IRIN, the United Nations’ humanitarian news and analysis service. She received a master’s degree in human security and NGO management from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jennifer spent three years producing content for international development organizations in D.C, highlighting aid work in countries including Tajikistan, Haiti, Honduras, India and Tanzania. She moved to Durham in 2015 and began freelance writing, editing and producing. Now that Durham is getting an Ethiopian restaurant, she’s vastly more likely to stay.

child drinks soda
Staff Sgt. Matt McGovern / U.S. Air Force - Commons

Researchers have long been aware of a link between exposure to violence and obesity in adolescents. Now a new study is untangling some of the reasons that connection exists.

The study used smart phones to monitor adolescents in California and North Carolina. It tracked their exposure to violence and subsequent activity levels, fatigue, and consumption of fast food and soda.

photo of a man in a congregation, praying
Courtesy of Pastor Ronald Godbee

When Dr. David Casarett asks patients with a terminal illness what they would like to do with the time they have left, some stare blankly back at him. Others have a big list of family members they want to spend time with and to-do list items to check off.

photo of henderson county courthouse
Todd McDougal / Wikimedia Creative Commons

A brush with the criminal justice system for something as small as a busted tail light or speeding ticket has outlandishly large implications for people who cannot pay the fines, fees and surcharges associated with a court appearance. These costs add up for people, and they add up for the court system too. Last year North Carolina brought in more than $300 million dollars from assessing these charges.

students in a Chapel Hill elementary school.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

New research from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation found that companies across the state are interested in making their businesses more family friendly. That includes policies from offering health insurance and family medical leave to paid time off, job-sharing and flexible work hours.

Photo of hand holding two paint brushes in a 'v' shape
V-Day Raleigh

 When Eve Ensler first unleashed a string of feminist, body-positive, pro-sex monologues onto a New York City stage in 1996, the themes resonated with many women. “The Vagina Monologues” went on to have a successful off-Broadway run, an HBO adaptation and an annual performance slot on college campuses around the country, and even the world. They also spawned a global anti-violence movement called V-Day, which opened a chapter in Raleigh in 2016. 

Photo of Carlton-LaNey teaching a class
Courtesy of Iris Carlton-LaNey

Iris Carlton-LaNey is often impressed by the resourcefulness and strength of those living in poor, underserved and rural communities. As a social worker, she has spent a career observing how many in those communities have a strong commitment to hard work, family and religion. And those are values she recognizes from her own upbringing on a tobacco farm in southeastern North Carolina, where education was valued above all. 

photo courtesy of Young Yonder

The members of the band Young Yonder all have day jobs – in fact several of them met while helping customers at the Apple store. They make music work by packing in practices and tightly coordinating schedules. 

Ryan Melaugh/Flickr Creative Commons

A new public health report from ECU shows that the death rate for midlife whites in the state increased 6 percent from 2000 to 2013. Many of these deaths can be attributed to so-called diseases of despair, like suicide, drug overdose and liver disease caused by alcoholism.

Photo of the Uncle Sam 'I want you for the U.S. Army' poster
Wikimedia Commons

Last spring, the Army told recruiters it expected them to enlist 6,000 new soldiers – the largest mid-year increase in its history. It recently also upped its yearly recruitment goal to an unexpected high of 80,000.

courtesy of Daniel Bolger

In 1968, brothers Tom and Chuck Hagel volunteered for an infantry unit bound for Vietnam. One of them believed in the war; one was staunchly opposed to it. 


Courtesy of Mysti Mayhem

Growing up in a small town in the Poconos, singer-songwriter Mysti Mayhem knew her big dreams needed to find a big stage.

Photo of prescription bottle and pils
Eric Norriss / Flickr Creative Commons

Jeffrey Halbstein-Harris had already beat addiction twice by the time he was in his 30s. But a doctor assured him that the opioids he was prescribing for Halbstein-Harris’s diabetic neuropathy were both effective and non-habit forming. Nevertheless, Halbstein-Harris became dependent and went through a painful withdrawal process.

child and man playing chess outdoors
Frankie Torres / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Human beings have been learning long before schoolhouse walls were ever built, bubble tests invented and recess bells rung. So why is there still so much confusion and debate about the purpose of school, the goals of education and the best ways to empower students to succeed in life? 

Erin Flynn, Hank Pressley, and Paul Ringel getting ready to go on stage at the Triad Stage in Greensboro.
Jenn Brookland / WUNC

High Point University history professor Paul Ringel wanted to give his students a lesson in local history that took them beyond traditional sources and into the very community they were studying. He led students through an oral history project in which they interviewed community members about their experiences living through and participating in the civil rights movement from the base of William Penn High School, which was then a segregated, African-American institution.

Flickr Creative Commons/Stephen Melkisethian

By their own admission Republican lawmakers have purposefully drawn the state’s election maps in favor of their own party, sending 10 Republicans and just three Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives.

man preparing injection
Carol E. Davis - US Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr - Creative Commons -

The American medical system is good at providing care to people in the middle: those who need regular doctors’ visits and a few medications. But the system is inadequate for many patients with complex needs. And although they make up a tiny proportion of healthcare users, these high-need patients end up using a shockingly high percentage of health dollars.

courtesy of Natasha Powell Walker

Visual artist Natasha Powell Walker was struck by the dichotomy required of her as a woman in corporate America: at work she had to be cutthroat and self-promotional, while her friends and family expected her to be loving and nurturing as soon as she left the office.

infant sleeping
Andrés Nieto Porras / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Doctors at fertility clinics often recommend women test their ovarian reserve to see how many eggs they have left. While the test can show how long a woman has before menopause, it was also commonly used to evaluate women’s likelihood of naturally conceiving. 

the cover of Joshua Davis's book, "From Head Shops to Whole Foods."
Joshua Davis

In the 1970s, independent bookstores, local food co-ops and credit unions shaped a new consumer landscape that was as much about protest as it was about purchase.

In his new book “From Head Shops To Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs” (Columbia University Press/2017) history professor and author Joshua Clark Davis digs into the unique environment that led to the rise and demise of these businesses.

mist rises off the Cape Fear River
Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Creative Commons

State lawmakers are expected to make addressing the water pollutant GenX a priority in their upcoming legislative session. Republican Rep. Ted Davis may introduce a draft bill as early as Jan. 4 that is expected to have bipartisan support. But as News & Observer reporter Will Doran points out, a lack of funding for its provisions will likely be a sticking point.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Doran about the latest on GenX. He also speaks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about other items the state legislature has on its short-term and year-long agendas.

Main character from 'Get Out' in 'sinking' scene
BagoGames / Flickr - Creative Commons -

2017 was a big year for new movie releases, but film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes managed to narrow down their lists of favorites to share.

Selections include “Kedi,” a documentary about the cats of Istanbul, Netflix original “Mudbound,” about two sharecropping families, and the box office-crushing release of “Wonder Woman.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about 2017 movies of note. 

Laura Pellicer

Go behind the glass with The State of Things producer Jennifer Brookland, whose picks for best segments of 2017 included conversations on a civil war mystery, an overhaul of higher education, and the efforts of a hustling young entrepreneur.

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Jennifer Brookland about her favorite interviews she produced this year including conversations with Charlotte teacher Justin Ashley, food company founder Becky Holmes, UNC allergist Scott Commins, biomedical engineer Rachel Lance, ichthyologist Alex Dornburg, education visionary Cathy Davidson and author Shawn Wen. 

IV fluids
Mads Bodker / Flickr - Creative Commons

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 26, 2017.

North Carolina has been battling a growing opioid addiction epidemic. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from North Carolina hospitals show the rise in intravenous drug use is also causing a sharp increase in the rate of heart infections. 

Drawing of Donald Trump scrambling to charge his phone and continue tweeting.
Dwane Powell, The News and Observer

There was nothing in Dwane Powell’s upbringing to suggest he would end up a political cartoonist. 

Christopher and Taylor Malpass
Courtesy of Christopher and Taylor Malpass / The Malpass Brothers

Christopher and Taylor Malpass didn’t go to daycare when they were little boys. They went over to their grandad’s house instead and listened to the old country jukebox records he brought home from his store.

Two servers hand a tray of food to child in school cafeteria.
Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen / U.S. Marine Corps

Some children who rack up debt paying for lunch in their school cafeterias face a sudden swap when their hot meals are substituted for a cold sandwich or just a serving of fruit and vegetables and a cup of water. 

Still from 'Lady and the Tramp'
Cozinhando Fantasias / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Animation has come a long way, from the hand-painted drawings of The Walt Disney Company’s 1937 feature film “Snow White” to today’s dazzling computer-generated imagery. 

man in handcuffs
houstondwiphotos / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Almost one in 20 people jailed in Mecklenburg County last year were held on failure to pay court fines or fees. Now, a new program supported by the MacArthur Foundation is modeling an evidence-based approach to criminal justice reform that changes the way people are assessed, held and released. 

sun beams
fdecomite / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Near-death experiences are undeniably difficult to study. And yet a passionate few scientists have dedicated their careers to understanding this phenomenon experiencers say creates an immediate and lifelong transformation.