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Photo of Willow Bay
Former Cover Model
Now Covers the News

When Willow Bay, C'85, was a 15-year-old high school student, she wanted to be a journalist and decided to interview with Seventeen magazine for an editorial internship. After she arrived at the magazine's offices, however, she was directed to a modeling agency. In no time at all, rather than writing for the magazine, Bay found herself on its cover.
   Now, almost 20 years later, Bay has made the transition from the rarefied world of high fashion to that of broadcast journalism, where she is one of the nation's busiest journalists. Not only does Bay co-host NBA Inside Stuff, which airs weekly on NBC, but she also co-anchors ABC's Good Morning America/Sunday, and is a correspondent for ABC World News on weekends. "Monday is my day off," says the Queens, N.Y., native, joking, "I convinced them that I could not work seven days a week." At times, however, she does just that, when called upon to anchor the weekday version of Good Morning America.
   Of course, long hours are nothing new to Bay who, as an undergraduate, juggled a career in modeling with her studies. In her sophomore year, she was awarded a contract to be the exclusive model and official spokesperson for Estee Lauder.
   Even then, however, Bay harbored ambitions of becoming a journalist. "I always knew I wanted to write," she says. Bay has vivid memories of taking classes in non-fiction writing with the late Dr. Nora Magid who, she says, encouraged students to develop their own, individual writing styles. During her freshman year she also worked part-time for a local paper, but was too busy to continue there after accepting the modeling contract. Although she missed some school, she managed to graduate with a cum laude degree in English. As her contract neared an end, she enrolled in New York University's Stern School of Business and obtained an MBA in 1991.
   Bay continued to hope for a career in journalism, however. "I felt that I just had to satisfy this curiosity I had." To start, she co-hosted a cable travel show and did some freelance correspondent work for NBC's Today show and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.
   Then, in 1991, she landed her first major broadcasting position as co-host with Ahmad Rashad of the National Basketball Association's weekly NBA Inside Stuff. In 1994 she was named co-anchor of the Sunday edition of Good Morning America. "One of my beats is young people in America," says Bay, who returned to Penn earlier this school year to film a segment on drinking on college campuses.
   Bay has had the opportunity to meet and interview many of the world's most famous public figures including Britain's Prince Edward, Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson, and basketball player Michael Jordan. But of all the people she has interviewed, Oprah Winfrey particularly impressed her.
   Bay, who spoke with Winfrey shortly after she started her "book club," says, "She was very focused on her efforts to inspire people to start reading again. The sheer force of her personality can inspire people."
   In 1995, Bay married ABC president Bob Iger, another network figure known for beginning his days long before dawn (The New York Times recently profiled Iger in an article about the city's early risers). "I don't get up quite as early as him," she laughs, although at times she comes close. On Sundays alone she wakes up well before sunrise in order to be at ABC's studio by 5:30 A.M. Before going on the air she reads the newspapers, checks the computers for current events, and edits the copy she will deliver.
   Despite her grueling schedule, Bay has no plans to slow down. Just the opposite. Having found success in the field that she planned to pursue back in high school, she intends to continue: "As long as I can handle it, I'll stay."
   -Wendy Davis, C'85, L'88

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