April 20, 2001

'Big Brother' Participant Draws Sparse Audience

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“As soon as I saw the commercial [for Big Brother] on TV I made it my mission for six weeks,” said Cassandra Waldon, the star of the CBS “reality” show, in a sparsely attended speech at Barnes Hall last night.

At that point in her life she said she needed something new and exciting. Her quest proved to be successful as she was chosen along with nine other people to live in a house constantly monitored by cameras, even in the most private situations. Waldon found ways to avoid being exposed to the cameras while getting dressed in the morning, in the bathroom and in the shower. “It was very important for me to preserve decorum,” she explained.

In her opinion the most memorable moment of the show was finally walking out the door. She described the atmosphere of the house as “very intense” and said that it was a relief to realize that she had a life outside the house once the program was over.

Waldon spent only a few minutes talking about the show and focused her speech on her professional experience. For Waldon, this life includes an impressive resume with non-profit organizations internationally, and currently employment at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Waldon spent two years in Central Africa working for the Africare anti-poverty program, where she underwent a harrowing experience as her home was robbed of all her valuables by twelve men yielding guns and machetes. Despite some thoughts about leaving Africa, Waldon said she refused to run away and abandon the million-dollar Africare project and the one hundred employees that looked up to her.

Persevering through difficulties like this paid off as Waldon received the job that to her was the “peak of ambitions,” a position at the UNDP. Through this job she has been a part of many projects such as managing Netaid.org, a website dedicated to connecting people who work to alleviate world poverty by linking then to volunteer opportunities, allowing them to donate funds and providing an online forum.

One audience member asked Waldon for her suggestions about pursuing a career on the international arena. “[At the United Nations] everywhere you turn is an American so you have to make yourself stand out,” Waldon advised. To accomplish this, she suggested focusing on a nation or culture not yet mastered by other Americans.

On Friday Waldon is flying out to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, as a representative of the UNDP at an AIDS conference.

Archived article by Liz Novak