She’s not yet 30 years old, but already Christina Goldbaum ’10 has accomplished more as a journalist than many veteran reporters have ever dreamed of.
Working as the only foreign correspondent in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2017 and 2018, Goldbaum broke stories on the role the U.S. military played in the massacre of ten civilians, the buildup of a secretive U.S. military outpost, and the details of the first U.S. combat deaths in Somalia since the infamous Black Hawk Down event in 1993. It was the culmination of four years of living and working in East Africa.
In the fall of 2018, Goldbaum began a job as a metro reporter for the New York Times, a big change of scenery and a shifting of gears from reporting on an international scale. She will take a break from her job to speak to St. Andrew’s graduating class on June 7 as this year’s commencement speaker at Washington National Cathedral.
Goldbaum didn’t take a direct path from St. Andrew’s to becoming an investigative journalist living in a war zone, but the bread crumbs were always there. She was part of the annual trip to Bokamoso as a junior, traveled to Rwanda the summer before her senior year and visited Tanzania after graduation before beginning undergraduate study at Tufts. Her senior paper at St. Andrew’s was titled “Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.”
“I still remember being in Rwanda and driving from one place to another and thinking, this feels right,” Goldbaum said. “It was some place I wanted to live for a period of my life. It was like an allergy commercial where they peeled back the foggy screen – it kind of felt like that. You really want to know how things work in the world, how things work beyond suburban life? Here is how it works. Journalism is a way to talk to people about their lives and having a passport to be able to do that… it’s insane that it’s an actual job.”
Goldbaum received a B.A. in political science and intended to pursue international development, but a number of journalism-related classes convinced her otherwise.
“When I was in college, I was trying to figure out the place I could have the most impact in the world,” Goldbaum said. “Is it working at an NGO, is it working at the U.N., is it being a journalist? I found that I’m very impact driven and journalism is a place where, while a bit more elusive and less concrete, you can still have a big impact. As a foreign correspondent, you determine what people are talking about. As an investigative journalist, you truly are holding powers to account. And that’s a thrilling feeling to be chasing all the time in the work that you’re doing.”
While in East Africa on a fellowship in April of 2015, a terrorist attack took place at Garissa University in Kenya. Goldbaum reached out to a friend who was an editor at the news agency AFP to see if they needed any help. The next morning she secured the final spot on a four-seat plane heading to Garissa, launching her career in journalism. Within three years she had won the Livingston Award for International Reporting, the National Press Club’s Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence, and the Frontline Club Print Award.
Back home in the U.S., Goldbaum is honing her investigative skills at the New York Times, aware that her future lies back in Africa as an investigative foreign correspondent.
“I love the work I did in Somalia on covert wars,” Goldbaum said. “I think the nature of wars is changing. I love being a foreign correspondent. I know that’s what I want to be doing in the future. I would love to be a foreign correspondent who looks at the U.S.’s covert wars around the world.”
On her way to the Pulitzer, Goldbaum will make a stop to inspire the Class of 2019.
This article originally appeared in St. Andrew's Spring 2019 magazine.