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Anderson Cooper, host of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, spoke at Irvine Auditorium as the SPEC fall keynote speaker.

You may know him best as the Silver Fox. Or as the host of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. But he prefers to be known simply as Anderson, a non-partisan news anchor who considers himself privileged to have his job - a job he did not know that he would want upon his 1989 graduation from Yale as a political science major.

For most of his life, Cooper had a keen interest in news. During his SPEC fall speaker keynote address on Saturday, he explained to a packed Irvine Auditorium that he decided to begin his career in journalism by "traveling to the most dangerous places on the planet." Savings in pocket and fake press pass in hand, he traveled to Burma, the first of the more than 50 countries he has visited as a reporter.

Besides covering stories live on the scene, Cooper is known for his discussion of hot political topics on his evening show, Anderson Cooper 360.

During his address, he discussed everything from his childhood as the son of socialite Gloria Vanderbilt to the many stories he has covered in his 15 years in the business.

According to Cooper, the best stories are "happening in real time. It's absolutely exhilarating. You know that you can make or break your career in a few sentences."

His advice to the audience was to "seek out what scares you the most." He told anecdotes about his personal intimidating situations, including diving with great white sharks and reporting from war-torn countries like Iraq and Somalia. He suggested "plunging head first into a career or any other aspect of life."

Despite the political saturation that being a CNN anchor brings him, Cooper maintains his non-partisanship, saying, "I'm not interested in opinion-based journalism. It just validates your own point of view."

And, when asked to name someone whose work he admires during the question and answer session, Cooper mentioned the writer Bob Simon, emphasizing that "the craft of writing is really important."

Co-director of Connaissance and College junior Eileen McKeown explained why SPEC chose Cooper: "He epitomizes what we look for in a speaker. . We brought him to campus because of his unique ability to capture the human side of news stories as he relays his inside perspective to the public."

The audience seemed to enjoy his presentation, offering a standing ovation as Cooper exited the stage.

As College junior Kate Shulman said, "Anderson - he insisted we call him by his first name - exemplifies the values and goals that seem to be missing in today's public personalities."

She added, "Not only did his adept writing skills and passion for truth and knowledge shine through, but also his humor and pleasant, unassuming demeanor captivated the students and faculty at Penn."

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