Alumna Nelly Ating, Class of 2011, Makes Big Byline with CNN

Wishes have become horses and now beggars can ride. For Ms. Ating of the Features Desk, AUN Office of Communication and Public Relations, a long-held dream just came true.


Working with the Office since 2014, she has ventured out on more than one front, including publishing and photo exhibitions.

On June 29, Nelly proved she has developed the wings to fly.  She bylined a lengthy article “They survived Boko Haram, now returnees are fighting hunger.”  The piece on the Africa Review page of the CNN website chronicles the photojournalist’s observations here in Nigeria’s northeast, in words and pictures, of the  massive displacements since Boko Haram militants went on the rampage.  

Ms. Ating discovered her love of journalism here at the University.  “It all started from the classroom in AUN,” where she majored in journalism in the Communication and Multimedia Design department.  She loved the fact that, “Courses were more practical than theoretical….The adrenaline rushes up every time we had to go to the field in search of stories.”

Nelly also credited her professors as “great academic advisors” who had insisted on more than one occasion that print journalism background alone was not enough.  “They encouraged me to take free electives in film studies.  About that, I was not particularly happy back then.  Today, however, I am grateful for their wisdom, as their insistence has equipped me with skills in Photography and Videography.  Today, I can safely say that I am well rounded in Journalism.  That is the beauty of learning from the American style of education.”

In the aftermath of her joint exhibition held last year at Madugu Hotels in Yola, Pulse Nigeria, an online magazine for the upwardly mobile, featured Nelly as a photojournalist telling photo stories about the survivors of the insurgency, stories with powerful images.

“Writing for CNN is a dream-come-true, considering the tortuous roads I traveled in search of stories.  Once I came face-to-face with live IEDs (improvised explosive devices).  I would say AUN prepared me for this fearless Journalism bargain,” she says.

Over the years, Nelly has met top international journalists: Karen Attiah of The Washington Post; Akintunde Akinleye of Reuters; Eromo Egbejule, an International freelancer; Hilary Matfess, a foreign freelancer and researcher, and Adewunmi Emoruwa, a communication strategist and founder of Machacha.  The Machacha social impact site and blog first exposed Ms. Ating’s works to CNN.  Connecting with such a robust network of professionals pushed Nelly’s drive to focus on underreported stories from small communities.

“From one of the stories I recently penned for Machacha, CNN contacted us that they would like to use that particular story.  I was further interviewed and that was how both my images and story were featured on CNN’s Africa Review.”

Ms. Ating continues both her innovative reporting and her valuable work for AUN, yet another fine success story from a proud AUN graduate.  

By Innocent Nwobodo


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