When Sandra Hughes graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University she was determined to use her English degree to become a high school English teacher. But after failing to find a teaching job, the Aggie inquired about a position, any position, at a local Greensboro television station—WFMY News 2.

“I never planned to be a reporter,” Hughes said.

Hughes, a notable broadcast journalist who served on air at WFMY News 2 for 40 years started her career by filling out a one page application.

Hughes is now an adjunct professor at North Carolina A&T, a motivational speaker and this year’s National Conference for Community and Justice annual Citation Award (NCCJ) honoree.

“When I was told I was going to get the NCCJ award I honestly thought the lady was calling to ask me to emcee the program,” Hughes said.

NCCJ is a human relations organization founded in 1927. Its mission is to fight bias, bigotry and racism in America. Recipients of the Citation Award are local citizens who embody the organization’s values and objectives. NCCJ will present Hughes with the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Citation Award on Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.

“I never imagined myself in the same playing field as the people that got that award in the past,” she said.

Past recipients include N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin, Sr. and President of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, Dennis W. Quaintance.

In 1972 Hughes began her career as a general assignment reporter. Later, she became the host of “Sandra & Friends,” a live daily broadcast, making her the first African-American woman to have a daily talk show in the Piedmont-Triad region. It was not long before Hughes’ success and skyrocketing career were met with the dark side of criticism. From confrontations to bomb threats, Hughes suffered backlash from audience members outraged at seeing an African-American woman on television.

“When I started in 1972 I didn’t go there with the intention of breaking the racial barrier,” the pioneer said.

Despite the battles she faced, Hughes continued on.

“I call it the power of persistence,” said Hughes, who spends a good portion of her time as a motivational speaker for local organizations and groups. “You just have to keep trying. If you get knocked down and you lay down you will never get up again.”

From 1985-1990 Hughes served as the co-host for “PM Magazine” and manager of WFMY’s community relations department. She also became co-host for the station’s “Good Morning Show”. Hughes then returned to the newsroom in 1990 to anchor the evening news.

Now, as a retired broadcast professional and full-time journalism professor, Hughes is able to share her stories with students who aspire to obtain a fraction of her success.

“I just love being with the students and talking to them and telling them stories about my life. Hopefully they will repeat the good ones and avoid some of the bad ones,” she added.

Throughout her career Hughes gave everything she could to be consistent at what she called “an important job.” When the community needed her she was there, even if it meant missing holidays and birthday parties.

“I want to say thank you to NCCJ, my family, my friends and all of you who allowed me to continue doing what I did for 40 years. To my family for understanding and to the community for continuing to give me a chance,” Hughes said.

Along with the Citation Award, Hughes will also be honored on Friday, Nov. 1 at the journalism and mass communication department Alumni Media Summit on campus in Crosby Hall.