Clarissa McClain prepares to say goodbye after fond and rewarding journey at WHNT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Change is good. Scary, but good. And according to my mother, never a forte of mine. However, I’m now at the place in life where I am ready to embrace it.

As a journalist, I know for sure that I have fulfilled one of my callings in life. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, the stories I’ve been blessed to share with others and the lives that have been positively impacted because of it. Now, after 13 years in this demanding and exhilarating industry, it’s time to make a professional change.

After many months of prayer, soul-searching, and conversations with my family and closest friends, I have chosen to make my personal life and presence with my family my first priority. The last 11+ years at WHNT News 19 have been full of so many pleasant memories and opportunities for growth and advancement. For that, I am so appreciative and grateful. I started as the weekend producer in the spring of 2007 and reported in the WHNT NEWS 19 Shoals bureau for nearly two years. In 2010, I was promoted to co-anchor WHNT News 19 at 9:00 on WHNT 2 and eventually WHNT News 19 at 6:00 and 10:00pm in 2014. During that time, I evolved from an unsure, but ambitious 24-year-old to a grounded woman, wife and mother.

Clarissa with her husband DeMarco and son Dylan. Their dog, Elle, is not pictured, but doing great!

When I think about some of the hard days in news and stories I covered, tears immediately sting my eyes - waiting with a young woman whose mother died in the campus shooting at UAH, the loss of life in the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, comforting families who sat on a creek bank anxious for rescuers to find their loved one, watching a family’s home burn because the nearest fire hydrant was miles away. Those days were rough.

Of course, there are days that unearth a feeling of extreme pride – spurring important community conversations about race, announcing my pregnancy with a campaign to increase donations to the Food Bank of North Alabama, participating in the “Below the Line” challenge to raise awareness about poverty, joining the S.P.E.A.K. Initiative to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.

My experience at WHNT has been so gratifying and for that, I’m leaving with a sense of peace in my heart about what I’ve accomplished and the people that I’ve been blessed to meet and form relationships with along the way. It will stay with me forever as a fond and rewarding journey.

Being a journalist has played such a vital role in me becoming a better person, writer, listener, communicator, advocate and change agent for my community. I’m grateful that I now get to apply all of that to another passion of mine – education.

I’ll be joining the Randolph School as the Director of Marketing and Communications. I’ve always felt that there was an education aspect to news. I love learning new things daily and being able to share that knowledge with the masses. Moving on from news and to an environment where education and excellence are revered motivates me to take on this next chapter with vigor and enthusiasm.

My last day on air will be Friday, March 15th. Even though you won’t see me on the news anymore, I’m not leaving the Rocket City. If you want, you can keep up with me on Facebook. And please say hello if you see me out and about around Huntsville.

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