Late last year, Belizean-born Kendis Gibson from ABC News visited Belize to share his experiences as a journalists and television personality as an inspiration for school kids, and an instructive influence for the Belize media.

Evan Perez is another born Belizean who's now a big name US television journalist. He can be seen on CNN as the Justice Correspondent almost every day - breaking news about the Trump administration. Indeed, Perez is a major presence on the cable news network - and he's one of the key journalists assigned to cover the ever changing landscape at the White House and Pentagon.

Now, he's been honoured with an award form his peers, The White House Correspondents' Association. Perez and three of his senior colleagues from CNN are the winners of the Merriman Smith Award for broadcast reporting on the White House under deadline pressure.

Today, Perez spoke to his old SJC classmate Jules Vasquez via phone from Washington about the award. He told us about the story that won them the award - and his journey to being a major national correspondent:

Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent
"Well this was an award that was given to me and others on our CNN team, who were the first to report on the so-called Russian dossier that had been briefed by the FBI Director at the time to the new incoming president, as well to President Obama. I gotta tell you we spent a lotta time trying to be careful, trying to make sure we got it right. And the award, the Merriman-Smith award from the White House Correspondents Association is the culmination of that."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"How significant is it that the names that were selected along with you, such as Bernstein, obviously one of the most iconic names in US journalism, Carl Bernstein?"

Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent
"It's great to be a part of a group like that, obviously. Carl Bernstein is a legend, a living legend in journalism and the fact that he was involved, obviously, in the Watergate coverage, and now here he is on the byline for this story which has become, sort of, this generation's Watergate is so meaningful to me and to everybody. Jim Sciutto is obviously one of the best in the business, and so is Jake Tapper who is an anchor here at CNN."

"And I remember after being on air and after the story aired that evening, I got emails from people saying, "Oh My God - you have a byline with Carl Bernstein!" You know that's a pretty heady thing to have happen in your career."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"It implies a certain audacity. Andres, you are from Corozal as I recall."

Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent
"Right. My family came from Sarteneja in Corozal."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"For those kids out there, for those young students who might say, "wow, how do you get from Sarteneja, from roots in Sarteneja up to CNN? What would be your answer to them?"

Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent
"Well I think the word you use is audacity - and I think that's exactly what you have to have. I mean, I think you Jules I mean, I've watched your work and you have the audacity to ask questions of powerful people in Belize, the Prime Minister. You're not afraid of asking questions. And I think that's the thing that everybody - especially young people have to remember."

"My view is I wanted to be a journalist and some of the things I've had happen to me have been a little bit accidental and I'm a little surprised myself, actually. When i go back to Sarteneja - I was there for my grandfather's funeral a couple years ago - and people were kind of struck by this. And I can't explain it myself. I've had some good luck here and there."

"But certainly I think being audacious and being, never ever really ever thinking that you don't belong somewhere is a definite part of the success that you can have in any, any path you choose in life."

Perez says as soon as he gets a break at the White House, he plans to visit Belize again.

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