Alumna Erica D’Costa is living her dream as part of an Emmy Award-winning national news team.
By Sam Starnes GSN’04
When news broke of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Erica D’Costa and her team from CBS Mornings rushed from the network’s New York broadcast center and jumped on a plane. D’Costa SC&I’19, an associate producer to anchor Tony Dokoupil, helped report and edit a story from Texas about the May 2022 massacre of 19 children and two adults that included an interview with a 10-year-old victim’s stepfather who broke down and wept on air about seeing his little girl for the last time. “It was devastating,” D’Costa says, “but it was necessary, so people understand what is happening in our country. It was important to personalize the story and to hear from the parents and hear from the families and hear from the community what their raw feelings were.”
CBS Mornings, where D’Costa has worked full-time since her senior year at Rutgers, reaches an average daily audience of three million viewers. The work by D’Costa and her team was recognized in September with an Emmy for Outstanding Live News Program, one of the prestigious award’s highest-profile categories. “Millions of people are waking up to these stories as they make coffee,” she says. “These words are having an impact.”
D’Costa, who was born in India, came to the U.S. with her family as a toddler. She grew up in Woodbury in South Jersey and graduated from Moorestown Friends School. While majoring in journalism and media studies at Rutgers, she had doubts about pursuing TV as a career. “The idea of getting paid to make television seemed like such an odd thing that I didn’t even know was possible,” she says. “And there was such a real fear of, well, ‘What if I graduate and I don’t get a job?’ Or, ‘This isn’t a very stable career that’s needed all the time, like being a doctor or lawyer.’”
She says Steven Miller, professor of professional practice and director of undergraduate studies at the School of Communication and Information, helped her overcome her doubts. “He said, ‘If you close your eyes right now, forget about any restrictions or what you think is realistic, just close your eyes. What would be your dream job?’ And I said, ‘I would love to be a national TV producer.’ That was the first time I had ever said it out loud. And it was so scary.”
D’Costa says that Miller, whose class “Introduction to Media” she had taken, drove the point home. “He asked me to turn around and look at the wall,” she says. “Behind me were photographs of all his students, some who had graduated three years ago, others more than 30 years ago. These students all went on to be news and TV producers. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is something that he knows about. He knows these people.’ And it just made it so much more realistic. And that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I can do this.’”
D’Costa—who, as a student, served as associate editor at the Daily Targum, a radio host on WRSU-FM Rutgers Radio, and freelancer for the Big Ten Network—landed a full-time internship with CBS in the fall of her senior year. In February 2019, CBS This Morning (which changed its name to CBS Mornings in 2021) hired her permanently, and in November 2021, she became an associate producer.
After winning the Emmy, D’Costa reflected on her rapid rise in a LinkedIn post, written just before her 24th birthday, that received more than 560,000 impressions. “Three years ago, I was a college student at Rutgers university, eating Ramen for dinner (as college students do), nervous, just hoping someone would hire a 20-year-old to produce national TV,” she wrote. “Well, it’s working out pretty well! So proud to work for CBS This Morning and humbled to win an #emmy. Huge gratitude and congrats to my team.”
D’Costa has not forgotten Rutgers, where she got her start in broadcast journalism. She returns to campus career nights and speaks with students in Miller’s classes to share her story. “I love opportunities to help students,” she says. “I was in their position only a couple of years ago.”
This story originally appeared in the winter 2023 issue of Rutgers Magazine, which featured D’Costa, photographed by Jonathan Kolbe in Times Square, on the cover.