Forecast for Success: How Dual Enrollment Helped Her Start a Great Television Career

A Dual Enrollment class at Embry-Riddle helped jumpstart Tonia Brown’s interest in weather and eventually led to her career as a TV meteorologist.

Dual Enrollment student Tonia Brown on the set of WBRC Fox 6 News studies Meteorology which includes a minor in Communications and Broadcast Media.
Tonia Brown, shown here on the set of WBRC Fox 6 News, got her start in meteorology thanks to a Dual Enrollment class at Embry-Riddle. (Photo: Tonia Brown)

When Tonia Brown discovered dual enrollment in high school, she knew she was onto something special.

What she didn’t know was that it would be one particular dual enrollment class at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that would open the door to a career she loves.

And what a career it has been so far.

Tonia, now 23, is a broadcast meteorologist at WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama, and earlier this year was named “Birmingham’s Best Meteorologist” by the digital magazine Women in Business.

Why Choose Dual Enrollment at Embry-Riddle?

“Embry-Riddle was the start to my career in general,” Tonia says. “Dual enrollment is an opportunity for you to learn about whatever career path you plan on taking. It gave me the opportunity to test the waters before actually diving into anything.”

Growing up in a military family, Tonia had lived in a number of places before her father Tony retired to Georgia just before she started in fifth grade. The middle of three daughters, Tonia excelled as a high school student, star athlete and class president but wasn’t exactly sure which direction she wanted to take in the future.

But her sister Toneen, who is a year older, attended a college fair at their high school one day and that was the first time either of them had heard about dual enrollment, which allows students in grades nine through 12 to take college classes for credit.

“Dual enrollment started because of her,” said Tonia. “Me and my older sister were always really close, and we did everything together, including dual enrollment.”

Tonia and Toneen began taking whatever dual enrollment classes they could find as they explored potential career paths and subjects that interested them. Tonia’s mother Deneen had always told her she had “a nosy side” and suggested Tonia consider becoming a news reporter.

It was dad Tony, knowing Tonia had a knack for science, who initially tossed out the idea of pursuing broadcast meteorology.

“He told me: ‘They do the same thing. They just report on a specific topic. You'll get into the news industry, and you'll make more money,’" Tonia remembered. “And I said: ‘Hey, now you're talking.’”

Finding a Climate For Success

So Tonia took an introductory meteorology class at Embry-Riddle and followed that up with another dual enrollment class that focused on the principles of management. But it was the weather class that left the biggest and longest lasting impression.

“It was really fun,” Tonia said. “That's what really sparked my interest in meteorology.”

Tonia took her interest and dual enrollment experience and studied meteorology at Mississippi State University and then went on to get a master’s in journalism from Syracuse University.

Almost before she knew it, she was in front of the camera.

“I became a meteorologist not just because I love the weather but because I value the story behind it,” Tonia told Women in Business. “Storms are the epitome of creation, destruction and renewal. My job is to encourage everyone to overcome and truly experience the sunshine after the rain.”

Tonia started her on-air career at KHQ Channel 6 News in Spokane, Washington, and moved on to KOB4 in New Mexico before coming to WBRC in 2022. She was the first African American meteorologist at all three TV stations and says she is proud of “breaking barriers.”

Beyond her professional success, Tonia also has a YouTube channel with her sisters Tyleen and Toneen called The Topic Twins, which offers a video diary about their lives and adventures.

And, if that wasn’t enough, Tonia recently wrote a new book called Weather Wonders, Exploring The Skies With Mom. Available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, the book is aimed at helping kids better understand the weather so they aren’t afraid of it.

Along with the support of her mom, dad, sisters and fiancé Cash Davis, Tonia also credits the special benefits of dual enrollment with helping her get off to such a stellar start so quickly.

“Dual enrollment taught me how to manage my time,” she said. “You have to grow up a lot faster. I was able to work alongside other people who were older than me, and already immersed in an environment where I might've been the youngest. It taught me so much in terms of being an adult and navigating the college world and going through college classes as a whole.”

How Could Dual Enrollment Help You?

To any high school student considering dual enrollment, Tonia offers this advice:

“Do it. Just do it,” she says. “It’s a chance for you to figure out where you want to go in life and an opportunity that costs you next to nothing beyond your time and your effort. I feel like dual enrollment for any young person is a great kickstart. Even if you don't want to go to college, it's an opportunity for you to see if that's something you may want to do.”

For her part, Tonia looks back on her dual enrollment experience and says “it was really just a blessing. It saved me money on college and helped me to get focused and to fine tune what exactly I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.”

What can we help you do? Apply at Embry-Riddle today.