Maya Jackson Randall, 33: Atlanta native an award-winning journalist

Maya Jackson Randall avoided surprises by meticulously planning ahead.

“Even as a kid, she was always asking us, ‘What are we going to do this summer?’ It would only be fall,” said her mother, Lillian Jackson. “She was always pushing the needle forward.”

That drive led the upbeat Atlanta native who never uttered a curse word to become an award-winning journalist at one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, The Wall Street Journal.

Randall masterfully tackled the U.S. Treasury beat, an exclusive assignment at the WSJ.

But just a couple of years after the birth of her son in 2007, the writer known for her uncanny ability to explain complex topics such as banking, energy and finance was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia.

Randall died Tuesday at the age of 33. A viewing will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta, followed by the funeral at 11 a.m. Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

“What she leaves is not a work ethic but a life ethic of never being negative,” said Gary Fields, a national reporter for The Wall Street Journal. “She was true to herself. Maya is what God intended us to be if humans never ate the apple from the tree.”

During her short career, Randall covered the nation’s financial crisis. She traveled with former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to London, Beijing and Abu Dhabi, and wrote a series of articles that forced the U.S. Treasury to disclose how funds for the Troubled Asset Relief Program were being spent.

“She had this natural poise and calmness to her,” Fields said. “When she walked in (as an intern), I realized, ‘She is one of the best reporters in this room and she’s 21.’ She had an ability to do anything as a reporter. They don’t come along like her.”

Randall, the daughter of two trained journalists, graduated from Lakeside High School in DeKalb County, and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in journalism and interned at Essence and Newsweek magazines.

She received a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland.

Randall worked at Money magazine and in the Platt division of McGraw-Hill before being hired at The Wall Street Journal at the age of 25 to report on the energy industry.

“She would look at these really complicated regulations and boil this stuff down and end up having these really smart stories,” Fields said.

She was set to cover the White House, according to Fields, before she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She received two stem cell transplants, and at one point spent five days in the hospital receiving five different types of chemotherapy.

She was twice struck with the flu and pneumonia at the same time.

“She was stronger than we were,” Lillian Jackson said. “When we would get angry or frustrated every time she had a dip or learned a treatment wasn’t working, she would say, ‘Mom …this is the journey God has chosen for me.’ ”

Randall is also survived by her husband, Jeremy; her son, Jeremiah; her father, Harold Jackson; her brother, Julian Jackson; and her sisters, Candice Jordan and Lauren Harris.

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