In June, UNC juniors Angelica Edwards and Julian Berger had an idea to make the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media more inclusive.
Edwards reached out to Berger to ask if UNC had a National Association of Hispanic Journalists chapter. They didn't, so the two got started on creating one.
Together, they established UNC-Chapel Hill NAHJ.
“The purpose of creating this chapter is to create a space for Latinx journalism students on campus,” said Edwards, president of the chapter and former photo editor for The Daily Tar Heel.
Edwards said she hopes to invite guest speakers from the media sphere to speak with the chapter and eventually host networking events to meet new people in the field.
“We want to have events that are geared toward supporting us,” Edwards said.
Edwards said she and Vice President Julian Berger used the summer to find an adviser, establish an executive board, get letters of recommendation and recruit members to join their organization. She said the organization was approved as an official NAHJ chapter this month.
Paul Cuadros, an associate professor at the journalism school and the faculty advisor for the UNC-Chapel Hill NAHJ, said this organization will help give Latinx students the opportunity to network and create connections in the journalism and media fields.
“I think in terms of diversity and inclusion for Hussman, this is a really big step for the school to have this chapter and organization within the school, providing these opportunities for the growing number of Latinx students,” Cuadros said.
Through NAHJ, Edwards wants to have discussions about important topics in their community that they might not learn in their journalism classes, such as how to cover immigration and reporting in communities that speak Spanish.
Students do not have to be Latinx or a journalism student to join UNC-Chapel Hill NAHJ. Edwards said allies are welcome in the organization.
Daniela Rodriguez-Puente, a junior and the organization's treasurer, said creating a community for Latinx students is really important to her.
“When you’re in university, trying to grow in your profession, it’s important to have people to support you, who you can look to that are like you, that can relate to you,” Rodriguez-Puente said.
Rodriguez-Puente also spoke to the need for representation of the Latinx community within the journalism school.
“I was in classes where I would be the only Spanish-speaking person, the only person who could speak to that experience — and that’s a trend that has followed me in my classes in my last three years here,” Rodriguez-Puente said.
She also said she hopes for more programming that is geared toward journalists of color.
“I would like to see more programming that is geared toward how we — as journalists of color, journalists who speak two languages, journalists who are representing multiple different communities — can respectfully represent our community and still be journalists and have our work respected,” Rodriguez-Puente said.
Edwards said she is excited to create a space on campus that did not exist before.
“The J-school and UNC have a lot left to do to create a space for Latinx students,” Edwards said. “It shouldn’t have taken us this long to establish a chapter, but we did it. Our work isn’t done, it’s just beginning, and I’m really excited to see what we can do.”
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