On July 20, 2012, I joined the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists at their 14th Annual Scholarship & Awards Gala which commemorated 25 years of the organization. The goal of SAAHJ is to help newsrooms better reflect the diverse population of Texas. The organization is comprised of local journalists, public relations professionals, students and others interested in the communications industry. (SAAHJ)
The event caught my attention when an online friend checked in on Foursquare and noted that she was at a planning meeting for the Gala. I thought to myself “that sounds like a great place to be.” … the Gala, not the planning meeting! I’m a professional in the communications industry (social media and public relations). So, I asked how to attend the event, she encouraged me to get my ticket, I did and there I was. It turned out to be a fantastic night of inspiration, encouragement, friendship and fun.
Even when I wasn’t working in the communications field, I’ve always been drawn to it. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a reporter. As a young girl I would take my cassette tape recorder and record my own ‘news’ and then play it back just to hear myself ‘reporting’. (I’m pretty sure I have NEVER told anyone that I’ve ever done that.) I entered college pursuing journalism and completed my B.A. in Mass Communications (General Studies). Nonetheless, the SAAHJ Gala was an incredible time to meet so many Hispanic journalists, particularly las mujeres. Growing up in a small West Texas town, I don’t recall seeing any brown-skinned reporters or any with Latino surnames. However, at the Gala, there were plenty of San Antonio’s Latina journalists whom I have admired while watching the local news.
The organization honored KSAT-12’s Jessie Degollado with the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism. Jessie’s reporting was described as trailblazing. In 1995, she received the award for best series from the Associated Press for “Chiapas Revolt – One Year Later.” In a tribute video, Jessie’s colleagues referred to her as the Energizer Bunny of KSAT-12, incredibly professional, genuinely interested in others, an icon in San Antonio, and one who has paved the way for Latinas and women in general. I am always moved to see someone being honored for their life work.
The other Latina journalists I had the honor to meet were the funny and beautiful News 4 WOAI Reporter Laurie Salazar; News 4 WOAI Anchorwoman Elsa Ramon, the Mistress of Ceremony and KSAT-12 News Anchorwoman Isis Romero. You can see all my photos on my Facebook page. Psst, I even got to meet Mayor Julian Castro! Yep, I get geeky about stuff like that.
The night also included honoring Father David Garcia with the SAAHJ Community Service Award. He is currently the director of the Old Spanish Missions of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and told the funniest joke about what happens to a Senator when he reaches the gates of heaven. (You’ll have to find me or him to tell you another time!) Father David challenged the group to not lose the value of their culture and reminded us that we’re all in this together.
SAAHJ awarded $25,000 in scholarships to local students pursuing degrees in communications. For a list of their names and more information, visit www.saahj.org.
The evening left me inspired and smiling. So, instead of recording on my cassette tapes, I will type on my keyboard and ‘report’ to my readers the stories from the desk of ¿Qué Means What? Thanks for reading y’all!