Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a series of spotlights highlighting our alumni — and now students — in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
For our final Hispanic Heritage Month Profile, we are featuring two Grady College students who are involved in the college’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Isavictoria Martinez is a senior Entertainment and Media Studies major and the former NAHJ president. Andrea Gutierrez is a junior journalism major and the current NAHJ president. Our first profile of Hispanic Heritage Month, Ashley Soriano, founded the chapter and served as its first president.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Isavictoria Martinez (IM): Hispanic Heritage Month, to me, means a time of celebration of culture, history, representation and transparency for the Latinx/Hispanic community. My heart is always filled with joy and pride when I hear about fellow accomplished Puerto Ricans in media. As a minority, I’ve always felt that our history is being white-washed. Diverse voices are needed now more than ever. We deserve recognition for our contributions and even recognition of our struggles within society. I want this time for people to be able to celebrate themselves or go out of their way to explore these different cultures whether it be the music, food or dances. However, it is also equally important to research and talk about the struggles of our people and how we can mend any disconnect. Para mi gente, nunca olviden de donde vienen y tengan orgullo de quienes son. ¡Viva Puerto Rico!
Andrea Gutierrez (AG): For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to reflect on the challenges that Hispanic Americans face throughout the year as well as celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing civil rights and opportunities for the Latino community more generally. I believe I’m speaking for a lot of people, including myself, when I say that advocating for Hispanic Americans should be a year-round affair, but I do agree that highlighting a month in the year helps a lot to call attention.
Explain a challenge that you had to overcome in your professional career.
IM: Something I struggle with, and still struggle with, in my professional career would be the imposter syndrome. I’m constantly analyzing myself, comparing myself to others in similar circumstances and critiquing my work as never being good enough. It doesn’t help your doubts either when you’re part of an extreme minority within your intended industry. I think something that ultimately has helped my complex would be my time in Grady and participation in NAHJ. Grady has taught me that my voice is pertinent to shaping future conversations, that it’s okay to make mistakes and to value my time here with fellow students. NAHJ has given me a safe space where I can talk to people with similar ambitions and struggles — the organization also contributes to that idea of representation. I can now, anxiously, look forward to making mistakes because it means that I’m growing and expanding my experiences. I believe that those experiences will result in my best work.
How did you become involved with NAHJ, and what has being president of the club meant to you?
AG: Well, I first joined the club in Fall 2019, when I was a first-year on campus, but I honestly never even expected how much I would enjoy being a part of NAHJ. I’m just so incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities and moments I’ve experienced with this club. Being club president in my third year means the world to me, as I get to plan some amazing events later on this year for our newer members and get to know everyone a lot better, especially now that in-person classes have resumed.
How does your Hispanic and/or Latin heritage influence your work?
IM: I think being Boricua definitely attributes to my interests, ambition, and not surprisingly, my impatience. Through my work, I want to feature my experiences and highlight my culture and heritage, whether it be realized with complex Latinx characters or composing a shot through a lens. My storytelling so far has focused on communities pertaining to my interests. I want to constantly create stories about my people and my home. I believe being Puerto Rican gives me a unique perspective on how I view these stories waiting to be told. I’m impatient for opportunities to do more.
AG: My Hispanic heritage helps me stay rooted in my work and professional life and helps me to remember what I really value in life. I grew up in a close-knit Colombian family where I always knew I could count on someone to be there for me, in good and bad times. We’re a very open bunch, and even as a kid my earliest memories of wanting to be a writer of some sort stemmed from listening to the stories of my mom and my aunts, uncles and cousins. As an aspiring journalist, I take a lot of inspiration from the people around me, which includes my family. Journalism is all about telling stories, and my early childhood was blessed with some amazing stories and characters from my family in Colombia. When I work in my classes and with publications, I always try to stay true to my upbringing and remember that every person has a story to tell.
What have been your favorite NAHJ events or activities, and what are you looking forward to this school year with the club?
IM: I believe NAHJ as a whole is such a valuable resource for rising Latinx/Hispanic journalists or those simply interested in entering the world of media and communications. My favorite NAHJ activity would be networking with professional journalists from the national chapter and within our own chapter with fellow students. I’ve luckily had the opportunity to attend two national conferences: The Excellence in Journalism Conference, which took place in San Antonio in 2019, and the NABJ-NAHJ Virtual Convention in 2020. Their activities and workshops were fun and informative to what the future of communications looks like and how we can improve ourselves as journalists. It was wonderful being around the same people who looked like me and held the same interests. My experience was feasible due to joining NAHJ and Grady’s financial contribution to fund both trips for select students. With the UGA chapter, I’m looking forward to introducing fellow students to those opportunities and helping shape their professional journeys.
AG: We do a lot of fun and interesting events and activities at NAHJ, which include hosting guest speakers and collaborations with other journalism organizations on campus. For this year, I’m just looking forward to holding regular in-person meetings with everybody and planning out some new adventures with the club.