Two New Mexico State University journalism and media studies students recently received scholarships from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The NAHJ is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanic journalists in the news industry.
Rosemary Montañez received the NAHJ $2,000 Rubén Salazar Scholarship. Dayana Villanueva received the NAHJ $2,000 Luis Gomez Scholarship. Montañez and Villianueva are two of just 36 scholarship recipients across the United States.
“Rosemary and Dayana are aware of the issues that are affecting our communities and that is what helps elevate them to another level as student reporters,” said Hugo Pérez, journalism and media studies college assistant professor and Noticias22 director.
"We will continue motivating and encouraging our students to apply for the many opportunities that NAHJ has to offer. This is the first time in many, many years that our students have been chosen to receive scholarships at a national level. It is an incredible opportunity for them."
Created in 1984, NAHJ has over 3,000 members, including working journalists and journalism students from across the country. Over more than thirty years, NAHJ has awarded scholarships totaling more than $1.72 million to nearly 800 students.
These competitive NAHJ scholarships are given based on the student’s commitment to the field of journalism, academic achievement, awareness of the community and financial need.
“This scholarship from the NAHJ will be such a blessing for my final semester at NMSU,” said Montañez, who will be graduating in December.
“It will give me the opportunity to continue studying without having so much financial pressure on me. Not only will the scholarship make such a large difference financially but becoming a part of the NAHJ will also provide even more opportunities in my future career.”
Montañez, a native El Pasoan, attended El Paso Community College before coming to NMSU to continue her education with hopes of becoming a broadcast journalist. During her time here Montañez has become a valuable member of News22, the live student-run newscast, gaining critical first-hand experience as an anchor and reporter on air.
“When I first visited the campus and walked on the set of News22 I knew that this is where I wanted to continue my college journey,” Montañez said. “I wanted to be able to graduate with as much experience as possible and News22 and the journalism department offered me those opportunities. I knew right away this was the place for me.”
After graduation, Montañez plans to continue to tell the stories about her community that inspire others as a multi-media journalist. “My hope is that I leave NMSU motivated and eager to make a difference in the world by using the power of television and the digital space,” Montañez said.
Similarly, Villanueva hopes to take the skills she has gained at NMSU to become an investigative reporter along the U.S./Mexico border after graduation later this year. Villanueva’s passion to the borderland is part of her identity as she considers herself from both El Paso, Texas where she was born, and Ciudad, Juarez, where she grew up.
“The NAHJ award will allow me to pay the expenses of classes, books, food and gasoline to work even harder to fulfill my goal of being a Latina journalist in the United States,” Villanueva said. “I am also hopeful I can be part of increasing the representation of Latinos and people of color in America's newsrooms.”
Since transferring to NMSU from El Paso Community College, Villanueva has gained valuable tools as an anchor and reporter for News22 and Noticias22, the Spanish digital student-run newscast. In addition, she is the co-host and producer for “LatinxAmerica Education Podcast,” which focuses on highlighting organizations creating technology that can positively impact the Latinx community.
“Going to NMSU has been the best choice I ever made in life,” Villanueva said. “It's been a dream come true and keeps getting better and better with opportunities like these.”
Thanks to support from faculty mentors such as Pérez and Nick Miller, journalism and media studies college associate professor and News22 director, Villanueva and Montañez feel prepared for careers in journalism.
“Because of them, students who graduate from this department are ready to face the world boldly and are fully equipped to do so,” Montañez said.