By Molly Loughman
In September, Emerson Journalism students immersed themselves in the competitive media field during the Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) Conference, where rising and professional journalists convene for some of the industry’s best training and networking opportunities.
Emerson had a notable presence during this year’s conference in San Antonio, Texas, where dozens of School of Communication (SOC) students and alumni joined industry professionals and experts from across the country throughout a series of workshops, panel discussions, mixers, and career fairs. EIJ is hosted in partnership between the Society of Professional Journalists and Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).
“My main takeaway from this conference was that there IS a spot in this industry for me,” said Noel Gasca ’20, a National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) member from Lake Stevens, Washington. “I met and talked with so many other Latinx journalists that were generally interested in supporting each other. I got to sit in on a session with Steve Padilla and Esmeralda Bermudez of the Los Angeles Times. I still talk to a few of the people that I met at the conference, and those connections are very precious to me.
“I felt [the conference] was the culmination of all the professional and interpersonal skills I’ve been building since I came to Emerson,” Gasca added.
“Emerson and the SOC strongly believe in inclusive excellence, and this EIJ conference is all about inclusive excellence. To have such a large group of students there very much validated the journalistic work we’re doing in this area,” said Emerson SOC Dean Raul Reis, a longtime journalist who also attended the conference. “They participated in the conference in such a professional and elevated way! Their participation certainly enhanced and added value to their journalism education.”
Journalism students Maya Huter ’20 and Lauren Granada ’20 made history earlier this year when they became the first Emersonians honored by RTDNA among the association’s 49th class of scholars and fellows. The recognition involved an invitation to the EIJ Conference, where Huter, an aspiring producer, says she was able to have one-on-one time with media professionals from all over.
“Somebody offered me a job on the spot because she knew somebody from my internship,” said Huter, a Eugene, Oregon, native who spent last summer as a production intern at MSNBC and who currently produces Emerson student-run shows. “[The EIJ conference is] a unique experience people don’t usually have, where you’re literally in a room with all the places you want to work and [the employers are] there to just talk to you for a few minutes.”
Dressed to impress and armed with resumes, students met face-to-face with recruiters and with major industry leaders, such as ABC News correspondent John Quiñones. They also were exposed to everything from panel discussions led by prominent media professionals, makeup booths for broadcasters, booths to review news reels, new mobile applications and technologies, and journalism startup companies.
“You learn stuff. You learn new ways people are telling stories, and you get inspired by journalists doing new things,” said Emerson Senior Journalist-in-Residence, Cindy Rodriguez, who advised the students, alongside associate professor and longtime TV news producer Marsha Della-Giustina.
“It really shows our students take this opportunity seriously. They are dream students, I’d say. I’m so proud of them and the way they carry themselves,” said Rodriguez. “This is why I’m at Emerson, because the students are so driven.”
Students from Emerson’s RTDNA Chapter who attended included Alice Barry, Natalie Benoit, Natalie Clydesdale, Carly D’Eon, Isha Marathe, Elizabeth Perkin, Abigail Royle, Tyler Englander, Alex Huff-Haskell, Arasha Lalani, Amogh Matthews, Luis Mercado, Justin Pham, Angel Salcedo, Moses Small (Glenn), Brian Danuff, Kayla Martin, Lauren Granda, and Maya Huter. Six of the students were chosen to cover the conference in the RTDNA newsroom at the event. Emerson students in NAHJ who attended included Stefania Lugli, Noel Gasca, Shafaq Patel and Belén Dumont.