For 35 years, NAHJ has supported Latino journalists. Some of its earliest members are still coming back year after year.

NAHJ lifetime member Ricardo Sandoval-Palos joined the year after the organization was created. (Abigail Rae Arredondo/The Latino Reporter)

When Ricardo Sandoval-Palos first joined NAHJ in 1985, he didn’t know how far he or the fledgling organization would go.

Sandoval-Palos is a longtime attendee of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists who participated in his first conference in 1985. It was in Tucson, Arizona. The organization was only a year old. Sandoval-Palos was 27 and just five years into his professional career as a journalist.

Sandoval-Palos grew up in San Diego, California, but originally was born in Mexico. He immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 8. As he grew up, he believed a college education wasn’t in the cards for himself or his siblings.

But Sandoval-Palos’ mother, who had a second grade education, saw the importance of schooling for her children and she moved her family to the U.S.

“I wasn’t even supposed to go to college, but I did. I paid for it myself,” Sandoval-Palos said. “Thank God for the state university system in California, where it was affordable back then.”

Sandoval-Palos began his career as a sports writer for his local paper in National City, California. After graduation, his first job was  for a radio station in Eureka, California, writing radio scripts.

NAHJ helped expand Sandoval-Palos’s career by introducing him to established professionals, who eventually became his mentors.

He credits meeting many great mentors — such as Charlie Erickson — who helped him in his career.

Sandoval-Palos received guidance from Erickson about grammar, career opportunities and even encouraging him to stay in journalism.

“They’re the ones who perhaps saw a little something in me,” Sandoval-Palos said.

Thirty-four years after first joining NAHJ, Sandoval-Palos’ career has flourished — and the organization has become the backbone of the Latino journalism world, providing mentorship, access to opportunities and training to countless young journalists who were all once just like him.

Abigail Rae Arredondo is a 2019 NAHJ Student Project participant. She is a student at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is studying broadcast journalism. She has worked for the student-run television news station, TSTV News, and has interned with KVUE News and KXAN Studio 512. Reach her at and on Twitter at @abigailrae04.

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