Meet our Student Journalists
Through a raging pandemic and national unrest, the Latino Reporter’s staff of student journalists have come together — virtually — to bring you the news from around the country and in the digital halls of the 2020 National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists joint convention.
Get to know our team:
Julian Berger is a junior at the University of North Carolina studying journalism with a specialization in broadcast and a minor in Hispanic studies. Berger is proud to be Puerto Rican, and is passionate about reporting on Latinx and other communities of color. He’s eager to bring more media attention to issues affecting Puerto Rico, which will always have a special place in his heart. Berger first fell in love with broadcast journalism doing televised announcements in middle school, and now works as a part-time reporter at La Noticia, a Spanish-language outlet that covers his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. In that role, Berger recently covered the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Black Lives Matter protests and the still-raging coronavirus pandemic. Some of his favorite stories are part of a series he did on local businesses affected by the pandemic — including a staple Puerto Rican restaurant, where the owner is sure now to always greet him with a smile. Follow him on Twitter @julianrberger.
– By Carmen Molina Acosta
Kimberly Cruz decided to study sports journalism after graduating from high school in Covina, California. A first-generation college student from a Salvadoran family, Cruz recalls wondering as a child why no one looked like her on television broadcasts. After learning about the news media’s ongoing struggles with diversity, Cruz decided to combine journalism with a love of soccer to pursue a career in sports journalism at California State University, Fullerton. This year Cruz launched a podcast, The Daily Dose of Life, which focuses on positivity in the workplace. She hopes to bring new perspectives to the media industry, tell stories that matter and be a role model. Someday, when a child sees someone like her on a television broadcast, she hopes they, too, will inspired follow their dreams. When Cruz is not planning her next podcast installment or writing stories, she loses herself in extreme adventures. She loves skydiving and hiking, and she hopes to ride an air balloon soon. Follow her on Twitter @kcruznews.
– By Maria Ramos-Pacheco
Eddi Cabrera Blanco is a recent college graduate from Delaware State University who was born in Mexico and raised in North Carolina. He is a bilingual journalist pursuing a career in television news. Blanco identifies as a “Dreamer” — a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was created in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect undocumented students from deportation — and believes his immigration status has helped him to see the world from a unique point of view. He is an active NAHJ and NABJ member and a first-generation college graduate. Before earning a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a concentration in digital media from Delaware State, he completed six internships and is nearly done with his third fellowship. Follow him on Twitter @eddicblanco.
– By Diane Lopez
Eduardo Garcia is a junior at California State University, Northridge, where he studies broadcast and Spanish-language journalism. An aspiring bilingual political reporter, Garcia has helped cover several landmark court decisions, including a Supreme Court hearing over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and a lawsuit that alleges U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement violated the U.S. Constitution. Throughout college, Garcia has held various student leadership positions. Garcia hopes to amplify the voices of the Latino community through his work. Follow him on Twitter @eduardogarciatv.
– By Eddi Cabrera Blanco
Diane López Olea is a first-generation college graduate of San Diego State University. As a student, she was the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists SDSU chapter, and produced bilingual coverage for various campus publications. Raised by immigrant parents, Olea has seen how her parents have struggled to make a new life in a new place. She wants to capture the stories and experiences of immigrants and share the truth about the issues facing her community. A truly multimedia journalist, Olea can foresee a future in online, print or broadcast journalism. Follow her on Twitter @DianeLopezOlea.
– By Eduardo Garcia
Carmen Molina Acosta discovered her passion for writing in an unexpected place: Translating and editing documents for her parents when she was still in elementary school. Fast forward more than a decade, she is now a junior at the University of Maryland majoring in journalism with a minor in international development and conflict management. Born in Colombia, Molina Acosta was only two months old when her family migrated to the United States. In high school, she discovered her love for journalism while working for her student newspaper — eventually ascending the ranks to become its editor in chief. When she’s not writing, Molina Acosta likes to bake and read. Her dream is to someday work as an investigative journalist focused on holding politicians accountable. Follow her on Twitter @CarmenMolina_A.
– By Julian Berger
Adriana Morga is a senior at San Francisco State University studying photojournalism, though she also has experience in print and radio. Morga, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, has spent her burgeoning career covering the Latino community in English and Spanish-language publications, including Al Día, the Spanish language sister publication of the Dallas Morning News, and KQED, an NPR member station in San Francisco. When she’s not reporting, writing or translating, Morga can be found cross-stitching or sewing while drinking tea. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaMorgaO.
– By April Rubin
Maria Ramos-Pacheco is a bilingual reporter who specializes in print journalism. She is a proud first-generation college student from Chihuahua, Mexico, where her passion for journalism was born. She came to the United States when she was 18 years old through an exchange program. After two years in the U.S., a stint at a community college in New Jersey and several years majoring in journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso, Ramos-Pacheco will return this fall as the editor-in-chief of UTEP’s magazine, Minero. But her journalism — like her heart — is never far from home. She has written for Newsweek Mexico and covers the U.S.-Mexico border for Antena FM, a radio station in Chihuahua. A passionate and eager travler, Ramos-Pacheco has begun crossing countries off her bucket list. One day, she hopes to visit Thailand. Follow her on Twitter @Lupsramoss.
– By Kimberly Cruz
April Rubin is a junior at the University of Florida who recently finished a summer internship at her hometown newspaper: the Miami Herald. Rubin, who is studying Latin American studies and anthropology in addition to journalism, hopes to focus her journalism career on topics like education and politics. She is particularly interested in how news events impact communities. Rubin has written and edited for The Independent Florida Alligator, her university’s student newspaper. When she’s not working, Rubin delights in eating Argentinian empanadas and drinking her coffee black. Follow her on Twitter @AprilMRubin.
– By Adriana Morga
Meet the Mentors
Nicole Acevedo joined the Latino Reporter newsroom in 2020 as its Spanish-language news editor. She is a reporter at NBC News Digital where she produces enterprise stories for NBC Latino and breaking news for NBCNews.com. From Puerto Rico’s reconstruction process after Hurricane Maria and the island’s financial crisis to politics, pop culture and the coronavirus pandemic, Acevedo’s reporting focuses on issues impacting Latino communities in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. In the past, Acevedo has published stories for MSNBC, Telemundo 47 and NPR’s Latino USA. Before joining NBC, she was part of the inaugural cohort of students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s first Spanish-language bilingual journalism program. In 2016, she was one of 20 fellows selected to join the Knight Diversity Internship Program at CUNY where she completed an internship with Starfish Media Group, a production and distribution company founded by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Acevedo left la isla nearly eight years ago to attend the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez has been visuals lead for the Latino Reporter for 12 years, occasionally filling in as director. He is an award-winning photo and multimedia journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle. He began his career in newspapers at the ripe age of 10, at his hometown paper, The Martinez News Gazette, where they were silly enough to give him a key to the building. His love of journalism developed there, choosing it as a career. In his 23 years at the Chronicle, he’s covered national and international assignments. Most notably he’s covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and worked extensively in Latin America, covering elections, natural disasters, economic policy, and immigration — even crossing through desert in Northern Mexico with immigrants through smugglers’ camps. Other notable work includes short documentaries on a doctor providing care in the Ngorngoro Crater of Tanzania, and on a group working to eliminate child slavery in Nepal. A San Francisco Bay Area native, he spends his off time rebuilding a craftsman home he bought 12 years ago, designing and building things by hand, and putting previous skills as a sous chef to good use.
Evelio Contreras joined the Latino Reporter staff in 2020 as its video editor. Contreras is a producer, shooter and editor for CNN Digital in New York. He is part of a three-person climate change team on which he covers the coronavirus and its impact on at-risk communities. His work on undocumented workers in the Midwest was recognized with a 2019 Peabody award. Evelio has spent time with families coping with PTSD, mental illness and life after a traumatic event. His interest in stories about people living with trauma stems from covering the Virginia Tech shootings as a reporter for The Roanoke Times. He has worked at the Las Vegas Sun and The Washington Post. Evelio is a border town kid at heart, and the son of migrant workers. He sees his journeys across the U.S. as continuing the same story that they began to build a better life for folks that he meets along the way who he considers like family.
Carolina Hidalgo joined the Latino Reporter in 2020 as its multimedia editor. Hidalgo is a radio producer at WNYC’s Radio Rookies, where she works with teens and young adults to tell personal stories about their lives and communities. She previously covered justice reform, immigration and inequality as St. Louis Public Radio’s senior photojournalist and digital reporter. In 2019, she reported on a campaign to shut down a notorious St. Louis jail for 70 Million’s Peabody Award-nominated second season. She also traveled to the United States-Mexico border as a reporting fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation. In 2018, she was named one of The Lit List’s “30 photographers to watch.” Carolina is a proud Colombian-American and native New Yorker.
Marissa J. Lang, a 2009 Latino Reporter alumna and NAHJ baby, is the co-director of National Association of Hispanic Journalists 2020 Student Project. She has served as a mentor and investigations editor for the Latino Reporter for the last four years. In her daily life, Lang is an award-winning reporter who chases protests, activism and hard-to-find local stories for The Washington Post. She has previously covered the tech industry for the San Francisco Chronicle, city government for the Sacramento Bee, criminal justice at the Salt Lake Tribune and all-things-Florida news at the Tampa Bay Times. Lang teaches intermediate journalism courses as an adjunct at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. A New York City native, Lang is a pizza snob who has yet to find an acceptable substitute in Washington, DC. She is a doting dog mom, avid yogi and unrepentant sinvergüenza.
Ana Ley has been a Latino Reporter mentor for the past seven years and is serving as co-director for its 2020 edition. She was a student journalist on the NAHJ Student Project in 2007 (San Jose) and 2008 (Chicago). She’s a local government reporter at The Virginian-Pilot and before that she worked at newspapers in Las Vegas, San Antonio and her hometown of McAllen on the Texas-Mexico border. Besides accountability journalism, she loves Beyoncé, Chihuahua dogs and avocado anything, in that order.