Meet the 2022 staff

After two years of working virtually, the Latino Reporter made a triumphant return to an in-person newsroom this year. Amid an ongoing global pandemic and the many challenges facing the news industry, our team of intrepid young journalists will bring you news from the 2022 NABJ/NAHJ Convention and Career Fair in Las Vegas.

Meet our student journalists

Karina Bazarte (she/her/ella) aims to be a voice for communities of color nationwide. As a daughter of immigrants, a first-generation college student and a self-proclaimed Chicana, she understands the importance of uplifting stories from and for communities that are often overlooked. Bazarte has wanted to become a journalist since she was a child, and looked up to Latina role models like and María Elena Salinas, who transcended cultural, linguistic barriers and proved that she could one day do the same. Like any good Chicana, Bazarte also idolized Selena Quintanilla. Bazarte started her own career journey at San Diego Mesa College — then, at 22, she became a young mother and created her first podcast, “Through My Glasses,” a wide-ranging pop-culture and lifestyle podcast. She fell in love with radio, podcast and television news production. She has co-created a segment at KCR SDSU College radio called “Las Morritas,” founded SDSU’s first Spanish-language news program, and was president of her school’s NAHJ student chapter. During the 2020 racial justice marches in San Diego, Bazarte reported live to an audience using her Facebook account and become a trusted news source for her community. Bazarte graduated from San Diego State University in May 2022 and has gone on to work as a news intern at CBS 8, where she focuses on assignment editing and digital producing. Bazarte is a fan of investigative journalism and loves television series like “The Real Story with María Elena Salinas.” She lives by an “I can, and I will” mantra and wants to be an example for many, including her 5-year-old daughter Isabella, who she hopes to show that if you really want something — go for it. Follow her on Twitter @KBazarte.

Anna Guaracao 

Amanda DeJesus (she/her/ella) was inspired to pursue journalism by the media coverage surrounding Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico, where she still has family. During the atmospheric event, she realized how media outlets are able to help spread information in the midst of disaster to help people stay safe and get aid. DeJesus is a rising senior at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. She’s worked as a news writer, assistant news editor, news editor and podcast editor for The Setonian college newspaper. She led the paper’s coverage of a protest about the university’s response to sexual assault allegations during an open house. As assistant news director for the college radio station, 89.5 WSOU FM, she has hosted and edited the news podcast, traveled to cover stories and put together newscasts on air. She is also a former intern reporter for her hometown paper, the Staten Island Advance, where she covered social justice stories during the summer of 2021. In 2022, DeJesus was selected to be a White House Correspondent Association scholar through NAHJ, and afforded the opportunity to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and a press briefing with former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. In 2021 she received the NAHJ Rubén Salazar scholarship. In her spare time, DeJesus likes to listen to true crime podcasts and travel. She aims to complete a master’s degree and pursue a career in which she covers stories of social justice and politics. Follow her on Twitter at @itsamandaparis.

Claudia Rivera Cotto

Natalia Fernández-Sandoval (she/her/ella) produced a public service announcement for a coronavirus vaccination campaign competition during her senior year of high school and won. The win ignited a passion and urgency for sharing reliable information with her community and led Fernández-Sandoval to journalism. Fernández-Sandoval has discovered a passion for journalism that stems from a curiosity about people, where they come from and the society that surrounds them. She has focused her work on covering social issues that impact Hispanic communities in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her goal is to provide quality and well-sourced information to people so they have a better understanding of the world around them. She was raised in El Paso, Texas and attends college in Las Cruces — two communities enriched by their deep connection to the Latino community. Fernández-Sandoval hopes to have the opportunity of continuing to serve her community alongside other Latino journalists. For Fernández-Sandoval, being a journalist has made her more aware of the world around her. As a sophomore in college, her short-term goals include landing internships in broadcast journalism to demonstrate her skills in photography and video editing.

– Ivarelis López Martínez

Anna Guaracao (she/her/ella) wanted to become a journalist since she was a young girl. Coming from an immigrant family who moved to the U.S. from Colombia, she witnessed the struggles they went through as they transitioned to a new home. Anna drew inspiration from these struggles and decided she wanted to tell stories that were similar to her family’s. Although her passion for journalism was clear, Guaracao’s family worried that journalism would not provide a stable or lucrative career path. Guaracao earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and sociology from Villanova University in 2021. But public relations didn’t make Guaracao feel complete. She wanted to tell impactful stories about underserved communities. She decided to go back to school and was accepted into Boston University’s graduate journalism program, where she realized she was drawn to the role of news production. A mentor once told her “once you get bit by the news production bug you will never stop,” and that has proven true so far. Guaracao is an intern for CNN’s “The Row,” the network’s editorial gatekeeper and fact-checking unit. In her time as a research intern, she has learned the crucial elements of producing and how to hold powerful entities to account with the truth. Guaracao is excited to attend the 2022 convention. Follow her on Twitter @yosoyannaa

– Karina Bazarte

Nicholas Hernandez (he/him/él) is a print, broadcast, and audio entertainment journalist with a focus on the heavy Puerto Rican and Dominican communities in the Bronx, New York. Originally from Texas, he moved to New Jersey, and now achieving one of his dreams, pursuing a master’s in journalism with Arts and Culture concentration at Craig Newmark at South Bronx, New York. Hernandez aims to give a platform to people who feel voiceless and to talk about their business, events, fashion shows, art exhibits, and aid organizations. He is taking advantage of every minute of being in the Bronx, interning at Reasons to be Cheerful, an editorial solutions journalism magazine. He has worked on stories such as covering interventionist programs that go into communities during violent incidents and try to prevent violence instead of calling the cops. He feels as journalists we must cover balanced news that shows hope and triumph. He believes representation in news matters. “We must be on the front lines, educating inside and outside the newsroom on issues like entertainment, lack of diversity, and mental health.” Hernandez said. He plans to work at New York Magazines.

– Dayana Villanueva

Nayeli Jaramillo-Plata grew up having to translate her stories and experiences from English to Spanish, so that her parents, who are Spanish-speaking, would understand. As she got more into journalism, she realized doing work in both languages is how she wants to tell stories for a wider audience. Jaramillo-Plata is a first-generation student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jaramillo has interned for Gropbeat, where she wrote about text startups, business owners and CEOs. She has also written for her hometown newspaper, the Samson Independent, where she covered public health issues that affect the lives of Sampson County residents — from domestic violence rates to access to dental care. Jaramillo is the vice president of the NAHJ chapter at UNC, and has worked as a staffer at the independently run student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. Jaramillo likes to follow the money and focus on covering business stories and the ways that the economy and finances affect everyday life. She wants to make business-centered news accessible and digestible for all people, from various backgrounds. Follow her on Twitter at @njarap17.

– Tanya Velásquez

Ivarelis López-Martinez (she/her/ella) has tried her hand at nearly every kind of media there is: radio, writing, anchoring, digital film-making, documentary film-making and television production. A native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, López-Martinez decided to stay close to home to attend college at the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo. She takes great pride in her roots and frequently finds herself connecting her reporting with the place she calls home. To her, covering the news means serving her community by informing and educating the public. López-Martinez looks forward to seeing where her career takes her — whether across the island or another part of the world. During her third year at UPRA, López-Martinez spent her time writing for the school’s digital news magazine, Tinta Digital, and reporting for and producing their radio broadcast, Notas del Saco. During her second semester she unexpectedly inherited the president position of her school’s NAHJ chapter. While it was not something she saw herself doing, the opportunity allowed her to learn more and grow as a journalist and she cannot wait to take on her final year.

Natalia Fernandez Sandoval

Alexandra Mora Medina (she/her/ella) began her path to journalism at the dinner table, where her family would sit around during the holidays and discuss their lives in Mexico, as well as the trials and tribulations of emigrating to the United States. She wanted to tell their stories, and also the stories of immigrants and Latino communities that extend beyond the four walls of her family home. Mora initially began taking part in protests that raised awareness for social issues, but found that journalism served as a way to shed a brighter light on Latino experiences. She received her associate’s degree in journalism in 2019 from Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, Arizona. Mora then transferred to Arizona State University to continue studying journalism. Mora has reported on sustainability issues for Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, produced by students at the ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also covered voting and issues stemming from the 2020 Census for The West Valley View in 2020 as a freelancer. She also has served as president of ASU’s NAHJ Chapter. She graduated ASU this year and will pursue a master’s degree in bilingual journalism next fall. She hopes to work as an audio and podcasting reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexMoraMedina.

Heidi Perez-Moreno

Heidi Perez-Moreno (she/her/ella) has always loved to write. At a young age, she used it as an outlet to share her perspectives and thoughts on the world around her. It was only natural for her to jump into journalism after her senior year of high school. Originally born in Miami, Fla., transferred from her local community college — where she was editor in chief of the student newspaper — to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she works as an editor of the independentdent student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. During her junior year, she was a reporting fellow at the Texas Tribune covering a range of topics including the Texas abortion ban, immigration and politics in sports. In summer 2022, she has worked at the LA Times En Español Espanol covering the vibrant Latino community in California. A first-generation student, Perez-Moreno said she has, at times, felt pressure to excel and live up to her family’s expectations. She has channeled that drive to succeed into her work, covering communities of color and pushing for greater Latinx representation in the newsroom. Perez-Moreno, of Cuban and Nicaraguan dissent, wants to shed light on issues she grew up around — but doesn’t often see represented in the press. She hopes to pursue a career in narrative writing or audio journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @heyperezmoreno.

– Alexandra Mora Medina

Claudia Rivera Cotto (she/her/ella) has moved around — a lot. She began her higher-education journey at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, where she majored in English and communications. But when the university was shuttered amid the onslaught of Hurricane Maria, Rivera Cotto transferred to Brown University, in Rhode Island. She returned to the University of Puerto Rico to finish out her degree before pursuing her masters at the University of Missouri, where she is studying investigative journalism and works as a teaching assistant for cross-cultural journalism and research assistant for the Watchdog Writers group. She is a member of the NAHJ Investigative and Data Task Force. Throughout Rivera Cotto’s undergraduate career, she served as a journalist, editor and co-news director at her college newspaper, Pulso Estudiantil. She founded the paper’s investigative vertical, which covered issues including the digital divide and sexual harassment allegations within her university. Follow her on Twitter at @claudiam_rivera.

– Amanda DeJesus

Tanya Velázquez was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She is of Mexican descent and is fluent in English and Spanish. She became interested in Journalism because she is passionate about keeping her community informed. Velázquez is a first generation undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin where she is majoring in Journalism . She is also majoring in Latin American Studies because she hopes to be a spanish-speaking TV news reporter and foreign correspondent in Latin America. At her university, Velázquez is Executive Producer of Texas Student Televisions’ Texas News Channel, Community Engagement Chair for Latinx Community Affairs, a Rapoport Service Scholar, a member of the school’s NAHJ chapter. Velazquez also has her own podcast on Spotify called, “E.T. Tapes and Takes LIVE,” where she reviews and gives modern takes on classic and horror movies. She has also been interning with Voces Oral History Center since fall semester of 2021, working to teach and preserve Latino history. Velazquez is excited to be a part of the NAHJ 2022 Student Projects and hopes to make many meaningful connections with other student journalists and professionals.

– Nayeli Jaramillo-Plata

Dayana Villanueva (she/her/ella) was raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and moved to El Paso, Texas, but ultimately found a place that felt like home in New Mexico, where she attends New Mexico State University. Villanueva completed her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in economics, during which time she worked as a podcaster, anchor and in social media management. She has typically produced journalism about social issues like asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border and protests opposing the overturning of the Roe v. Wade abortion rights. Villanueva has reported in English and Spanish for the student newspaper and TV station, and has learned to promptly produce creative stories on tight deadlines. Despite the initial challenges of adapting to the United States from the culture, language and education system, Villanueva genuinely believes it was the best decision she has ever made. Follow her on Twitter @DayanaViar.

– Nicholas Hernandez

Meet the mentors

Nicole Acevedo (she/her/ella) 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 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 MSNBCTelemundo 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. Follow her on Twitter at @Nicolemarie_A.

Rafael Carranza (he/him/él) is the co-director of the 2022 NAHJ Student Projects. He credits the start of his journalism career to NAHJ. He is an alum of the 2006 Student Campus, the 2009 Latino Reporter and was an NAHJ Scholar. He joined the Student Project mentor staff in 2021. Carranza works at The Arizona Republic and the USA Today Network, where he covers immigration and issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. He contributed to the 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning project “The Wall,” and earned a Rocky Mountain Emmy for his contributions. He previously worked as a correspondent covering the Pope and the Vatican in Rome, and before that as a television reporter in south Texas. When he’s not reporting, you are likely to find him out hiking the mountains and canyons of the desert Southwest. Follow him on Twitter at @RafaelCarranza.

Jason Gonzales (he/him/él) is the co-director of the 2022 NAHJ Student Project and an alumnus of the 2010 Latino Reporter class in Denver. He is a higher education and legislative matters reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado. Previously, he covered K-12 and higher education for The Tennessean and Brunswick County for the Wilmington Star News. He is a 2018 Education Writers Association Reporting Fellow and 2020 Institute for Citizens and Scholars Education Media Fellow. He is a Colorado native and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder. You can find him on Twitter @ByJasonGonzales.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez (he/him/él) has been visuals lead for the Latino Reporter for 13 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. Follow him on Twitter at @CAGisMe.

Marissa J. Lang (she/her/ella) is a 2009 Latino Reporter alumna and the editorial lead of NAHJ’s 2022 Student Project. She began mentoring in 2017, and spent two years as co-director as the Latino Reporter converged virtually to cover the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Lang is a reporter for the The Washington Post, where she writes about gentrification, housing and the changing face of American cities on the paper’s social issues team. She previously covered protests, social unrest and the rise of domestic extremism for The Post, culminating in her coverage of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, for which she was honored as part of The Post’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Lang moved to the nation’s capital in 2018 from the San Francisco Chronicle, where she covered the tech industry. She previously covered city government for the Sacramento Bee, criminal justice for the Salt Lake Tribune and all-things-Florida for the Tampa Bay Times. A native of New York City, Lang is a notorious pizza snob, a doting dog mom, avid yogi and unrepentant sinvergüenza. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán (he/him/él) joined the Latino Reporter staff as its lead audio editor in 2022. He is an NPR reporter who covers Texas politics and government for The Texas Newsroom. Prior to moving to Austin in 2022, Sergio worked for the nonprofit news outlet Bridge Michigan, where he reported extensively on the state’s inaugural redistricting commission, campaign finance and state government. He’s won multiple accolades, including a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for a piece he did on mariachi education while covering politics for Nashville Public Radio. Sergio is a proud native of Puerto Rico, NAHJ and a graduate of Michigan State University. Follow him on Twitter at @SergioMarBel.

Liliana Soto (she/her/ella) joined the Latino Reporter as its video editor in 2022. Soto is an assistant professor of practice at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, an assistant director for the school’s Bilingual Journalism Program and a freelance bilingual multimedia journalist. She has 10 years of experience in broadcast news in English and Spanish with a specialization in bilingual investigative journalism, immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border, Latino issues, marginalized communities, and Mexican-centric Latin Culture. This is her first year joining the Latino Reporter newsroom as a mentor. Follow her on Twitter at @LilianaSotoAZ.

Perla Trevizo (she/her/ella) joined the Latino Reporter as its investigative editor in 2022. She is a reporter for the ProPublica-Texas Tribune Investigative Initiative. Trevizo is a Mexican-American reporter born in Ciudad Juárez and raised across the border in El Paso, Texas, where she began her journalism career. Trevizo spent more than 10 years covering immigration and border issues in Tennessee and Arizona before joining the Houston Chronicle as an environmental reporter. She has written from nearly a dozen countries, from African refugee camps to remote Guatemalan villages, with the goal of broadening readers’ understanding of the global issues that impact the local communities where she has worked. This is her first year joining the Latino Reporter newsroom as a mentor. Follow her on Twitter @Perla_Trevizo.