Meet the 2019 staff

Breybinda Zurisaday Alvarez

Breybinda Zurisaday Alvarez is a second-year graduate student at the University of Arkansas, studying journalism. Breybinda has interned for a Spanish-language newspaper, La Prensa Libre in Springdale, Arkansas and was a member of the Television Academy Foundation for Fox 11 in Los Angeles, California. Originally, Breybinda studied broadcast journalism at U of A, but her passion has grown for digital journalism. Breybinda decided to pursue her masters with the goal in mind of one day teaching the next generation of storytellers.

As a student, Breybinda has received scholarships to pay for school, recommendation letters and guidance from journalism professors at her university. Because she has received a lot of support in her journey as a journalism student, Breybinda’s goal is to pay it forward to the next generation. While Breybinda is not hard at work, in her downtime she takes care of her newly adopted puppy. Luna is a 5-month-old Morkie — a Yorkie and Maltese mixed-breed — that loves to play with cats. -Abigail Arredondo

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has always been inspired by her mother’s perseverance. Although her family struggled financially, Romero’s mother always pulled through. After having her first daughter in Colombia, her mother moved to Miami to seek a better life for the two of them.

So Romero has always made the best of the opportunities her mother gave her by pursuing a career she’s truly passionate about.

Romero is now living in Washington, D.C., where she is a junior majoring in Communications Law, Economics and Government and minoring in journalism at American University. She writes for the university’s student publication, The Eagle, where she covers the student government beat. Last year, Romero started the NAHJ chapter at American University and is currently its president.

After the Excellence in Journalism convention, Romero will return to D.C. and start her internship with ABC, which will be the first network that broadcasts in English. She has previously interned at Telemundo and CNN en Español.

In her free time, Romero likes to go to modern art museums and scout around D.C. for small restaurants that serve authentic Hispanic food. She says they’re tough to find.

Over the summer, while she interned for College Promise Campaign, a local shelter convinced Romero to foster two kittens. Although she didn’t plan to adopt, Romero was unable to let go of one of them. Bermuda, a gray, spotted cat, is currently waiting for her to return home. -Valeria Olivares

Patsy Montesinos

Patsy Montesinos was born in North Carolina and moved to Mexico at the age of 10. Then she returned north – this time alone and 15 years old in bustling Chicago. 

Today, she is back in North Carolina attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Montesinos wants to start an NAHJ student chapter at her college to bring together the few Latinos in her predominantly white journalism program. 

During her time in college, she has taken every opportunity that has come her way. After being a producer for the school’s Spanish and English newscast, producing a radio show, and reporting for the school’s sportscast, Patsy decided to take her education global. 

Focusing in Venezuela, she worked in Colombia to produce stories about Afro-Venezuelans and the political crisis they face. Her coverage there is a finalist for an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Patsy values the importance of telling her community’s stories. Her dream is to become a Spanish-language reporter for either Telemundo or Univision. -Vania Patino 

Vania Patino

Vania Patino is the definition of a go-getter. She aims to create a path not only for her own success but for the collective growth of her community.

Patino leads the NAHJ student chapter at her college, California State University, Fullerton. Her goal as president has been to make the chapter a primary resource for the development of other Latinx journalists.

Along with managing the club, producing the school’s Spanish language newscast, and producing the sit-down talk show, she has finished several internships. From a fellowship with Univision and Fusion where she focused on the street vendors in Los Angeles, to an internship that turned into a job at NBC Universal Telemundo, Patino has made the most out of all her opportunities.

Family is a huge reason for her drive. As the oldest of two, she knows it is up to her to show not just her siblings, but her entire community that there is a way out.

Her dream is to be a broadcast reporter focusing on politics. Patino would love to one day be a White House correspondent representing the Latinx community.  -Patsy Montesinos

Jackeline Lizama

Jackeline Lizama is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she majored in media and journalism, focusing on photo and video. After studying biology for several years, she still finds herself drawn to nature and wildlife and her goal is to one day work for the National Geographic or a similar publication.

She loves to be behind a camera gathering content for stories through a visual perspective. 

She was raised in nearby Sanford, North Carolina, the daughter of parents from El Salvador, and maintains strong ties to her home country. This past summer she traveled to El Salvador after a decade to connect with her roots and heritage while visiting family. 

Now at the NAHJ Student Project, she looks forward to honing in on new skills that will help her broaden her experience in journalism. 

During her free time she loves to go out with friends and dance to Latin music. If she is not on the dance floor you can find her trying new foods somewhere or watching Netflix documentaries.  -Cheyenne Darcy Amaya

Valeria Olivares 

Born in El Paso, Texas, Valeria Olivares grew up with a tenacious journalist who inspired her to become a storyteller. Valeria’s father, a radio journalist in Mexico, would always ask the tough questions when others wouldn’t. Hearing stories about her father meeting with politicians, motivated Valeria to step out of her comfort zone and conquer her fears. 

Valeria is currently a junior studying multimedia journalism and is the editor-in-chief of The Prospector, UTEP’s student publication. Olivares recently interned at the San Antonio Express where she covered crime. From visiting the border to being on the frontlines of crime, Valeria spent her summer doing what she loves most and following in her father’s footsteps. Valeria hopes to report on immigration, internet culture and breaking news. 

During her free time, Olivares enjoys eating out with friends, exploring new social media apps and watching Netflix. Having backpacked alone last year in Europe, Valeria loves experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. Next on her list: Asia.  -Laura Romero

Cheyenne Darcy Amaya

Cheyenne Darcy Amaya was born and raised in Yonkers, New York. She was inspired at a very young age to pursue journalism after watching Puerto Rican reporter, Lisa Reyes, on News 12. After high school, she majored in communications at Syracuse University and eventually graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors of Science. 

She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Boston University and interning as a Production Assistant for The Rachel Maddow Show. She hopes to one day work for NBC and eventually have her own late-night talk show. 

“It’s important to not forget our communities and have their stories heard in settings where they are often left out of the conversation,” Darcy Amaya said. 

In her spare time, she enjoys some alone time watching movies and planning trips to visit friends. During the EIJ Conference, she hopes to develop connections and gain support from colleagues who are also in the journalism field. -Jackeline Lizama

Abigail Rae Arredondo

Abigail Rae Arredondo is completing her undergraduate degree at The University of Texas at Austin and will be graduating in December with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. She is part of the UT Austin student-run television news station, TSTV News, contributing to their talent and production team.

Her professional experience includes a summer internship with KVUE News working on digital web content. Currently she interns with KXAN Studio 512.

Although she was born and raised in San Antonio, she hopes to improve her Spanish skills to connect with her Latina roots and community. After four semesters of Spanish classes, she is looking to spend more time with Spanish speakers to use the language.

When she’s not writing, creating content or working on school assignments, you can find her catching the latest movie, or with her 6-year-old yellow lab named Bruno. -Breybinda Zurisaday Alvarez

Karina Elwood

Karina Elwood learned the importance of hard work from her mother, who moved to the United States from Puerto Rico when she was only 15. When she worked as an intern at the newsroom of Orlando Sentinel, Elwood wrote her best stories under the rush of adrenaline focusing on crucial issues that affect the day to day of the community. 

She believes in using the stories of ordinary people to reflect and examine the issues that affect their communities. She also wants to use her Puerto Rican heritage as a way of bringing understanding and empowerment to Latino communities.

Elwood has reported about security and justice from her hometown of Melbourne, Florida, which gave her confidence to become the editor of The Independent Florida Alligator. She is studying at the College of Journalism and Communications in Gainesville.  

Elwood loves to eat pizza and sandwiches. She is confident that someday she will work as a journalist and make her family proud. -Luis Joel Méndez González 

Stefania Lugli

Stefania Lugli’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela. She was born in Miami, Florida and is a journalism student at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where she is also the school’s NAHJ chapter president.

Lugli is currently an intern for the Groundtruth Project, a nonprofit independent news organization that supports local journalism.

She is most passionate about human rights journalism and promoting community healing through reporting and hopes to continue doing similar work once she graduates in May 2020. When Stefania isn’t reporting, studying or interning, she loves taking care of her plants and spending time in nature. –Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez

Luis Joel Mendez-Gonzalez

Luis Joel Mendez-Gonzalez loves hyperlocal news. A junior studying tele-radial with a minor in news at the University of Puerto Rico, Mendez-Gonzalez is a Spanish-Language journalist dedicated to giving voice to underserved communities.

Most recently he started working with the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo reporting in Puerto Rico, as well as working at WLRP 1460, a local radio station. One of his favorite stories he’s worked on was about the use of Adderall on his college campus.

From Moca, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez found his love for journalism as an outlet for truth. He said growing up in a rural community motivated him to use his power to give voices to communities like his own. He loves hyperlocal news because it’s an opportunity to tell stories that may otherwise not be heard and has a direct impact on people’s lives.

Along with journalism, he enjoys reading non-fiction and romance novels, staying caffeinated with a coffee addiction, and following beauty pageants. After college he wants to pursue a career in spanish-language narrative journalism to continue giving voice to underserved communities. But one day, when he’s finally struck with inspiration, he hopes to write a book of his own. -Karina Elwood

Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez

Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez is a Nevada native. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Already, Jazmin boasts colorful and extensive journalistic experience. Her highlights include working for Noticiero Movil, a student-run multimedia news organization, completing a fellowship with NPR NextGen Radio, where she produced a radio feature about a local paramedic, and interning as a bilingual reporter for KNUR, an NPR affiliate. Currently, Jazmin freelances for the Nevada Independent.

She aspires to work for Latino USA or Radio Ambulante or to create documentaries on fairness and equality within Latino communities. She is a first-generation American. Her parents are from Mexico. -Stefania Lugli