Making Their Mark
The Next Generation of Watchdogs
In the fall, The Reporter was named the top state college student newspaper for the fifth straight year, capturing 12 first-place awards at the Florida College System Publications Association (FCSPA) banquet in Orlando. The novice journalists who produce The Reporter quickly learn the ropes, with many ascending to top jobs around the country, as the following stories illustrate.
Bringing Her Storytelling Passion Right Back Home
MDC graduate Monique O. Madan’s mission is clear: to spread the news and speak for those who don’t have a voice.
Madan, 24, gets to do that daily for the Miami Herald on her municipal government beat.
Before becoming a full-time writer for the Herald, she had interned there since age 16, overcoming a low-income family background to pave the academic path to her own bright future.
Madan, who attended MDC’s Honors College at North Campus, soon became the first editor-in-chief of the student newspaper The Reporter, which merged earlier campus papers to create one collegewide source of news.
As a freshman at MDC, Madan participated in The New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Tucson, Arizona. During the two-week program, her team created their own newspaper.
“I got to cover the Supreme Court,” Madan said. “Being coached by staff from The New York Times was a big deal.”
After graduating from MDC, Madan got a debt-free education at Boston’s Emerson College by earning a pair of scholarships – Next Step and the coveted Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which covers the full cost of tuition up to $40,000 annually.
While at Emerson, she got her first full-time job covering breaking news and the courts for The Boston Herald. That led to an internship at The Dallas Morning News, a job at The Boston Globe, an internship at The New York Times and a return home to the Miami Herald in 2014.
Through it all, she has been grateful to MDC.
“That’s where I learned never to underestimate anyone’s story and to do things with passion,” she said. “If your heart is not in it, then you might as well not do it all.”
Gypsy Spirit Led Her to Lubbock
At age 23, MDC graduate Melissa Adan is already a reporter and weekend anchor at KLBK, a CBS affiliate based in Lubbock, Texas.
“I have a gypsy soul,” said Adan, who shoots, writes and edits most of her stories and also serves as a producer on the weekends.
Her desire to see the world recently took her to Juárez, Mexico, where she covered the appearance of Pope Francis.
“With this job, I can go anywhere and learn about other cultures. I’m so fortunate – I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Just as any other career is unimaginable, starting her college career anywhere but at MDC simply made no sense. After all, her father, mother and sister all graduated from MDC.
Adan’s passion for journalism began when she read the morning news aloud for her classmates at Miami’s John A. Ferguson Senior High School. From there, she attended the Honors College at MDC’s Kendall Campus and earned a Phi Beta Kappa scholarship to attend Boston University. She also raked in top honors, including first place for sports writing while working at MDC’s award-winning student newspaper, The Reporter.
Adan is grateful to MDC for preparing her for her career and assisting her in earning the scholarship to Boston.
“I may not have been ready to go from high school straight to Boston University,” she said. “But at MDC, I gained confidence, knowledge and the means to further my education.”
A Quick Leap to D.C.
Lazaro Gamio was in line for financial aid at MDC’s Wolfson Campus when he saw a poster for The Reporter.
Before that moment, he had been interested in studying industrial design. But when he saw the poster design, his first thought was: “I can do better,” and so he approached newspaper advisor Manolo Barco.
Pretty soon, Gamio was helping out with The Reporter, which led to a freelance job at the Miami Herald and the launch of his career.
Today, Gamio, 25, is a graphics assignment editor at The Washington Post, but he hasn’t forgotten what MDC did for him.
“I got hands-on experience at The Reporter, and that’s 98 percent of the reason why I am where I am today,” he said. “The Reporter is like a little laboratory for those who work on it. Some students would just write a couple of stories and that’s it. But I think I spent more time at the paper than I did in class or doing homework.”
All that hard work paid off as Gamio earned a bachelor’s degree in electronic media at New World School of the Arts (NWSA), located at MDC’s Wolfson Campus. NWSA is a shining example of the exceptional collaboration of Miami Dade College, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the University of Florida.
From there, Gamio got internships at National Geographic and The Seattle Times before landing a full-time job at the Miami Herald, where he was part of an investigative team that produced the award-winning “Innocence Lost” series about the child welfare system in Florida. For that project, he did design work and graphics, and also helped build a database.
Soon, The Washington Post took notice of his talent and hired him away from the Herald in July of 2014.
Gamio, a native of Cuba who moved to Miami when he was seven, said he’s grateful for the mentorship of Barco.
“He genuinely wants the best for everyone who works at The Reporter,” Gamio said. “If you look at his track record, you will see his former students doing great things all around the country. He takes a personal interest in all of us.”
Marveled by Merves
Sergio Candido, a full-time reporter and producer at El Nuevo Herald, credits Miami Dade College for helping launch his journalism career.
Candido, 27, said he wasn’t “getting the types of scholarships” at four-year universities that he had hoped for when he was at Miami’s Krop High School.
“Miami Dade College gave me a chance,” said Candido, who now covers breaking news at El Nuevo Herald. “MDC laid the foundation for me through my classes and also my work at The Reporter.”
After earning an associate degree at MDC with a focus in communications, he went on to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism.
A native of Buenos Aires, Candido came to Miami when he was 12 years old.
“That was just after the economic meltdown in Argentina,” he said. Knowing a bit of English when he arrived here, he quickly assimilated.
At MDC, he learned a lot from North Campus professor David Merves, who has since retired.
“He taught me the importance of getting names and facts right,” Candido said. “He showed me that the things you write impact a lot of people, and you need to make sure you are correct.”
On Top of the News
The tradition of great journalism at Miami Dade College extends far beyond the young alumni featured in the stories here. It started back in 1961, with the launch of The Falcon Times, which served students at North Campus. In 1966, The Catalyst was created for those at Kendall Campus. The Downtowner at Wolfson Campus began in 1970, later to be renamed The Metropolis in 1984.
To more effectively distribute the news collegewide, these campus papers were merged with the launch of The Reporter on Oct. 4, 2010.
Throughout these decades of excellence, MDC’s student newspapers have trained leaders who excel in all aspects of the business today, from broadcast news anchors and print editors to online media producers, and every job in between.
Just a few of the many notable MDC alumni in the field include:
Liz Balmaseda, Pulitzer Prize winner, The Palm Beach Post
Alex de Armas, reporter, WSVN-TV Channel 7
Jay Ducassi, metro editor, Miami Herald
Antonio Fins, business editor, The Palm Beach Post
Manuel R. “Manny” García, editor, Naples Daily News
Nadege Green, reporter, WLRN-Miami Herald News
Myriam Márquez, executive editor, El Nuevo Herald
Belkys Nerey, anchor, WSVN-TV Channel 7
Mirta Ojito, Pulitzer Prize winner, professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Gloria Ordaz, anchor, Univision’s Noticias 23
Sandra Peebles, reporter, WLTV-Univision 23
Eliott Rodríguez, news anchor, WFOR-CBS4
Marybel Rodríguez, anchor/reporter, CBS4
Teresa Rodríguez, anchor, Univisión’s Aquí y ahora
Steve Rothaus, community news editor, Miami Herald
Nancy San Martin, interactive editor, Miami Herald
Tony Segreto, consultant and former anchor of WTVJ-NBC 6
Helga Silva, news vice president, WSCV-TV Telemundo 51
Ana Veciana-Suárez, columnist, Miami Herald
Alexandra Villoch, president and publisher, The Miami Herald Media Company
Peter Webley, publisher, Caribbean Today
Dave Wilson, senior editor, Miami Herald