Gladi Suero, a senior at the University of Connecticut (UConn) who is double majoring in Journalism and Communications and double minoring in Latino Studies and Diversity Studies in American Culture, is the winner of the Hortencia Zavala Scholarship.
Suero is the first in their family to attend college and has a 4.0 GPA. Suero is interested in the intersection of journalism and social justice and is currently interning at St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, the largest homeless shelter in Connecticut, wrote the New England Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), in a release.
“Latinx people have been shut out of the media for far too long. We need to have a voice in news writing and newsgathering in order for readers, Latinx or not, to get the full picture,” Suero wrote as part of the winning application. “This goes so much deeper than needing to meet diversity and inclusion expectations. This is about whose voice is telling the story and the Latinx voice is a strong, colorful, multifaceted one that needs to be heard.”
Suero, who uses they/them pronouns, is the tenth Latinx student to receive a Hortencia Zavala Scholarship. The fund was created in 2016 by Hugo Balta, twice president of the NAHJ, and owner/publisher of the Latino News Network as a way to help to strive for Latinx students while honoring the legacy of his abuelita, Hortencia Zavala.
“It is crucial that the next generation of diverse journalists get the education and mentoring necessary to produce authentic narratives about the challenges and opportunities of the emerging majority,” Balta said. “The lack of Hispanic/Latino representation in newsrooms often produces one dimensional, biased storytelling shaping the general public’s perception of a dynamic community.”
This year’s scholarship was facilitated and judged by three members of the New England Chapter of NAHJ: Mónica Hernández, an anchor for WMUR TV in New Hampshire; Steph Solís, the digital editor of the Boston Business Journal and the Providence Business Journal; and Kevin G. Andrade, a freelance journalist based in Rhode Island who specializes in issues related to immigrant communities.
“I was blown away by the depth and talent this year’s applicants demonstrated,” Solís said. “If this pool of applicants has taught me anything, it’s that the next generation of Latinx journalists not only wants to carve a space in newsrooms that have historically been majority-white but is also ready to interrogate and change how news outlets cover historically underrepresented communities.”
Suero joins Zulymar Droz Guerrero as this year’s recipient of the scholarship.
This year, the Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF), a not-for-profit organization expanded its support of young journalists to include a journalism camp.
Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling, led by Balta, was a free 12-week course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.
“Every conversation was insightful and provided different perspectives,” said Daniela Sandoval, an aspiring journalist from Southern California. “I always looked forward to our meetings and lectures, and I always left every meeting feeling inspired and energized.”
The curriculum included getting one-on-one mentoring and hands-on experience in producing stories from concept to execution focused on social justice, determinants of health, and community empowerment.
Guest speakers also shared insights on networking with a purpose, strategies in managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.