By Pauly Denetclaw:
It’s amazing how the energy from two people can transcend across hundreds of miles and through a computer screen. I absolutely loved meeting John Garcia and Jazmin Chavez from Latino Justice. For the past 40 years, Latino Justice has used the judicial system to gain equity for Latinos across the country. Jazmin and John were so down-to-earth and full of energy.
I have recently felt an overwhelming fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it as a journalist. After I graduate I’ll be applying for jobs with a cohort of other graduates from prestigious journalism programs. How could I, a student in the UNM Communication and Journalism Department, compete with these other journalists? It seemed impossible…
Due to these feelings of inadequacy I started to distance myself from the craft I love, writing. It became more of a hassle—my writing wasn’t sparked by inspiration or passion. It was empty words typed on a page trying desperately to mimic these feelings. My professors have each told me that news outlets aren’t hiring. I think they use this to motivate their students, but in reality it’s really discouraging. I always think I’m the last person someone would hire.
Then I met John, who gave me peace of mind when he said, “if you’re a good writer you’ll always have a job.” He went from being an actor to a journalist and he’s been very successful at it. He’s worked at the Miami Herald, taught at NYU, was a vice president at NBC, and is now the Director for Communications at Latino Justice. John is an example of how far writing can take you. Now I walk into the future confident in my abilities and myself.
John also gave me back my spark. He reminded me how much I love writing and being a storyteller. He talked about how much he loved writing and how powerful writing can be. Then Jazmin, Latino Justice’s Communications Coordinator, cemented that when she talked about the importance of telling our stories and creating those narratives. It is really important for people of color to write down our own stories and the stories of our communities. We’re the only ones who can tell those stories authentically.
Jazmin also changed my perspective when she told me that my story is important and should be told. Before I didn’t believe I had a story worth telling and I felt so empowered when she told me the opposite. Now I’m excited to continue writing down my own experiences and reflections. I still remember getting off the video call and thinking, “where’s my pen? I need to start writing.” It was really awesome to have that feeling again and to have my spark. In a short amount of time they filled me with pride and happiness.
I’m happy to say I have two new role models now. Thank you John and Jazmin for giving me back my excitement and drive to write! Ahéhee’