Monthly Newsletter

Stories That Make Our Members Proud

By Adriana Heldiz, committee member 

As a new year begins, we often feel the pressure to do better than before. We’re told to set goals, cut back on bad habits or push ourselves to work harder. While it is always great to strive for better, the pressure of “improving” ourselves makes us forget what we’ve accomplished.

For our first newsletter of 2022, we want to take a moment to highlight the work of our members this past year. Take a minute and pat yourselves in the back. We are so proud of you!

Chapter Member: Suzy Garcia

Project:  National Conflict Resolution Center

Why they liked it: I’m very proud of the work conducted on behalf of our Scatena Daniels’ clients in 2021. One highlight is the national media relations campaign on behalf of National Conflict Resolution Center, where our team garnered placements in USA Today, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle.

Chapter Member: Cesar Hernandez

Article: Janelly Farias: Mexican soccer’s most outspoken and fearless player

Why they liked it: I’m hoping to have a longer and more in-depth article on her one day, but I thoroughly enjoyed working on this piece regarding Janelly Farias. She’s a genuine inspiration and someone who frequently utilizes her platform in the soccer world as a vehicle for social change.”

Chapter Member: Elena Gomez

Article: Distinctively Highland Valley: Winemakers

Why they liked it: “One of my favorite stories this past year was writing an article for CampestreMag about the wine region of Highland Valley in San Diego County. I was able to interview several winemakers in the region who are looking to differentiate themselves from other wine regions in the area by applying to become an American Viticulture Area. The story not only allowed me to learn more about our local winemakers but it also earned me a San Diego Press Club Award this year.”

Chapter Member: David Hernandez

Article: She tried to cross the border twice. Border Patrol expelled her. On a third try, she died off Point Loma.

Why they liked it: “I reported on this story from the beginning, when a boat packed with migrants crashed off Point Loma. For this follow-up story, I traveled to Mexico with two colleagues, Wendy Fry and Alejandro Tamayo, to tell the story of one woman who drowned when the boat crashed. Her story represents the stories of so many other migrants whose lives often end tragically in pursuit of a better life. I was proud my colleagues and I were able to humanize the often-tragic issue of immigration with this story.”

Chapter Member: Luis Cruz

Project: Nuestra Voz Today

Why they liked it: “One of the projects that I’m especially proud to have helped launch is Nuestra Voz Today. This half-hour bilingual show airs on Spectrum News 1 in San Diego and Los Angeles and highlights the reporting of The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune en Español and L.A. Times en Español. I have a blast working on the show with U-T Community Relations Manager Paola Hernandez-Jiao and Lead Video Journalist Alejandro Tamayo.”

Chapter Member: Samantha Rivera

Story: A day in the life of San Diego Loyal goalie Austin Guerrero

Why they liked it: Looking back on the day I shot this, I remember a long, fun, exhausting day of MMJing that was more than worth it when I saw the final product. Getting the kind of access I had that day allowed me the privilege of gaining the trust of the players and coaching staff – something I don’t take lightly. The editing process was such a joy and these are easily one of my favorite types of stories to showcase.”

Chapter Member: Roxana Beceriril

Article: 12 Women San Diego Needs to Know

Why they liked it: “I’m especially proud of the profile I did on Mayor Mary Casillas Salas because I find it truly inspiring to be able to interview successful and community-oriented Latino women. This was my first profile on a local politician so it will always hold a special place for me.”

Chapter Member: Andrea Lopez-Villafaña 

Article: ‘Vestirse de charro, es vestirse de México:’ San Diego’s charros preserve Mexico’s cowboy past 

Why they liked it: “My story on San Diego’s charro community was my favorite of 2021. It allowed me to introduce the beautiful tradition to readers and provided me an opportunity to get in touch with my culture. I was born in Jalisco, Mexico, where the sport is huge, but because I moved to the U.S. as a little girl, I never fully understood it’s importance among Latinos. I spent several days documenting what the sport meant to the charros in San Ysidro and traveled with photojournalist Ariana Drehsler to watch the team compete in Los Angeles. I learned that charreria truly captures Mexico’s spirit and heart. The story was picked up by The Los Angeles Times and KPBS, and I joined the LA Times Today show to talk about our local charros.” 

Chapter Member: Lyanne Alfaro

Project: Journey to Building Wealth Juntos: SUMA Wealth Co-Founder & CEO Beatriz Acevedo 

Why they liked it: “Personal finance is a critical learning opportunity to close the wealth gap especially in the Latinx community. It was super insightful to speak with one of the leaders in this field and also get personal about her own money learnings.” 

Member Spotlight

Every month, we’ll introduce you to one of our talented chapter members. Here’s our latest spotlight.

Cesar Hernandez, ESPN soccer writer 

Q: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?

A:  Southeast L.A. was home for the first six years of my life before my family moved up to Canyon Country (near the northern end of L.A county). I spent most of my childhood there until I went to UC Santa Cruz for college. 

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in journalism? 

A: Oddly enough, I have a degree in psychology. I was a counselor for disenfranchised youth in Watsonville in my early 20s and was planning on becoming a social worker, but on the side, I blogged about soccer for fun. Opportunities soon followed and by 2016 I decided to chase a career as a soccer journalist. Somehow things turned out OK!   

My previous career was incredibly fulfilling and I do sometimes miss it, but I’m glad I made the decision to switch to journalism. 

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: There are obvious benefits like attending games and completely immersing myself in a sport that I love, but what truly gets me motivated is when I’m able to write deeper stories about the players themselves. Going beyond what is happening on the field and exploring the more human aspect of an athlete is always fascinating. 

Q: What song(s) are you currently listening to on repeat?


– “Devil In His Heart” by The Donays

– “Telepatia” by Kali Uchis

– “Darlin” by The Beach Boys

– “The Thing” by Urbs & Cutex

– “You, In Weird Cities” by Jeff Rosenstock

Q: How would you spend a weeklong getaway? Where would you go and what would you do?

A: It might be a boring answer but I’ve never been to Europe and would love to explore a major city or two out there. Gaze at local architecture, visit museums, and of course, check out a soccer game. 

Chapter Events and News

The NAHJ National Board will hold a meeting on Jan. 29 to discuss organization updates and news. NAHJ members are welcome to attend. You can register here. 

Interested in joining our board? The treasurer position is open for any active member. Chapter VP Samantha River is currently serving as interim-treasurer (We love you Sam!), but we’d love to welcome a new member onto the board. Please email [email protected] if you’re interested. The commitment includes attending monthly meetings and providing financial updates to the chapter’s executive board. 

Also, don’t miss next month’s newsletter. We are planning a chapter open house event in February, but it is invite only given its location. Details to come. 

Virtual: Careers in Science Writing

San Diego Science Writers Association is hosting a virtual event on Tuesday, Jan. 25, from noon to 1 p.m. Speakers include Jonathan Wosen, former San Diego Union-Tribune biotech reporter and current west coast biotech and life science reporter for STAT News; Heather Buschman, a science communicator at UC San Diego Health who also teaches the Science Writing I course at UC San Diego Extension; Katy Stegall, a SDSU student, inaugural Bradley J. Fikes Scholarship recipient and investigative assistant at KPBS; and Jared Whitlock, a freelance journalist, SDSU journalism alumnus and Knight Science Journalism fellow. SDSU’s director of the School of Journalism and Media Studies, Temple Northrup, will moderate the discussion.

When: Tuesday, January 25th, from 12pm – 1pm PST
Where: Zoom Register HERE

NewsTrain Diversity Scholarship 

Deadline: Jan. 30 apply here.

NewsTrain, the News Leaders Association’s traveling workshop for journalists, is coming to California State University, Fresno.  For successful scholarship applicants, the $75 early-bird registration fee is waived, but they are responsible for travel expenses. Journalists, journalism students and journalism educators from diverse backgrounds are invited to apply.

Scholarship winners will experience two days of up-to-the-minute training taught by
marquee journalists.

Jobs and Internships

Reporter, North County Communities, Voice of San Diego 

Community Opinion Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune 

Digital Communications Coordinator, The San Diego Tourism Authority

Amigos, NAHJ has a career center where you can upload your resume and search for potential employers. This service is exclusively available to members only, so sign up here. You can find the career center here

Editors and managers, have a job you’d like us to feature in our newsletter? Send it to [email protected] or tag us on social media.  

Join Our Scholarship Committee!

Did you attend our student scholarship award ceremony this past October? If you did then you know how much fun it was! We awarded two talented journalism students $3,000 in scholarships.

The event would not be possible without the members of our scholarship committee who donated their time throughout the year to help organize and fundraise for the event. And this year, we want to do it all over again!

Join our scholarship committee to help us organize our annual scholarship.

Contact us for more information. [Link to email]

Thank You!

This newsletter was written and edited by Adriana Heldiz, David Hernandez, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Lyanne Alfaro. 

We’d like to give a special shoutout to our amiga Lyanne for volunteering her time and insight these past couple of weeks. She will head to Chicago to pursue other opportunities. We will miss her but wish her the best on her new adventure!