Kiara Coll Ramirez, a graduating senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo (UPRA), is the winner of the 2022 Hortencia Zavala Foundation Scholarship. Coll was also president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Student Chapter at UPRA. She plans to attend graduate school.
Coll participated in the News production sequence at the Department of Communication. She was executive producer of UPRA’s radio news program “Notas del Saco,” as well as producer of the social media video news program “Noticias Punto a Punto.” Coll was the producer and on-air talent in a radio program transmitted by UPRA Web Radio, focused on LGBTQ+ community news and topics of interest. As part of her practicum, she was also involved in diverse news production angles for ABC Puerto Rico.
“I am a proud Latina puertorriqueña searching for new opportunities and experiences to keep growing,” Coll wrote in her scholarship application. She said she never saw herself as a leader, but with the help of her colleagues worked hard to become one. In 2020, she was elected president of UPRA’s NAHJ Student Chapter and collaborated in several election coverage programming. “During my time (as president), I produced two candidate forums named El Voto UPR (governor’s chair candidates) and Arecibo Decide (candidates for Mayor of Arecibo.”
Coll is the eleventh Hispanic-Latino student to receive an HZF Scholarship. The fund was created in 2016 by Hugo Balta, twice president of the NAHJ and owner/publisher of New Hampshire Latino News (NHLN), one of five independent news outlets overseen by the Latino News Network (LNN), as a way to help Hispanic-Latino students while honoring the legacy of his abuelita, Hortencia Zavala.
Since its inception, HZF has worked with NAHJ national and local professional chapters in identifying worthy candidates. “The NAHJ National Office is delighted to announce that former NAHJ UPRA Chapter President Kiara Coll will receive this year’s Hortencia Zavala Scholarship,” said David Peña, Jr., NAHJ Executive Director. “Kiara’s commitment to excellence and bold spirit are qualities we need in journalists who are ushering in the next era of public service journalism.”
Balta commented on the partnership with NAHJ, saying, “The NAHJ has a long and distinguished history of nurturing the future of journalism. HZF is grateful to continue to work with NAHJ in helping students like Kiara on their path of success.”
Last 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, is 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 and one of the six Fellows participating in the camp. “I always looked forward to our meetings and lectures, and I always left every meeting feeling inspired and energized.”
The Journalism Camp that returns this Fall has a curriculum that includes 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 for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.
As part of her award, Coll has the opportunity to be one of the attendees in this year’s journalism camp and have her work published on LNN.
If you’re interested in applying for the Journalism Camp, please send your resume and letter of interest to info@LatinoNewsNetwork.com.
Cover Photo Credit: Kiara Coll Ramirez