While on the search for colleges, Elma Gonzalez ‘14, now a Web Producer for KPBS in San Diego, always knew she wanted a school with two things. First, she wanted a college with a strong journalism program. Second, she wanted to study in a different part of the country. After researching her options, Ithaca College seemed like the obvious choice.
“Growing up in Southern California, I just really wanted to get out,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a really great place to live, actually, but at the time I really wanted to experience the East Coast or somewhere else. Somewhere that felt different. I knew Ithaca College in my research before going to college. I knew it had a great journalism program and I already knew that I wanted to do journalism.”
Although she enjoyed her time at Ithaca College, Gonzalez said she never quite adjusted to the cold.
“The East Coast is kind of too cold for me, so that’s why I ended up coming back to the West Coast,” Gonzalez said. “But my experience up there was great. I don’t regret going and experiencing living in upstate New York.”
While at Ithaca College, Gonzalez joined the Varsity Golf team, reported with WICB News, and worked for The Ithacan. Looking back, Gonzalez said her four years at The Ithacan provided her with valuable job training skills.
“I think a lot of what I learned about journalism and about writing came from being part of The Ithacan and allowing myself to sort of see that as a job and not as just a club,” Gonzalez said. “I think that the expectations at The Ithacan were quite high. That sort of gave me the confidence to be able to say, ‘You know, I think I’m ready for a real job right after college.’”
After graduating, Gonzalez spent 10 months as a reporting intern with RioOnWatch, a community news outlet highlighting the voices of favela, or poor and overcrowded areas near cities, communities. While working for RioOnWatch in 2014, Gonzalez covered favelas in the South zone of Rio de Janeiro. She covered human rights issues and reported in bilingual environments. Given that Rio hosted the 2016 Olympics, RioOnWatch wanted their reporting to bring greater visibility to favela communities.
“(RioOnWatch was) one of the most meaningful reporting that I did,” Gonzalez said. “I could see the immediate impact to the stories that I was publishing. And that’s always a great feeling when you can see what sort of change your stories are bringing, or what impact, or what voices you’re giving or who you’re giving a voice to. And that was always really nice. And I think looking back, I think that was one of my favorite times to be a reporter and one of my favorite places because I was able to bring attention and spotlight communities that were often neglected.”
Once she finished her reporting internship, Gonzalez decided to find a job closer to home. She moved to San Diego and was hired by KPBS. As a web producer, she creates online news content and she shares content to KPBS News’ social media accounts. This position also enables Gonzalez to experiment with new forms of storytelling, such as 360 video.
Despite her current ability to edit and shoot film, prior to coming to Ithaca College Gonzalez had never given much thought to video production. She learned how to use a camera in a Visual Journalism course taught by James Rada, the chair of the journalism department.
“I think a lot of the classes in the journalism department are really, really good,” Gonzalez said. “(Visual Journalism) was (my) first introduction to video. I came out of that being able to say that I could shoot and edit video and create packages.”
Aside from her newfound video skills, Gonzalez said her time spent in upstate New York shaped her work ethic and helped her discover her passion for journalism.
“I wouldn’t be the journalist that I am today if I didn’t go to IC,” Gonzalez said. “I think my experience there shaped exactly my work ethic. My eye for stories. My ability to copy edit. And all those things I didn’t get anywhere else, but there. I got out of it what I was hoping to get out of it, which was my passion—which is journalism— and also the ability to be a competent journalist and to be a capable person in my field.”