Alemendra Carpizo

Young alum
finds success in nation’s capital

by Almendra Carpizo

It was about 10:50 p.m. when I arrived. The street was mostly dark except for
the glow coming from the nearby restaurants. Everyone walking around me seemed to be running late, and I wasn’t sure where my home was, other than it being across the street.

I stood on Connecticut Avenue for about 10 minutes with two 50-pound suitcases, one carry-on bag, one laptop bag and a purse that’s too large for a woman who is less than 5 feet tall. I had to make it across the street, which at the time looked farther than the walk from Plumas Hall’s basement to the Bell Memorial Union.

Almendra, you’re not in California anymore.

Moving to Washington, D.C., has been a scary, but overwhelmingly awesome, experience. I can now add editor and reporter at Hispanic Link News Service to my résumé. The Link, as we affectionately call it, is a Hispanic-oriented news service that has been covering national issues since 1980.

Getting to this internship on the East Coast was a blessing, and I owe it mostly to two men – Chico State professor Dave Waddell, who informed me of the opportunity, and former Sacramento Bee editor Jack Sirard, who was one of my references. Both were my white-haired knights in shining armor who slayed errors from my résumé and cover letter.

However, I know getting to D.C. took more than a clean résumé and a punchy cover letter. It was my 12-hour days at The Orion; it was department chair Susan Wiesinger teaching me the painstaking skills of shooting and editing video; it was Lewis Brockus’ high standards in my photojournalism class. All of these elements ultimately opened the Link’s door.

As a reporter for Hispanic Link, I am required to put all those skills I learned to use – I’m a one-woman journalism band.

Recently, I covered a high school mariachi group from Zapata, Texas, that visited the capital to perform for Vice President Joe Biden. As I was scribbling and snapping away, I tried to remember the rules Brockus taught us and at the same time make sure I paid attention to details of the event. This is what journalism is now: a multitude of skills instead of a specialization.

Working in Washington, D.C., has been, well, remarkable.

My first week I covered the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ conference and was able to interview Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta – who co-founded United Farm Workers with César Chávez – and Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. I’ve written about the unemployment rate, a Kennedy Center PR disaster and bank discrimination.

In the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve had the privilege of hearing a Supreme Court case, eaten at the very expensive National Press Club restaurants and visited the journalism-shrine Newseum. I’ve exchanged cards with reporters from The Washington Post, Univision and the Associated Press.

Most importantly, I’ve had the chance to reconnect with my reporter roots.

There are a number of things all journalism students are advised to do, and interning in Washington, D.C., should be one of them.

I don’t know where I’ll drag my luggage to once this internship ends Dec. 14, but I know that this experience and what I learned at Chico State will lead me to my next newsroom.

Photo by Almendra Carpizo.