Former student selected for leadership program

Laura Garcia
Former student Laura Garcia is a recipient of the Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program, and she will attend the Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism 2018 conference in Baltimore in September.

Garcia is a Features Editor at the Victoria Advocate, which is the second-oldest daily newspaper in Texas and is only two hours from San Antonio. She was hired in June 2014 as a health and nonprofits reporter and has worked her way up to a leadership role. She’s won an SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in 2017 for her investigative work on a series called “Understanding Harvey.” She is now trying her hand at arts and entertainment reporting in Victoria.

Her résumé also includes internships at the Longview News-Journal, the Corpus Christi Caller-times and The Roanoke Times in Virginia. She graduated from Texas State University-San Marcos with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2013 where she was president of the SPJ chapter on campus earning an award for Region 8 Student Chapter of the Year.

But she credits much of her success in journalism to her experiences working on The Ranger at San Antonio College. 

“The Ranger was where I learned how to really be a journalist. I learned that it’s OK to be tenacious, but also kind. The learning environment somehow made me feel completely supported yet always ready to take on the next reporting challenge,” she said. “I’m not sure how many student newspapers there are where you can learn how to dig into board packets and cover a vote-of-no-confidence against the chancellor, or cover a murder trial. I was also able to go on a weeklong reporting trip along the Gulf Coast covering the aftermath of the BP oil spill. But what still helps me today was the real connections I made with my classmates, staff and teachers."

At SAC, Garcia made a name for herself when she redesigned the newspaper as production manager and she served as editor during one of two semesters in which the paper earned a national Pacemaker Award. She likes to return to SAC whenever possible to speak to students about her experiences and used to volunteer as a counselor and junior counselor for the Urban Journalism Workshop. She is actually an alum of the 2004 UJW program and earning a scholarship to SAC at the workshop is why she ended up on The Ranger.

She has previously been accepted into fellowship programs for the National Press Foundation, Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Association of Health Care Journalists and The Poynter Institute with the Association of Opinion Journalists. She will complete the yearlong Nex-Gen industry mentorship with the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association in October. 

Garcia is also mother to a son named David who will be 3 years old next month. She loves sharing her journey as a working mother in journalism and mentoring others. Although the industry can be challenging most days, she said community journalism is immensely rewarding and hopes to do this for as long as possible.


Former student selected for Leadership Academy

Almendarez is third from the left in row one above. 
Former student Jolene Almendarez, managing editor of The Ithaca Voice in Ithaca, New York, is among those selected for the 2018 Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media — which had more than 600 applicants for 28 slots. 

For the flagship 2018 academy, applications were screened for potential, need and diversity across ethnicity, geography, organization size and skill sets. 

Participants will attend training during the week of March 18-23 at Poynter’s campus, made possible through the support of the McClatchy Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Newmark Philanthropies, Google, the Gannett Foundation and Cision. 

Almendarez wrote on Facebook: “Super pumped to FINALLY be able to announce that I was among 28 people selected from a pool of more than 600 to take part in this leadership academy in March!” 

She said she was shocked to see that women from some of her favorite news organizations -- The Texas Tribune, The Atlantic, WaPo -- will also be there. 

“Thank you so much to Janis C. Kelly for writing my letter of recommendation and to Poynter for selecting me and giving me stipends to help cover expenses associated with the trip. They really made it happen!” she wrote.  

See another story about Almendarez here.


Former student covering California fires.

Reporter Joe Vasquez
Former student Joe Vasquez gained expertise and skills on The Ranger while a student at the college. The national Emmy winning reporter used this practical experience to cover this story with KPIX in San Francisco. 

Firefighters Work To Protect Homes From Wildfire In Geyserville 

Residents have been ordered to leave and firefighters are working to protect homes from the Pocket Fire in Geyserville, Vazquez reports.

Veteran reporter Vasquez has traveled far and wide in search of good stories. 

In a local TV news career that spans more than two decades, Vasquez has hustled after hurricanes and tropical storms in Houston and New Orleans; covered politics and police in Philadelphia; and while in the Bay Area, has covered all the major stories; from the San Bruno explosion, to the “most dangerous street in Oakland” to a faked finger discovery in a bowl of chili in San Jose. 


Chalk Day celebrates National Newspaper Week



Students used chalk to express themselves and celebrate freedom of speech on Oct 2. Since 2004, during National Newspaper Week The Ranger has hosted Chalk Day, as a movement to allow students to celebrate the importance of the First Amendment. The narrator is Teresa Talerico, a former student and current adjunct instructor in the journalism program. The event was planned this year by a public relations class. 


Former student finds her niche in New York


Former student Jolene Almendarez, a criminal justice reporter and managing editor for The Ithaca Voice, primarily covers crime and courts. 

Her journey to The Voice took a circuitous route from sunny South Texas to frigid Alaska and on to the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region of New York.

Following her stint as a reporter, editor and multimedia editor at the college, she enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage to major in journalism. 

Almendariz started her professional career in crime reporting at The San Antonio Express-News part-time before being hired at The Post-Standard in Syracuse.

"What I learned at The Ranger is to always make the extra call, double check a fact, ask people to clarify and treat every source like they matter. The Ranger is the best newsroom I have ever worked in. Cherish it," she said. 


This is a link to The Ithaca Voice. Read more  here.


Former student becomes "legend" down under.


A ride on a busy Sydney, Australia, roadway turned into a TV appearance and a bit of fame as a "Cycling Hero" for a former student.

Jono Wright, a senior copywriter at Ogilvy Australia, lives in Coogee, New South Wales, Australia. 

Jono, who answered to "Jonathan" while in San Antonio, worked as a news and features reporter and managing editor on The Ranger while at the college, and his unique sense of humor was evident back in the day to his colleagues on staff and his instructors.  

His rise to fame and this video on "The Project" came from confronting a cheeky litterbug who had thrown rubbish out of his expensive automobile onto the street in Sydney, Australia. 


Former student stumbles on front page photo

Former student Eric Kayne, a free-lance photographer in Houston, happened on to what appeared to be a typical protest march in Oakland, CA. 

But let Kayne tell the story from his Facebook post:


A group of anti-Donald
Trump protestors storm 
into Oakland City HalI.

Interesting day yesterday.  On spec, I went to downtown Oakland yesterday to photograph anything connected with the court appearance of Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Matee

Not five minutes there, I get a call to photograph an unrelated protest literally around the block at Oakland City Hall. At first, it seemed like many protests I've photographed: about two dozen people gathered outside city hall to exercise their free speech.  When they began walking, I figured they were going to do a march around the building and then wrap up. I scrambled to the end of the sidewalk to photograph them coming down the sidewalk when all of a sudden, they all started to bolt into a side entrance. 

Next thing I know, a protestor is having a tug of war with a security guard who kept repeating "No signs! No signs!" while the protester kept protesting "It's just PAPER! It's just PAPER!" 

It's always nice to be surprised (sometimes) and I ended up getting the A1 dominant image in today's edition of the San Francisco Chronicle (extra bonus of headline from a Doobie Brothers song :-))


See another story about Kayne here


Two former students show their work.

Each year about this time the San Antonio Express-News looks back at the old year and looks forward to the new year.  These former students were photojournalists on The Ranger and The Fourth Write. Read their behind-the-work stories about the photos that were selected. 

Pictures of the Year: Kin Man Hui

Pictures of the Year: Edward Ornela