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.