New editor set on bridging the gap

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Josie Avila, Audience and Engagement Editor

Multifaceted, curious and ambitious are a few words that could be used to describe me since I was a little girl.

I am the youngest of five siblings, all women, and when I was born, my oldest sister was already 16 years old. A significant age gap also exists between me and the rest of my sisters. Therefore, I grew up almost as an only child because my sisters were out of town for college for most of my upbringing.

This had its perks, though. One of them was the inspiration instilled in me from seeing my big sisters accomplish milestones for our family. I knew from an early age I wanted to pursue higher education and get a reputable job. After all, that was my parents’ goal in immigrating from Mexico and raising my sisters and I here in the United States.

Another perk was getting to spend a lot of quality time with my parents. One of my core memories is my parents tuning in to Univision’s 10 p.m. news show in the living room every night. I did not like watching the news because I thought it was boring. Little did I know, I would consider that field as a career when I got older.

In my household, Spanish is the dominant language. It was not until I turned 13 years old that I finally started speaking English fluently. It was then I realized the English learning process was about my identity as a first-generation bilingual Latina born and raised on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Witnessing how families on the border, including my own, are taxed with many responsibilities such as learning a new language, sparked my desire to bridge gaps of communication for Spanish-speaking communities. Even though my parents spent time watching news, their restricted access to technology and English resources limited their greater understanding of news and politics. And this is not accounting for families outside of my own who did not have the tools to watch news.

Therefore, when I entered college at UTEP, I began serving in leadership positions on campus because the institution serves students that reflect the predominant Hispanic regional population.

I currently serve as executive advisor of IGNITE at UTEP, an organization that equips young women to run for office. I also served as a Senator At-Large in the Student Government Association (SGA) in the 2021-2022 academic year. Additionally, from April 2021-May 2022, I worked a full-time job at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence while being enrolled as a full-time student, and developed my experience in managing social media accounts.

These experiences helped me gain the courage to apply to the Archer Fellowship Program, a Texas-based competitive program to live, study and intern in Washington D.C. I am proud to say I was selected into the Spring 2023 cohort and am currently applying to internships.

As a senior preparing to graduate upon arriving back home from D.C., I have found my interests to be in communication, news dispersion on social media, politics, academic advancement for first-gen Hispanic students and immigration.

For this reason, I have decided to pursue a bilingual news anchor career, later in my life a communication studies professor and eventually an elected official.

Before I leave to D.C., I knew I wanted to join a group on campus that is positively impacting the student body and could give me tools to continue growing professionally. Immediately, I knew exactly that The Prospector was the group I was searching for, and I quickly applied to join the fall staff.

Now, I am here as the new audience and engagement editor and I am very happy and grateful for it. I hope to use my experience and love for UTEP to spread sound news on social media and engage as many students as possible.

Everyone I have met at The Prospector so far is fun, kind and talented. Each person has so much to offer and I genuinely could not have asked to work at a better office. I am eager to contribute to the amazing work The Prospector has already done, explore new projects and ideas, and of course, make new friends.

I am very proud of how much I have grown throughout college, and I honestly have my family, IGNITE, my best friends Gizelle, Gabby, and Isabel and my roommate Sarah to thank. Thank you for always cheering me on and reminding me of my potential when I could not see it for myself.

I also have so much to thank dance for. Dance has not only been my backbone through the ups and downs of life, but it has also given me a second family. To Ashley, Carla, Jasmin, Megan, Rubylee and Luis, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Josie Avila is the audience and engagement editor and can be reached at [email protected]; Joseline Avila on LinkedIn.