Paola Pérez has been interested in the news from an early age. Being from the Dominican Republic and moving to the United States at age 7, Paola, now 22, and her family members kept informed about her home country, which helped her develop strong ties to the Caribbean region. Through her grandfather, a journalist, she learned about searching for the truth and reporters’ holding power to account in authoritarian regimes.
Paola discovered a love for journalism in middle school when she created her own newspaper. She took the title “editor in chief.” The paper ran for only three issues, but she said the experience helped her connect her desire to know more about her community and tell stories that mattered.
“I was able to engage and get more information out to the school audience,” Paola said. “And I can always get someone to open up and talk to me.”
At the University of Central Florida, Paola learned the challenges of reporting on campus and being a watchdog reporter for NSM Today, a publication produced by journalism students of the Nicholson School of Communication. There, she covered breaking news, crime stories and administration scandals. She graduated from U.C.F. in fall 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in print and digital journalism, with a minor in political science.
As a news intern last summer for The Orlando Weekly, Paola gained experience. She later moved to The Orlando Sentinel, where she now works as a web producer on the weekends and doubles as a breaking news reporter.
She recently accepted a position writing news scripts for America Uncovered, a YouTube publication dedicated to press freedom in the United States and abroad. She said she wants to continue her focus on local reporting.
Paola said she wants to be adaptable while keeping the mission of fact-finding in journalism at the center of her work. She said she enjoys being exposed to different types of people and opinions through her affiliations to organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and above all aims to remain true to herself.
“I want to continue to value honest reporting,” Paola said. “Whether at the national level, or in local news, it’s the truth that matters.”