Stories by

Santiago Montoya

By Lulu Orozco

When Santiago Montoya worked on his first investigative reporting assignment two years ago at Brandeis University, he knew he had found his passion.

The 22-year-old native of Colombia said the thrill of digging for answers and finding something unexpected is what attracts him to stories about corruption, fraud and criminal justice.

“When you start reporting a story you really don’t know where it’s going to take you,” Santiago said, adding that he was always surprised at what he ends up finding.

After reporting at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis last year, he worked on a NerdWallet investigation about organic pineapple fraud in Costa Rica, alongside the reporter Richard Read, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Santiago was an interpreter and translator for the project. “The story was very touching because I realized that this can actually help someone save their business,” he said.

As a bilingual reporter, Santiago said he hoped to bring attention to underrepresented communities in mainstream media.

“The U.S. is eventually going to become a bilingual country,” he said. “The Hispanic population is growing, and there are so many stories that are never told because of the disconnection of language.”

At Brandeis, Santiago, a sociology and Hispanic studies major, wrote about undocumented immigrants, DACA students and women in STEM. This fall he will be a master’s candidate at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

His ultimate goal after getting his master’s is to work in a traditional newsroom environment.

He said he also planned to write a nonfiction book.

“Once I find a subject that is worth writing 100 to 300 pages, and that I think people will read,” he said, “Then I’ll pen the book.”

Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez/NYT Institute

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