After a broadcast journalism class in high school ignited a passion for news reporting, Denisse Quintanilla enrolled in Monmouth’s Spanish with a Concentration in Communication (Media Studies and Production Cluster) Program because it mixed two subjects she was passionate about.
“Growing up, I saw the challenges my parents faced due to the lack of information provided in their own language,” says Quintanilla, who graduated last May. “This is what pushed me to pursue a degree in bilingual journalism. I wanted to be able to provide people in underserved communities with the tools and information they need in their everyday lives.”
Last August, Quintanilla was hired as a producer at KSN, an NBC-affiliated television station in Wichita, Kansas. According to Nextstar Media Group, the company that owns KSN, Wichita is in the country’s 70th largest designated market area with nearly one-half-million television households.
After first serving as producer for the station’s weekday 6 p.m. newscast, Quintanilla took the reins of the weekday noon and 5 p.m. and weekend evening newscasts in December. She oversees every aspect of the broadcasts: finding the day’s top stories, assigning reporters, writing the anchors’ scripts and on-screen graphics, ensuring the facts are accurately presented, and directing the live show from start to finish. She also writes articles in Spanish for the Telemundo Kansas website and curates and publishes news for the Telemundo Kansas Facebook page, helping the Hispanic community stay informed.
The days are fast-paced but the work “is very rewarding,” she says. “We’re bringing news to the people, bringing them the information that matters most. That is what makes it all worth it.”
While many break into the industry as an assistant or associate producer, Quintanilla started as a full producer. It was a challenge at first, she says, but her experiences at Monmouth prepared her well. She completed two key internships as a student—at Telemundo 62 and CNBC—that taught her how to script newscasts; write and translate business news to Spanish, making it concise and informative; create and edit news videos; and manage her time, all skills she uses in her current position.
As a four-year member of the production team behind the award-winning WMCX show Nuestros Sonidos Latinos, Quintanilla says she was able to gain “self-confidence and experience telling stories that have an impact on the community.”
“I feel like that’s where I found my niche,” she says. “I found my group and I was able to really flourish because of them.”
A first-generation college graduate, Quintanilla also credits the personal connections she was able to forge with Monmouth faculty and staff members, and says she benefitted from their mentorship.
“All of the advisors in the Educational Opportunity Fund Program understood my struggles as a first-generation student and were my go-to people,” she says. There was also Claude Taylor, director for academic transition and inclusion, who connected Quintanilla with America Needs You, a two-year program for first-generation college students that provided grant money and professional development. Specialist Professor Frank Cipriani always provided advice and moral support, says Quintanilla, and Professor Priscilla Gac-Artigas pushed her to try new things—such as delivering a Hawk Talk during her freshman year.
“That was the first big challenge for me to overcome, as I had a fear of public speaking,” says Quintanilla. But through that experience she says she was able to prove to herself that she was “capable of overcoming my fears and doing things to help me become a better person and professional.
“The thing I’m most proud of about my time at Monmouth was that I got out of my comfort zone,” says Quintanilla. “I was this really shy thing when I got there, but I tried new things that I never thought I could do and was able to grow because of that.”