Story in the College of Arts & Sciences
Melissa Segura '01
Small town communications and Spanish major proves she can make it big through many internships and helpful professors.
Melissa Segura covers Major League Baseball, with a keen interest in the ever-increasing influence of the Latino athlete. She is responsible for generating story ideas, doing research on her topics, then creating the articles that will appear both in the magazine and on the SI Web site.
I was the assistant news director for KSCU News—think a bi-weekly edition of NPR's Morning Edition. And as a work-study student, I manned the front desk at the media services center. Internships are the key for any aspiring journalist, and I was fortunate enough to work at my hometown paper, The Santa Fe New Mexican, as well as Sports Illustrated as an intern.
Santa Clara's core curriculum forces you out of your comfort zone to study new and interesting subjects that at other schools, you might have just skipped over. And you would have never known how much you were missing.
At a big school, with my quiet temperament, I would have been lost. But at SCU, the small classes allowed the professors to truly know their students. Because of those personal relationships, I received encouragement I needed to know that yes, a girl from small town New Mexico could make it in New York.
Faculty members that changed her life:
Dr. Rose Marie Beebe of the Spanish studies department remains one of the most influential people in my life. By teaching me a language, she opened up an entire world of friends, destinations, and opportunities. I spoke virtually no Spanish when I arrived on campus, but now I travel throughout Latin America and conduct the bulk of my interviews in Spanish. She has an enthusiasm that makes you want to work harder than you ever have and a tenderness that makes you feel comfortable enough to make mistakes along the way. We remain in close contact.
Barbara Kelley (communication) was the first person (not related to me) to tell me I had exceptional journalistic chops. Without her encouragement, I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to pursue my work at a major publication. I spent hours in her office hashing through story ideas... and life.
Father Paul Soukup taught this technophobe who'd never even been on the Internet how to manage Excel and all the other technological tools I need to do my job. He's even offered to talk me through my tech troubles even though I'm seven years removed from Santa Clara.
Proudest moment as a professional writer:
It happened while I was still a student at SCU. I had yet to take my intro journalism class but had written for my hometown newspaper since I was in high school. On the top floor of Casa Italiana, I punched out an article about a Santa Fe soccer team comprised mainly of Mexican immigrants and the struggles and triumphs of their season. The day after it was published, a boy who'd just celebrated his bar mitzvah read the story turned over all the money he'd received to the struggling soccer team. That, to me, was proof-positive of the ways in which journalism is a tool for social justice. That simple act of kindness of the part of a very young man has meant more to me than any awards or recognition I've received.
I carry the lessons I learned, particularly those pertaining to the pursuit of social justice, with me every day. In my journalism, I try to speak for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.