Editor's note: This story is part of a series of student profiles that are part of our December 2015 commencement coverage.
Yahaira Jacquez is goal-oriented.
Which is why, at age 22, her resume already reads like that of a veteran journalist.
Jacquez is graduating from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication cum laude this December with a bachelor's degree in journalism, a minor in Italian and a specialization in business journalism.
For three semesters, Jacquez was a reporter for Cronkite News, the school's award-winning nightly newscast that reaches 1.9 million households on Eight, Arizona PBS. To top it off, this past summer Jacquez worked at Reuters in New York as an editorial intern, covering business and international stories for the global news agency — a credit she gives to her mentor Andrew LeckeyLeckey is a professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, a Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism and President of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism..
“People try to give me credit for their successes; I’m like the guy who wiped the window from the car in the Indy 500. It’s all Yahaira,” Leckey said. “What she brings are the good traits of a journalist: curiosity and enthusiasm. The only reason why you wouldn’t hire her is because you just didn’t like her, but her positive personality, her nature, is infectious. That’s who you want in the newsroom with you.”
Jacquez said her good nature comes from her family. She’s a first-generation college student; her parents immigrated from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, México, and came here to raise their kids with big goals, and bigger dreams. Jacquez knew she could always rely on her family, especially during challenging times.
She recalled a time when she took a difficult videography class. She called home to her parents crying and struggling to get through. In the end, however, Jacquez would not be deterred, partially in thanks to her mother.
Magda Ochoa always wanted the best for her daughter and knew she would succeed.
“I told her to continue forward; these lessons are only something to overcome because it’s preparing you for the future,” Ochoa said. “But Yahaira has the will, that hunger to do better. She wants to contribute to society, and she will.”
Still, even with her accomplishments and support, Jacquez remains humble, giving credit to the school she attends.
“Well, I have been taught through practice. It’s a big thank-you to Cronkite, who tells us to go out there and tell stories. Get experience,” Jacquez said. “We’re given roots here, to learn how to do things, but we’re also given wings. If you want to do it, you’re given the opportunity to do it."
Jacquez came to college understanding that the Cronkite School provides opportunity to the people who grab it — and she capitalized.
“There’s amazing people who go to this school, and they inspired me," she said. “It pushed me. I wanted to work on my craft. I wanted to improve. You have people who represent the school’s reputation. I wanted to be one of those people.”
She is now one of those people, and she’s passing the torch to future generations. Jacquez worked as a mentor for high school students last summer helping them transition into college. Four of those students are now attending the Cronkite School seeking her advice.
“Somebody did it for me. So I wanted to pave the way for the students who have that inclination,” Jacquez said. “If you have that feeling, then it should be fostered. That feeling is for a reason.”
For now Jacquez continues to look ahead, keeping her dreams simple and straightforward.
“I just hope to get my foot in the door with a place that allows me to develop my skills and become the journalist I want to be."
More Law, journalism and politics
Former Humphrey Fellow returns to ASU Cronkite School for doctorate degree
Elira Canga arrived at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication a couple of years ago ready to expand her perspective on journalism and pursue…
Jemele Hill to deliver lecture on race relations at ASU
Emmy Award-winning journalist Jemele Hill will be the featured speaker at the 2024 A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture on Race Relations, hosted by The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences…
Retired 'Nazi hunter' on international law as deterrence against war crimes
When it comes to using international law as a deterrent to protect the national security of the United States, is all hope lost? The answer, according to Eli Rosenbaum — a decorated World War II…