By Camila Fernandez
Alumna Cindy Arboleda ’17 got a strange welcome to the Big Apple earlier this year. On her way to her New York City Times Square hotel, Arboleda was stopped by police after a drunk driver ran over pedestrians. Arboleda saw it a sign that she was there to do her job as a journalist.
“It was pretty unfortunate what happened, but I just started reporting what was happening and getting people’s opinion,” Arboleda says.
“At FIU, we train journalists, digital media entrepreneurs and strategic communication professionals how to handle such moments and move their career – and the industry – forward. What Cindy experienced when she arrived in New York, however, you can’t prepare for in the classroom,” says Robert ‘Ted’ Gutsche, School of Communication + Journalism assistant professor.
Arboleda was in the city to start her editorial internship at Yahoo! Beauty & Style as one of only 20 fellows selected for the Knight CUNYJ Summer Internship Program. The program offers digital journalism training and media internships to minorities for two months in New York City – all expenses paid.
Arboleda, who is from Bogotá, Colombia, previously interned as a reporter for the Miami Herald; at Viacom International Studios for Nickelodeon, where she helped in the multi-platform digital content department; and as entertainment director for FIU Student Media. She also was a staff writer for the South Florida News Service.
“Cindy always takes the opportunity to see how she can do better,” says Gutsche. “Few students come back to their professors with a draft of their story and then a final version published in the Miami Herald to go over the changes – even after talking with their editors. That kind of tenacity and spending of time is what fuels her success,” Gutsche says.
Gutsche encourages his students to continue their studies at a graduate level to continue to grow as journalists who can better the industry. Arboleda says this influenced her to eventually pursue a master’s degree.
Before starting a career in the communications industry, she was accomplished in hospitality working at hotels. However, she knew she needed to follow her dreams of becoming a journalist.
“You have to learn when to sacrifice and just go for your dreams and know that every step you take in that direction is a building block,” Arboleda says. “It’s up to each student to really feed what they have with all the amazing resources FIU offers.”
Arboleda sees her new opportunity at Yahoo! as an inspiration to work even harder and hone her skills. She wants to bring awareness about the Latino community through her platform. She recently wrote a story about a college student from El Salvador who empowers people from Central America by creating social media accounts that highlight their culture in a positive way. She thanks God and her mom for helping her become who she is today.
“This is all for God’s glory because when you think you’re not enough, he’s the one that opens the doors for you,” Arboleda says. “Every opportunity you have, you just have to take it and go a thousand percent.”