The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, has chosen Tanya Velázquez of Fort Worth, Texas, as the recipient of its 2023 Wes Vernon Broadcast Scholarship. The award, which promotes diversity within the field, is given to an aspiring broadcast journalist and totals as much as $20,000 over four years.
Velázquez impressed the judges with a great blend of professionalism and promise. Throughout her academic career, Velázquez has shown a dedication to broadcast journalism by producing stories in video, audio, photo, and digital formats in addition to interning with organizations including KUT Public Media, CBS Austin / Telemundo Austin, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“I feel it is important that I participate in trying to expand the diversity of news. I want to use my indigenous Mexican heritage and bilingual abilities to connect with and help marginalized populations,” Velázquez wrote in her application essay. “I have worked hard toward this goal during my undergraduate experience.”
Judges said Velázquez’s passion for broadcast journalism is clear by how she mapped out the arc of her career in the personal statement. She is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies at the University of Texas at Austin while working to obtain certificates in business, Spanish, and human rights and social justice.
“To be an effective reporter, I must be able to contextualize the history of the countries I want to report on,” Velázquez said. “All my majors and certifications will work together to provide me with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve my ideal career: a bilingual TV news reporter.”
Recommendation letters from her professors praised her ambition, aptitude, and talent:
“The Wes Vernon Scholarship was meant for students like Tanya,” said Diana Dawson, assistant professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin and founding director of the Moody Writing Support Program. “Tanya has a work ethic of titanium and the intelligence to make the most of any opportunity she’s given.”
“Tanya’s passion is to serve and represent her Latinx community through journalism. She educates herself to give back and strives to educate through her journalism,” said Carlos Eric Bowles, director for UTeach-Liberal Arts and the Rapoport Service Scholarship Program at the University of Texas at Austin. “She is a serious journalist that would do wonderful work in the Latinx journalist community!”
The Wes Vernon Broadcast Scholarship, started in 2021 by Mr. Vernon’s family, provides $5,000 annually to a student who demonstrates a commitment to a career in broadcast journalism. The award can be renewed up to three years for a total of $20,000 toward undergraduate educational expenses. Named in memory of the late Wes Vernon, a prolific radio journalist whose career included national political reporting from Washington, D.C., the scholarship intends to remove barriers for students from backgrounds underrepresented in broadcast journalism.
“We commend Tanya for all her hard work and accomplishments,” said Eileen O’Reilly, National Press Club president. “Her goals are clear, she is on a path to have a true impact in the field of broadcast journalism. We’re so proud to support her as she continues her professional journey.”
In addition to funding, scholarship winners are awarded one-year complimentary membership to the National Press Club. National Press Club scholarships are administered by its nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute.