Krystina Martinez unearthed an interest in journalism by chance. At the cusp of the recession, her mother lost her job and the college student’s debt began to accumulate. The burden forced her to drop out of school.
“I was really down on myself because school had been my identity for a really long time, and I was working at a grocery store,” says the 23-year-old.
While out of college, Krystina, who had yet to decide upon a major while at the University of Texas at Arlington, became drawn to the news, subsequently burying herself in current affairs as she waited out the recession.
“It kept me sane during those two years,” she says.
The Dallas-area native went on to community college before enrolling at West Texas A&M University two and a half years ago. She got involved with the Eternal Flame for about a year, and when The Prairie editor and assistant editor approached her about contributing to the student newspaper during her first semester, she took that task on as well. But, it was The Prairie that took precedence.
“I really focused my energy on The Prairie in the end,” she states. In the span of two and a half years, Krystina was promoted from reporter to copy editor to assistant editor and finally to editor and chief during the fall 2012 semester.
“I really loved reporting,” Krystina gushes, recalling her first government piece that she authored. “You always learn something new with everything that you do. I thought finding out what was going on in people’s worlds was interesting.” As a copy editor, she enjoyed “fixing people’s mistakes,” she bashfully laughs.
During her final semester, Krystina took the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for the Online News Association Conference along with 20 other students from around the globe. There, she and her fellow students covered stories and worked in a makeshift newsroom, and it was in the newsroom that NPR’s Doug Mitchell approached her. Krystina had become familiar with NPR during college, thanks to a Public Radio class at WT.
“I thought that would be a really cool place to work at after graduation, but I knew how hard it would be to get there,” she begins. “I think when you’re in school and you want to be a journalist, you think about publications and you think it would be cool to work there, but I could never do it…”
After the conference, Krystina took Doug Mitchell’s advice and applied for an internship with the Weekend Edition in Washington, D.C. One hour after she finished her phone interview, she received a call informing her she snagged the internship.
From this month to the end of April, some of Krystina’s responsibilities will include shadowing producers, pitching story ideas, pre-interviewing guests and setting up times at the studio. She credits her professors and what she learned at WTAMU with her budding success in the journalism industry. They helped build her confidence and strengthen her networking skills before she attended the conference in San Francisco, she says.
“What I really liked about WT, because it’s a smaller, regional school, professors really pay attention to students,” she explains. “The professors I had really invested in me. I could just pop in their offices and ask them questions… They empower us but we do the work.”
by Drew Belle Zerby
After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.