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Students hear pros present at Mass Communication Week

Rachell Ramirez, Staff Writer

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Lack of money didn’t keep Lydia Saldaña from being successful. Today she’s communications director at Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and has been for 23 years.

She told VMT communications students about her life and career during a presentation at Mass Communication Week at Texas State University on October 16.

Saldaña discussed the lessons she learned along the way.

At age 6, Saldaña said she was as a voracious reader and up to today she still reads many books. Her love for reading became a huge factor in her success in high school. She said she had a love for writing and in middle school she had a love for poetry.

In middle school, her first networking opportunity was an AP teacher in enrollment department. Her teacher encouraged Saldaña to enter to a competition. Saldaña’s teacher mentored and helped her for the competition and Saldaña got first place and won a $500 in 8th grade and that was when she started to think about going to college.

“You’re never too young to develop a network. Like right now your network is your fellow students, certainly your professors, and your teachers,” Saldaña said.

Saldaña knew if she wanted to go to college she would get all AP classes and focus in writing. In high school, she got deeply involved in speech and debate that set her up in a career for television news.

Saldaña graduated with a 4.2 average and she had two full scholarships. At age 17 she was the youngest women ever to work at KLBJ Radio in 1981 she got her first full time job as a radio reporter at Austin. She was just 19 years old. Her boss as that job was her first professional mentor.

“People want to mentor. If there’s someone you admire that you see out there in media professionally reach out to them because I guarantee you the mentor gets as much out of it as the mentees so earlier in your career work on finding a mentor but as you’re progressing on your career you can be mentoring young people and people around you,” Saldaña said.

Saldaña got a job offer in CBS News at New York and went to New York for the offer but at that time she had a 2 year old daughter and couldn’t accept the job offer at New York. She then move back to Austin, Texas and couldn’t find a job anywhere in local media and then in 1990 she found a job for video manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Working there was like going to another universe everything there was something she isn’t used to do like state parks and camping.

Since TPW was missing news operations speak up and no marketing and she land on video production unit and the first thing she did was talk to her boss to make a weekly television series. They took a year off to produce a year script of programs so they can be on the Public Broadcasting System every single week. That was more than 30 years ago and still going strong.

They also started a media operation media because there was so many stories out there in Texas Parks and Wildlife and Saldaña feels very fortunate to be in that position and also with her mentor.

She was promoted to Communications director 6 years later and with a staff of 105.

“When you make the right decision in the right reason things work out okay,” Saldaña said.

Saldaña met so many people and worked in big campaigns like “Don’t be a pain in the boat.” It was the first campaign she worked to develop and execute.

“Parks and Wildlife was the first state agency in Texas to do any social media, and it went really well, she said. They have thousands of followers now.

In 2005, she was thinking about what’s next to come and she had a feeling that it was coming to an end and to retire but she thought about it and went to get a master degree. It took her exactly 6 years to get her master degree.

“Everything you do you may not realize at that moment but everything you do, everything you learn, and every person you meet there’s all connections to it,” Saldaña said.

Students had a full day of other activities at Mass Communication Week:

  • A visit to KTSW radio station and The University Star.
  • A celebration of the 15th anniversary of Hachar program.
  • Presentation with the Admissions Counselor.
  • A visit to Alkek Library and bookstore.
  • A visit to the broadcast students’ television studios.

 

 

 

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