Comm Arts Alum Working for Texas Public Radio Shares Experience at UIW
Jackie Velez '19, who serves as a Board Operator for TPR, looks back on the impact professors had while she was pursuing her degrees.
By Jorge Jones
As a board operator for the Texas Public Radio (TPR), Jackie Velez ‘19 thrives on the constant opportunities she is given to hone her skills and expertise in the world of public radio broadcasting. Whether it is writing draft posts for the topics discussed on the station’s daily call-in show, “The Source,” cutting pieces of audio from guests’ interviews or voicing radio spots of her own, Velez continues to grow and establish herself as a valuable member of TPR’s team of professionals.
Velez, a double major at UIW, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Bachelor of Arts in English in 2019. While pursuing her degrees, the combination of classes and active participation in student organizations allowed her to gain a well-rounded experience, preparing her for the professional challenges ahead.
“There are two things I attribute my current position at TPR to,” Velez said. “One of them is jumping into KUIW.org to deejay, because it gave me a little glimpse at what radio life is like, and the other is my journalism classes with Mr. Mercer.”
Committed to educational excellence, professors at UIW continuously motivate students to go the extra mile. For Velez, faculty in the Communications Arts Department, such as Michael Mercer, was a big influence on her. His journalism class helped Velez learn how to handle deadlines and interview people.
“Mr. Mercer was a huge part of my time at UIW. He encouraged me so much,” she said. “He was always happy to hear any ideas I wanted to write about for The Logos (UIW’s student-run newspaper). I will always treasure him and his positivity.”
Dr. Darlene Carbajal was another professor in the Communication Arts Department whose commitment to Velez was key to her success. When Velez was unable to attend class due to surgery, it was Carbajal’s compassion and understanding that made a big difference.
“When I had to endure surgery and was out of school, she was there for me, and I so appreciate her for that! Her compassion is what I remember most about her. She’s the best,” the 2019 graduate added.
Velez demonstrated interest in pursuing an English degree as well. While seeking the options UIW offered, it was Dr. Benjamin Miele from the English Department who sparked the idea and gave her the confidence to pursue a double major.
“When I was considering English as a major, he was the one who informed me of a double major option,” she said. “In my last semester at UIW, he encouraged me to submit my senior seminar piece to the National Undergraduate Literature Conference. I’m glad I decided on submitting that piece. I got the chance to attend the conference and, because of it, I gained more confidence in my writing.”
Of the many things learned at UIW, one stands out for Velez: asking for help. As she got familiar with the different resources available to her as a student, she started to make use of them. Velez stresses the importance of seeking assistance if students are struggling in school.
“There is no shame in asking for assistance,” she said. “If you’re struggling with the material you’re learning, ask for help. If you still don’t understand it, get tutoring. Get accommodations if you need them. UIW has Student Disability Services, the Writing and Learning Center, and TRIO Support Services. Use them. It will help in the long run.”
Velez's early success in her professional career is attributed to her determination and “go-get it” attitude she continually emits. For students wanting to pursue a career in the world of communications, her advice is “go for it!” Taking advantage of the opportunities offered is key to a successful academic experience.
“The Communication Arts Department at UIW has so many opportunities in media - newspaper, tv, and radio,” she said. “I guarantee it will help you. Be persistent in your goals. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not where you want to be straight out of college. It will come. You just have to be open to opportunities.”