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Richie Requena receives 2020 Hortencia Zavala Scholarship from NAHJ Chicago

Journalism student Richie Requena recently received a $4,000 scholarship from the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Requena has been covering the Black Lives Matter protests across Chicago. In this photo, he was live tweeting coverage of the George Floyd protests on May 30, 2020 in downtown Chicago. (Photo by Jesus J. Montero, CMN ’17, ’20)
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Richie Requena, pictured above at the George Floyd protests in May, has covered the Black Lives Matter protests across Chicago. (Image courtesy of Jesus J. Montero)

The Chicago chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists selected DePaul journalism student Richie Requena as the recipient of the 2020 Hortencia Zavala Scholarship. The $4,000 scholarship is funded by the family of NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

In a press release issued by the NAHJ Chicago chapter, NAHJ President Hugo Balta said he was struck by Requena's desire to tell stories and "to be authentic to his experience and his community."

Requena, a combined degree student who plans to graduate from DePaul with his master's degree in 2021, said that journalism first appealed to him because it gave him the agency to use his voice. As he took more courses, he saw the deeper impact that journalism can have on a community, realizing that he wanted to tell more stories that are “hard to find." In particular, he was interested in reporting on topics affecting the Latino community. His first big story explored mental health, including the language and access barriers that many Latinos face as they navigate the healthcare system.

Outside the classroom, Requena served on the board of DePaul's SPJ/ONA chapter in 2019-2020 and co-founded DePaul's new NAHJ campus chapter in 2019. This past spring, he also helped launch Pueblo, the new bilingual section of 14 East Magazine.

The vision for Pueblo, Requena explained, was to blend journalism with other creative work, including poetry, art and essays. The editors of Pueblo also developed a natural collaboration with other departments at DePaul—for example, volunteers from the Center for Latino Research help proofread some of Pueblo's articles in Spanish. 

Requena and his classmates launched Pueblo right before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., which created a variety of unexpected challenges. Even so, the publication continues to grow while students meet and write from a distance. 

“We've done better during quarantine than I thought we would," he laughs.

While Requena attributes much of his growth to having supportive instructors and engaging coursework, he's learned just as much through his involvement at DePaul. 

“Whether it was going to SPJ meetings while I was on the board last year, starting a new chapter of NAHJ at DePaul, my own publication, Pueblo—that's helped me learn so much. I hope other journalism students also get something out of it," he says.

Established in 1984, NAHJ provides programming and professional development resources for Latinos who work in the news industry. NAHJ's nearly 3,000 members range from journalists to educators to students, and the scholarship program is one of many ways the organization supports aspiring journalists.