The Day's newest reporter brings fresh perspective to the newsroom and community
What a pleasure it's been over the past two months to watch The Day's newest staff writer, Johana Vazquez, begin her journalism career.
Vazquez, 22, graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in May. She joined us in early June as a staff writer.
She smiled with delight when I handed her the newspaper that contained her first byline story. Since then, the words "By Johana Vazquez" have appeared many more times on our website and in our print editions as she began covering her beat, which is Montville and Waterford, and writing stories from throughout the region during her Sunday shift.
This past week, she covered her first breaking news assignment, going to Ocean Beach for what sounded like a drowning. She came back with the details and wrote up the story. The next day, she told me she was relieved the man who was unconscious in the water had been revived.
She's reported on town meetings, written about a young boy who had his "Make a Wish" request come true, and said she had a chance to practice her Spanish while covering the livestream at the Garde Arts Center of New London's India Pagan playing basketball for Puerto Rico in the Tokyo Olympics.
Our company and community need the perspective of young journalists like Vazquez, and we need young readers, who are passionate, like her, about how the world works.
Being a reporter, one gets exposed pretty quickly to tragedy and the best and worst aspects of humanity. Vazquez said she didn't read newspapers very much while growing up, but was exposed to news articles on social media. She said what really sparked her interest was learning about the Syrian refugee crisis while in high school.
"It opened my eyes that the world isn't as good as it seems," she said. "It's also a lot more complicated. I decided I could spread information and make people socially aware of those around them."
While settling into the newsroom, she is also settling into the area. Vazquez is from Arkansas, but has been living in Connecticut for the past four years while attending school.
"I'm slowly but surely becoming a New Englander," she said. "Definitely the winters are brutal here. Connecticut is definitely a good nook between two of the great cities (Boston and New York). And even close by, there are so many treasures. Living in a beach town is something I thought I'd never do."
Vazquez, who said she didn't mind being singled out as "the baby" in the newsroom for this column, was only 2 years old when the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks changed the world. For our upcoming coverage of the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, she is looking to speak with young people, like herself, who don't remember the attacks but learned of the event's significance from older folks and in school.
"It was such a tragedy and really impacted our nation," Vazquez said.
If you'd like to speak with her about Sept. 11, or about Montville and Waterford news, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Florin is The Day's engagement editor. She can be reached at email@example.com or (860) 701-4217.