Anneliese Cornejo Garcia

Get to know some of our College of Media students! Anneliese Cornejo Garcia is a Class of 2024 journalism major. 

What brought you to the College of Media and the University of Illinois?
Both my mom and sister graduated from Illinois, so they encouraged me to come to Illinois. I originally came here as an undeclared major. The fall of my sophomore year, I took Intro to Journalism to fulfill a general education requirement, and I loved it. It was an online class and I didn’t expect to love it because I hate online classes. I knew the clock was ticking to declare a major, so I talked to my professor about my interest in documentaries and broadcast news, and she was very gracious and connected me with a couple of professors. During my junior year, I declared journalism as my major.

How did the student-produced Spanish broadcast UI7 En Vivo get started?
It's a funny story. In the 2023 spring semester, me along with Emilio Reyes (another journalism student), who was one of my classmates in Ken Erdey's class Content Producing for UI7, were talking to Ken who said he was looking to start a Spanish-speaking news broadcast for a long time. Emilio and I looked at each other and we thought Ken was joking around but we quickly said, "we will do it,” but slightly joking ourselves as we are the only two who spoke Spanish in that class. We had a meeting soon after to talk logistics. I am very blessed to have this experience and to have a professor even giving us a chance to do this is huge.

Why do you think it's important that we now have UI7 En Vivo?
There was no Spanish-language news in Central Illinois before UI7 En Vivo, and we're not on a mainstream network, but to have this come with college students making that first step and carving the path is huge. There's an influx of people who need and deserve information, and to broadcast it in Spanish is just one way to make sure that this group of people can get that information. 

How did working with Illini Sports Night prepare you for a career in news journalism? 
When I worked for Illini Sports Night, I was put in production. I worked sound, the switchboard, and the teleprompter, so there were various things behind the scenes that I got a taste of that I could use in the future if I wanted to go into news production. That really helped me, especially as a new journalism major. In terms of sports, sports move very quickly, and there's a lot to absorb in production when you're looking at people who are going super fast. I learned to appreciate how quickly they move, how sharp the anchors must be, and how much information they have to know to be able to put on a show 10 minutes after a game ends.

Who are your role models? 
Gwen Ifill was an amazing anchor and reporter. I really admire her and her work. She worked for PBS News, which I grew up watching with my dad. Juju Chang [ABC News journalist and Nightline anchor], I love her. She's so fun, and she’s great at her job. In terms of my life role models, my immediate family—all of them—my dad, my mom, my sister, my grandparents. My grandparents are immigrants; they immigrated from Latin America, and I really admire their tenacity and that they were able to establish a whole family line in a different country at 18. I admire all of them for how much empathy, grace, and forgiveness they taught me. 

What are some of the biggest lessons that you've learned through the College of Media?
In terms of journalism, attribution is ingrained in my head. Where did this information come from? Why is it there? Make sure that you're always crediting whoever you heard something from and do it in a way that's straightforward by using “said” or “says.” I also learned that, sometimes, people don't trust journalists because they feel that they don't matter. I just try to understand things and be empathic with them, and to reciprocate when they ask a question or are vulnerable. They don't have to talk to you, so everything that they share is their knowledge and experience, which is a vulnerable thing to do for a stranger. I have people feel more comfortable with me by sharing things about myself, and by forming a reciprocal relationship with whoever I’m talking to. You also need to be interested in a lot of different things. You should know a little bit about a lot, because if you are able to do your research beforehand, then you can talk to anybody about any subject, as long as you're prepared.

—Interview by Brendan Gallian, New Voices Intern

Anneliese Cornejo Garcia