Hosted by Angelique Hechavarria
Editor’s Note: This is a transcription of Latinitas Magazine’s SoundCloud podcast “20 Questions With,” where we invite bold and creative Latinas and women of color to discuss their experiences and background. Listen along by clicking the link!
Hola Chicas! Welcome to 20 Questions With, a podcast in conjunction with Latinitas Magazine. Latinitas Magazine is a strong voice for Latina and POC Youth, which is why the hosts of 20 Questions With are all young Latinas and girls of color who are looking to gain experience in innovative and creative fields just like you!
In each episode, you’ll hear from striking women who are inspiring today’s youth with their passion, motivation, and grit.
Today, join Volunteer Writer Angelique Hechavarria while she sits down and ask 20 Questions With Audience Journalist from the Dallas Morning News, Narda Pérez
Before we get started, here’s a little bit about Narda:
In May of 2019, Narda graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with two Bachelors of Arts degrees in Broadcast Communication and Public Relations. She is currently an audience engagement producer at The Dallas Morning News and a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists -Dallas Fort-Worth Hispanic Communicators.
We’re so excited to be talking to Narda today. So let’s go ahead and get started with today’s show.
ANGELIQUE: Hey, everyone, thanks for joining us on this episode of 20 questions with I’m Angelica Chavarria, and I’m here with today’s guest, Narda Pérez, who is an audience journalist at the Dallas Morning News. Thank you, Narda, for joining us today.
NARDA: Hi, thank you for having me. I’m excited.
ANGELIQUE: So let’s get started with the questions. When you’re younger, what did you envision yourself doing?
NARDA: When I was younger? I really I’ve always loved history and like reading, maybe not so much history class, but I loved reading court cases and learning about those cases. So I always envisioned myself going into some sort of law, or something in the criminal justice system, something like that was really like the big thing. You know, that helped bring me up in my childhood. But it wasn’t until I got into high school that I was more interested in the science aspect of things. So definitely later, in my teens, I thought I would go into some sort of nursing or something in the medical field. I wasn’t entirely sure. So that’s what I always saw myself going into. But that obviously did not happen.
ANGELIQUE: So what inspired you to pursue journalism?
NARDA: My mom is an immigrant. She grew up and lived in Mexico her entire life until she had my brother and me 23 years ago. Shortly after coming here, her first job was working at a Spanish language newspaper in Dallas, but she worked on the advertising sales sides. So I always, you know, grew up going to the newsroom with her and seeing her coworkers and just running around. I was little, so I was always running around all these journalists. A few years after that, she acquired the sister paper. And so she was editor of that paper. And I always saw her and her team of designers and the journalists and the photographers, you know, just working and working and working and being on deadline, and I would see her and I would be like, why would I ever want to do this? It looks so stressful. There’s so much going on. It was a lot.
So it’s almost like subconsciously, she inspired me to go into journalism because again, later in high school, I got involved in our student newspaper and yearbook and stuff. I mean, I want to think that my mom had an impact because I was just around it my whole life, even though I never thought I would purposely go into it. I know it helped. And it has because now I’m able to work on deadline and work with the designers and work with the photographers. And she’s like, ‘Mija, that’s exactly what I was doing.’ Like, it’s crazy. So she was an early inspiration of mine to pursue journalism.
ANGELIQUE: Oh, that’s so amazing. And my grandfather loved newspapers. He loved all the Spanish newspapers. And what I’m curious about is what is one of your favorite stories that you’ve covered?
NARDA: That one is hard because in college is when I first got my real taste of like, ‘OK, go out, report this, write this, find your stories.’ It was when I first got my experience in news reporting. And with that, there’s a lot of variation. It can be breaking news and crime-related, or it can be a fun feature that you found. So one of my favorite stories was my first front-page at The Shorthorn, the name of our college newspaper at UT Arlington. So one of the fraternities called Sigma Chi every year hosts what they call a Fight Night, which is like boxing matches and raises money for charity. It was going to be the first year that a woman was going to participate. So that was like crazy, right? Like, it was unheard of, like Fight Night was usually all these guys, and they train and they’re so big and buff and whatever. So for a woman to want to participate. Everyone was like, ‘OK, this is a big deal.’ So I got to write a feature on her and I got to follow her around to her training. And it was just so fun. Because one, it was pretty historic, you know, if one of her training who’s made up of all men, to have a woman, you know, represent them in the ring was pretty cool. And it was, it was super, like empowering, you know, to write about and to cover, because after that story published, I got so many responses from readers saying, ‘Thank you for writing about this we would have never known that this happened’ so it just made me feel good. It made me feel empowered. I was like, ‘She’s so strong and powerful. It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman she can get in there and go in the ring too.’ And it was all for a good cause. So I think that one was my favorite one. Because it was the first time writing a story that I felt really emotional.
ANGELIQUE: Yes. And that reminds me of when Kamala Harris says ‘I’m the first but I won’t be the last.’ And growing up, there were no women of color representation, there was no Latina representation. Until now that I’m an adult and 18-years-old, I’m finally seeing more Latina representation, more Latinx representation, and women of color. So I think it’s so amazing that you’ve done something historic. And now that you’re a successful audience journalist at the Dallas Morning News, in which I want to ask you, how has your experience been so far working at the Dallas Morning News?
NARDA: I think it’s been a lot of fun. And it’s been a roller coaster because I started at the Dallas Morning News as an intern right out of college. So I graduated in May of 2019. And by the end of that month, I was interning at the Dallas Morning News on the audience team. And that was the best internship experience I’ve ever had. It was so fun, like the team I get to work with is incredible. It’s a bunch of fun creatives who are passionate about journalism, but also passionate about, reaching audiences that you don’t typically think of for newspapers. So, what I do is a lot of social media work. We love reaching younger audiences, teenagers, young
adults, people like me. People who identify the way I do and like the same things I do. So that’s why I love it so much is because we’re so driven and focused on not just reaching the audiences we have forever, but also new ones, and educating our friends about what we do and about journalism itself. So it’s been a really good experience. And I love that I just get to be creative, you know, with a bunch of other creative people.
ANGELIQUE: Yes. And does that go on in relation to something that’s your favorite part about your career?
NARDA: I’ve definitely found a love for not just social media, but really having meaningful connections and conversations with the people on social media, especially the younger crowd. Because —general surprise— all of us are on Twitter, all of us are on Instagram or on Facebook. So if you’re on there, you might as well learn a thing or two about what’s going on. We have seen the younger generations use social media to spread the truth, to spread facts, and to spread information because we know how easy it is for misinformation to spread. That is one of my favorite parts about the job is being able to help that and being able to be a part of that with other people in my same position who are my age and first-generation and stuff like that.
ANGELIQUE: Right. And so they’re going to the opposite end of the spectrum. What is one thing you find difficult about journalism?
NARDA: Well, almost in the same vein, because misinformation can spread so quickly. It makes our jobs hard because while we’re trying to build trust, we’re also having to make up for a lot of harm that has been done online that maybe wasn’t always necessarily our fault, right? So there’s a bunch of, whatever you want to call it, ‘fake news’ that spreads online. At the same time, we’re trying to share our factual reporting. We can’t control who’s going to click on what, who’s going to see what, right? So in turn, certain people might think that it’s us who are spreading the misinformation and lies when it’s not. It’s hard. I think that’s one of the hardest parts. We can’t control what people are going to take as factual or what people are going to click on. But we do know what we can put out there. And as long as we know we’re putting out stories that are factual, that’s all we can do. But that’s my thing, anytime I hear someone talk about journalists or about journalism in general, I want to correct them. And I want to give them my whole spiel and I can’t do that with every single person. Eventually, maybe one day, but I kind of have to rein it in and can’t go off on tangents on everyone. I would be lying if I said, it didn’t get to me or to us when people just talk bad about journalists and journalism as a whole.
ANGELIQUE: Right. And it’s so important what you’re doing: spreading accurate information. Especially with your skills and literature. And it can be disheartening to see the Latinx community receive much more misinformation about really important things like politics, government, things that affect their lives and their families. But I’m really happy to see that you’re combating that with your job. So yeah, so describe your typical day as an audience journalist.
NARDA: So I work what we call the early shift. My workday starts at 6:30 in the morning, which I know I never thought I was going to be a morning person. And I’m still not a morning person. But I do like working the early mornings. So what I do in a day is I wake up, I handle everything that you see on the website, on our social media profiles. So anytime a new story is published, I make sure to refresh the website and make sure that if you go to DallasNews.com, you’re going to see the latest information. And same on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Again, on social media, and on platforms like Instagram, specifically, our goal is to show you the news and the easiest, most readable, most digestible way. So part of that means I get to design some Instagram posts, which has been a lot of fun for me because it’s a place that I’ve grown a lot. And I get to design cool quote cards or cutouts or you know, whatever it is. So I spend some time doing that sort of push notification newsletter, anything like that. It’s what I helped create, and what I helped do. And then another part of my job is in analyzing those numbers, right? How many people did we reach on Facebook? How many opens did we get on this newsletter, things like that, which is almost like the nerdy part of my job. I enjoy doing that. I enjoy seeing like, ‘OK, why didn’t people click on this? Why did they click on this?’ So it goes hand-in-hand for sure. So that’s really what I do throughout my whole shift during the day.
ANGELIQUE: Nice. That’s actually kind of cool to see. It’s kind of like psychological to see and maybe even relate to like pop culture. What do people click on that that will attract them? Very interesting.
NARDA: Yeah, absolutely. And it is, it’s interesting to see, you know, ‘Oh, I had no idea.’ So many people were on Twitter at 6 a.m., you know, or I had no idea people would be so interested in this new restaurant or whatever. So yeah, it is nice. It’s cool to see those patterns.
ANGELIQUE: Yeah. So what are some of the challenges you face to get to this point in your career?
NARDA: Yeah. So it’s been challenging, because like I mentioned earlier, I’m a first-generation American. And so when I was going through the school system, and through college, I didn’t have anyone older than me that’s been through it before that could help me fill out college applications. Or help me figure out how to pay for tuition or scholarship applications. I felt like I was thrown in the dark and I don’t blame anyone. I don’t blame my mom. Like, at all. That’s not the point. But that was definitely the biggest struggle from the beginning. Because it was a lot of hours of staying up on Google and reading through websites and flipping through books and like, stuff like that. And so once I got over that initial hump, I felt like things did get better because you start meeting more people, right? You start learning from your mistakes, you start learning from what worked out for you. So definitely just that which I’m sure a lot of, you know, children of immigrants can relate to, regardless of where they immigrated from.
And then another challenge was a simple fact that like you said, even just four or five years ago, when I was a freshman in college, the amount of you know, the representation of people of color, women of color specifically, was not that high. There really weren’t a lot of places or people that I felt comfortable going to for help or for support. Which we are definitely getting better. I definitely agree, could we be better? Yes, always. And that was hard. The struggles that we face and the problems that we face are different than that of a white man or a white woman. And that’s just the fact. So it was hard going through college and not having a direct group of people who I could go to that I knew would relate to whatever it is that I was going through academically or professionally. But again, you get through it. Throughout college, throughout your internships, throughout that process, you meet different people. And that’s what I’m grateful for is throughout those years, I did get to meet a lot of people who were able to help me.
ANGELIQUE: Yeah, that’s so good to hear. Because I’m also a first-generation Cuban and Colombian. So it was really difficult, because I’m 18 now and I’m trying to colleges, but not only did they not know what to do. And as a minority in school, I didn’t have other friends who are going through the same thing that we can talk about with you. And my guidance counselor was very vague about it because I feel they’re used to the parents already knowing what to do already, as general common knowledge. So I had I really had to seek out and say ‘No, like, really, really help me because I don’t know what I’m doing.’
And it’s also like a cultural thing to like, ‘Mommy, I’m applying to college.’ And she’s like, ‘No, no, no, come wash the dishes, you know, don’t do this. Just stay with me like work and stuff.’ So it’s like double burdens. Like that can be stressful to have your mom say, ‘Oh, don’t do this, don’t do that. Just do this.’ But you know, I don’t blame her because she’s used to what she’s used to my father is used to what he’s used to. Also the lack of representation, and then all you hear is like these statistics, and everything accumulated it’s like, ‘what else is there for me?’
NARDA: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard. It’s tough. And like, I love that you brought that up too about, almost like it is a double burden. Because again, not blaming our parents, they just simply did not go through the things that we went through growing up here for the first time. So it’s very easy for them to not understand how stressful it is to have to figure out where you want to go to school, what you want to study how you’re going to pay for it. You don’t want to be a burden on them. Because you know how hard it’s been for them to bring us up to this point. So no, I completely relate. In India, it’s you have to have a lot of tough conversations with your parents when the time comes. And they’re your parents they’re going to want to help you and they’re going to love you regardless.
ANGELIQUE: My family is so loving and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m gonna get a job.’ I got a job at my local supermarket and then I worked there for three months, but my mom did not want me out and about. And she was like, ‘No, stay home, get a la casa, don’t work.’ I look at it now. And I just laugh because I’m just filled with happiness and love for her consideration. But yeah, I’m very, very happy that life goes on. And yeah, I’m doing good. So how did you overcome those obstacles?
NARDA: Again, I think in college I found early on. Because I joined my student newspaper, I found such a really good group of friends my freshman year, that we are still close friends now, even after we’ve all graduated and that helped me a ton. I don’t know what I would have done or if I would have even made it through college if I didn’t have a solid foundation of just friends, who were my age and we’re interested in the same things that I was. We’re also trying to experiment with journalism and that helped me a ton in all regards. Like, if none of us knew how to fill out a certain scholarship application, then we would all sit down at a coffee shop one day and figure it out together and if all of us had to work late, then we’d go get dinner somewhere at 2 a.m.. So just finding that core group of people who are going through similar things as you are definitely helpful and also people that maybe aren’t going through similar things as you but you can count on them to be there for you when you need help, or when you have a question was definitely a key thing. I met some great what I call like adults, you know, like, I still felt like a kid back then. And I had all these adults all of a sudden in my life who were really helpful that we’re professionals in journalism who had gone through all of these things that I had gone through, so that was definitely a huge, huge help was just finding my solid core group of friends. That supporting community is so important.
ANGELIQUE: So a bit switching gears, what advice would you give to a young girl trying to get more experience in the field of journalism?
NARDA: I always start with saying, wherever you are in school, high school, or college, find the journalism organizations are the communication organizations, right? So if you have a student newspaper, go talk to the teacher who helps front it and say, ‘Hey, I’m interested. What can I do?’ I know some schools now have TV or radio programs, go to those organizations, because that is where you’re going to get the hands-on experience. You know, once you get to college, you’ll be able to declare your major and pick journalism, or broadcasting or whatever it is, and the classes are great, you will learn in your classes it’ll just be at a slower pace because they’re spread out over many semesters. So that’s my biggest advice is to join the student-run organizations, because that’s where you’re gonna kind of get your hands dirty. You know, like, that’s where you’re gonna be allowed to mess up and learn, and then do it again. And you just keep going. If I didn’t find the student newspaper at UT Arlington, as early as I did, I don’t know that I would even have a job at the Dallas Morning News right now, because I met so many amazing people. I made great connections and I got to build my portfolio there. Like that’s where I got to write my stories and work on social media. And that’s what I got to then show to internship coordinators and job interviews. So always go to the student-run organizations at your school.
ANGELIQUE: Right. That’s so amazing. And I agree with you, because going into Latinitas and trying to do journalism has really brought a profound love for journalists for journalism. Now, that’s something I didn’t have before I didn’t notice before. So definitely agree with you on that.
NARDA: Yeah, that’s awesome. Because for example, what you’re doing now and being part of Latinitas and interviewing me like, that’s something that by the time you get to college, some people haven’t ever interviewed someone so I think exactly what you’re doing you’re on the right path.
ANGELIQUE: Thank you. Yeah. And it was a bit difficult actually trying to find organizations like I was telling my mom, you know, ‘I want to find like a writing position,’ because I took AP Literature in my school, and I absolutely fell in love with literature. And then I was trying to find organizations but they wouldn’t accept me or it was really difficult. And I told my mom, ‘Put your energies out there.’ And then she’s like, ‘Angie, I feel you’re going to find a position.’ And then the next day, I found Latinitas. And I was like, ‘Mommy, you are right. It has come true.’ Thank God. Oh, in relation to this question, what are your thoughts or experiences regarding the representation of people of color in the publishing world?
NARDA: That’s a tough one. I think, again, kind of going into what we talked about earlier, is the representation right now of people of color in the media, and in the publishing world, it’s low it’s not often that you see a lot of coverage of our communities. And everyday reading or everyday scrolling, when you read about us, it’s because the President made a comment about our communities or something related to immigration laws, or something related to crime, right? Which, you know, the coverage for white people isn’t necessarily like that. So I think the goal is, and the fair thing to do is to make sure that we’re covering communities of color broadly. I want to know about what a typical family of color goes through every day, where do they work? What are their lives, like? What do they eat? What do they watch, you know, and we just don’t have that right now.
I do think that we’ve made some great strides in recent years, and there have been some great people who have advocated for our community, our communities, which is great, but we still have a long ways to go. So I love that we are seeing more efforts and more diversity efforts in the media and journalism world because it’s working, it is paying off. But we do have a long, a long ways to go. And that’s where people like me, people like you, like our generations, are the ones who are going to help push that forward. Right. And so I’m excited to see where we’ll be in as little as five years or 10 years.
ANGELIQUE: Yes. And I think it was going back to what I was saying earlier that when you have those sort of negative topics, covering the Latinx community on the news that dominates the news about them it can be disheartening. And it can like push you down, and that puts down your confidence. So I look for positive, I look for the real authentic stories of people of color, go through what the Latin x community goes through. Even like nice things like ‘I’m gonna watch this little YouTube video about this Colombian chef and her food and the culture of Colombia and how she talks about how its political, how it’s territorial, how it talks about the culture and about the stories.’ So that’s very empowering. So I do agree with you on that. And seeing that we are definitely changing the narrative. Oh, and also, I was curious, who inspires you?
NARDA: Definitely, definitely my mom. And not just in the journalistic sense, but I grew up with my mom being a single mom. She raised me and my twin brother. So she raised both of us, obviously, at the same time put us both through school. And she always did it with such grace and such humor and humility. She was always so happy and so cheerful and always making us laugh. She has such good energy, and she’s still like that. She’s still like one of my favorite people because you’re always laughing with her. She’s always messing with you. So definitely my mom. Like, I don’t know how she did it. But she did. And she continues to do it. I’m an adult, but I’m still so close to my mom and I still go to her for everything. I talk to her every single day, we FaceTime. She continues to inspire me because no matter what hardship she’s going through, she gets through it. That was emotional.
Yeah, it’s hard. But it’s important. And it’s important to discuss it because it’s such a taboo topic, because people look down on it. ‘Oh, she’s a single mom. Oh, she must really hate her life. She was really sad.’ And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Like, yes, it’s hard. Absolutely. But I loved my life. I loved growing up with my mom and my brother and being as tight-knit as we are still, it’s important to discuss it.
ANGELIQUE: Right. And like, like just seeing her every day go through things that are so difficult that you would think that by now she would be in a dark place. But every day she wakes up so strong.
NARDA: Yeah, absolutely. And to think that you have someone in your life that is willing to almost give up their own life. It’s inspiring, and it’s empowering. And I think it helps us be more emotional and more empathetic toward others. Because we know what it’s like to have such a loving, comforting figure in our lives.
ANGELIQUE: Right. And, you know, even though we go through so much, at least I had her, at least I had something good in my life. You know, like a loving parent, even though we come from single moms it’s so empowering. I relate a lot to your answer.
NARDA: I think you’re so sweet. And it’s OK to cry about these things. It’s totally OK to be emotional about these things. Because it is emotional. And it’s supposed to be.
ANGELIQUE: Just seeing your mom get up every morning with strength, grace, humor, happy and joking. And you’re able to have inside jokes with her and talk to her about everything and it’s such a blessing.
NARDA: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I get like, unlike look at us, like, look where we are, and look what we’re doing. Like it’s if it wasn’t for those strong women in our lives, who knows what we would have been doing right now. Right?
ANGELIQUE: So to lighten things up, as we’re reaching the end of our interview. I’d like to ask you some fun questions to end on. How would you describe your writing style?
NARDA: I love making people feel like they are there. Right? So anytime I go into an interview, I love seeing what is the person wearing? What’s behind them? Where are we? What does this place smell like? I like to use my senses, right? And then I like to translate that into my writing. Because if I feel excited and I feel the wind and I hear the birds humming in the background, I want whoever’s reading my story to feel like they are there. Also, I just think it’s really fun. I love reading stories like that. And in writing which again, is not always possible. If you’re writing a crime story or like a breaking news story, it wouldn’t make sense to do it. But I love learning about people. As much as I can put out about someone and as much as I can learn about someone and then reflect that in my writing is my favorite thing to do.
ANGELIQUE: Right and like getting into journalism the one thing I found I really love is hearing people’s stories. And hearing who people are, their stories or culture even like folklore from all these different cultures. It’s so interesting. Also, if you can tell us something that might surprise us.
NARDA: This is where I usually say I have a twin brother, but I already told you that. He is obviously he’s a boy. I don’t think we look alike. If we’re together, people always think he’s my boyfriend or his girlfriend because we just don’t look alike.
I guess the only thing that comes to mind and I don’t know how interesting this is, but when I was seven, I was actually in a car accident. And so I hit my head. So now on my forehead, I have the tiniest indent in my forehead. Nothing is wrong. It doesn’t hurt it’s almost like an indented scar if you want to think about it. So anytime a conversation comes up about like car accidents or something, I’m like, ‘Do you want to touch my forehead? Like I have a little indent?’
ANGELIQUE: Oh, my gosh, but you can’t even see it!
NARDA: Yeah, like again, it’s like super minimal, but like, if you run your finger across right here you can feel the slightest indent. It’s weird. Well, thank God, it wasn’t too serious.
ANGELIQUE: Yeah. Because when I was like six-years-old, I fell. And I actually have a scar on my eyebrow where I had to get like five stitches.
NARDA: Oh my gosh, yeah, no, I didn’t need stitches.
ANGELIQUE: But if you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
NARDA: So this one is really random. But I would say, Jane Goodall. She is a super well-known activist and animal and wildlife activist who primarily works with gorillas and monkeys. And so she’s done amazing work her entire life being an activist for these animals. But she’s also done a lot of other organizing and activism in regards to climate change. And I just remember since I was little, I saw a presentation about her when I was literally in kindergarten. And ever since then, I always came back to her and read her articles and read her pieces. She’s just someone I think that would be so fun to talk to you. Because anytime you hear her talk in an interview, she’s always so wise, just so smart, and intelligent and calming. And so I would love to one day have a conversation with Jane Goodall.
ANGELIQUE: Yes, I love her interviews. And along with her, David Attenborough, just like his recent documentary, was relating the climate crisis to the nuclear bomb that happened in Eastern Europe. So it’s really interesting to see that comparison and all the information that he’s talking about. Also growing up, Steve Irwin from the Animal Planet channel, I loved watching that every day. And it’s so interesting to learn about them.
NARDA: And again, it’s people that you just watch or hear speak and you just immediately want to listen, you know, like you’re captivated and you’re interested. So yeah, absolutely. I think those are all great, great choices.
ANGELIQUE: What do you like to do in your free time?
NARDA: So I like free time. I am a simple guy. I love just spending time with my family and my dogs. I recently adopted a dog. I’ve had her since the beginning of the pandemic around March and my dog Nova is 10 months old. She’s a German Shepherd Husky mix. So I love doing everything with my dog. I take her with me everywhere. We go to the park. We go on walks, stuff like that. So I love spending time with my family and my boyfriend. I love watching movies and staying home and cooking or ordering out anything like that. That’s just, you know, kind of relaxing and in the moment is really what I seek the most, especially during these times. But yeah, I think anytime I’m not working, I love just being home and being comfortable and just spending time with people that I love. It’s just comforting to me. You know, it helps me unwind.
ANGELIQUE: Yes, me too. I love watching movies with my mom, shows with my mom even trying new foods here and there, cooking.
NARDA: Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely what I’ve done more and right now, in recent times, is cook a little more, and sometimes it’s relaxing. Sometimes it’s stressful. It just depends on the day.
ANGELIQUE: No, no baking for us is so difficult sometimes. Oh my goodness. But I’m such a foodie.
NARDA: My family’s such a foodie it’s just nuts, right? We love to eat, we love to get together and eat, we love to go out to eat.
ANGELIQUE: Right? And, like my favorite food is Latin American food. Which kind of brings me to our next question. If you could have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
NARDA: Hands down my favorite food is anything my mom makes. I don’t know how she does it, but it just always tastes so good. And one of my favorite meals that she makes is some good old Enchiladas Verdes with some Queso Fresco, some sour cream. It’s so good. She fills them with chicken and cheese. And they’re just my favorite because yeah, it’s just so comforting and it tastes so good. That is definitely what I think I would have.
ANGELIQUE: Oh my God, that’s a perfect choice. And I agree with you like even when I tried to replicate some of my mom’s food or recipes and it never comes out as good as she would do it?
NARDA: I don’t know. And like, it’s not even like she follows a recipe or she’s just throwing things in a pot and sprinkling this and that, and somehow it turns out way better than if I were to follow a famous chef’s recipe online or something always happens.
ANGELIQUE: Yes. Oh, man, we love you, Mom, we love you. I really thought about this question. And for me, something that’s really nostalgic is rice, beans and plantain. I can have that breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of my life. And I had to keep it humble, you know, because you know, has to be as accessible. So this kind of also relates to our next question of Latin American food, how was it going up as a Latina?
NARDA: I’ve thought about this a lot. And I think about a lot of certain instances in my childhood, that at the time, I wasn’t aware of racism, or how different my life actually was compared to my other friends that maybe weren’t Latinx or Hispanic. So growing up sometimes I’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s weird. Why would like why would they say that?’ Or like, ‘Why would they think my food is weird?’ Or ‘Why would they think my mom sounds funny?’ It was definitely hard. And unfortunately, the older you get, the more you start to realize how hard things are. But I mean, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, of course. I would feel so embarrassed, you know, taking my enchiladas, to school for lunch, right? And like, my friends would have their parents bring them McDonald’s. And I’d be like, ‘Well, I want McDonald’s too.’ Later, for example, in college, when my mom would still send me to school with some food, my friends would be like, ‘Oh, I want some.’ ‘Let me try some.’ ‘Tell your mom to bring me something.’ So it’s like you embrace it, you learn to embrace those differences that set you apart from your other classmates, your other friends. And I just wish again, that when I was younger, there was a group of people that could tell you that, because I didn’t find that group of people until I got older. It was harder, it did feel harder, but I definitely don’t think it was worse or not as a good life or not as a good childhood. Just because I am Latina. It was just different. But again, like I love that like I love being Latina. I love my culture. And I love having those things that set me apart. Because then I can go on and teach those things and help people learn about those things and accept those things.
ANGELIQUE: Yeah, I agree. And when kids would come with McDonald’s, it was like, they’re like the king. But I was here with my plantain and I felt like the queen of the world. Now it’s my last question, where do you see yourself in five years?
NARDA: I will be honest, I don’t have a set concrete timeline or goal for what I want to do in the next five or 10 years. I know that right now, I really enjoy my job. I love journalism, I love the digital aspect of my work, which is social media and data analytics. So hopefully, I will still be doing that in five years, but maybe in a different role with a different organization. Or maybe I can move up but the Dallas Morning News. So yeah, I don’t have a set concrete goal, because I’m very much a go-with-the-flow person when it comes to my career. I know, there’s a ton of opportunities and a ton of possibilities out there right now that I’m going to take advantage of. So I’m just gonna go for it at the moment. And sometimes that’s what you have to do, especially in this industry is you can’t hold yourself back, you cannot be scared or let those thoughts consume you and think, ‘Oh, well, she’s better, he’s better and they should do it. And I shouldn’t.’ You have to throw yourself out there. You have to trust yourself. And you have to believe in yourself. That is what I made myself do in college is like tell yourself you’re just as good. You’re just as capable. Do it. Apply for it. What’s the worst that can happen? If someone says no to you, and that’s fine. You move on, you grow from it, and you try again. Hopefully, in five years, I’ll still be doing what I love and being in journalism, and helping reach younger audiences and communities of color.
ANGELIQUE: I hope so for that for you, too. And you’ve been doing such a great job already. Thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you today. Thank you again, for taking the time to chat with us today.
NARDA: Thank you for having me. I had so much fun.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in media, make sure to visit us at love to meet those magazine.org for more information. Thank you guys so much for tuning in to this episode of 20 questions with we’ll see you next time!
About the writers:
Angelique Hechavarria resides in Massachusetts, where she is a senior in high school. She is interested in all areas of STEM, biology in particular. Growing up in a Cuban and Colombian household, she loves learning about the history and culture of Latin America. With this, she also loves learning about and conserving artisanal craftsmanship from all over the world. Through her AP Literature and Composition course, she was fascinated by the art of literature, in which she participated in the poetry out loud competition where she made it to regionals. Through her new position in Latinitas, she hopes to highlight these interests and more to the Latinx community.
Featured photo courtesy of Narda Pérez.
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