This past semester, an American University (AU) chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) was created on campus. This is the organization's first student chapter in Washington, DC. The NAHJ is committed to the professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry as well as creating a voice for Hispanic journalists.
School of Communication (SOC) Journalism Division Director Amy Eisman, members of the SOC Diversity Committee, other SOC faculty and staff, and students initiated the creation of the AU NAHJ chapter. The effort to form this chapter was to continue SOC’s focus on building and maintaining a safe, welcoming school for all students, faculty and staff. They want SOC and the overall university to accurately resemble the rich diversity of American society seeing as Hispanics and Latinos are the largest minority in the United States and make up an important and powerful economic, political, and social component of society.
In order to launch the chapter on campus, they had to work with AU’s Student Activities in order to create awareness and have students sign up. They also worked closely with the national organization to register the chapter. One of the graduate students, Kristian Hernandez, had been a member of the NAHJ national organization since 2009 and he helped move the process along.
Bill Gentile is the AU faculty advisor for the NAHJ chapter. Gentile has been working in Latin America and the Caribbean as a foreign correspondent and photojournalist since 1977. He lived in Mexico for four years and in Nicaragua for seven years.
Gentile wanted to be the faculty advisor because of his deep personal and professional relationship with the Hispanic culture and regions. In the Fall 2017 semester, only 14% of incoming students were Hispanic or Latino. He saw this chapter as an opportunity to help with his personal commitment to expand and facilitate diversity on campus.
“I have been a member of and, at times co-chair of, the SOC Diversity Committee, and I understand that my role with the NAHJ chapter can contribute to the well-being of students, staff and faculty of our institution”, said Gentile.
One of the benefits of having this chapter on campus is that all students, faculty, and staff will feel more welcomed on campus and will have a deeper appreciation of the diversity that helps define American society. The chapter will be able to build a dynamic community that is interested in Hispanic and Latino culture and lifestyle.
The chapter is planning some recruitment activities during Welcome Week for incoming students as well as other events throughout the semester.
Learn more about journalism at AU School of Communication.