Journalistic Storytelling

My journalism degree equips me to create engaging narrative reports. With honed research, interviewing, and writing skills, I can distill complex stories into clear and captivating narratives, emphasizing accuracy and ethics in my reporting.

S.H.E. is Freedom

Every year tourists from all over the country travel through Waco, Texas driving down Interstate 35. For some it’s an exciting time consisting of Baylor University festivities and Magnolia Silos visits. But for many, it is a primary stop along the way across the country to be trafficked.  

According to the Health and Human Services Commission report to the 81st Legislature in October 2008, “One out of every five human trafficking victims travels through Texas… and nearly 20% of all U.S. human trafficking victims rescued have been rescued in Texas.” 

I-35 allows easy access to both Houston and Dallas, which are ranked as number one and nice respectively on The Human Trafficking Hotlines list of calls reporting trafficking. The highway runs directly through McLennan county. 

According to Unbound, a local non-profit in Waco, “on any given week 30-40 girls are sold online in the Waco area,” 

This is where S.H.E. Is Freedom comes in. 

S.H.E. Is Freedom, which stands for Safe House and Empowerment, is a non-profit located in Waco, Texas. The organization seeks to, “…provide a physical home for youth who have otherwise been classified as ‘throw aways’,” The organizations website said. 

S.H.E. Is Freedom was founded in 2015 with the goal of, “comprehensive restoration for juvenile survivors of domestic minor trafficking and exploitation,” 

Rose Brugger, a senior at Baylor University has dedicated the past three years of college to help founder Liz Tews get the organization running. 

“We eventually want to provide shelter for up to 90 days, and long-term we want to create a transitional living program for children,” Brugger said. 

She Is Freedom sees a need that is not being met by other organizations in McLennan county. 

“Children are being placed in juvenile detention facilities when they are identified as trafficking survivors because there is nowhere else for them to go,” Brugger said, “This is a severely traumatic experience that impedes their recovery and often allows them to return to their trafficker. This just seems… utterly unacceptable and unjust,”

Currently, there is no emergency housing for minors that are victims of human trafficking in Waco. She Is Freedom is seeking to establish its emergency shelter program with case management and immediate resources availability. 

Brugger and Tews are working to establish the safe house by December of this year. They are renting a wing of an old senior home and are currently gathering resources to make the home as comfortable and secure as possible. 

Her Stolen Voice

Last week, Macarena Hernandez spoke to a classroom full of students about the story that would change not only her life but the future of journalism. She stood at the front of the room holding the original 2003 San Antonio Express Newspaper with her story and compared it to the story on the front page of the New York Times published just days later under the name Jayson Blair. The evidence was clear: her story was plagiarized. 

In 2003, Hernandez was a journalist for the San Antonio Express-News. She covered a story about a soldier, Edward Anguiano, who had been missing in Iraq, and his mother, Juanita Anguiano. Hernandez traveled to the small town in South Texas to interview the mother and wrote about the details of the home, like the red velvet box and the pinstriped couches. Little did she know these details would appear in the New York Times, written by a man who never even left his apartment.  

"People were shocked that he would do something like that, but then when you think about it, he was a very troubled person," Hernandez said "...some people just don't have any ethics." 

Jayson Blair was an old colleague of Hernandez; they were both interns at the NYT together. Hernandez spoke about him and their time together. She talked about Blair being a "prolific plagiarizer", " saying he has been doing it all his life.  

Around a month after Blair published his story, Hernandez published her side of the story on May 25th, 2003, in an article for the Los Angeles Times titled "He Stole a Lot More Than My Words"She spoke about how he lied and cheated his way as an intern and how her life changed after she left journalism after her father died. 


"I am Blair's latest victim, but I am also a product of the same program that supposedly "created" him," Hernandez wrote in the article, "and I resent that his crimes will now make suspects of journalists of color across the country." 

Devan Zenuk, a journalism student at Baylor University, couldn't believe that such an accomplished journalist would take the chance and plagiarize a story, especially for such a large News Company.

"Blair was given the chance to be an intern at one of the most reputable newspapers in the country. he could have been great, but he wanted to cut corners instead of doing his work,." Zenuk said, "If I were to be given an opportunity half as good as his, I wouldn't throw it away."

The Blair scandal changed journalism for the better. Before the scandal, the use of streamers was prevalent. Steamers are people giving larger newspapers details about events. Streamers were mainly used when there was breaking news, and there was no time to send someone out to cover it. They would get a sense of the story from the streamers. Now, after Blair, writers must credit everyone who gave them information used in a piece. 

Dr. Tammy Kernodle and Her Song of Freedom

Dr. Tammy Kernodle, a Miami University in Ohio professor, spoke about her achievements and failures throughout her life as a musicologist. She spoke of the challenges she faced in the classroom from being one of the only African-American students in her field. This is still a problem today. As one of the Baylor professors stated, the University is not doing its best to welcome all minorities.  

Last Thursday, February 8th, Dr. Kernodle spoke to journalism students at Baylor University about her life and the challenges she faced trying to make it in the industry of musicology as a black woman. People in her life told her that she couldn't succeed and that she should try something else, but with the help of her mentors, she found success. 

"I knew all I needed was that Ph.D.," said Kernodle, "I knew that once I had my degree, nobody could stop me from doing the things I wanted to do."

She spoke of her wanting her work to be about women of color. "I just feel it's part of my calling to write women into places and spaces." Kernodle uses her work and talents to empower women to achieve their goals. 

Professor Robert Darden, director of Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, invited her to speak; he said that "she is one of the premier scholars in this country, and a female and an African American, whatever all the things she overcame to get here is important for you guys and everybody else."  

Kernodle gave examples of the diversity problem going on in the world. She spoke about being the only African American in her class and how she felt African Americans, more specifically, African American women, were not being represented well enough, 

You don't have to look far to see a lack of diversity. It's a problem right here at Baylor. "Baylor's done a worse job than most," said Darden when asked about the diversity in the University. He points out that for a Christian school, they are not doing the best that they can do.

"Kernodle's impact on me was the fact that she challenged me to ask myself, what will I use my voice to do and how will I use my power?" said Rachel Badger, a Baylor student. "That made a difference for me because at times I feel like I can't make a huge impact, but Kernodle really convinced me that I can."

Kernodle finished her speech by discussing what she wanted to get out of her She Sang Freedom concert later that night. She wants to be a voice for the unheard, to empower the audience because they "will be the agents of change... [they] will either destroy this world or [they] will save it."