Young Alumna Brings Experience As Reporter, And Role Model, Back to KC

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Carolina Cruz in a TV Studio

Members of the Rockhurst University community tuning into Kansas City’s morning news might see a familiar face — Carolina Cruz, ’16, recently came back to join the KCTV-5 newsroom.

“I think it was always part of my plan to get back at some point,” said Cruz, who grew up in St. Louis. “I fell in love with Kansas City when I was in college. I think the goal for me that I found within the last few years is staying in a community and growing roots there.”

She’ll split her time between reporting from the field during the week and holding down the anchor’s desk on weekend mornings.

“I really like doing both,” said Cruz, who had filled in as an anchor in previous positions. “I’m looking forward to having a role where I have more leadership in the newsroom, but I thrive when I connect with people still and see them face-to-face.”

So far in her career, she’s forged those connections from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to Hartford, Connecticut, since graduating from Rockhurst with a communications degree. She’s met countless people and told their sometimes difficult, often complicated, always interesting stories.

Cruz’s work has led to changes to state laws and new light shed on unsolved murders. But of her assignments, Cruz said her experience reporting from the U.S.-Mexico border was among the most formative. In addition to having people around her who pushed her to be a better reporter, Cruz said reporting on what was happening at the border — and the people effected — helped her understand the issues better.

“It was a really tough newsroom and I appreciated that because it made me a better journalist,” she said. “I focused on getting the whole story, making sure that we answer any and all questions before I hit the air. It’s about listening to people, and I think I’m more empathetic to both sides of an issue because of it.”

It was also through her work as a reporter that Cruz said she learned a lot about herself. After graduating with a communication degree, Cruz knew that being bilingual and Latina would lend itself to entering the Spanish-language broadcasting — a common pathway to the profession. But, remembering few examples of Latinx reporters on English stations, Cruz said she thought her background could be tools in bringing perhaps previously unheard perspectives to a broader audience.

In addition to amplifying some of the other voices in the communities where she’s worked, Cruz said she’s also been looked on as both a local celebrity — particularly by the Puerto Rican community of Hartford, Connecticut — and as a role model for the young. She recalled hearing from the hair stylist who worked with her station in Hartford about a young girl who came in with a very specific idea. When asked the look she wanted, she produced a photo of Cruz. It might seem simple, but she said it reminded her of her own experience growing up, and that small story helped her realize what it might mean for young people who are like to see her on their TV.

“Representation matters so much,” Cruz said. “That story really put that in perspective for me.”