Contreras discusses her journalist experience

Inami Tapley, Staff Reporter

Guest speaker Daisy Contreras came to the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union to give an informative speech on her life and her work for NPR Illinois on Tuesday.

With a room full of people, she mentioned her struggles of finding a major that fits her and her parents’ liking. She said she wanted to be a doctor and she went to undergrad as a pre-med major, but she continued to switch majors until she settled on journalism.

“I never thought I would be into political reporting,” Contreras said, “and when I heard about this grad program in Chicago, it sparked an interest.”

She said her parents were a little disappointed when she left medicine, but they understand more now.

“I only have a sister, and she is an electrical engineer, and so my parents are fine with at least one of us going into the so-called hard science,” she said. “Now that I am in journalism, they kinda see that this is what I meant when I told them I was interested in journalism.”

Contreras said it is not easy to become a journalist and that she wishes she could have had the opportunity to go to journalism school, so she would have had more experience when entering the workforce.

She said she had to learn how to adapt to the environment of working in the state house.

“It was very overwhelming, I was left alone to learn how to navigate the state house,” she said. “That helped me a lot, and I knew that I could go explore on my own.”

Contreras said that she thinks finding a mentor is very important and can make it easier for you when starting an internship and entering the job market.

Valentina Vargas, a senior majoring in journalism and LASO’s public relations chair, said she had the opportunity to have a lunch meeting with Contreras earlier in the day, and she said she learned different things between the lunch and the speech.

“The (lunch) meeting got a little more personal, and she made it clear that journalism is very open and that you learn a lot opening the door to more possibilities,” Vargas said.

Vargas also said that, because of her meetings with Contreras, she has a better understanding of what she wants to do.

Jaynell Perera, president of the Society of Collegiate Journalists and a journalism major, said her favorite quote from Daisy Contreras was to “just keep pushing.”

Perera said it was great to be able to listen to a speaker that she could connect to. Being a first-generation college student and doing well in college is something Perera said she has dreamed of, and she said that Daisy Contreras has increased her confidence about her future.

Imani Tapley can be reached at

581-2812 or [email protected]