Getting published while studying
by Daniela Hernandez Villarroel
As a second year BA Media, Journalism and Publishing student, my course provides the opportunity to develop my writing skills - and to get published while I’m studying.
I was born in Chile and I moved to the UK four years ago. I wanted to join a degree here so that I could bring an international perspective to my studies, and work towards my goals of being able to report on news and events happening in all corners of the world.
During my first year of university, I undertook work experience at the local newspaper, the Oxford Mail. While there I had the chance to visit a court of law, do interviews, write articles, and even work on the front page. I wrote a piece on a local post office worker and a few months later I followed up the story with a second piece. I also reported on Oxfordshire's ecobrick scheme. These are opportunities that I would never be given in Chile as a first year student!
I think the course's second year Essential Journalism module has helped improve my writing skills the most. Spanish is my first language and, trust me, writing features in English seemed like a huge challenge when I first started but I have improved so much. There is still a lot that I have to learn, but making progress is what motivates me.
I am passionate about conservation and the environment, and I have worked for various NGOs, including volunteering for an animal rescue centre in the Amazon rainforest in December 2020. Travelling to the Ecuadorian rainforest during a global pandemic was a completely new experience. While there I put my course skills into practice generating a news feature for an assignment in our journalism module.
As you can imagine, there were many challenges to volunteering in the rainforest, including no electricity! Which meant I had to find other ways to complete my feature assignment while I was working there, and still submit it on time. This gave me a taste of what it must be like to be a journalist reporting from different parts of the world.
My piece about my trip to the Amazon was entitled, Fighting on two fronts: The struggle of Ecuador’s indigenous communities after double massive oil spill. I pitched the piece to The Oxford Blue which they published, alongside our course publication Makhazin. I was also invited to talk about the issues that my piece highlighted. This gave me a great sense of purpose, as one of my goals when applying for my course was to be able to give a voice to those who are not always heard.
During my free time, I run my own YouTube channel where I talk about my experiences as an international student living in the UK, and my experiences travelling to different parts of the world. I am also the host and editor of a Spanish podcast Globales y Conscientes which is available on Spotify. I started this podcast to talk about current and international affairs, cultural diversity and female empowerment - if you speak Spanish and would like to participate, please drop me a line!
I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without the support of my tutors on my course, who always encourage us to seek out experiences that could contribute to our studies and careers. If I were to advise prospective students it would be to step out of your comfort zone, trust the process and don’t be afraid of rejection.
Last edited: 26 04 2021