Zita Arocha is a Cuban-American bilingual journalist and senior lecturer in the University of Texas At El Paso. She is director of Borderzine.com, a multimedia web magazine that prepares Hispanic college journalists for jobs in 21st century newsrooms. For over 20 years, she worked as a reporter for The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Miami News and The Tampa Times. She was executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 1993-1997, and was training coordinator for the Freedom Forum’s Chips Quinn Scholars Program from 2000-2002. She has also been a freelance contributor to various national publications.
What are your job responsibilities?
Right now, I am the director of an online magazine called Borderzine.com and also, I teach some of the Journalism courses.
What is your educational training?
I always wanted to be a teacher, but life had other things prepared. My first job was at the Tampa Time and later I went to work at El Nuevo Harold in Miami. In the first newspaper I applied as a secretary, because there weren’t any current positions open. I waited a season. Finally one reporter quit his job, and I applied for it. My boss at that time taught me what I know now. He was my mentor and a big support of my career. I have also worked at the Washington Post and The Miami News.
How did you find your current job?
I was invited to teach at UTEP in 2002. I had come to El Paso years before and I thought that it was a nice place to live. Dr. Weatherspoon had made me the invitation to come to the university and teach communication. I felt so glad, because I studied to be a teacher and that opportunity came to me at the right moment. Also, I am the current director of Borderzine Magazine at UTEP and is for Hispanic journalist pursuing an opportunity in the journalism.
How did you prepare for this career?
Honestly, your daily work prepares you for your career. I earned a master’s degree in English and comparative literature from the University of South Florida, and recently I earned a MFA in bilingual creative writing at UTEP. My most recent job has been a memoir, Leaving Cuba.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is seeing bright new students each semester. Also, there is always something new to do, to learn and even to write. I like that my students get engaged in communications. We see them now everywhere and I believe that in the communication area you never will get bored.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
I remember when I used to write stories from the court rooms, I would get chills of the cases I used to hear. It is one of the parts about my job, which I most enjoyed. Being there, in the middle of all those sometime terrible, great and inspiring jury verdicts. Reporting those cases was something that I will always remember. I even enjoy telling them to my students or even to someone that is interviewing me, like you.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Most of my time I spend it at school. But, like on the weekend I spend the time with my husband at our house. We are common people that do common things.