Making Grown-Up Decisions And Breaking Into Sports Journalism #TheYearOf40

When the summer of 1999 ended, and after 3 years coming to Martha’s Vineyard as a exchange student, it was time to start making grown-up decisions and settle back in Santo Domingo to finish college and find my way back to the newspaper where I had secured a job at the beginning of the year but declined it to go back to the island one more time.

As soon as I was back in Santo Domingo I went back to college to realize I had a long way to go before graduating because of the traveling of the previous 3 years. Many of my peers had already finished and I had to commit to doing the same feeling like a newbie around my college with all the new faces. Making the grown-up decisions of not coming back to the US to focus on my career and to face my fears and go talk to the newspaper director and ask him for a job, again.

Being 22 for me represented having much more responsibility than what most people have at that age: I contributed money to the household as well as with chores that needed to be done, and also had to take Mamá Amparo to the doctor when needed as well as my other grandma, Cela, who didn’t live with me (yet) but depended on my older sister and I because my mother lived overseas.

It was a year of transition from my last summer in Martha’s Vineyard and the many people I met, the memories and the carefree life of being in a seasonal paradise for the last three summers. It was the year I realized how important was to commit to complete my education and start working towards the career I wanted and grow some roots.


Grown Up Decisions That Took Me To Sports Journalism

Classes started by the end of the fall and I began to pursue the director of the Listín Diario newspaper to ask for another chance at being a reporter. It was a sight you would not believe, as this tomboy who usually dressed in jeans, tennis shoes, no makeup and let my wild curls loose, dressed up to impress with professional attire, full-on Dominican blowout, makeup, and heels. That was one of those grown-up decisions that scared me but I did anyway. I requested an appointment and went to his assistant’s desk to wait to be seen.

It took several attempts as he was a busy newspaper director after all and a few times he wasn’t able to see me after I waited for more than an hour at times. My patience and good attitude paid off and when I finally met with him he asked me which field I wanted to work in. I replied immediately: Sports. Although it was the late 90s, in the Dominican Republic there had been just a handful of sports writers in the history of the media, and I would be only the second in the paper’s 100 years history.

The director was surprised by my request and challenged me by saying what if he assigned me to the police to cover crimes. I looked at him in the eyes and said, “I’m a rookie, so I’ll take whatever you offer me. However, you asked me what I want and I want to be a sports reporter. My future was secured that day, and while he didn’t offer me a job like the one I had secured earlier that year, he offered to add me to a group of interns that will be starting soon and granted me a spot in the sports department.

This experience was the catalyst for my career and the learning experience a new reporter needed, especially entering a specialized field like sports. I was the only woman in a team of 13 men, the only person under 25, and the only intern. For many on the outside, all of those facts were a disadvantage, but they weren’t, they worked in my favor. I made good friends and mentors there, had the best boss I’ve had in all my working experience and prepared me to take on a full-time job as a sports journalist a year and a half later at El Caribe newspapers.

Working in sports has been one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve done; it was exciting to have inside access to the teams and the players and having the opportunity to meet people that I followed and admired. It was also the first opportunity to put my English knowledge to the test during baseball events, as well as beginning my journey as a translator.

The year of making grown-up decisions brought me joy, knowledge, and heartbreak. But it also allowed me to spread my wings and become the woman that had been waiting to emerge.

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© Dania Santana ~ Embracing Diversity
Multiculturalism, Diversity & Inclusion Expert | Author | Speaker
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