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Vanessa Cruz-Santana '10 Getting Hands-On Experience in Television with "Daybreak OC"

By Laura Bramley
Posted July 11, 2008
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Wearing a wedding gown on television? It's all in a day's work for Vanessa Cruz-Santana '10 (Santa Ana, Calif.), who is interning this summer at KDOC TV, a local television station in Orange County, Calif. Cruz-Santana is interning for "Daybreak OC," a morning news show that reports on local news in Orange County.

Other than modeling gowns for a summer wedding special, Cruz-Santana has a host of responsibilities. As one of 11 interns with "Daybreak OC," she books live guests, does research, writes scripts, pitches ideas, produces segments, operates the teleprompter during live shows, and even goes out on shoots where she gets time both on camera and behind it. This kind of hands-on work, Cruz-Santana says, is something "out of the ordinary for internships in broadcasting and television. They really just throw you in there and have you learn as you go."

Thanks to alumni and parent donations, Hamilton students can apply for funding to support them while they work in a field of interest with an organization that cannot pay them. Though Cruz-Santana works in an unpaid internship, she received a stipend from Hamilton's Joseph F. Anderson Internship Fund, given in honor of a 1944 Hamilton graduate who served the college for 18 years as vice president for communications and development. The fund provides individual stipends to support full-time internships for students wishing to expand their educational horizons in preparation for potential careers after graduation.

Never having worked in television before, "I really did not know what to expect," Cruz-Santana admits of her first days on the job. She went into the internship expecting to be making phone calls, but when her employers told her to compose a script, she says, "I froze in fear, because I have never had any sort of experience or training or class on how to write a script." Luckily, the writing skills learned at Hamilton have helped her succeed at KDOC. "There are certain values Hamilton has, like writing, that help you when you least expect it," she notes.

Her internship this summer is one of the best experiences she has had, says Cruz-Santana, since it has given her valuable experience in the demanding and often unseen work that goes into television broadcasting. "There is a lot behind the scenes that goes completely unacknowledged by the public," she explains. "I have a new respect for everyone who makes live broadcasts a success." Cruz-Santana is unsure of whether she wants to continue in the television industry, but says she is curious to try working on other kinds of shows such as sitcoms or sports broadcasting, now that she has had some experience in live news.

A Hispanic studies major and potential communications minor, Cruz-Santana says that whatever she pursues, "I know it will be for the Latino community." At Hamilton, she is a member of La Vanguardia, an organization devoted to broadening the community's awareness of issues pertaining to Latino culture. She also tutors in the Clinton "A Better Chance" program, is part of the Events Staff, and works as an art editor for Red Weather, the college literary journal. 

-- by Laura Bramley

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