Attending the University of New Mexico as an international student from Juárez, Mexico, Annya Loya Orduno graduates as an award-winning reporter who has already played an active role and left an impact in New Mexico journalism.
Loya Orduno served as the news editor for the Daily Lobo, interned at the Las Cruces Sun-News and will now go on to work as a journalist for the Deming Headlight through the New Mexico News Fund fellowship.
Writing and taking pictures since she was a kid, Loya Orduno will graduate from UNM, with a degree in mass communications and journalism and a minor in French.
“It made me so happy … to be able to test myself further as a reporter and continue serving the community that has been nothing but welcoming towards me, and especially making my parents proud because they have given me so much for me to be able to be here,” Loya Orduno said.
Loya Orduno was selected as this year’s recipient of the Hank Trewhitt Award for her reporting, awarded by the Daily Lobo Alumni. One piece she submitted, and a story she said stands out to her, was entitled, “Fetishization’s negative effects on women of color.” She said working on it felt very close to her and it was powerful to cover.
“That was such an impactful article for me because I know that I've been through similar experiences … It’s one of my favorite articles because of how powerful it was to write about it,” Loya Orduno said.
The Hank Trewhitt Award, Loya Orduno said, was rewarding after working for the Daily Lobo since her freshman year.
“Being recognized for my efforts here and winning that award felt so good. It was all very reassuring that I'm doing a good job and I'm going to do an even greater job. I'm going to continue working hard and I'll be making myself proud,” Loya Orduno said.
Gwyneth Donald, a faculty member in the journalism department, and program manager for the NM Local News Fund, said that when they selected Loya Orduno for the fellowship, her experience reporting proved her to be a good investment for the field in the state.
“I think she's brave and curious and tenacious,” Donald said. “And those are three awesome qualities for journalists … I was impressed that she had never gotten sidetracked since I've known her from what she wanted to do: she’s focused.”
Her interest in journalism first sparked in a high school journalism class, which she felt fostered her love of writing while also challenging her to research, understand and report on a variety of topics.
“I took that class and I saw that this is something you can actually do with your life,” Loya Orduno said.
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Another childhood love was photography: Loya Orduno said she has always admired the way it encapsulates a moment. Whether it be her childhood bedroom or a picture of her with the first story she published in print at the Lobo.
“Just taking pictures of what I was doing and where I was, because I love the idea of keeping a memory that way. Being able to look at it and have every single detail correct,” Loya Orduno said.
During her senior year at UNM, she took a photography class as a way to expand her skill set as a journalist; while doing so, she found a passion for portrait photography.
“I wanted to be able to say I can also do this and I can provide this toward a newsroom. Then this semester I finally took a photography class … It was such a good experience, to have such a good teacher. And I found my love for photography again,” Loya Orduno said.
Involved throughout campus, Loya Orduno worked as a resident advisor her junior year, and is currently a Social Media Intern with UNM Food. In managing all her responsibilities, she said it has also been important to prioritize her mental health.
“I'm very level-headed. Yes, I can have moments — I can be very angry or anxious or scared about something, but eventually, I can easily find my way back, take a moment to take care of myself and think about what is it that I need to do,” Loya Orduno said.
Elizabeth Secor, the multimedia editor at the Daily Lobo, said that Loya Orduno has always been a supportive and inspiring role model in the newsroom, and she has given her Loya Orduno the advice to take every opportunity you can.
“Annya’s always a bright spot on Sundays when we come into meetings and she's always been really helpful when I need help,” Secor said.
Loya Orduno said that the community she has found at UNM has been invaluable and has helped her tackle the challenge of moving to a different country and studying in a different language as an international student.
“I remember my freshman year how scared I was and how many questions I had, and (the Global Education Office) was on top of everything trying to guide me,” Loya Orduno said. “I felt very welcomed by not only the other international student community but by the entire UNM community.”
Loya Orduno said that the people around her have been one of the most meaningful parts of the past four years.
“I found some people that I want to keep in contact with for the rest of my life here in Albuquerque, at UNM. And, it's a beautiful feeling to find people who love you that much and who will continue to love you no matter what,” Loya Orduno said.
Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddogpukite