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Aspiring Journalist Sets Sights on Broadcasting Career

Joe Santana
Joe Santana received the Kappa Tau Alpha Top Scholar Award, which is presented by each chapter to the graduating senior or graduate student with the highest GPA.

With a passion for storytelling and a knack for communication, Joe Santana, a graduating senior from Dumas, is poised to embark on an exciting journey into the world of broadcasting.

Armed with a degree in mass communication with a concentration in journalism and a wealth of hands-on experience, Santana is ready to make his mark in the fast-paced and dynamic field of broadcast journalism.

“I am super grateful for UA Little Rock and the journey I’ve gone through,” Santana said. “Coming here was the best decision I made in my academic career. I can’t wait to see where my career takes me.”

As he prepares to take the next step in his career, Santana reflected on the inspiration and skills he has learned through three internships. He spent two summers interning with the Dumas Clarion newspaper through the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation’s Summer Internship Program. His internship was specially sponsored by donations from the Arkansas Press Women, the Dumas Chamber of Commerce, Dumas Economic Development, and Merchants & Farmers Bank of Dumas in memory of Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder, who owned and published The Dumas Clarion for 44 years with her husband Melvin.

“The Dumas Clarion built my journalism knowledge, and they created a stepping stone for me to enter the journalism field, and I will forever be grateful for them,” Santana said. “I learned how to find local news, how to network, and how to attend press conferences. The last two summers went very well. I learned everything I needed to learn as a young journalist.”

During the fall 2023 semester, Santana had the opportunity to intern at KATV, where he worked with Brenda Lepenski and decided that he wanted to work in broadcast journalism.

“It was a really exciting internship. I learned how the everyday life of a broadcast journalist works,” he said. “Time management is really important. Brenda taught me a lot and gave me so much great advice. I’m very excited about going into broadcasting.

Now that his college career is coming to an end, Santana expressed gratitude to Linna Jones and Rick Wright from the Dumas Clarion, as well as Professors Tim Edwards, Jamie Byrne McCollum, Kiel Thorlton, and Sonny Rhodes from UA Little Rock’s School of Mass Communication for helping him build his skills as a journalist.

At UA Little Rock, Santana also serves as a reporter and photographer for the student newspaper, the Forum, as well as co-vice president and social media chair for the Hispanic/Latinx Initiative. He was recently inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha honor society, where he received the Top Scholar Award for having the highest GPA of a graduating student.

For other students who are thinking about going to college, Santana’s advice for them is to get involved in campus life.

“This is what I learned during my first year of college when I was really stuck at my dorm,” he said. “I feel like college is about more than just receiving a degree. You need to make friends, network, participate in student organizations, and connect with people who will help you in your journey.”