Apr. 11, 2019  

Q&A With Drea Cornejo, 2017 Scholarship Winner

By Cassidy Alexander

Andrea Cornejo, the 2017 first-place winner of an SPJ Florida college scholarship, is no stranger to hard work.

After interning or working at no less than eight media outlets during her time at the University of Florida, and earning a multitude of honors and recognition for her work, the 23-year-old graduated with her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017 and immediately landed a job as a video editor at the Washington Post.

There, she spends her time producing and publishing original pieces for breaking news, politics, features and daily news, and managing video content for the Morning Mix team, plus editing video for social platforms.

She attributes her current gig to all of the extra training she received during her time in school, and said the SPJ Florida scholarship she won in her senior year helped her go that extra mile.

We asked her a few questions so you can learn how to kickstart your own career (hint—it has to do with applying for SPJ Florida’s general college scholarship this year).

A lot of student journalists would say working at the Washington Post is their dream job, and now that’s what you’re doing! How did you make that happen, and what advice would you give to other young journalists?

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for all the different skills I’ve learned attending a number of workshops and seminars over the years. I learned how to earn a subject’s trust, how to dig deeper, how to network, how to be a better storyteller and so much more. I think that these different skills, combined with what I learned at the University of Florida, helped me land a spot in The Washington Post’s video team. With that being said, I’d encourage everyone to attend workshops, seminars and conferences. These events are truly great opportunities for folks to learn from some of the top industry leaders around the nation.

How did winning the SPJ Florida scholarship help you?

Although I worked two and sometimes three jobs, I could only ever afford to pay for living expenses and tuition costs. The SPJ scholarship helped me afford both the Mountain Workshops and Eddie Adams Workshop, two workshops that have greatly contributed to my success as a visual storyteller.

When you won the scholarship in 2017, we asked what drew you to journalism. Now we want to know what’s keeping you in the field, even though it’s not an easy career path?

I truly can’t see myself doing anything other than journalism, despite the challenges that might come with it. I love everything about visual storytelling – the people I meet, the role it plays in democracy, the impact it can have on an individual and so much more. Journalism gives me an opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless and that’s a responsibility that I hold dear to my heart.

Follow Drea on Twitter @dreacornejo and Instagram @drea_cornejo. See more of her work on her website, andreacornejo.com.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a scholarship winner? Check out the applications on our scholarship page.

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