Our Lady of the Lake University has launched its first ever School of Mass Communication and Theater with a $2.1 million gift from Veronica Salazar-Escobedo, a San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists award winner, and her husband Ruben Escobedo.
The couple donated the funds in the hopes of preparing more local students for careers in journalism.
“We want our graduates to become the best journalists, the best broadcasters, the best mass media in the country,” said Salazar-Escobedo, a longtime San Antonio Express-News journalist and OLLU alum. “We hope the national markets will recruit them.”
OLLU’s undergraduate student body is 78 percent Latino and nearly 57 percent low-income, according to its 2019 factsheet. About 97 percent of its undergraduates this fall are from Texas.
“We love to see more resources dedicated to local, Latino students pursuing degrees in communications,” said Silvia Foster-Frau, board president of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. “Talented, resilient students graduate from our local universities every year and go on to be extraordinary professionals.”
OLLU’s alumni have won 37 regional Emmys, one national Emmy, and one Peabody Award.
After hearing that communication majors at OLLU were working with antiquated technology, Salazar-Escobedo sprung into action to help.
In 2016, OLLU opened a multimedia production center using $1.1 million from the gift. It has spent the remaining $1 million on the Salazar-Escobedo School of Mass Communication and Theater.
“I thought, ‘If they are already Emmy winners with outdated equipment,” Salazar-Escobedo, a native of Rio Grande City, said. “Can you imagine — I get goosebumps — what they can accomplish with state-of-the-art equipment?’”
Salazar-Escobedo won SAAHJ’s Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.