Alumni Feature: Journalism Grads Cover Hurricane Irma


As Hurricane Irma drew near and we prepared to either weather the storm or find safer accommodations, these FIU Journalism alumni sprang into action, covering the storm from every angle. Whether it be pre or post-storm coverage, to even broadcasting live from the eye of the the storm, these brave Panther journalists potentially put themselves in harm’s way to give us, their viewers, valuable information.

One of these FIU alumni was Ashley Lapadula, a Univision 23 bilingual journalist who graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2013 and her Master’s degree in Spanish Language Journalism in 2015. She was able to give us some insight about the steps she took to attain her career as well as her experiences while reporting during Hurricane Irma.

How were you involved with the university and with your field during your time as a student at FIU?
During my time as an undergraduate student, I was involved in various internships with TV stations like Univision & CBS. I also took part in a yearlong joint partnership between Telemundo Network and FIU-SJMC as an intern for their entertainment morning show. I was also an active member of Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority which allowed me the opportunity to not only participate in various philanthropic events but also network with other members of “Greek life” at FIU.

What is your current position and how did FIU help you attain this career?
As a bilingual journalist, I currently work at Univision 23 Local Media in Miami, FL where I have been a reporter and producer for the station for the last 4 years. My first internship was acquired after I visited the SJMC Advisors department. I was informed of an open opportunity to intern with Univision 23 and after I applied and was accepted, I began my first hands-on experience with a TV Station. This opportunity opened doors for me and ultimately led me to reconnect, after I graduated, with many of the managers and directors that I met during my time there.

How did you feel while reporting during Hurricane Irma and what did you learn from this experience?
Our team at Univision 23 began continuous coverage in anticipation of Hurricane Irma which meant that we were on TV for 24 hours with no commercial breaks prior, during and after the storm. As a reporter, my duty was to inform the community from various locations in south Florida alongside my cameraman. As I stood in front of the camera ready to go LIVE on various occasions, I realized how fulfilling my job is.

Whether I was at the Emergency Management Center at 1:00 AM surrounded by various media professionals or standing inches away from the ocean at Las Olas Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale at 2:00AM as the Hurricane threatened our coastline, I was eager to share the latest news to our audience. You have to be passionate in this career and truly love what you do. Each and every time I do a story I both learn and grow from the experience. On this particular occasion, I learned how essential social media was to our community, as we were constantly posting new shelters for those who needed to urgently evacuate. We also updated the community within seconds through our social media handles and saw the comments and concerns from people in the community.

What are your plans for the near future?
I plan to continue informing the community as a news reporter on TV and through my social media platforms. I find it fulfilling to have been nominated for 2 Emmy Awards for past stories I have worked on and always strive to produce stories of that caliber that either inform, educate or start a conversation. I enjoy giving back to the community and participate every chance I get to important non-profit organizations. I also hope to publish a book in the future. If you have a story idea, Tweet me @AshleyTV23

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