Alumni Spotlight: Jocelyn Carranza

Name: Jocelyn Carranza
High School & RC Grad Yr: Otay Ranch High School, 2012
College & Grad Yr: San Francisco State University, 2017
Major: Print and Online Journalism
Work: Video Assistant Editor, Freelance Photojournalist

What was the biggest challenge you faced when transitioning from high school classes to college courses?

The biggest transition was learning how to manage your time. Unlike high school, where all you had to do was focus on a few classes and maybe an after-school activity, in college you have to learn how to balance school, work, and internships in order to become successful. In my case a lot of my classes were very hands on. I had to be out in the city reporting on different communities. From interviewing local community members, city supervisors to police officers. On top of that I was taking 16-18 units, working part time and freelancing for a local newspaper or small media blogs. I had to learn how to balance almost every minute of the day so I wouldn’t fall behind on my classes. Although it was difficult and overwhelming at times it taught me how to be more responsible. It also taught me how to be strong and showed me that I can take on anything under a lot of pressure.

What was your favorite part about participating in Reality Changers?

My favorite part about participating in Reality Changers was Senior Academy. When I was in Senior Academy, I was surrounded by so many like-minded people that wanted to succeed and make their families proud. I had mentors that cared and wanted to help my peers. We would spend many hours together filling out college applications, scholarships, and financial aid forms. We all became really close with each other and cheered each other when we got acceptance letters. I remember one of my mentors, Julie Schlossberg, helped me sign up for a campus tour at San Francisco State University. We both traveled to Northern California to visit the campus. It was my first time visiting northern California and when I saw the campus and the city, I knew I wanted to attend San Francisco State University for my undergrad. Senior Academy was a positive environment and I felt supported by so many people. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the position I am right now.

What did you learn at Reality Changers that has been most helpful to you either in college or your career?

Something that I found very helpful that I learned from Reality Changers was how to be a good public speaker. When I was in high school, I was a very shy student and I dreaded speech nights at Reality Changers. At the time I didn’t think public speaking was a necessary skill to learn because I thought that’s something a public figure do, I’m not going into that field. However, when I got to college, I was wrong. I had to do a lot of presentations in front of large classrooms as part of my final projects. When I became the multimedia editor for my college newspaper, I had to constantly give speeches to my team in order to encourage them to keep working on their stories. Even after college I’ve had to give speeches. I was recently asked to give a speech at my old internship’s showcase about how I was able to break into the media industry in order to encourage other young women and people of color who want to be part of the industry at the Bloomberg Beta building in San Francisco. When I was up there sharing my story to a room of more than fifty people it was a scary moment for me, but it was more empowering. It was the first time I told a group of people my story and I wanted to influence others that they too can be a part of the media industry if they are passionate about the work they do. Reality Changers taught me the power of public speaking and it’s a skill that I am grateful I can use to encourage others and be a leader.

What advice would you give current seniors at Reality Changers about college that you wish you had know before stepping on campus?

One thing that I wish I learned sooner before stepping on campus is don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I’ve always considered myself a very independent person and was always afraid to ask for help because I didn’t want to seem vulnerable. Especially in the field I wanted to get into I thought it would be a very competitive environment where people are fighting to get the best headline story. However, when I got to my department, I found out there are a lot of people that are willing to take their time to help you because they want you to succeed. I remember I wanted to get into filmmaking but there weren’t a lot of filming classes and there was only one professor that really knew how to use camera equipment. I never had him as a professor, but I knew I wanted to learn this new skill. I made an appointment with him to have a filmmaking workshop and ever since that day I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. From there on he became my mentor. He taught me how to use various camera equipment, he would always let me borrow any equipment I needed for a class or a story I was working on, he would forward me any documentary film internships, and he even helped me get my first freelance gig. If it weren’t for me reaching out to that professor and asking for help, I never would have known what kind of career I wanted to get into. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people because you never know what kind of doors, they can open for you.

Involvement outside of work or school, if applicable. (Examples: volunteer, community or leadership roles, personal hobbies, study abroad/travel experience, etc.)

I’ve always considered myself a visual storyteller so when I was in college and even now, I freelance as a photojournalist for a local bilingual newspaper in the Mission District of San Francisco. Being a visual storyteller has given me the power to be able to step into people’s lives in an intimate way and help tell their stories. It’s a humbling experience because you hear about some of the hardships people go through and it’s your job to tell their story in hopes to bring awareness to their situation. It’s also helped me learn about the community and the city I live in. It’s allowed me to use my craft and creativity to help people in a way I don’t think other careers are able to do.

Who inspires you and why?

My mom and dad have been my biggest inspiration. Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico who left everything they knew for a better life. They are the most hardworking people I know and taught me to never give up. They have given my siblings everything they could to live a good life and they always pushed education because they knew it would give us a better life than what they had. Knowing my parents’ story and the courage they had to come to this country has always been in the back of my mind whenever I am making a big decision in my life. If my parents were able to leave a whole country in order to have a better life than I am going to knock on any door that can give me an opportunity that can help me succeed because I want my parents sacrifice to be worth it.  

What is your favorite quote?

“I did not need to improve, I grew. I did not need to change, I evolved.”


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