Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maria Hechanova: Rising Star Begins Career in Yuma

YUMA, Ariz. -- My name is Maria Hechanova and was a member of the NAU Swimming and Diving team from 2005-2009. I spent 10 weeks this summer in New York interning with NBC Universal's "Today" Show and was immediately hired in September as a producer/reporter for KYMA-TV NBC News 11 in Yuma, AZ. I've had a crazy couple of months, but I credit the skills I learned as Division I student-athlete to help me achieve in the real world. Here is my story.
KPHO-TV CBS 5 News - Phoenix
After making some contacts at my internship at KPHO-TV CBS 5 News in Phoenix, I scheduled a meeting with the KYMA-TV News 11 news director in Yuma and said, "Here's my resume and my demo reel. I graduate in a year and want to work for you. What do I need to do to prepare?" He gave me advice, two books to read, and said stay in touch.
The "Today" Show - New York
I was one of 500 students selected to intern at NBC Universal in New York. They receive about 7,000 applications a semester. Within the internship program, I was one out of six students selected to be a fellow (paid intern). I lived right in the middle of Manhattan and was only a 15 minute walk from 30 Rockefeller. I had the opportunity to help with breaking news coverage of Michael Jackson's death and observe what goes on in the control room. You can read more about my experiences here.
Asian American Journalists Association - Boston
From New York, I flew straight to Boston for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Convention. This is the organization that helped me get the internship with NBC Universal's "Today" Show. At the convention, I was one out of 12 students selected to report for AAJA Voices, the convention newsletter. You can read my column about swimming an open water race in the Hudson River and making the transition from student-athlete to journalist here.
KYMA-TV NBC News 11-Yuma
Three days after my plane landed in Phoenix from Boston, I received a call from the KYMA-TV NBC News 11 News director offering me a position. It proves the power of staying in touch! I had two weeks to buy a car, re-pack all my things, find a place to live, move to Yuma, and start work. It was an exciting adventure! Right now I produce the 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts during the week and report on the weekends. I have a lot of responsibilities from stacking the show (putting stories in order) to tweeting teases (yes, we use social media) to shooting, editing, reporting, and being on air. My primary responsibilities are producing which means I'm behind the scenes selecting stories to air. I got the chance to fill-in anchor one morning and interviewed Nick Lachey live via satellite. It was very exciting! I absolutely love my job! It's fun, challenging, and I'm learning a lot. So far I've done stories on the U.S. Border Patrol, the winter produce season, and more. It's tough at times, but I always think back to those really hard swim practices and say to myself, "If I can survive four years as a Division I athlete, I can survive anything!" During my time on the NAU swimming and diving team, Andy brought in our team psychologist Bert Gershater. He reminded us to breathe, practice gratitude, and think positive - all the skills that have helped me in the real world. Yuma is such a unique market. We cover news from Southern California to Mexico to Arizona. I'm so lucky to have a job and I count my blessings every day. I know there are plenty of college graduates struggling to start their careers in this tough economy. To read my bio and see my stories, visit my station's website at http://www.kyma.com and click on my bio under the "News Team" tab. Outside of work, I have a blog documenting my experiences in Yuma. Click here
I'm a Lumberjack for life! If you have any story ideas, shoot me an email at mhechanova@kyma.com, be my facebook friend or follow me on twitter, username MariaHechanova.
Photo Credit: www.kyma.com
Maria Hechanova Reporting: My first breaking news live shot. A man wanted for questioning suspected to be armed barricaded himself inside a Yuma motel room. Police close streets and ask people to stay inside.

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