TV anchor pursues a degree at OLLU
Arantxa Loizaga would make a good story for one her newscasts: Mexico City native arrives in San Antonio with no journalism experience, lands a job at Telemundo hosting a magazine show, gets hired as a reporter at Univision, rises to weeknight anchor and celebrates by enrolling at Our Lady of the Lake University.
No, she’s not taking one or two classes. Arantxa, 28, is a full-time student -- she took 12 hours in the fall, 16 in the spring -- on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism in the summer.
“I’ve been a professional journalist for five years,” she says, “but I needed to go back to school to complete my education.”
Why? Arantxa says it bothered her to encourage others to pursue college while lacking an undergraduate degree herself. “I felt like a hypocrite,” she says. “Now people ask, ‘Why do you want to go back to school? Why do you want to graduate?’ I want to do it for myself. I want to set an example. I’m always saying, ‘Go to a university,” but I don’t have an undergraduate degree. I always thought you have to lead by example. But it’s very tough.”
In the spring semester, she took classes Monday through Friday from early morning until 1 p.m. She began work at the station at 1:30 p.m., and finished at 10:30 p.m. Arantxa studied after her newscast, on weekends and during her lunch break. “I sleep an average of five or six hours,” she says, “and drink a lot of coffee.”
The kicker: Despite the early morning classes, the evening anchor work, and the long nights of studying, Arantxa carried a 4.0 grade point average in the fall and a 3.75 GPA in the spring. She came to OLLU on a prestigious President’s scholarship.
Her story begins in Mexico City. At 18, Arantxa hosted a live children’s television show called the “Click Club.” Two years later, she moved with her mother and two sisters to San Antonio to help them open a downtown restaurant. The establishment went bankrupt. Arantxa took a job hosting a television magazine show at Telemundo. In 2007, she became a weekend reporter for Univision 41.
Along the way, Arantxa earned an associate’s degree in new media from Northwest Vista College and set her heart on a four-year degree. Her grandmother once attended Our Lady of the Lake High School. Two great aunts graduated from OLLU. Arantxa’s day schedule -- 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. -- precluded her from following them to The Lake. But then came her promotion to weeknight anchor. “That was the key for me,” she says. “It allowed me to go back to school.”
Former OLLU professor Dr. Kay O’Donnell marveled at Arantxa. “She is not your typical undergrad,” O’Donnell says. “She is a media professional, committed to her field and eager to share her passion for her work with others. She is a mentor to many of her fellow students in the Mass Communication program and she has been an incredible asset to our student media efforts.”
Arantxa’s television work did not suffer after she enrolled at OLLU. In November, she won a Lone Star Emmy Award for news anchoring. As a student, she embraced her journalism courses and offered classmates an insider’s view of the TV news business. The perception, she told students, is that anchors show up to work and have underlings do the research, the writing, and their makeup.
“But we have to get out and do our own stories, write and edit,” she says. “I also do graphics. We don’t have makeup artists or hairdressers at the station. You buy your own clothes and learn how to do makeup. Everyone thinks we are divas who say, ‘makeup,’ and they powder your nose. But that’s not how it works. It’s not a very glamorous job.”
With two semesters behind her, Arantxa is pleased she decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree full time while anchoring the 10 o’clock news. “I love the university,” she says. “It brings peace to my heart. Every time I walk on campus, I feel I belong there.“