Geraldine Ortega at the crash site as broadcast on KVDA-TV Telemundo on July 23, 2012.
Born in La Paz, Bolivia and raised by a single father in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ortega came to the U.S. as a single mother in 2003 and settled in Eagle Pass. She worked as a hotel receptionist, making $6 an hour, then got a modeling job, earning $30 an hour.
In time, Ortega became a spokesperson for San Antonio auto dealers, sang at music festivals, recorded an album, “Volvamos a Comenzar,” and opened a dance studio.
“I always wanted to be in entertainment,” she says. “My father is an artist, a guitar player. He had one of the best bands in Bolivia. I grew up being on TV shows, dancing.”
Wanting to pursue a college degree, Ortega enrolled at Northwest Vista, transferred to OLLU and began studying journalism. An internship at Telemundo turned into a full-time reporting job. Soon, she was juggling on-air assignments, a full load of classes and sending money to support her father in Bolivia.
“It was hard,” says Ortega, who plans to graduate in December…“At Telemundo, I shoot, I edit, I write, I do everything. I’m a one-man band. I don’t come from a family where I had everything handed to me. When immigrants come from another country, we bring so much value. We have hopes to gain and give something better to our generation. I’m here for the American dream.”
She hopes to show her daughter what hard work and determination can produce. She wants to report meaningful stories, at times showing viewers glimpses of the immigrant experience. “The story in Goliad was very emotional to cover,” she says. “It troubles my heart to see such a thing. These 23 people went through such trouble to achieve the American dream and their lives ended in such a tragic way.”
Ortega is a resilient reporter. One day after covering the immigrant story, she rose above the grief and embraced new perspective. “I love my work, my studio and everything I do,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Thanks to all the people that bring happiness to my life.”