Makayla Grijalva is probably best known at The University of New Mexico for her work at Advance and the Daily Lobo. She’s skilled at multimedia storytelling through writing, shooting and editing video, photography, live video production, and web and graphic design.
But Grijalva said when she arrived on campus, “I spent my first year at UNM afraid to speak up in class, go to office hours, and even apply at the Daily Lobo. I told myself that I didn't have the experience or know-how to offer my voice.”
She persisted and will graduate in the Class of 2020 with a double major in Multimedia Journalism and Political Science, a minor in History, and a GPA of 3.85.
The Las Cruces native credits family, mentors, and support resources for helping her make a success of her time at UNM. Being a perfectionist, she found, can make college life difficult.
“The largest challenge I faced at UNM was that of mental health. For most of my college career, I realized that I held very high expectations for myself and overburdened myself on many occasions. That ultimately led to a very real burnout that I couldn't shake until recently. Luckily, I built a very strong support system for myself here and developed life-long friendships that I will cherish forever.”
“Once I started to become more comfortable sharing my thoughts, acknowledging when I had questions, asking for help, and just going for opportunities that came my way, my college experience became so much more positive. I wish I learned that earlier, but at least I learned how to share my voice before it became too late.” – Makayla Grijalva
However, Grijalva noted, programs like New Mexico Leadership Institute helped her establish a strong foundation that carried her through her college career.
As part of the Advance team where Grijalva leads the 5 things to know campaign at Advance, a video series aimed at informing UNM faculty about resources available to them on campus. But she said her most defining experience at UNM was her experience at the Daily Lobo. She became a multimedia reporter there in 2017 and worked her way up to managing editor this past year.
“So I spent most of my time at UNM with this amazing organization. Through the Lobo, I learned so much about how the University worked," said Grijalva. "It helped me to get a good look behind the curtain and provide me a safe space not only to praise the work of the University and the people within it but also a space to look critically at the University. I felt a true responsibility to hold the powerful accountable the bring decisions that were made out of privilege to light.
"Every student, faculty member, staff member and community member deserves to know what decisions are being made at this institution, and I helped to create a platform that acknowledged that. The community at the Daily Lobo is also something that I'll never be able to forget. Being a part of the Daily Lobo is something that will forever be etched into my identity.”
Political Science and History professors were inspirational because of their passion for the subjects they taught and sharing their knowledge, Grijalva said, adding, “It's impossible to not be excited about learning when the one teaching is so obviously passionate.”
“Both of these strong women and experienced journalists help me to look at journalism in a new way and improved my overall reporting. They helped to reignite my passion for the craft when other factors and people made me hesitant to want to be a part of the field.”
Grijalva admitted the postponed commencement is disappointing.
“Walking in December just won't have the same effect as walking now. The spark will be gone. Most spring 2020 graduates will be well into our lives and jobs by the time we're able to walk for a commencement ceremony. And the thing of it is, not being able to experience commencement for all that it is will just have to be a sacrifice that the class of spring 2020 make for the greater good of the community,” she said.
Musing about her time at UNM and what advice she’d give new students, Grijalva observed, “Once I started to become more comfortable sharing my thoughts, acknowledging when I had questions, asking for help, and just going for opportunities that came my way, my college experience became so much more positive. I wish I learned that earlier, but at least I learned how to share my voice before it became too late.”
She will continue to share her voice and put her UNM experience to work.
“I recently was accepted into the New Mexico Local News Fund Fellowship Program, so I will be working with the Silver City Daily Press for the next nine months. I'm so excited to be reporting on a local, close-knit community and I'm excited to see what this new chapter in my life brings.”