(Trends Wide) — After beating leukemia as a teenager and joining her university newspaper when COVID-19 changed life on campus, Raquel Coronell Uribe is now making history at Harvard.
Coronell Uribe, 23, will be the first Hispanic president of Harvard Crimson, America’s oldest daily college newspaper, since its founding nearly 150 years ago.
“It is an honor to be able to be in this position,” Coronell Uribe told Trends Wide. “At the same time, I think it should have happened sooner. I’m sure there have been a lot of qualified Latinx people who could have been president in the past.”
“I hope to open the door so that many others after me can go through it,” he added.
Coronell Uribe, a third-year student majoring in history and literature, was chosen for the year-long job after a process known as “Turkey Shoot” that involved dozens of interviews, writing a document describing the candidate’s qualifications, as well as a final speech and interview panel.
During the multi-week process, he focused on why the document should move further towards innovation and digital diversity. Prioritizing the inclusion of communities of color in stories and welcoming those who walk through the doors of The Crimson is key, Coronell Uribe said.
A recent analysis of the Voices program of the Association of Asian American Journalists found that black and Latino students are disproportionately represented in student newsrooms across the United States.
Less than 6% of the editors-in-chief were black and only 11% of the top editors were Latino, according to the analysis.
In 2018, The Crimson elected its first black female president, Kristine E. Guillaume, but inclusion has long been an issue for the organization. Before Guillaume took on the role, two Latinx editors denounced the complicated relationship many editors from underrepresented backgrounds have with The Crimson.
Raquel Coronell’s family legacy
Some of his friends and family were not surprised to see Coronell Uribe win the job.
He became interested in journalism at an early age when his family lived in Colombia. There, he enjoyed visiting his parents, Daniel Coronell, the former president of Noticias Univision, and his mother, María Cristina Uribe, a well-known television news anchor, at work and watching them report the news as it unfolded, he recalls.
While journalism was always close to his heart, Coronell Uribe enrolled at Harvard with the intention of pursuing a career in the field of Medicine. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, who is a doctor, and the doctors and nurses who treated her when she was diagnosed with leukemia at age 16, Coronell Uribe said.
But he quickly realized that his passions were more aligned with journalism and law, he says.
In recent months, he has reported on the ongoing legal battle against Harvard University over the possession and use of photographs of enslaved people and is studying for the LSAT. She sees herself reporting in the future or fighting for press freedom in court, she says.
“I’m not really sure what I’m going to do exactly. But I know that one way or another it will involve journalism,” Coronell Uribe said.
As he prepares to take on his role early next year, Coronell Uribe recalls how fighting and beating leukemia changed his perspective. It also seems to have given her the courage to lead The Crimson, something she doubts she was cast for.
“It has definitely pushed and encouraged me to try to achieve my goals and things that I’m not sure I can achieve,” she said. “Because if you only have one chance to do those things, you can’t miss it.”