International Student Spotlight: Lianza Reyes

by Saniya More

May 2, 2018

Filipina broadcast and digital journalism sophomore talks about her Newhouse experience and beyond

Lianza Reyes sitting in front of the Newhouse 3 building
Lianza Reyes Photo by Saniya More

After taking a high school film class while completing her International Baccalaureate diploma in the Philippines, sophomore Lianza Reyes realized visual storytelling was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. But Reyes says she wanted to focus on stories about real people, rather than fictional characters.

“Through journalism, I want to bring a voice to marginalized communities,” Reyes says.

It was that love for journalism that drew her to Newhouse, despite the complications of studying outside her home country.

“One of the conditions I had with my mother was that I’d only go abroad if I was on a scholarship. When the letters started coming in, it was looking pretty dim,” Reyes says. “But a few days after my birthday, [I received] my acceptance letter [from Syracuse offering] the exact amount of money I needed to go to college. That shook my entire world.”

Now a sophomore, Reyes is involved in a wide spectrum of activities. She is a resident advisor in Brewster, Boland and Brockway halls. A speaker of Spanish since she was young, she produces CitrusTV Noticias, the only Spanish-language television news show in Central New York. Reyes also writes the Gender and Sexuality column for The Daily Orange, works for the student publication The International and is a University 100 international ambassador, where she reaches out to prospective students and gives campus tours. Lianza also helped start the Filipino Student Association, where she currently serves as treasurer. Needless to say, Reyes is very busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Staying busy has really pushed me to become a different person compared to who I was my freshman year of college,” she says. “Each passing semester forces me to change and adapt, which I think is very essential to journalism.”

Most of Reyes’ friends when she first came to SU were international, a fact which hasn’t changed much in the last two years.

“It’s been difficult to adjust to American culture. It’s weird because I have always considered myself Americanized. Was it hard? Definitely. I’m still adjusting,” Reyes says.

Being an international student has posed its own unique challenges. Reyes says she sometimes has trouble understanding cultural references in class because she grew up outside the United States.

“It’s a headache trying to explain how the media is different back home, why I’m scared to try new things in Newhouse, why I’m so much more insecure about how I do in class because of Asian culture,” Reyes says. “Sometimes, it’s such a barrier to have that cultural difference.”

Reyes says it’s hard to work in an industry where diversity is especially low.

“It’s put a lot of pressure on my shoulders as a journalism major,” Reyes says.

For this reason, Reyes says when she produces newscasts in class and at CitrusTV, she makes a conscious effort to include stories from a variety of perspectives and to make sure many narratives are heard.

Eventually, Reyes wants to go back to the Philippines and report on stories there. In particular, she wants to empower smaller, local communities by showing them how to navigate fake and real news. Reyes says fake news is a major issue in the country, especially when it comes to stories about national politics and the Philippines’ relations with the rest of the world.

Until she gets there, Reyes will focus on improving her skills as a journalist here at the Newhouse School.

“With Newhouse, as difficult as the challenges are, I think once you overcome those challenges, things become lighter, and you are so much prouder of yourself from when you first began,” she says.

Saniya More is a junior broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School.