International Student Spotlight: Camila Grigera Naón

by Saniya More

February 19, 2019
Camila Grigera Naón
Camila Grigera Naón Photo by Saniya More

Camila Grigera Naón is a sophomore broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School. Naón, a Buenos Aires native, currently serves as president of Reporters Without Borders, Syracuse chapter. We got to know her a little better.

Why did you choose to come to Newhouse?

During high school, I was indecisive as to whether I wanted to stay in Buenos Aires to study or obtain a degree abroad. Back home, pursuing a journalism degree is very broad, but I wanted to seek a very specific aspect of journalism that focused on its digital production and political importance. Therefore, when I started researching journalism schools abroad, I really liked Newhouse, as it offered very specific majors and classes that focused on newswriting, reporting and digital production. So I decided to apply and see what happened, and the outcome was very positive.

What is your favorite thing about Newhouse?

The professors, by far. When I started my freshman year, they were very welcoming and urged the students to not be afraid and reach out to them if they had any issues. I really appreciate professors like that; ones who understand that starting college is difficult—especially for international students. I liked that they wanted to establish a relationship with their students. I also like the way the classes are taught. The teacher-student ratio is very small, so it is easier for me to learn and ask questions. I also get to know my professors and peers better that way.

What were some of your initial struggles when you came to Syracuse? How did you get through them?

Homesickness was the biggest struggle, and it continues to be so. The Argentine and American cultures are very different, which made the transition into college a lot harder. I missed my family and friends constantly, the smell of Buenos Aires’ air and my grandpa’s home-cooked meals. There is no place like home. I struggled with this a lot during my freshman year and considered at one point that I should just go back to Buenos Aires.

I decided that leaving wasn’t an option for me, and I’m glad I came to that conclusion. During the summer after freshman year, I talked to my friends and family back home and the friends I’d made at Syracuse. They helped me come to the realization that I’m studying what I’m truly passionate about in a school with an incredible program, and that home will always be waiting for me with its arms wide open once I finish college.

What is the most important thing Newhouse has taught you?

Journalists are problem solvers! I want to ultimately become an investigative journalist, and this is the best piece of advice any future journalist could receive. Even though, during my time at Newhouse, I’ve only covered local stories, I’ve experienced several situations where things got difficult. When [I was] covering a story, people would be unreliable and would cancel on me at the last minute, others would avoid answering tough questions and some…decided not to answer my phone calls or emails. Yet, I’ve come to learn that journalists must always find a way around these obstacles—especially those [journalists] who are determined in seeking the truth.

What are your plans after graduation? What do you see yourself doing?

I have no idea, but luckily I still have time to think about it.

Lately, I’ve had my heart set on applying [to] a master’s program in investigative journalism at Columbia University’s journalism school. I’d really like to become an expert and acquire all the tools possible that will allow me to succeed in my future career.

Though I don’t know what I’ll be doing directly after graduation, I know that in the end, I want to become an investigative journalist and ultimately move back to Buenos Aires. I want to expose the corruption my country is facing, increase the levels of governmental transparency and deliver accurate and fair information to the public. I want Argentina to reach its highest potential, because I believe that it is a country that has been longing for change, and only deserves the best.

If you could go back in time to freshman year, what would you tell yourself?

Put simply, do what makes you happy. Though I ultimately decided that staying in Newhouse was the right path for me, it might not have been the best one for other students.

Never sacrifice your happiness for anything else. If you feel truly homesick or feel that the particular university you’re attending isn’t the right one for you, embrace that uncertainty. You will always have other options, and people who will help guide you. Don’t forget that you are young and have your entire life ahead of you. Things will work out, and it’s perfectly human to experience moments of insecurity, sadness and uncertainty—whether those moments seem temporary or permanent.

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