With a $2.1 million gift from Verónica Salazar-Escobedo (BA Spanish ʼ65) and her husband Rubén M. Escobedo, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has launched the Salazar-Escobedo School of Mass Communication and Theater.
Located on the second floor of Main Building, the new school features the Verónica Salazar Media Center, a state-of-the-art, multimedia production center that opened in 2016 with funds from the first phase of the $2.1 million gift.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, celebrated a special Mass and blessing for the Escobedos on September 15 in Sacred Heart Chapel at OLLU. The Escobedos offered remarks upon conclusion of the liturgy.
“We want our graduates to become the best journalists, the best broadcasters, the best mass media in the country,” Salazar-Escobedo said. “We hope the national markets will recruit them. We want them to become evangelists for Our Lady of the Lake University, to inspire other students to look at us. We would like for the new school to become a boutique, where students would be on a waiting list to get in.”
OLLU alumni have reported for ABC News, CNN, Fox News, PBS, the Associated Press, A&E, the Oprah Winfrey Network and network affiliates in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. They have won 37 regional Emmy Awards, one national Emmy and one Peabody Award. Four alumni — Arantxa Loizaga (ʼ12), Sarai Bejarano (ʼ12), Angelica Casas (ʼ15) and Gianna Rendon (ʼ15) — won Lone Star Emmys for work they produced while pursuing a Mass Communication degree.
Recent graduates anchor, produce, report and photograph news for media across the country, including Univision in Miami, BBC News in Washington, D.C., and Fox San Antonio, KSAT-12, News 4 WOAI, KVDA Telemundo and Univision 41 in San Antonio.
“There is no limit where our graduates can go,” said Salazar-Escobedo, a charter member of the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. She spent 35 years with the San Antonio Express-News and retired as Vice President of Community Relations.
In 2015, then OLLU president Sister Jane Ann Slater, PhD, CDP, told the Escobedos about talented Mass Communication majors who were working with antiquated equipment. After meeting with several students, the Escobedos decided to fund major improvements to the Mass Communication program.
“I thought, ‘If they are already Emmy winners with outdated equipment,” Verónica said, “can you imagine — I get goosebumps — what they can accomplish with state-of-the-art equipment?’”
One student she met, Casas, won two Lone Star Emmy Awards for work she produced for LakeFront TV. A second student, Jessica Ortiz (ʼ17), won a Lone Star Emmy in 2018 as an assistant producer for Univision 41.
“I saw myself in the students when I visited them,” Salazar-Escobedo said. “I was like them at their age. The students inspired me and Rubén.”
In his homily at the liturgy, Archbishop Gustavo said, “We have the blessing of honoring Veronica and Ruben. They are such great friends to the university, and they are wonderful examples of discipleship as members of the Body of Christ.”
The archbishop expressed his gratitude to Veronica and Ruben for joining together with the Sisters of Divine Providence in the ministry of the University of Our Lady of the Lake. “Like our Blessed Mother, they do not shy away from the demands and sufferings of Christ in this world. Rather, they stand resolutely and with purpose, as Mary did, at the foot of the cross,” he said in thanking the couple. “The sorrows of our times are not something from which they will run, but rather, they are something that they will embrace. The future lives of thousands of students depend on it!”
Photo: Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, blesses the Salazar-Escobedo School of Mass Communication and Theater at OLLU. Credit: Veronica Markland