Cristina J. Bazaldua and Rosemary Mercedes (Donors)

By University Communications

Tuesday, 02 26 2019

Many people have heard of Univision Communications, but what they may not know is that Univision started as a small independent company in San Antonio in 1955.  At the time, it was the country’s first Spanish-only television outlet, and has now become the nation’s largest provider of Spanish-language entertainment.

Cristina J. Bazaldua and Rosemary Mercedes are no strangers when it comes to bringing awareness to the mission of Univision Communications.  Mercedes is the current Executive Vice President and Chief Communication Officer of the company, and Bazaldua is the Community Empowerment Director.  Both women hold titles that strongly focus their efforts on building new relationships between Univision and local communities, maintaining current relationships, creating a positive image for the network around the country, and helping to ensure that the next generation of leaders in communication are equipped with the knowledge and skillset to create a lasting change.

Bazaldua is a strong advocate not only for the importance of an education, but also in making sure that the Hispanic community feels represented in entertainment.

“My passion is making a positive impact and being an agent for social change,” explained Bazaldua, who credits her educational values on her parents.  “Their influence was by far what I needed to know that I wanted to attend college, and do more for our ‘gente.’”

Mercedes also places a very strong emphasis on the importance of inclusion and higher education.

“I’m the first member of my family to graduate from college,” she said.  “I went on to choose a career in public relations. When I started looking for a job after college, a career in PR (public relations) that would help me evangelize diversity never occurred to me.”

Univision has an inept focus on creating the future leaders in the field of communication, and their affiliation with Texas A&M University-San Antonio is helping to do just that.

“A&M-San Antonio leased the Educational and Cultural Arts Center through an agreement with the city in 2012,” said Bazaldua.  “This made possible future exhibitions and educational programming on Latino arts, culture, and programs that Univision was able to document directly from the on-site location.”

Mercedes adds that there was a bit of planning that went into establishing what the appropriate donation would be for A&M-San Antonio and its students. Ultimately, we decided on a contribution of $150,000 over a two-year period. That gift and the arts center partnership are not the only ways that Univision is changing the lives of students at the University.

“This was an innovative concept that our general manager had for a while,” she explained. “Univision was founded in San Antonio; it was only natural to honor the birthplace of the company, but also continuing to work to ensure the next generation of Hispanic Americans could succeed in media.”

The Univision Capstone offers a hands-on learning experience at the Univision Studios in San Antonio.  Every semester, a select cohort of communication seniors are selected to participate in the program.

“Students gain a one-of-a-kind educational experience through different internships and mentoring programs,” explained Bazaldua.  “They are assigned to one or two staff members during their semester, and gain the best experiences while studying broadcast, radio, digital media, or advertising and marketing.”

Professional involvements prior to graduation are essential to Bazaldua and Mercedes.

“Gifts of this caliber are important to our city in order to assist our future generations and build a community with positive change through philanthropy and social responsibility,” said Bazaldua.  “Our focus is to empower our young Hispanic students with the tools, resources and opportunities to be successful both locally and globally.”

A sentiment that Mercedes also avidly believes.

“Univision’s focus is to empower young, Hispanic students with the tools, resources, and opportunities to be successful wherever their careers may lead them,” she said.

Students who are currently participating in the Capstone also relish in the opportunity to gain a professional understanding of their major before their time as undergraduates concludes.

“I want to immerse myself in communication,” said Joel Valadez, a communication major who graduates in the spring of 2020.  “I won’t only be getting involved in the marketing side at Univision, I’ll also be hands-on with production.”

Veronica Martinez, a communication senior, is currently part of the same cohort, and also appreciates the opportunities that have come from the Capstone.

“Now that I am networking, I will feel confident when graduation gets here,” she said. “Going to the Univision station and talking to others who are working in what I would eventually like to do is really beneficial. Everybody is helping each other out. We all bring a different approach and view to the table. I feel more confident now than I did before."

Students at A&M-San Antonio share a drive to not only better themselves, but also to better their community; an integral notion that started when the school welcomed its first class 10 years ago.

“The University is a terrific academic institution with a dynamic leader in Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson,” said Mercedes.  “As someone who is passionate about diversity and inclusion, it’s so incredibly refreshing to see a leader who has built a culture of excellence that values equity and inclusion.”

In terms of longevity, Bazaldua has hopes that Univision will have an equally profound effect on students at A&M-SA as it did on entertainment when the company first began.

“I want this Capstone to be a pioneer and leave a legacy of award-winning journalists,” she said.  “Always work hard, be on time, and always do good….even if no one is watching.”

Univision Communications’ collaboration with A&M-San Antonio will continue to build future leaders in the vastly expanding worlds of communication and journalism, further fueling the educational experience that A&M-San Antonio prides itself on and further adding to every student’s quest to find their mission.