UM School of Communication alumna Valeria Briceño, B.S.C. ’17, won two Emmy awards at the 42nd Annual Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards last month. Briceño, who graduated from UM with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, was the youngest employee at Univision when she created the show that would win her these two prestigious awards.

“I’m from Venezuela actually, so once I graduated from high school, I came here to this country to do politics or law. But in my first semester I said, you know what, communication is key in today’s world,” Briceño said.

It wasn’t long after switching her major that Briceño knew she had to get involved in UMTV, eventually earning her position as an anchor on UniMiami, UMTV’s Spanish-language news show, as well as contributing to NewsVision, UMTV’s weekly news program. And it was at UniMiami where Briceño was able to hone her broadcast skills – she got hands-on experience working a camera, producing, anchoring, and even serving as a technical director. 

“She was able to capture the whole workflow to the point where she was able to direct a show,” said Alex Morales, broadcast operations manager. “She had a lot of different positions, but I think the one that fits her best is on-air. She is also very discerning as far as selecting what content to include.”

Briceño spoke warmly of her time on UMTV, saying “when I started broadcast journalism, I just fell in love with it. And UMTV is a great opportunity for every student to get their hands on real work.”

In fact, Briceño’s experience on UMTV helped her score a major internship with Univision the summer before her senior year at UM. Briceño said she believes the demo reels and skills she acquired from working at UMTV set her apart from over 1000 applicants across the nation.

“I don’t think a lot of colleges have their own television station,” Briceño said, praising UM’s top-notch student media outlets.

Morales credits Briceño’s successes to her hard work ethic, mentioning that “she was there before everybody else. She was also willing to stay late. She put a lot of work into it. I can tell right away when students mature throughout the process, but she was a very fast learner. She evolved very quickly.”

Once Briceño graduated UM, she called up Univision and they hired her back as an employee. Briceño said “because I was the youngest one on the team, they asked me how they could reach young students.”

“I told them, listen, there’s a huge world of influencers right now – they are the biggest startup today,” she continued.

Briceño wasted no time in proving herself to her new employer. She pitched an idea for a three-part news series called Los Nuevos Ídolos, and suggested some Hispanic influencers she wanted to interview for the segment. The series would follow some of today’s biggest YouTube personalities and Instagram influencers and how they made it big in the hearts of the South Florida youth. Her boss loved the idea. 

Briceño interviewed two influencers from Cuba, two from Venezuela, and one from Colombia in the series. After long hours of rehearsing, producing, and editing, the series was a hit, and Univision submitted the series to the Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards, but Briceño admits that she “never thought I [she] would win an Emmy.”

The staff was notified of their two nominations in October, and by December, Briceño would be gracing the stage to accept not one, but two awards for her own original news series. The Los Nuevos Ídolos team won best Feature News Report – Light Series, but Briceño won an individual award in the Talent category for best Reporter of a Feature/Human Interest piece. 

Laughing, Briceño describes sitting at the awards ceremony, which took place in Orlando, FL, thinking “okay, what the hell am I doing here, because I’m just a student.

“I didn’t prepare a speech. I remember I went to the stage, and I thanked my team who was able to help me on this, and of course my bosses, because they believed in me,” Briceño said. 

Los Nuevos Ídolos marked Briceño’s first independent project, as well as her first time being on camera at Univision. The 24-year-old said her family watched as she accepted her awards at the Emmys from their home in Venezuela. 

“Everyone called me from Venezuela. I was on the news in my country. It was great. I’m so thankful,” Briceño said.