Like the strikingly divergent geography of her native Colombia—the South American country that boasts the world’s highest coastal mountain range as well as sun-splashed tropical beaches—Gloria Pazmino ’10CPS, Political Reporter for Spectrum News NY1, is a remarkable study in contrasts: a young immigrant who came of age and embraced a diverse new country; a local print journalist who successfully transitioned to political reporting on television; and a steady, standout reporter in the rapidly evolving and highly competitive New York City television news industry.
“I think in English but dream in Spanish,” she once wrote in a column penned in a Manhattan community newspaper. With a bilingual voice for the often-bifurcated communities of New York City that she covers, and armed with the time-tested St. John’s University blueprint to follow, Ms. Pazmino’s immigrant success story and career trajectory can only be described as the material of American dreams realized.
Born in Cali, Colombia, Ms. Pazmino arrived in New York at the age of 11, first settling in Elmhurst and later residing in Corona, Queens. A stranger in a new country who did not speak the language, Ms. Pazmino cites the work of an effective ESL program at P.S. 112 Dutch Kills that transformed her abilities to master English and enhance her spoken and written word.
“My mom insisted that we speak Spanish at home as a means to preserve our culture, and I am grateful for that,” she recalled in a recent interview. “We must celebrate, embrace, and pass down our cultures.”
Raised by a hard-working mother employed as a house cleaner to support her only child, Ms. Pazmino cites the quiet, dignified example of her mom and the unbridled love of her late “Abuela” that continue to influence her work ethic. Age is a valued asset in Colombia; the older a person is, the more powerful their voice becomes, and the echoes of her ancestors and heritage are undeniable.
Hard work was not the only early lesson learned at home—so was a love of reading, especially a daily newspaper. It was a serendipitous seed planted in a curious young woman who would go on to have a byline in the Manhattan Times, POLITICO, and varied digital media outlets.
Shaped by her immigrant experience, Ms. Pazmino’s unalterable connection with New York City was sadly solidified on her 13th birthday when the terrorist attacks of September 11 took place. “It was a birthday that I have never forgotten, and I had a strange relationship with the day for a while. Since then, celebration has always been a hard thing to understand.”
When it came time to attend college, Ms. Pazmino, then living in New Jersey, enrolled at the Staten Island, NY, campus of St. John’s University for her first year before transferring to the Queens campus to pursue a degree in journalism. Like many St. John’s students, the need to help finance her education prevented her from partaking in many extracurricular activities; instead, she balanced a long commute with various jobs working in the service industry.
Ms. Pazmino did avail herself of the opportunity to study abroad, traveling to India and Russia on summer academic immersions. She cites Basilio G. Monteiro, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, as a valuable faculty mentor.
“Whenever I see Gloria on television, I remember how she was an outstanding student with unbounded intellectual curiosity and a relentless eagerness to discover the world,” recalled Dr. Monteiro. “I am very proud of her achievements.”
After working as a community reporter at the Manhattan Times, Ms. Pazmino became a News Assistant at NY1, where she did the behind-the-scenes work necessary to produce television in a fast-paced, breaking news environment. “NY1 is like being in a classroom at St. John’s. You are always learning.”
Believing that she did not want to be on the air, Ms. Pazmino left NY1 and joined POLITICO, then a fledgling national journalism company covering politics and policy that distributes content through its website, television, printed newspapers, radio, and podcasts.
“Having a regular byline enables you to forge relationships,” she explained. “Your name is everything, and having the ability to inform the community about the place they live, and giving readers the tools to make educated decisions—that is a privilege.”
For almost six years, Ms. Pazmino reported daily on New York City politics, City Hall, and every major breaking news event in the metropolitan region. While at POLITICO, Ms. Pazmino began to appear on NY1 broadcasts as a guest political commentator. In so doing, she gained another platform to share her stories while showcasing her natural on-air talents.
In early 2019, Bob Hardt, Political Director at NY1, recruited her to return to the station to regularly appear in front of the camera.
“As journalists, we report about the immigrant experience all the time, but Gloria is living it. She brings her perspective to so much of what she does, and our coverage is broader because of it. She’s the ultimate New Yorker so it’s great to have her as our point person in City Hall.”
Describing her college experience Ms. Pazmino declared: “St. John’s University prepares you for the job, but you must do the work. Do not be afraid to do the hard work and to build on the New York connections that the University provides,” she advises current students and budding journalists.
Reflecting on the significance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ms. Pazmino observed: “I only ask that we take this opportunity to celebrate Latino heritage and to remember and appreciate the place where we live, so that we continue working toward bringing down barriers that might separate us from time to time, amongst Latinos and others.”
This November, Ms. Pazmino, who completed the US citizenship naturalization process in 2018, will vote in her first Presidential election. For a reporter who has been on the frontlines of political news for the last decade, she is introspective and excited about the awesome responsibility that comes with American citizenship. “Becoming a citizen was a joyous day for me. Being able to vote—something that I reported on for years—is critical to our political process.”