Valeria Luquin, winner of NLP’s 2019 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award, with her journalism teacher, Adriana Chavira.

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Valeria Luquin, winner of NLP’s 2019 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award, with her journalism teacher, Adriana Chavira.

Elyse Frelinger

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For student leader, news literacy brought growth and opportunity

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At NLP, we know that our programs and resources work — our metrics tell us so. But statistics don’t show the personal impact of news literacy education, and we find those stories inspiring.

Photo of Valeria LuquinThat’s why we recently checked in with Valeria Luquin. We met her in 2019 when she was a freshman at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Van Nuys, California. Journalism teacher Adriana Chavira introduced Luquin and her classmates to news literacy using NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom when they were ninth graders. Valeria quickly grasped the concepts and applied what she learned to her daily life. She did so well we named her our Gwen Ifill Student of the Year! In this video she talks about helping family and friends become more news-literate and acting as a good role model for her younger sister.

Today, Luquin is a high school senior and news magazine editor-in-chief at her school’s student-run news website, The Pearl Post.  She also represents the student body as its vice president. “I look back on who I was freshman year [and] I notice a huge growth in myself as a person and as a student journalist,” said Luquin, who is also co-host of the school’s new Room 22 podcast.

Changing with the times

Chavira, who still teaches journalism at the school, tackles the changing trends in how students get their information. “As students increasingly rely more on their news from social media platforms such as TikTok, I’ve put more of an emphasis on asking them where they get their information,” she said. “I’ve always encouraged them to double-check the information to ensure that they are re-posting accurate information, especially in the past year with news of the Jan. 6 insurrection and COVID-19 pandemic.”

The students are changing as readily as the information landscape, Chavira said. “I’ve noticed that my freshmen this year come in with more news literacy skills than in previous years. They already know to double-check the information on social media, especially if it’s only one account reporting certain information.”

That kind of savvy is simply a part of who Luquin now is. “I still find all of the information from Checkology to be useful in my everyday life,” she said. That includes identifying credible sources and having a deep appreciation for the work journalists do to inform the public. “I am still not sure what I would like to major in, but a career in the journalism field is one of my top choices.”

Whatever path she chooses, Luquin credits her involvement with NLP for giving her an advantage early on. “The News Literacy Project opened up a lot of doors for me, especially after I was awarded the Gwen Ifill Student of the Year award. I am grateful for all they have done for me and for the work they continue to do to teach young teenagers about the importance of journalism.”

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