As an award-winning television reporter for KMEX - 34 Univision Los Angeles, Julio Cesar Ortiz is a well-known and respected journalist in the television broadcast community. He is also a former Santa Barbara City College student, an immigrant, and the only one in his family to attend college. “As an undocumented high school student, I worked twice as hard because of the language barriers. My goal in class was focus and memorization,” recalls Julio. “When I got to SBCC, every teacher I had never doubted me. They were patient. They formed a base of belief. Professor Georgia Duran (Communications Department) made me try for more – to look ahead – and believed in my communicating ability. Academically, she made me uncomfortable in a good way.”
Julio received two associate degrees from SBCC (one in communications, the other in liberal arts) before transferring to California State University, Northridge, where he earned a double-major bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication studies. “By the third week of transfer to Northridge, my foundation at SBCC made me a leader in my classes. They used the same books I’d already used at SBCC. When asked what college I had attended, I answered, ‘SBCC!’ For me, the TAP program was key. My bible became the IGETC. At SBCC, lots of people were on the same path, had the same dream, and were willing to help. They shared doubts and concerns. There was a universal feeling of camaraderie.” He fondly recalls crossing the SBCC bridge between campuses. “I know there are more stories like mine crossing that bridge and wandering the halls.”
At CSU Northridge, Julio founded the first-ever, 30-minute, weekly Spanish newscast in the California State University system. From there, his heart was set on becoming a television reporter to serve the Spanish-Speaking community – a goal he aptly achieved. Julio’s news stories and his involvement with the immigrant community have been recognized at local, state, and national levels. He has been nominated for 38 Emmys and received 19. For two consecutive years, Julio received the Edward Murrow Regional Award for best writer. His achievements also include being the first Mexican immigrant journalist to receive two consecutive Associated Press awards for writer of the year in the western United States. Julio’s stories have taken him from Los Angeles to Phoenix, to the towns on the U.S./Mexico border and into the heart of Mexico where immigration to the U.S. has taken its toll. Motivated by the social and economic challenges faced by the immigrant community, he attained a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from University of Southern California and will specialize in treating mental disorders as a consequence of acculturation and migration within the Hispanic community. Further efforts include launching a bi-weekly segment on mental health to connect the Hispanic community to mental health services.
When asked what other aspects of attending SBCC affected his future, Julio easily answers, “SBCC taught me to give back.”