If you’ve watched Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” on weekend mornings, then you’ve most likely seen work done by one of Vanguard University’s graduates. Jennifer Rivera, ’09, works as a segment producer for the network’s morning show, produced and broadcasted from New York. After completing an internship at Fox News as an undergraduate, she returned to Orange County to complete her B.A. in Communication from Vanguard. Upon graduation, she returned to New York for a full-time job at Fox.
After spending time working in the Fox documentary division, she was quickly given the wonderful opportunity to join “Fox and Friends” after the network brass decided to add an hour to the show. Rivera says that it all happened very quickly and that it was a whirlwind experience. “My first week in, I pushed my first segment. I had to learn from the ground up in a matter of days.”
As a segment producer, Rivera has many and varied responsibilities. She books guests, conducts pre-interviews and creates a packet that is sent to the show’s anchors which includes information about the guests and facts related to the story. Rivera says that her responsibilities are not few. “I do everything. I cut video, I do graphics, I write scripts.” A three-to-five minute segment for the show takes, on average, four to five hours to produce. And Rivera produces two segments a day. “I work at least twelve hours a day, every day.”
Despite the long hours, Rivera loves her job and feels very blessed to be in her position. “I have the opportunity to tell someone’s story. That, for me, is my thrill. It’s the best part of my job.” She realizes that she is fortunate to have the opportunity to tell stories about others. “It is a privilege and an honor to have this huge responsibility.”
One of the most exciting parts of Rivera’s job, she says, is having professional relationships with the anchors of the show. “I have been able to develop an amazing relationship with Alysin Camerota. She is amazing and she’s been my mentor. It’s been a thrill.” Rivera says that Camerota has been an inspiration to her and has encouraged her in her own career.
Rivera attributes her success to many factors, including her faith, hard work and perseverance. Originally from Puerto Rico, Rivera’s family moved to New Jersey when she was around twelve years old. Her parents sought a better way of life with more opportunity – and felt that the United States could offer that. It was a life-changing event for her family. But it wasn’t easy. Acclimating to a different way of life took its toll on the family – and her father would eventually lose his job. The family’s faith in God sustained them through these challenging life events. It’s one of the many reasons for her success. She learned to embrace the struggle and rise above it, persevering until she succeeded.
She also says that Vanguard – and the Department of Communication – has been pivotal to her success in her career. Rivera says that one of the most important things she learned while at Vanguard was to not just focus on one skill – but to learn many. In particular, she remembers Associate Professor Ann-Caryn Cleveland telling her to “take the bull by the horns,” and learn as much as possible. “Vanguard taught me really quickly that I could not just focus on one skill as part of my learning process.” Rivera said that especially in the area of news broadcasting and production, it is important to learn everything, such as camera work, editing, writing and so on. “That is the reason I was hired – because I know so many areas of production. It made a difference.”
Rivera also remembers Professor Cleveland as pushing her to excel on one particularly early Saturday morning. “She dragged me out of bed to cover an immigration rally taking place right in front of City Hall.” Rivera grabbed her equipment and made her way to the rally without blinking an eye. Being fluent in Spanish, she was able to converse and cover the story in her native tongue, which made her perfect for the job. The coverage of that rally was part of a radio podcasting course that was being taught for the first time. “From that moment on, Professor Cleveland just took me under her wing and she really polished me. She taught me how to really strive.” Rivera also said that former professor Gayle Heuser was a huge influence in her life, as well as Drs. Carmody and Rosenior. “They were my backbone, my foundation in communication. Wherever I go, when people see my work, I bring a little piece of them with me.”
Rivera says that in the future, she would eventually like to open up her own production company to produce content that is special to her and to help train the next generation of communicators. “At the end of the day, I want to learn everything that I can so that I can pass that on to the next generation and they can do an even better job than what I’m doing right now.”
Perhaps some of her future employees will be Vanguard Lions!