COSmic Knight Took a Risk That Paid $5K

Funding your college career may be difficult, but Cristobal Reyes-Rios took a chance that won himself a scholarship.

With a double major in journalism and political science, Reyes has a lot on his plate. He became interested in journalism in ninth grade when he took a journalism class and showed promise in news writing. He initially got interested in politics and investigative journalism when he read “Nickle and Dimed” and “Fast Food Nation.”

“Those books initially got me into politics and investigative journalism and showed me the power reporters have with their words,” Reyes said. “At that point I figured, ‘Hey why can’t that be me?’ Ultimately, I decided that this profession can be a vehicle to meaningfully contribute to society.”

When the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) posted a scholarship, Reyes decided to take a chance and apply. He says his experience at UCF has been rocky. With 60,000 students it was hard for him to find his niche.

“I worked with the College Democrats for a while before joining Knight News,” Reyes said. “Then I spent a semester abroad studying in England, which exposed me to a whole other culture and made me even more committed to journalism.”

Now that he’s found his niche, Reyes has flourished, despite being placed on disciplinary probation with UCF. It’s something he has to mention when applying for scholarships and thought NAHJ wouldn’t select him because of it.

“The NAHJ scholarship had an essay component, I decided to take the long shot and write about it,” Reyes said. “I guess that only worked in my favor since I won the scholarship.”

Reyes was presented with $5,000 for his academic achievements. He will use it for his tuition and books. Reyes is now an editor for Knight News and is pursuing a career as an investigative journalist or a political correspondent after he graduates in Spring 2018. He believes in being his harshest critic. As a journalist, the work can be quite meticulous and the harder a person strives to get the facts, the better. Reyes also believes students need to take risks.

“Get out of your comfort zone,” he said. “Take the long shots. Fly across the ocean. Be passionate in what you’re covering or what you’re writing. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

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