When most people work a morning shift from 3:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., the average post-work activities would probably be to head home and take a nice, long nap. However, one bright Thursday morning, Miriam Valdes-Carletti worked this exact morning shift and proceeded to leave work, get ready and head to her university graduation to be there by 2:00 p.m. The graduation ceremony commenced at 3:30 p.m., a full 12 and a half hours after Valdes-Carletti’s day had already begun. Exhausting? Probably. Rewarding? Most definitely.
“It felt really nice to be working the day of my graduation because I really felt like things were going to be okay,” she said. “For me, that day was amazing because I was working, I had a job in my field and I did it by myself. Graduation was the best thing for me.”
Valdes-Carletti graduated this year from the Ryerson School of Journalism, and almost immediately headed into the workforce — currently employed at CTV as both a Web Producer for the Marilyn Denis Show and a Freelance Writer for Your Morning.
Her journey into journalism began at a very young age, as she delivered newspapers on a paper route when she was in Grade 5. Before she would begin her deliveries, Valdes-Carletti made sure to read through the paper first. At this point, she thought that journalism only existed in print and that the job entailed sitting at a desk all day. However, she later learned in an unconventional manner that this was not quite true.
“The character Sam from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — she’s like a really bubbly, happy meteorologist. She wears glasses and has her hair in a ponytail which is what I looked like most of the time,” Valdes-Carletti described with a laugh. “I thought she was so cute, and I was like ‘Oh, that’s journalism!’ And then literally, because of Sam from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I decided to do journalism.”
After this decision, the young, bright-eyed girl was driven to make her goal a reality. She did everything that she could at her high school in Niagara: joined a magazine as an editor, joined the yearbook team, took up photography and more.
She made it her goal to go to Ryerson when she was in Grade 11, which meant that she would have to create a portfolio in order to do so. This led to her joining the team at YourTV, what was then TV Cogeco, in Niagara as a Production Assistant who also did on-air reporting. All of this at the age of 17! Now, five years later, Valdes-Carletti still works with YourTV whenever she goes back to Niagara during breaks.
Miriam Valdes-Carletti has been working with YourTV Niagara since she was 17-years-old. Video courtesy YourTV Niagara via YouTube.
Her journey in university was not the easiest, although to a bystander it may have seemed flawless. She worked hard and applied to scholarships every year in order to pay for her tuition and other learning expenses.
As a Latina who was born and raised in Canada with a Salvadoran background, Valdes-Carletti says that the shift from living in Niagara to Toronto was also a bit unsettling for her. After spending years in schools that were predominantly comprised of white students, she had expected that her move to Toronto would result in feeling like less of a minority. Unfortunately, she did not feel much of a difference in terms of representation when her program began.
“I thought, moving to Toronto, I would be more of a majority and I wouldn’t have to always be the minority but still at Ryerson, there’s not that many Hispanics,” she said. “Or at least, not many ways to meet them. The Organization of Latin American Students didn’t start up until my last semester of university.”
Valdes-Carletti said that her Latina identity does not really bother her in terms of her career, because she feels that she will work hard and help make up for the lack of Hispanic representation in the media. However, it does affect her personal life.
“It’s really rare for me to find somebody who is Hispanic, and if I do, there’s that ‘Oh wait, do you speak Spanish?’ And I’m like ‘No I don’t’ and then I just think okay, never mind, I’m not Latina enough,” she said.
Valdes-Carletti’s parents spoke English to her and her younger brother at home while they were growing up in order to strengthen their hold on a language that did not initially come easy. This led to her being able to understand Spanish but unable to speak it fluently.
She feels that this used to not bother her before, but now seems to affect any new friendship that she begins to form with a Hispanic person. Someone once told her that she was “too into” her culture due to her love of Latin music, yet others tell her that her inability to speak Spanish fluently means she needs to try harder.
“I try to make up for it by eating pupusas,” she said with a laugh. “But I do find that I’m always trying to prove to myself and others that I’m Latina enough.”
In the past few years, Valdes-Carletti has been embracing her Latina identity more and more. Whether it be through sending some texts to her family in Spanish, blasting Daddy Yankee as she gets ready for work in the morning or indulging in Latin American food, she feels that she has grown into her culture and is no longer embarrassed.
She also does not consider her identity to be something that should or will ever hold her back.
“When I wanted to pursue my career I didn’t think, ‘Okay I’m Latina I have to be successful,’ I just said ‘I want to be successful and I happen to be Latina.’”
The only thing that did concern her about her field was when her professors in her first year of university told her class about how hard it is to make it in journalism. Luckily, all this did was push her further.
During her four years, she joined many student groups that interested her within her faculty. These include working her way up to becoming a Co-Executive Producer at RUTv News in her third year and being a consistent member of the Journalism Course Union throughout the four year program.
Valdes-Carletti reports on a fashion show at Ryerson University. Video courtesy RUTv News via YouTube.
“I chose to do journalism, I chose to go to Ryerson, I prepared myself like two years in advance to get to Ryerson and then once I got there I took every opportunity I could,” she stated, firmly. “When I look at my degree, I know that that’s mine, that I did that myself … graduating university and getting my first job out of university, that’s something I did.”
Graduating from university was a milestone for Valdes-Carletti in more ways than one. She is the first in her immediate family to graduate with a university degree, and the second out of all of her cousins to do so as well.
“It was my grandma’s birthday when she came to my graduation and she said: ‘This is your gift to me,’” she recounted.
Now, she works around the clock — producing content for two different segments at CTV and maintaining her beauty blog: Beauty with Miriam. Her secondary goal, if she were to ever leave journalism, is to work for a beauty company and produce their videos. Regardless of whatever path she takes, it is clear that she will continue to leave behind a blaze of hard work and success.
“My parents were never like, ‘You’re Latina, you need to work harder,’ they always just said ‘You’re Miriam, you can do whatever you want.’”
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