Alumna inspired by civil rights hero to pursue career as news reporter

Civil rights hero Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals, Chair Emeritus of the Department of Communications and Media Studies, inspired and encouraged Amanda Aguilar ’13 to follow her dreams and become a reporter.

Dominican’s close-knit community gave her just the right amount of space and support to make that dream a reality for Amanda, who came to Dominican from Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward.

“I didn’t want to go to a bigger school so Dominican was the perfect fit,” says Amanda, now working for KSNW-TV, the NBC affiliate in Wichita, Ks.

In the School of Liberal Arts and Education at Dominican, Amanda evolved into the managing editor of the University’s print newspaper, the Habit, which she called “my baby.” She remembers the day Dr. Beals, a member of the Little Rock Nine, turned her class over to Amanda.

“It gave me confidence knowing she could trust me to do that and made me believe I can definitely do this for the rest of my life,” Amanda says.

Dr. Beals also is the inspiration behind this month's “Unity In Diversity” celebration at Dominican, which concludes on May 2 with the Melba Beals Excellence In Diversity Awards in Creekside Room.

However, Amanda’s desire to go the career route of television came from a TV class. Her instructor, Laurie Lattimore Volkman, commended her one day on a paper she wrote and that praise stuck with Amanda.

“She wrote `You have a knack for journalism.’ It was just that one sentence that made me think, `Maybe this is what I am meant to do? Maybe I can do this?’ ” Amanda recalls. “What I really liked about all the professors at Dominican was they were very supportive. They always challenged me to do better than my best. They pushed me. They supported me.”

After graduation Amanda worked as a reporter for a couple of print and online publications, but she yearned to get into television. She decided to get her master’s degree in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University and that led to an internship at NBC News 4 in Washington, D.C.

Though Amanda had little experience reporting in front of camera, she seized opportunities when they arose. Amanda shadowed several reporters, who let her practice speaking in front of the camera.

“Something that they always told me at Dominican is that it’s really a conversation,” Amanda says. “When you’re reporting a story it’s a conversation. That’s what I kept reminding myself.”

Within a few months, Amanda moved to KSNC in Great Bend, Ks. where, in an entry level reporting position, she made such an impression with her variety of reporting, editing, and production skills that in less than a year she was promoted to KSNW in Wichita. She is serving as a reporter for the morning show “Kansas Today.” Amanda is also a fill-in anchor for “Kansas Today” and “KSN News at Noon.”

Now Amanda is dreaming of bigger jobs in larger markets. Yet, inspired by the challenges she had at Dominican and the progress she has made afterward, she is staying focused on the big picture.

“I’ll go where ever I’m happy,” Amanda says.


April 15, 2019