Anything but ‘blah’
Astrid Rivera (left) interviews famed Puerto Rican television personality Walter Mercado
Campbell alumna’s online magazine connects with Latino community
Story by Billy Liggett
“My English wasn’t very good looking,” she jokes about the experience.
Rivera, who grew up in Puerto Rico, was in the Army Reserve and stationed at Fort Bragg when she considered Campbell University to continue her education. Despite the language barrier, Rivera wanted to study communications.
Her dream career: Journalism.
She found the right adviser, Campbell Professor Dr. Michael Smith; and before her senior year, she interned with WNJU-47 Telemundo in New Jersey, setting the stage for the success that was to come.
“I always wanted to be a journalist … I remember striking a pose with my microphone/hairbrush, reporting from my bathroom,” Rivera said. “Sticking to my dreams and finding other dreamers like me was what made LatinBlah happen.”
LatinBlah is an online magazine geared toward U.S. bicultural Latinos, according to Rivera. “Passionate about bilingualism,” LatinBlah — started last August — is music, culture, fashion, humor, passion, family and community, according to its founder. She started the site after noticing many Latino publications stopped printing or posting online in Spanish (opting for English or what Rivera calls “Spanglish”).
“We try to connect our abuelos’ (grandparents) traditions with our own,” Rivera said. “We focus on audience engagement, striving for fresh content and connecting with what’s going on culturally in our community. We also believe the users should always get something in return, whether it’s giveaways or coupons.”
In her short career leading up to LatinBlah, Rivera participated in the coverage of several big events, such as the 2010 arrest of José Figueroa Agosto, known as the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean. She’s interviewed and become friends with famed Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, a television legend in the Latino community for decades.
Currently, she’s working toward her master’s degree in Spanish multimedia at Florida International University, where she’s been chosen to take part in Education Nation, an NBC News initiative to engage viewers in conversation about the state of education in the U.S.
In her private life, Rivera is married and the mother of a 4-year-old boy and a girl on the way. In addition to her business ventures, she’s founder of the nonprofit organization Lots of Love, which is dedicated to children with special needs in the Miami area.
Beginning in September, she’ll launch LatinBlah Does Good, which will work with businesses to help support good causes in the community.
Looking back, Rivera credits Smith and Campbell University with getting her on the right track to fulfill her dreams.
“I learned so much from Dr. Smith,” she said. “Even a few years after graduation, I like to hear his opinion about my career and the things I’m doing in my life. You learn from everyone, and once in awhile, you find mentors who offer you the best education and training possible.”