WP Communication Department Returns to Vieques, Puerto Rico


Courtesy of Dr. Diana Peck’s Twitter https://twitter.com/diana_peck/status/1085025619707076608

Nadia Starbinski, Entertainment Editor

WAYNE. NJ — Eleven William Paterson University communication department students were accompanied on a trip last month to continue their volunteer work in Puerto Rico, which began last year amidst the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The initial focus of the trip, created by communications professor Dr. Lori Ramos was to assist WVQR 90.1 FM Radio Vieques, the community radio station in Vieques, Puerto Rico, during its recovery.

Motivated by their original efforts and her long-time connections to Vieques, Dr. Ramos organized another trip to continue where the group left off. Assisting Dr. Ramos were fellow communication professor, Dr. Diana Peck and WPSC Station Manager, Sebastian Escobar.

Jacob Martinez, 2018 communication alumni, has traveled with Dr. Ramos and Dr. Peck since the beginning and is no stranger to hurricane relief.

“I’ve participated in relief efforts before and while I could relate to the experience of the devastating effects of a hurricane, I did not feel as emotionally attached to the people as I did when we arrived in Vieques,” Martinez explained, “I was in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Hugo and my family lost all we owned. Seeing how badly affected the people who live in Vieques were, reminded me of that experience and I took the trip very personally.”

The three mentors and fellow students were not only able to get Radio Vieques back up and running but through WP’s donations of new computers and professional editing software, WVQR’s station is now better than before.

Since their very first mission to Vieques, WVQR and the University’s radio station – 88.7 WPSC-FM Brave New Radio, established an official sister-station relationship that creates original content aired between both stations.

Students are encouraged to expand their skillsets obtained here at William Paterson with the local station of Puerto Rico and understand the differences and similarities of international broadcast.

In addition to their work with community media, students assisted island residents with delivering meals and other service tasks organized by local residents.

The program has not only been assisting the Vieques community but giving back to the students involved as well. Shaney Lara ’18, has since been stationed in Vieques as a host on her own show for WVQR, “Gozando con Shaney.”

Martinez is a four-time participant in the program, but this year meant the most to him. Especially as a recent graduate

“My favorite part of the latest trip was seeing how much the island has recovered. The people had energy and light and the businesses were busy again, which meant money was coming to the island again,” Martinez said. “Having a hand in how the island recovered is something that will stay with me forever.”

Nicole Maldonado, a senior with a major in public relations attended the trip to represent the future public relations project for the sister station, WVQR. She expressed how surprised she was about the living conditions of the locals.

“From the minute we arrived at the ferry, we were faced with the difficulties. Getting around for the locals in Vieques is difficult,” said Maldonado. “I came home with the appreciation to luxury I once took for granted.”

William Paterson has continued their travels four times since their original trip to Vieques in January of 2018. There is no official word as to when the next service-learning course will take place. To learn more about Brave New Radio’s efforts, visit www.gobrave.org/vieques or reach out to Dr. Lori Ramos via email.