After 13 years of telling the UC ANR story through written articles and video production, Norma De la Vega retired on June 29. De la Vega joined UC ANR's News and Information Outreach in Spanish team in 2009 as a senior writer.
NOS fulfilled UC ANR's vision of developing educational and informational programs in Spanish to serve the Latino community. For more than 40 years, NOS has been producing information formatted for radio, television, and online audiences, and De la Vega has played an instrumental role in helping NOS expand its reach and diversify its creative approach to storytelling.
When she started, most of her writing focused on nutrition, highlighting groups like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Nutrition Policy Institute. “Norma's contributions were spot on,” said NOS Program Manager Ricardo Vela. “Her impact has been bringing the importance of nutrition into the stories that we bring to the community.”
De la Vega earned a bachelor's degree in science communications from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in her hometown of Mexico City. “Learning how to produce videos when I went to school was very different than now,” said De la Vega. “We didn't have the kind of cameras we do today.”
Following college, De la Vega worked as a television reporter in Tijuana before moving to San Diego County where she started focusing on writing. Prior to UC ANR, De La Vega worked as a writer for the Enlace Union-Tribune's Spanish newspaper in San Diego for nearly a decade.
Before it became NOS' primary medium for storytelling, De la Vega helped lead the team's video production effort despite her limited experience. “We weren't experts, but we realized the importance of video production to get our information out. It was a team effort,” she said.
In 2010, De la Vega wrote a story and produced a video on the importance of planning for old age. In many cases, adult children had to manage their parent's care without guidance, and most caregivers of the elderly spoke Spanish as their first language and needed more resources to do a better job.
De la Vega's story relied on research conducted by Patti Wooten Swanson, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer science advisor in San Diego. Not only was Swanson honored at the 2013 Galaxy Awards for her contribution to the story, but De la Vega, a member of the NOS team at the time, won first place at the Western Region Television/Video Communications Award Ceremony despite the lack of a Spanish language category.
In 2016, De la Vega produced a video of the first bilingual 4-H club, the result of a partnership with the Community Settlement Association in Riverside County. “A lot of good things were happening at that time and are happening now because ANR is evolving with more bilingual experts on different topics,” De la Vega said.
Although she started as a senior writer, De La Vega evolved and became a broadcast communications specialist. Her success in the role allowed her to become well-connected to other communicators and community leaders. “Norma always had a contact we needed for a story that we were working on,” said Miguel Sanchez, another broadcast communications specialist on the NOS team.
Lisa Rawleigh, NOS administrative assistant, established a personal and professional relationship with De la Vega. “Norma ensured that our Spanish articles were written properly and that we did not miss any accents or typos. I can always count on her to proofread my posts on social media,” said Rawleigh.
De la Vega said that she feels “enormously satisfied” to have worked with a team of fellow pioneers. “Although we were not experts, we learned so much every day and together,” De la Vega said. “Today, there are several experts in the production of community videos, and we helped enrich the graphic archive for UC ANR's community programs. I think our contribution was to lead the way in that direction.”
Looking ahead, De la Vega will be spending her retirement traveling and exploring other countries and cultures. Since she was a girl, De la Vega enjoyed swimming and can't wait to do more of it. “I love to swim because being in the water always makes me feel young,” she said.
Finally, De la Vega will enjoy quality time with her grandchildren, teaching them Spanish and volunteering at the Spanish immersion school they attend.
To read this story in Spanish, visit https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=57440.