Rita Damiron graduated from Manhattan College in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism and Economics. RITA DAMIRON/COURTESY
By: Lauren Raziano, Multimedia Editor
After graduating from Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism and a minor in economics, Rita Damiron has continued to be an outstanding MC alumnus in the media industry as a freelance producer for media networks such as Peacock, NGL Collective and NBC Universal.
Damiron was an international student and a transfer student before she became a Manhattan College Jasper. Damiron first moved from the Dominican Republic to Miami, Florida to finish high school and then to Nebraska to start her college career.
“Miami wasn’t so much of a drastic change because I had a couple of family members there but, when I moved to Nebraska, that was completely different because even coming from the Dominican Republic I came from the capital, full of buildings and everything was considerably a short distance away,” Damiron said. “In Nebraska, I was in the middle of nowhere, it was like a farm. So that was shocking, but it was also eye-opening because being from the Dominican Republic moving to Miami, and now being in New York, Nebraska really taught me about what living in a bubble feels like and to understand those who are not part of the bubble.”
Traveling to New York to attend Manhattan College for her last two years of undergraduate studies permitted Damiron to take all the opportunities the Big Apple has to offer. Chair of the Communications department, Michael Grabowski, talked with The Quadrangle about Damiron’s time as an MC student.
“I remember having her as a student. As a student, she was doing exactly what I tell students they should do to be successful, which is to look for all the opportunities they can, take those opportunities, learn as much as they can, get themselves on set so they can see how a set runs,” Grabowski said. “She did all of that. Not only did she do the classes and soak up all the skills that are needed to be successful, but then she also went out for internships.”
Thom Gencarelli, a professor in the communication department, remembers Damiron as a promising student.
“You know who are the go-getters, who are the good students who are showing promise, who are going to make us proud and carry our name and reputation out into the world with them,” Gencarelli said. “And production is part of my background, but Dr. Grabowski told me you got to know about this woman coming through. First of all, she got involved in the world of trying to become a television video producer and she started at Cheddar and helped it to really start it up.”
Damiron was a founding team member of Cheddar, a digital business and news media network. Founded in 2016, Cheddar was one of the first companies Damiron was able to gain experience with producing.
“It was very hands-on and I’m very thankful that that was one of my first experiences post graduation from Manhattan College because it was a lot of work, but I got to help build the company with them from the ground up,” Damiron said. “I learned a lot. I got to play different roles at the same time and really create what at the moment was something groundbreaking because there was no like, fully online network at the time. So it was very fun.”
After completing her Masters degree in strategic digital communication at Seton Hall University in 2019, Damiron then had the opportunity to teach a course at Manhattan College.
“After she got her master’s degree we invited her back to teach a class, that is my strategy as chair and what we like to do in this department,” Grabowski said. “After our alum gains experience in the field, we love to bring them back and share those experiences with our current students. Manhattan College Jaspers always feel the desire to give back and so I always welcome that opportunity and that’s exactly what Rita was able to do.”
Damiron taught a higher-level communication research course in the Fall of 2019.
“I was a professor for a research class which was a bit challenging, but it was also fun for me to kind of figure out ways to make this class be a little bit more interesting,” Damiron said. “That was my first step ever being a college professor, and I’m thankful to Michael, who was my advisor from the communications department. He was the one who suggested that I would be a good candidate because I have published research and had been to a communication conference, so I was very well knowledgeable of the material.”
Hiring alumni is one way former Jaspers are able to give back to their alma mater.
“It felt like giving back,” Damiron said. “I would love to get in there and go back again once my schedule is not as busy but it feels good trying to bring a little bit of what I knew the class was like, what I know the material is in trying to make it a little bit more fun.”
After teaching for a semester, Damiron continued her freelance career.
Grabowski talked about how pursuing freelance positions is one of the best ways to learn new skills.
“I always say, if you want to be successful, follow Rita, that’s what Rita did,” Grabowski said. “And now she’s at the point in her career where she’s able to take on jobs in freelance positions. Every gig she learns something new and then brings that to the next gig and that’s exactly how this industry works.”
As part of her freelance career, she is able to work on many projects. Last year, she was the production manager for the Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny collaboration music video for “X ÚLTIMA VEZ.”
Damiron is currently a freelance producer for Peacock, NGL Collective and NBC Universal. She wrote and produced two of the upcoming six episodes with NBC News Studios’ new documentary-style TV show, “Leguizamo Does America.”
“I just finished writing and producing a travel show for NBC, and it’s about Latinos in the US,” Damiron said.“I had two episodes of a series of six for the first season. Being the youngest producer and youngest creative on that show and being able to tell stories about Latinos in the US, not just about food, and like music, but also contributions to history and to the political world or like history were really rewarding.”
Her advice for those who want to go into the media industry is to take every opportunity given.
“I would just say that this field is learned by doing the work,” Damiron said. “So to just get out there, do it to create the content, through social media, Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, like everything, just do the work. Do not be afraid of reaching out to people doing internships, just put yourself in a position where you’re able to learn from others, because this is how the industry works and so do not stay in one little area, learn how to do it all and then decide what you want to stick with.”