BOISE, Idaho — About 13% of Idaho's population identifies as Hispanic, according to the 2020 Census, but representation in highly visible positions, like local news media, hasn't kept up.
That discrepancy has many perceiving Idaho as a place that's not very welcoming to people who aren't white or didn't grow up speaking English. Brenda Rodriguez is helping change that, and it's one reason the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs has honored the KTVB reporter with its 2022 Reporter of the Year Award.
"I'm born and raised an Idahoan. I grew up in Rupert, Idaho, and really the first thing I wanted to do was leave Idaho, and so I did. I left for a couple years, and all I could think about while I was away was being close to my family, not missing any birthdays anymore, and I realized, I want to be home! So I moved back, and it was a really, really hard decision for me and truly, I realized that If people like me leave Idaho, nothing will ever change for those who love Idaho, who choose Idaho to be their home, like my parents and my siblings and, now, my husband," Rodriguez said while accepting the award on Sept. 15, during the kickoff for Hispanic Heritage Month at the Idaho State Capitol.
Rodriguez joined the KTVB team in September of 2021, is part of the "Wake Up Idaho" weekday-morning news team and anchors the Saturday Morning News. She reports in English and Spanish.
Rodriguez graduated from the University of Idaho in 2017. During college, she worked as a digital media intern with NPR's Latino USA in New York City and as the first Latina news reporter for Inland Northwest Broadcasting in northern Idaho. After graduation and before coming back to Idaho, she worked in northern California.
Now that she's back home in Idaho, Rodriguez said she's already noticed a change for Idaho's Hispanic/Latinx population and community leadership compared to when she was a child.
"All the representation out here has been amazing," Rodriguez said. "I'm able to be that representation, make you feel loved, heard, seen and everything in between, because we deserve that. We deserve to be in these spaces -- we belong here. This is our home."
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