Neida Sandoval: Following Her Own Path

July 27, 2017

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Courtesy of Neida Sandoval

With more than 40 years of journalism experience in some of the largest Spanish-language news networks, and after winning five Emmys for her work, Neida Sandoval’s career path had a very different starting point from what many may expect.

Once a shy girl who grew up in Honduras with her father, mother, and brothers, Sandoval had to leave her home at the age of 15 to continue her education, a separation that she said was hard but necessary.

“I had to learn that to get ahead and to be ahead sometimes you had to make many sacrifices,” Sandoval said.

Although it is hard to believe that the woman sitting camera-ready once feared interacting with the public and did not wear makeup, Sandoval said she had to face a new world when she began working selling cosmetics after graduating high school.

It was then when she was approached by a television producer, Alberto Valladares, who saw her talent and offered to train her to be in front of the camera.

“I will always be thankful because he inspired me and I think he helped me make a dream come true that I didn’t know I had, which was to communicate,” Sandoval said.

During her training, she learned that being in front of a camera was more than focusing on your physical appearance, it was the powerful and important personal connection that is cultivated with the public, she said.

Sandoval’s path was changed when she and her husband moved to New Mexico, a state where there was no Spanish news network, leaving her searching for a new career.

She began working for a radio station, which allowed her to speak with the Mexican community and cultivate new relationships. She met a journalist, Cesar Ibarra, who encouraged her to work for the first ever Spanish news station in New Mexico.

Although Sandoval had experience being in front of the camera, she did not study journalism because she was studying medicine, so she had to learn to be a journalist in the United States by speaking to Latino families, homeless individuals, and politicians.

And almost 40 years after that young girl said yes to a producer without knowing what path she wanted to take, Sandoval has been a national correspondent for what is now Primer Impacto, a national correspondent for Univision, Co-founder of Despierta America, and has covered events like 9/11 and Hurricane Mitch alongside journalists like Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas.

“Sometimes you have to take risks in life, learn from those who have walked your path, and not think about how much you’re going to be paid but what you can lean,” Sandoval said. “And all of a sudden, the years pass by and you look back and say, ‘wow this is everything I’ve accomplished.’”

Sandoval did not only learn from those that had walked that path before her, but also honored their work. She said it is important to respect their path and build your own.

Courtesy of Neida Sandoval

She is currently an ambassador for Toyota’s “Juntos Somos Imparables” (Together We Are Unstoppable) a campaign aimed at celebrating and honoring those who have inspired and helped others reach their dreams.

It is a concept that Sandoval is familiar with and it is one that has left a mark on her life.

Through the campaign “Juntos Somos Imparables,” Neida is honoring the people who inspired her to have bigger dreams, those that opened doors for her but also those that closed them and inspired her to follow a different path.

Now, she is looking to inspire families with sick loved ones, immigrants who are scared of being separated of their children, or those who work multiple jobs to keep their family afloat, that it is possible to reach your dreams.

“I am a young girl from a town in the mountains of Honduras who left searching for an education and growth and look, I was able to achieve the American dream, reach major networks, and now I am daring myself to find other dreams,” Sandoval said.

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