Today@Sam Article

Heritage Magazine: A Tale Of Two Interns

June 17, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


Some students enter college with the intent to pursue one subject until the bitter end and make a career out of it, others acknowledge that while having it all figured out is good, it is okay to change your mind along the way. Sophia Cruz entered Sam Houston State University as a business student looking to find her true calling as she studied.

Inspiration struck Cruz in a weather and climate class led by Ava Fujimoto-Strait, professor and renowned researcher of all things geography. To the then-freshman Cruz, Fujimoto-Strait’s instruction actually stuck with her and made sense.  

“Weather is something you see every single day,” Cruz said. “Something she said that really stuck out to me as a freshman was high pressure days are good hair days, and that was something I could get behind.” 

With that simple remark, studying weather and relaying it to the masses became Cruz’s mission. She later changed her major to geography and dove into her studies, learning about all facets of the discipline, from climatology to culture. The more she learned, the more she leaned toward making a career out of geography, eventually settling on meteorology.

“I started thinking about my interests and someone once told me that if you find something you love and you can make it a career, it will never feel like you’re working, and those words really stuck with me,” Cruz said. 

As her final semester approached, Cruz knew that she needed to get experience. She sent out applications to news stations around her hometown of Austin and Houston, just an hour’s drive from her new home in Huntsville. After much anticipation, she was offered the opportunity to work at KPRC 2 as the station’s only weather intern. 

“I was kind of nervous and thinking I’ve never done this; I don’t know what to expect. I was thinking it was going to be like TMZ and the newsroom is going to be so crazy all the time,” Cruz said. “It did not turn out like that at all, everyone is like a big family there.”

Cruz entered the newsroom equipped with her knowledge of geography, but no experience in media, leading to her being intimidated at the prospect of working on-air. Her fears were quickly alleviated by the KPRC 2 weather team, who she says took her under their wings and supported her every step of the way. 


During her stint at the station, Cruz has acquired many new skills, including graphic creation for forecasts, writing copy for weather updates, working with a weather team and even presenting her own forecast live on air. She credits the weather team’s support, guidance and care for her success in the internship.

“You can tell all the anchors there, including my mentors Caroline Brown, Anthony Yanez, Justin Stapleton, Frank Billingsley and Khambrel Marshall, just love what they do, are willing to share their knowledge with me and what they’ve learned from the industry,” Cruz said. “I think that’s the best part of working for KPRC 2, they’re just great people.”

While Cruz expressed great admiration for all her mentors, she explained that she was particularly inspired by Brown, who serves as the station’s only female meteorologist. Cruz said she was repeatedly impressed by Brown’s knowledge and skills and felt that she could be successful as a woman in the industry just as Brown is.

Cruz is aiming to continue her education at Mississippi State University, where she will pursue a master’s in geosciences. Thanks to the university’s online program, Cruz hopes to also work as a meteorologist while studying. Because of the impact the KPRC 2 team made on her this summer, Cruz hopes that she can return to work for the Houston station after completing her master’s degree. 

“My mentors have been the biggest inspiration for me to continue in this career and encourage me every single day, which is what really makes me feel special to them because they have interns every year,” Cruz said. “I just want to thank the whole team at KPRC 2 for showing me kindness from the heart and for teaching me so many valuable lessons in the station and about life in general.”

Thanks to their support and the valuable experience she gained at the station, Cruz was able to join the weather team at KIVI–6 in Boise, Idaho in January.

Things were a bit different for Hunter King, Sophia Cruz’s fellow Bearkat intern at NBC’s Houston affiliate KPRC – TV. Since he was a child, King knew he wanted to be on the air, the only thing that changed was what he would present to viewers. 

King graduated in the spring of 2024 with a degree in mass communications and a focus on multiplatform journalism. He credits his participation in the high school yearbook committee, student newspaper and student news team with giving him the foundational knowledge needed for creating higher-level content.

“I didn’t really know when I got to high school that I wanted to do news for sure, but I joined the yearbook and newspaper, got to writing news and thought this is something I could do,” King said. “I started interviewing people and I realized talking to people is something that I already do, why not make a career out of interviewing people and telling their story? I fell in love with the news.”

Since coming to Sam Houston State University, King has grown as a journalist and earned the opportunity to spend his summer as a news intern at KPRC – TV. He became one of two Bearkat interns at the station and was able to work with Randy McIlvoy, a four-time Emmy award winning sports anchor/reporter and SHSU alumnus.

“I was a little nervous at first, but that kind of went away and then I was excited,” King said about his reaction to being hired on as an intern. “It made me feel like the hard work paid off because they had confidence in me at least to come and be with them over the summer. It made me feel good about my situation.”

He started out working with McIlvoy at the sports desk, attending events for the Houston Astros and Rockets and meeting local legends along the way. King and his fellow news interns also shadowed reporters, learning how they produce content for a large market station and meet their deadlines.

Hunter-heritage-web.jpgWhile shadowing reporter Re’Chelle Turner, King was able to cover his favorite story of the summer, the spontaneous closing of a local bridal shop.

“It was not only an interesting story to look into and investigate, but being able to talk to people when it happened was pretty moving,” King said. “Some of them were crying, some of them were physically angry, so just seeing the emotion from people we were interviewing, but then also having to disconnect those emotions and investigate what was happening, was a valuable experience.”

Part of the appeal was seeing the story come to a happy ending when another bridal shop stepped in to provide dresses to the distraught brides. King said this really highlighted the importance of local stories, as he worried that no one would have helped the brides had the news not shared their plight.

After spending most of the internship at different parts of the station, Cruz and King worked together with their peers on an intern-run newscast. Each of them played their part in creating a full newscast, featuring news coverage, anchoring, sports and weather.

King said his success at the station was possible thanks to the rigorous coursework he has completed in his broadcast production courses, noting that something as simple as knowing industry shorthand can set applicants apart.

“I would say my classes helped me a lot because you need to know the news lingo, how to use a camera, produce things, punch a show and things like that,” King said. “Not only that, just having confidence. If somebody who has never been on camera before were to go into that, I could imagine they would probably be nervous and not strong on camera. But having done that before in Ron Marasco’s classes, I felt relatively natural on camera, so it was nice to have that confidence already.”

As he looks ahead to entering the workforce, King is confident that both his education and work outside of the classroom have him more than ready to dive into his first job.

“They’ve done a good job here at Sam, professors have done a good job of preparing us,” King said. “They’ve told us what to expect out there and they’re gearing us up for what’s to come. Then actually doing it at KPRC 2 helps a lot. I’m happy I’m going to be going into a newsroom having done that already.”

To read the full version of Heritage Magazine - Spring 2024, follow this link.

- END -

This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office:

Director of Content Communications: Emily Binetti

Asst. Director Content & Social Media: Emilee White

Communications Manager: Mikah Boyd
Telephone: 936.294.1837

Communications Specialist: Campbell Atkins
Telephone: 936.294.2638

Please send comments, corrections, news tips to