School of Communication Alumnus Named ABC Correspondent in Miami

Victor Oquendo. Photo courtesy WPLG Local 10.

By Barbara Gutierrez

Victor Oquendo. Photo courtesy WPLG Local 10.

School of Communication Alumnus Named ABC Correspondent in Miami

By Barbara Gutierrez
Victor Oquendo, BSC ’09, is following in his parents’ footsteps.

As a reporter for WPLG Channel 10, Victor Oquendo has covered World Cup games, local news and the historic Presidential visit of former President Barack Obama to Cuba. But one of the most memorable times of his professional career came when - while covering the Pope’s visit to Cuba - he knocked on the door of his mother’s godmother Teresita in the neighborhood of Luyano in Havana.  

“This little old lady with white hair opened the door,” he said. “And when I explained that I was Teresa Rodriguez’s son, she brings me in and gives me one of the best hugs I ever had in my entire life.”

The son of two Cuban-Americans, Teresa Rodriguez, an award-winning Univision anchor and reporter, and the late Anthony “Tony” Oquendo, longtime Univision network executive, Oquendo grew up surrounded by talk of Cuba and broadcast journalism. But he did not realize that broadcast journalism was for him until “it came time to pick a major at University of Miami.”

“That’s when I went ‘Wow, I should really look into this’,” Oquendo said. When he started taking communications classes with School of Communication (SoC) Professors Andrew Barton, Ed Julbe and Ellen Fleysher (now retired) and worked as a reporter for UMTV’s NewsVision (the student newscast), he felt like a new world had been opened up to him.

That world has recently rewarded him: Oquendo, who graduated from UM in 2009, has been tapped as the Miami-based correspondent for ABC News covering Miami, the Southeast U.S. and Latin America. The 30-year-old, who anchors the 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. newscasts, has been with WPLG since 2010. 

Oquendo grew up in Coral Gables, went to Villanova University and transferred to UM in his senior year. By that time, he already had two communications internships under his belt: one at CBS Morning News and another one with the CBS Evening News.

Those who remember him from his time at SoC recall a very poised, determined young man.

Says Luis Herrera, SoC assistant dean: “He’s a great person… ambitious, curious and passionate about journalism. Every news piece he has reported, whether it’s been from Little Haiti to his journey in Cuba, he has always reported with integrity and compassion.”

Professor Andrew Barton, who taught him and worked with him in NewsVision, remembers Oquendo well.

“The entire broadcast journalism faculty felt Victor would be successful in TV news and their predictions have come true,” he said.

Oquendo’s mother, who is well-known in the Spanish-language journalism world, likes to think that she and her former husband played a role in influencing their son’s career.

“I think both his dad and I had something to do with his career choice,” said Rodriguez. “Victor grew up in a household where both parents worked in television - one behind the scenes and me, in front of the camera. I remember taking him with me on some interviews, like Sammy Sosa and Pele since he loved sports.”

That love of sports, which made him a “total jock” in high school at Ransom Everglades, helped him in his very first job at WPLG as a news trainee. For a year he was trained in every aspect of the television broadcast business. Toward the end of his year, Oquendo was picked to cover breaking news during the 2010 World Cup and higher-ups spotted his talent.

Later that year a job opened up in the sports department and he was offered a position as weekend sports anchor. “And I went on to cover the Miami Heat during the Lebron James era championship run,” said Oquendo.

He credits many WPLG colleagues with helping him during those early years but he especially remembers Will Manso, one of the best sportscasters in Miami, as a mentor and someone to emulate.

Oquendo later moved on to anchor two afternoon newscasts at the station and continues reporting for the 11 p.m. show.

Of his upcoming gig as an ABC correspondent, he says: “I have been watching ABC News very closely for at least eight years. To be able to say that I will be part of their team is an incredible honor.”