Maity Interiano ’07 said it will be an “emotional and special full-circle moment” to return with her family to Elon University’s campus as the Commencement speaker at Elon University’s 127th Commencement ceremony May 20.
“I am hoping the right words come out of my heart, my mouth and myself in terms of encouraging these new professionals to go out and conquer all their dreams and do everything that they can,” Interiano said.
The moment Maity Interiano stepped foot on Elon University’s campus for the first time was the beginning a new chapter in her life.
“I was excited,” Interiano said. “I remember looking right, left, everywhere as I was very impressed by the campus, at how green it looked and all the flowers and all the brick buildings.”
In 2012, Interiano, who has worked as a reporter for Univision for five years, was named one of the Top 10 Under 10 Alumni at Elon. In 2014, she won the 2014 Televisa and Premios TV y Novelas Award for “Mejor Conductora Favorita Del Publico” (Best Reporter and Crowd Favorite). In 2015, she won an Emmy for hosting the Rose Parade. Last year, she was selected to join Elon’s President’s Young Leaders council.
“I’m not used to getting awards,” Interiano said. “They always surprise me in a good way. I think they come to reassure that what I am doing is right.”
Interiano, born in Gainesville, Florida, but raised in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, had never left her home before going off to live on her own. She recalled having mixed feelings when arriving on campus because at that moment, she knew she was about to separate from her parents and younger sister. But the people she encountered reassured her that she was in the right place.
“I remember feeling happy to be at a place that was definitely different to what I was used to, but it felt like home from the moment I stepped foot there,” Interiano said.
Sylvia Muñoz, interim director for the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE) and director of the Spanish Center said that Interiano stood out to her the moment she met her as a freshman.
“She was very sure of herself,” Muñoz said. “She knew what she wanted since day one, and she was determined to make her dream of becoming a journalist true.”
One of the major reasons Interiano decided to attend Elon was because of its communications school. She knew she wanted to enter communications and once on campus, she became involved with Phoenix14News, the predecessor to Elon Local News.
“Going to Elon just gave me that experience of having hands-on opportunities to do on-camera, production, behind-the-scenes and all kinds of work,” Interiano said. “It confirmed, yes, that is what I want to do.”
Her first time on camera was doing the weather segment for Phoenix14. She had never been in a television studio before, but she said she added her “Latin flavor” to her segment.
Anthony Hatcher, associate professor in the School of Communications, said Interiano was always enthusiastic about her work and the stories she wanted to tell.
“I’ve taught many, many students,” Hatcher said. “She stands out as being friendly, open to critiques of her work, and met deadline. She was always eager to learn how to improve.”
Knocking on Univision’s door
Growing up in Honduras, Interiano watched the Univision network regularly.
Interiano knew that Univision was where she wanted to work after college. The summer following her sophomore year, she secured an internship at the network.
Interiano was assigned to work at an entertainment show, “Escandalo TV,” in the mornings. Wanting to do more and stay busy, Interiano went to the Human Resources department and asked them if she could do more even if she did not receive credit for it.
“The fact that I went out and was vocal about telling them, ‘Listen I want to do more,’ helped me out and it was a great experience because I was doing the entertainment show in the morning and in the afternoon I was doing ‘Aqui y Ahora,’ which is an investigative news show.”
Through her experience that summer and the connections she made, Interiano applied and got a part-time position at “Aqui y Ahora,” the following summer.
Interiano says that Elon prepared her for what was to come in her profession. The close relationships that she had with her professors and mentors helped her form relationships with her bosses and colleagues.
“I learned that not only did I have my family — my blood family — but I also had built a family at Elon,” Interiano said. “Elon confirmed the importance of being able to have a team, being able to rely on people, to learn from other people because that was the environment.”
On the job, in the field
The relationships Interiano built while at Univision helped her get a temporary associate producer position at “Escandalo TV” following her graduation. This eventually became a permanent position.
Interiano says that position was the “best school” to learn how everything worked behind the camera, and a few years later, she began reporting.
“I love what I do,” Interiano said. “I invest a lot of time on my stories. I love producing them, writing them — I even log my own interviews now so I can better write and do everything that needs to be done.”
Interiano was eventually relocated as a reporter to Univision’s top-rated morning show, “Despierta America.” She began working for the morning show as a reporter and is now an on-air talent. She hosts a daily entertainment segment and has covered a variety of events such as Premios Juventud, Premios Lo Nuestro, Latin Grammy, the Oscars and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. She has interviewed international celebrities such as Shakira, Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie among others.
“Maity was fortunate enough to start at Univision at a young age,” Hatcher said. “She hasn’t let her position go to her head and retains a genuine sweetness about her.”
Muñoz said she is delighted to have Interiano back on campus and hopes other students will be inspired by it.
“She represents Elon’s goal of ‘Preparing graduates to be the ethical leaders the world needs,’” Muñoz said. “She was able to put knowledge into practice since day one, and that led to obtaining the internships and experiences that ultimately led her to her career.”