From undocumented to Wall of Honor

The transition to college is challenging for most. Being an undocumented student doesn’t make it any easier. Cynthia Cano is a former Richland student who experienced such difficulties, but didn’t let them stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a journalist. 

Cano’s story made it to the Richland Wall of Honor and now serves as an inspiration for her fellow Thunderducks. 

Cano works as a reporter for Telemundo, a division of NBC Universal. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas at Denton in 2011. Cano graduated from Richland with her associate degree in journalism in 2009. 

Cano is 26 and moved to Dallas when she was 5. She was born in Mexico City. Cano didn’t think about being an undocumented immigrant or not having legal status in Dallas when she was a child, but when she enrolled in college and started the admission process, it impacted her for six months. When she graduated from high school and enrolled at Richland, she was in the process of getting a work permit and being in the U.S. legally as an authorized worker. 

It was hard for her because she said Richland was trying to enroll her as an international student, which could make her pay tuition rates that could be three times higher than U.S. residents. Cano’s mother was legalized in the country through her work. That is how Cano and her family were able to get their residency.   

“It’s been great, I’ve been a resident since 2011. I’ve been able to work. I’ve been able to do everything. It just opens up, you know, the possibilities of travel,” Cano said.  

Cano told how hurtful it was when she was a child watching news programs and saw the government fighting against giving the millions of people who were here illegally a chance to come out of the shadows. Cano said that she comes from a community that is resilient and always pushes forward.

“I love Richland. Richland was such an amazing part of my life. When I was 18 and 19, it just opened up my life to so many amazing opportunities. Everybody was so welcoming; I was really involved in the Chronicle,” Cano said

Cano’s experiences at Richland and the Chronicle are memorable ones. She was able to participate in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, attendjournalism conferences and meet friends whom she is still close to. Cano also said her experience at the Chronicle was amazing because she was able to meet Assistant Dean Matt Hinkley, Cindy Moore, her TV adviser, Erica Edwards, also an adviser and now program coordinator of Journalism and Student Media, and Jamee Cox, then the editor-in-chief, who Cano said was like her second mother. 

“It was just a really good, close group of people who just are so dedicated to motivating their students,” Cano said. 

Cano was awarded a scholarship from Richland. She registered in the Rising Star Program. The scholarship is designed for Hispanic students, documented or undocumented. 

Hilda Della Serra, coordinator of the Rising Star Program, was the person who told Cano about the nomination. 

“Take advantage of all the opportunities that are provided to you. You don’t really understand how valuable time is and how valuable those opportunities are,’’ Cano said. 

That includes the Rising Star program, she said. 

As far as regrets go, Cano said she has none. She has always been somebody who takes a lot of risks. She believes everything is a learning experience. 

Cano is planning to continue advancing her career and hopes to be a news anchor within the next two or three years. Although being a reporter is like a dream come true for her, Cano plans to return to school and earn her master’s degree. Since Richland was a stepping stone for her career, she’s planning to become a journalism professor at a community college one day, too. 

Cano said it feels amazing to be covering news in the city where she has lived since she was a little girl.