Internship helps Bellisario College student weather pandemic

Jonathan F. McVerry
August 11, 2020

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of stories about students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — While navigating an ever-changing and unpredictable year, Maria Antonieta Valery said she was lucky to enjoy one constant since 2020 began: her internship at AccuWeather.

In March and April when everything was getting canceled, the Penn State senior was able to keep her internship with the State College-based national weather service and continue it through the summer.

Originally from Venezuela, Antonieta Valery moved with her family to Peru when she was 12. She attended British schools in Peru and first learned about Penn State at a college fair in high school.

“I talked to the representative and it seemed like a great school,” she said. Antonieta Valery applied, and after visiting the University Park campus, she made Penn State her pick.

“The moment I stepped on campus, I felt like I knew,” she said. “The campus was empty because it was January, but I felt a sense of belonging and I knew that it was the school for me.”

Antonieta Valery is set to graduate in December with degrees in journalism and French.

This past January, she started her digital journalism internship at AccuWeather. Like many things, the internship went remote in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily for her, she was able to keep the position through the summer and work from her aunt’s house in Tampa, Florida.

For her internship, Antonieta Valery researches and writes a variety of stories for AccuWeather. Earlier in the year, she covered lots of topics, but since the pandemic she has been helping with updates and informational briefings regarding COVID-19’s spread.

“I have been writing different updates for the AccuWeather website as they come up,” she said. Antonieta Valery also helps write promotional content. She works with AccuWeather’s journalism department, a team of around 10 people, including one other intern.

Beyond school and work, the pandemic has affected Antonieta Valery and her family too. She is unable to see her parents who are in South America and unable to fly to the United States because of travel bans.

“Usually in the summer, I get to see my parents,” she said. “But my Dad is stuck in Peru while my Mom is in Venezuela. Neither of them can leave, so I won’t be able to see them this summer."

“I really enjoy the journalism classes. You have to go out and put into practice what you learn in class, which I think is really good for new journalists.” - Maria Antonieta Valery

Family is important to Antonieta Valery. That’s why when she first came to Penn State, she was a criminology major. Her dream was (and still is) to go to law school like many members of her family. But that major didn’t fit. After talking to an adviser, she found a major that let her build on her love of writing and meeting people.

“In my sophomore year, I decided to switch to journalism after taking COMM 260 (news writing and reporting),” Antonieta Valery said. “I really liked the process of interviewing, getting to know different subjects and researching in order to write a story.”

Once she moved to the journalism major, she embraced the energy and creativity of reporting that were exemplified in her Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications courses.

“I really enjoy the journalism classes,” she said. “I feel like we really get to go out and learn stuff beyond the classroom. You have to go out and put into practice what you learn in class, which I think is really good for new journalists.”

Earlier this year, Antonieta Valery wrote a story for class on the coronavirus and how it affects her hometown. She interviewed doctors and individuals dealing with the pandemic. She said it felt like she was doing something that was “really important.” She added that she enjoys writing about politics and world issues, but “I’ll write about anything. I really like to write.”

Antonieta Valery is also trilingual in English, French and Spanish — and can speak a little Mandarin as well. She said learning languages comes naturally to her. Spanish is her native language. She learned English in fourth grade and French was required while living in Peru. She started learning Mandarin during her senior year of high school.

An avid traveler, she says her fluency in those languages helps her “explore the world” and meet new people from other cultures.

With graduation coming up in December, Antonieta Valery has her eyes set on the future. She will continue to travel and meet new people. Post-graduate plans include following in her family’s footsteps and starting law school. Her grandfather was a lawyer and judge and three of her aunts and uncles were lawyers, too.

“I grew up around that and was always interested in defending people’s rights,” Antonieta Valery said. “Especially coming from a country that likes to control people and take away their rights.”


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 02, 2021