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VICKY DIAZ-CAMACHO

Borderlines of Identity: A Journalist's Journey through Dual Heritage, Host & Producer at KC PBS

Sharing her unique experiences with immigration and its impact on her identity, Vicky Diaz-Camacho is a “Mexi-Rican” journalist working at the local Kansas City PBS station. She explained that her connection to immigrations stems from her upbringing on the border of Mexico and Texas. One side of Vicky’s family comes from Mexico and has a story of external migration whereas, the other side comes from Puerto Rico and has a story of internal migration. Throughout the 1940’s there was an influx of Puerto Rican migration to the states. Many were eager for a fresh start and a better life because there was impoverishment (read more about Puerto Rican internal migration here).

 

“My connection to immigration is really interesting. I was raised on the border of Mexico and Texas, so one side of my family is Mexican from the Tijuana border, and the other was from Puerto Rico,” Vicky shared. “My grandfather’s story is one of internal migration where people left their homes due to poverty, in search of a better life. He raised me, so I’m closely tied to understanding of being a ‘first-gen’ in between.”

 

Vicky described that her family’s experience with internal migration had a profound effect on their lives and her upbringing. “My grandfather was raised in one of the slums of Puerto Rico. He adopted a mindset similar to those in the Great Depression, collecting canned food and building a pantry in case of hard times,” she explained. “Despite being a doctor, [my grandfather] opted out of private practice and worked with the army, which brought financial uncertainty. He raised me while trying to make ends meet, and this was a defining aspect of our lives.”

 

In addition to economic challenges, Vicky also highlighted the cultural differences she faced due to her mixed heritage. “My background was different from others in my predominantly Latino community. The way we communicated, and our accents set us apart,” she said. She discussed the challenge of growing us as an “in-between” person—not fully belonging to either the Mexican or Puerto Rican cultures. “Even in middle school and high school, I felt like an outcast. I tried to fit in but never truly belonged. It’s part of the immigration experience where you feel neither fully at home in America nor in your home country.”


Navigating these complexities was a constant battle of feelings for Vicky. “I didn’t know which aspects of my identity to emphasize. Should I lean into my Puerto Rican accent? I speak Spanish in a combined and unique way, incorporating elements from both Mexican and Puerto Rican backgrounds.”

 

The topic of mental health played a significant role in Vicky’s family, adding another layer to her unique immigration experience. Her mother and grandmother both had undiagnosed mental illnesses, resulting in a difficult and sometimes abusive upbringings. Mental health was a taboo subject, leading to a lack of understanding and support within the family. She shared that “there were layers of abuse and a taboo around mental health. These experiences further contributed to feeling isolated and set us apart from others.”

 

Despite the challenges, Vicky’s family’s immigration experience deeply influenced her identity and sense of self. Growing up with stories of adversity and resilience from her grandfather instilled in her the importance of persevering through difficult times. It also motivated her to pursue higher education and a career in journalism, driven by a desire to give a voice to marginalized communities.


Her family’s expectations and cultural pressures played a lesser role in her career choices. She remained focused on pursuing her passion for journalism and disregarded the conservative views her grandfather initially held about the media.

 

Vicky shared her journey from initially not knowing what she wanted to do after high school to taking the leap and enrolling in college. It was during an introductory journalism class that she discovered her passion for storytelling and found a voice she has previously been shy about. She became involved with her college paper and made supportive friends who believed in her abilities.

 

Overcoming imposter syndrome and societal expectations, Vicky embraced her role as a journalist. She found power in telling stories and advocating for First Amendment rights. Her experiences in college, including being the Editor-in-Chief of the University Daily Kansan, fueled her determination to make a difference through journalism and empower others with information.


Moving to Kansas presented a significant cultural shock for Vicky. The lack of diversity and the unfamiliarity of the environment left her feeling like an outside once again. The experience led her to reflect on her identity and ultimately embrace her heritage more proudly. She said, “I had to water down certain aspects of my identity and language to fit in, which made me question if I was being true to myself. It’s a journey of self-discovery, and even in my 30s, I’m still learning about myself.”


Navigating the professional world as a journalist while staying true to her identity proved challenging. Vicky dealt with the pressures of fitting into predominantly white spaces and finding her voice amidst societal expectations. However, she remained determined to break down barriers and bring inclusivity to journalism.

 

Reflecting on her family’s immigration experience, growing up in a multicultural environment, and navigating between different identities has helped shape Vicky into who she is. With a passion for storytelling, deep empathy for others and a drive to create a more inclusive society Vicky uses her heritage and identity as a motivator.

 

To other children of immigrants navigating different worlds, cultures, and experiences, Vicky said “it's easy to be afraid to be yourself when there's a spotlight on you. I think that's an opportunity to stand up and be that person. Do not be afraid to have a voice and to be a weirdo and to be out and open about yourself.  Be unabashedly yourself.”

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