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The Citizen

Student Spotlight: Julissa Marenco

IMG_2162 IMG_1980 IMG_1656 IMG_1542 IMG_1525*what did you do before you came to the Kennedy School?

For the last 16 years, I’ve been working in communications and television. Most recently,  I served as President of a television and radio station group. I oversaw the management and strategic direction of 13 Telemundo television stations, in addition to radio and digital properties.

*when you got accepted to HKS, how did you react and whom did you tell first?

Shocked and excited. The first person I called was my mother! She was elated!

*dragons or unicorns?


*what’s the best thing about Cambridge?

My classmates. Every program from the mid-careers, to the MPPs and to the advanced leadership fellows is amazing. I am constantly amazed at how tight knit the Kennedy school is and how much I continue to learn from my fellow classmates.

*what do you miss most about where you grew up?”

I grew up in Hudson County, NJ in an immigrant community outside New York City. I miss most the breathtaking view of the New York skyline alongside Boulevard East and the Hudson River. In addition, access to a diversity of latin food, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, Colombian, etc…

*what are your 3 proudest achievements (other than being interviewed here of course)?

All my life, all I ever wanted to do was run a television station. I was enthralled by the medium. I believed that similarly to government, in television one idea (or legislation, program, news story or law) can impact millions of people. I was lucky enough to achieve that goal at age 28. While working in television, I’ve had the opportunity to create platforms that have had a direct impact upon the viewers I served. In particular, when I ran the Telemundo affiliate in Washington DC I established a multi-media campaign entitled, “La Buena Vida” or The Good Life. After learning about the health disparities that existed within lower income communities due to lack of knowledge I created this program to help viewers learn how they could live “the good life, “ by incorporating small changes into their everyday life. The local campaign went on to be replicated at the national level and in other major television markets. Most importantly, La Buena Vida has helped thousands of viewers live the good life!

In 2007, I was selected to be a White House Fellow. The mission of the program is to offer young leaders first hand experience working at the highest levels of government. Serving as a White House Fellow was the opportunity of a lifetime; it provided me a front seat to see how our government works and learn from some of the best leaders of our time.

*in your experience, are public figures more fascinating in real life?

Most certainly, much more fascinating in real life. I think when the cameras are off and you have an opportunity to be up close and personal with celebrities and newsmakers alike you’re better able to see their humanistic side.

*what one item is essential to your everyday life and why?

People. In the communications business you are surrounded by people all day. I get energy, ideas and inspiration when I connect with others.

*what are you hoping to do once you graduate?

I plan to never complain about how hot it is during the summer! I’m beginning to wonder if Old Man Winter lives in Cambridge!

Somewhat more seriously, I plan to combine my media, communications and government experience with the myriad of skills and learnings I’ve acquired at Harvard to make social change through media and communications.