WNEP-TV news anchor Sofia Ojeda says she is “living the American Dream,” something she counts as her biggest accomplishment.
From her early years when she came to this country from her native Lima, Peru, with her family, to her swift rise from beat reporter to the weekend anchor chair in just a few months — and then the prime-time co-anchor seat in only about two years in the competitive Northeastern Pennsylvania TV market — Ojeda, 30, has come a long way.
She is among area women who exemplify the kind of achievements celebrated nationally this month during Women’s History Month, in recognition of the contributions women have made to this country.
It wasn’t always easy for Ojeda. Not only did she face challenges growing up as a newcomer to this country and making it in the news business, she said she faced additional obstacles as a woman.
“Show business is a pretty tough business, and for women I would say it’s a little harder,” she said. “As a news anchor, we have to be as credible and smart and talented as our male counterparts. And as women, there are always people out there who will tell you they don’t like your hair, or your look, or your face, or your clothes. And you have to ignore all of the bad feedback. Take it with a grain of salt, and move on. Always be who you are, be true to yourself, and never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.”
She credits her parents with helping get to where she is today.
“My family came here from Lima, Peru, when I was a very young girl,” she recalled. “My parents both worked odd jobs to put myself, my brother and sister through college. They always told us we needed to be better than they were, do more with our lives, follow our dreams, and make them a reality. They pushed us in sports, in school, and after college when we were job hunting.
“I’ve always known that I had to do more with my life and my career because of my parents, and because of their sacrifices. I owed it to them, and I am so thankful that they pushed me to be where I am today.”
She said she was lucky to have opportunities open up right away, and be able to go for those positions.
“Becoming a news anchor in a top television market is not the easiest to break into,” she said. “Usually once people land those positions, they stay for many years.”
Ojeda, co-anchor with Scott Shaffer on the weeknight 7, 10 and 11 p.m. broadcasts, came to Newswatch 16 in November 2010 as the Lackawanna County beat reporter.
Before coming here she worked as a morning anchor and reporter at WETM in Elmira and at WIVT/WBGH in Binghamton. Before that, she worked at WABC in New York City as a desk assistant and then a freelance reporter at News 12 in the Bronx. She grew up in New Jersey and graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in communications. She played basketball in college. She said she was pretty much a tomboy growing up and loved sports.
“My parents and my older brother always supported my love for sports,” Ojeda said. “And I honestly don’t think I was ever told that I couldn’t do anything because I was a girl. My parents always taught us to work hard for whatever we wanted, even if the dream was playing in the NBA.”
Ojeda, who lives in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, is fluent in Spanish and said she loves learning other languages and cultures. Working in the news business is interesting to her because one never knows what will happen next.
“But I think another thing that pushes me is the people,” she said. “I like to know that I am able to make a connection with folks who are watching.”
But no connection is more important to Ojeda than her family and young daughter.
“For me, family always comes first, so I am very blessed to have a family and a great support system.”