It all comes back to her desire to tell stories.
That’s why Brenda Salinas Baker wanted to be a professional dancer when she was a kid — so she can tell stories with her body. It’s why she became a radio journalist. And it’s why she decided to join The Writer’s Foundry at SJC Brooklyn, so she can fulfill her dream of earning an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
“I would like to hone my gifts as a storyteller and be able to tell page-turning, blood-curdling stories that make people reflect on larger issues in the world,” said Baker, whose favorite journalistic book is “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote.
Fine-Tuning Her Passion
Baker, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and moved with her family to Houston when she was in first grade, knew from a very early age that she wanted to tell stories on the radio.
“After interning at my local public radio station in Houston over summers, I was awarded an NPR fellowship for aspiring public radio producers, and that is how I started my career,” Baker, 30, said.
It was while she was in high school that Baker realized she specifically loved stories about economics.
“It was my first academic experience with the social sciences, and I loved that you could use rigorous methodology to point to larger trends in the world,” said Baker, who earned a B.A. in Economics at Columbia University. “A great economics story pairs this research with the real people who are affected by it, like this story that I reported for Marketplace.”
Now, Baker enjoys the work she does for Google as an audio content strategist.
“I look after all of the content on our audio platforms, and I make recommendations to our product and partnerships team based on these insights,” Baker said. “I also manage the Google Podcasts Creators Program, an accelerator program for early-stage podcast producers, which is my favorite part of my job.”
Taking Her Next Step at SJC Brooklyn
Most interested in writing fiction, Baker decided it was time to make a move.
“Pursuing an M.F.A. has always been a dream of mine, and I am finally in a place professionally where I can pursue it,” she said.
A resident of Brooklyn, Baker knew once she started looking at graduate programs that it was important to find one that would allow her to attend part time, so she can continue working.
“I wanted to find a program with a diverse cohort of people, because the social aspect of a graduate education is important to me,” said Baker, a native Spanish speaker who is also fluent in English and French. “The more I researched The Writer’s Foundry, the better a fit it seemed.”
When it comes to the person who pushes her to be the best she can be creatively, Baker thanks her mom.
“My biggest inspiration is my mom because she is a wonderful storyteller,” Baker said. “I am inspired by her faith and her ability to keep learning and evolving.”
Baker is enrolled in four classes, two remote and two land-based, and she’s already enjoying the start of the semester at SJC Brooklyn.
“(The classes) have been fabulous,” she said. “It’s a wonderful experience to feel intellectually and creatively stimulated in a community with other writers.”