Donna Pazdera turned to academia after 17 years as an award-winning journalist at a few publications. She spent her last 10 years at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where she covered local government, worked in a three-person bureau in Miami, was a police reporter in Fort Lauderdale, wrote stories for Sunshine magazine and was a digital pioneer at sunsentinel.com
It was her work as a police reporter. which was her favorite. Donna enjoys telling stories about underdogs overcoming adversity. She was frequently called upon to interview people who had endured hardships or who were crime victims. Her work was noted by the Broward County Victims' Services office in the mid-1990s.
In 2001, she made the decision to go to graduate school to earn a master's degree because she wanted to teach journalism at the college level.
She was accepted into the Documentary Institute at the University of Florida that fall. It is a very small, two-year program where students produce a 30-minute documentary. Her three-person team produced Sid vision
, the story of maverick educational film producer, Sid Davis. It was shown at film festivals around the world and in 2003, won the prestigious Angelus award for best student documentary.
Throughout grad school, Donna taught a variety of lower-division journalism courses as part of her fellowship.
Upon graduation, in 2003, she remained at UF as an adjunct until 2004, when she was hired as a full-time lecturer at The University of Texas-Pan American.
A year after her start at UTPA, she took over as faculty adviser for Panorama, the student-run magazine. During her time there, the magazine won numerous state and national awards.
In addition to her advising duties, she taught a variety of courses, ranging from Writing for Mass Media, Television Production, Reporting, Copy Editing and Documentary Film History.
In 2017, Donna was hired at A&M-San Antonio, where she started as the founding adviser for El Espejo, the student-run magazine. The magazine was published annually until fall 2020, where the publication changed to semesterly. The magazine won many state awards, and in 2020, won two Pacemaker awards, which is considered college journalism's highest honor.
Donna teaches a variety of writing and multimedia and visual communications courses.
In her free time, she can be found running or volunteering at trail races around Texas.