Cristina Mendonsa '96 (Government & Journalism)

Anchoring Sacramento's news

For any student, or parent for that matter, who thinks college should be completed in four years, Cristina Mendonsa has news for you.

“It took me a long time to get through,” Mendonsa says. “I didn’t do the four-year plan, I did the eight-year plan.”

Mendonsa is one of Sacramento’s most successful television broadcast journalists. What you see on the air on News10 at 5, 6 and 11 p.m., and at, is what you get. And what does it take to be successful in the television news business?

“A sense of humor helps,” Mendonsa says. “You can’t be a linear thinker in a newsroom. There’s too much going on. It’s never boring.”

The newsroom this Super Tuesday evening is noisy. Police scanners are incessantly beeping and there are always telephones screaming for attention.

But Mendonsa remains calm in the midst of chaotic breaking news and on-air studio madness. Mendonsa spent eight years attending classes at the Sac State while working full time in any media job she could get. It was the only way to break into the competitive television news business, Mendonsa says.

“It was exciting. I was working in the business as a radio reporter while I was going to Sac State,” Mendonsa says. “I had (the late mayor) Joe Serna as one of my professors, so I would take notes at his lectures in the day time and in the afternoon I’d interview him on some city government issue, so it was kind of funny.”

Why take the long, difficult road to her government-journalism degree?

“No money,” she says with a laugh. “I was poor and had to work my way through college. I had a love of journalism in high school, but my exposure to professors at Sac State—who had a real-life role to play in the political world—really sparked my passion for politics,” Mendonsa says. “It’s great to be in the city of Sacramento where you have that laboratory we call the Capitol. It’s a great place to study while learning journalism skills.”

Mendonsa has won numerous professional awards, including two Emmys: one in the “serious news feature” reporting category for her work on identity theft, and another in the “breaking news” category.

Before joining News10 in 1995, Mendonsa anchored the number one-rated morning news program for KUSA-TV in Denver.

Mendonsa praises University staff and faculty for helping her achieve her educational goal.

“They really helped make it work for me,” Mendonsa says. “I would drive home and see my counselor, discuss the course work I was doing in Denver and they would have the department heads approve the classes.”

This article was originally published in the Spring 2008 edition of Sac State Magazine.

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