(CNN)After beating leukemia as a teenager and joining her university newspaper as Covid-19 changed life on campus, Raquel Coronell Uribe is now making Harvard history.
Coronell Uribe, 23, will be the first Hispanic president of the Harvard Crimson, America's oldest published daily college paper, since its founding nearly 150 years ago.
"It's an honor to be able to be in that role," Coronell Uribe told CNN. "At the same time, I think it was overdue. I'm sure there have been many qualified Latinx people who could have been president in the past."
"I'm hoping to open the door so that many others after me can walk through it," she added.
Coronell Uribe, a junior majoring in history and literature, was chosen for the one-year job after a process known as the "Turkey Shoot" that involved dozens of interviews, writing a paper outlining the candidate's qualifications as well as a final speech and panel interview.
During the weeks-long process, she focused on why the paper should move more toward digital innovation and diversity. Prioritizing the inclusion of communities of color in stories and welcoming those who come through the Crimson's doors is key, Coronell Uribe said.
A recent analysis by the Asian American Journalists Association's Voices program found Black and Latinx students are disproportionally represented in student newsrooms across the United States.
Less than 6% of editors-in-chief were Black and only 11% of top editors were Latinx, according to the analysis.
In 2018, the Crimson elected its first Black woman president, Kristine E. Guillaume, but inclusion has long been an issue for the organization. Before Guillaume took the role, two Latinx editors denounced the complicated relationship that many editors from underrepresented backgrounds have with The Crimson.
A family legacy
Some of her friends and family were not surprised to see Coronell Uribe win the job.
She took an interest in journalism at an early age when her family lived in Colombia. There, she enjoyed visiting her parents Daniel Coronell, the former president of Univision News and her mother, María Cristina Uribe, a well-known TV news anchor, at work and seeing them report the news as it unfolded, she recalls.
While journalism was always close to her heart, Coronell Uribe enrolled at Harvard with the intention of seeking a career in the medical field. She wanted to follow in the steps of her grandfather, who is a physician, and those of the doctors and nurses who treated her when she was diagnosed with leukemia at 16, Coronell Uribe said.
But she quickly realized her passions were more aligned with journalism and law, she says.
In recent months, she has reported about the ongoing legal battle against Harvard University over the possession and usage of photographs of enslaved people and is studying for the LSAT. She sees herself reporting in the future or fighting for press freedom in courts, she says.
"I'm not really sure what exactly I'm going to do. But I know that in one way or another, it'll involve journalism," Coronell Uribe said.
As she prepares to take her role at the beginning of next year, Coronell Uribe recalls how fighting and beating leukemia changed her perspective. It also appears to have given her the courage to lead the Crimson -- something she doubt she will be chosen for.
"It definitely has like, pushed me and fueled me to just really try to go for my goals and things that I'm not sure I'll even be able to reach," she said. "Because if you only get one opportunity to do those things, you can't miss out."