Débora Silva

When Débora Silva was a teenager in São Paulo, Brazil, her favorite television show, “Fantástico,” was about social issues around the globe. She decided then that journalism would make a good profession. It “would allow me to ask a lot of questions” and provide an opportunity to explore the world, she said.

“You get to know about people’s lives, and you get to know about the issues that happen outside of your country,” said Ms. Silva, 33.

In 1999 she enrolled in the Universidade Cruzeiro do Sul, also in São Paulo, for a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. She was an intern at a local television station, Canal Universitário São Paulo, and joined the staff after graduation. Ms. Silva was an on-air reporter and producer for “Extensao.Doc,” a show in which she interviewed high-profile subjects, including the former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva before his election.

After a few years, Ms. Silva said, her boss encouraged her to expand her skills. She became a web editor at an advertising agency and then, realizing English proficiency would improve job opportunities, moved to San Francisco in 2007. After a brief period, she returned to Brazil but was back in the Bay Area within eight months. It was her new home.

“I just loved it there,” she said.

In San Francisco, Ms. Silva took a certificate course in journalism at City College of San Francisco. She also interned at KQED, a local public television station, and became a freelance associate producer. Then she began to see industry changes.

“The new journalists in my field had a lot of technical skills,” Ms. Silva said. “They had shooting and editing skills, and I wanted to be competitive.”

She enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, for a master’s degree in broadcast journalism with an emphasis on television.

“It was a very hands-on program,” she said. “The first day we were out there with cameras.”

Ms. Silva traveled to Mozambique for her master’s project on child marriage and education issues. She graduated in May and came to the institute for “more real-world experience,” she said.

She plans to return to Brazil this summer to visit family and hopes to cover the World Cup.