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Despite spending various years working in broadcasting news in different stations across the country, then moving into the business side of the industry by becoming an accountant for ABC 7 Chicago, Will Barroso, a member of National Association of Hispanic Journalist Chicago chapter, decided to make a switch in his career and along with some of his high school friends, founded Focus on Tomorrow, a non-profit educational program that trains students in broadcasting journalism.

This month, Barroso, the current Treasurer of the NAHJ Chicago Chapter, celebrates the fifth anniversary of the program that started in 2013 “to challenge high school students to explore their creativity.”

Through after-school programming, Barroso and the Focus On Tomorrow (FOT) team help students understand the basics of storytelling and the technology behind putting together the story. Along with Barroso, other skilled television professionals work to prepare the students to enter and dominate in the competitive industry.

“The most rewarding part of my job is watching these kids grow up and then go out and apply for college, get accepted into different journalism programs,” he said. “Seeing these kids put their ideas on the table and then making them come to life is what keeps me motivated.”

Barroso explained that the goal of the program is to allow the students to get some hands-on experiences by working in real-life productions and then showcasing their work in a professional platform.

“I value my role with NAHJ because I have a unique opportunity to bridge these [students and professional journalists] two worlds,” he said. “[A setting] where professional can become mentors to students and students can get the opportunity to mingle with professionals that they normally would not have.”

The students at FOT come from all over the city, Barroso said.

“I love to watch them collaborate with one another and bring their experiences to the table to make these projects come to life.”

Before becoming the Executive Director of the program, Barroso held different roles in the broadcasting industry, including stagehand cameraman and lighting technician. He worked in WMFE in Orlando, WAMI in Miami and Univision in Doral, Florida. He then served as an accountant for ABC 7 Chicago for 11 years.

“His dedication to work is apparent and exemplary. He loves his students and gives 100 percent to them while saving a great amount of that vigor for NAHJ,” said Natalie Martinez, the NAHJ Chicago Chapter president. “It’s not easy to juggle both work and NAHJ with such apparent ease. But he does it, and with a smile.”

The next big project he said, is a Facebook live show that will be completely produced by the students.

“When I think about what the last 5 years have brought to FOT, I think of what the next 5 years will bring and I hope they are filled with cutting-edge opportunities that continue to push our kids to be as creative and unique as they can possibly be.