Scrunching her expressive face rather comically, Isabel Deniz did not have to ponder long the answer to my question, “Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?”
“It’s not a quote, but a word,” she replied emphatically. A radiant smile and then, “Perseverance. If you work and stay focused, you can reach your goals.”
Isabel is today’s star in this series profiling the personalities on DentonRadio.com who are delivering Denton to the world via our new, hosted format. Her show “Denton by Degrees” debuts this coming Wednesday.
Now knowing her story, I can think of no better word than perseverance to sum up Isabel’s life journey thus far. Her family’s is a history built upon the essence of the word’s definition.
Born in East Los Angeles, California, Isabel was still an infant when her parents decided to return to their home region of Jalisco, Mexico. They stayed three years, managing the estate of wealthy European Sir James Goldsmith. Isabel laments that she was yet a toddler when her family returned to the States, too young to remember living there. Turning to the studio console, she deftly called up the website for the estate-now-turned-upscale-lodging. Situated on a cliff above the ocean, its beauty took my breath away. “It is hard not to envy my sister and her memories,” she laughed, speaking of her one sibling 10 years her elder.
Passionate about their girls being educated and equipped to succeed, Isabel’s parents returned to the U.S. and settled in Houston. At the time they made this transition, Isabel’s sister was in 7th grade and spoke no English.
“My sister has impacted me more than anyone,” Isabel said. Without a doubt, Isabel’s sister demonstrated perseverance in action. She mastered English, graduated high school, then college, and then earned a masters degree in Dual Language, an immersion teaching technique where English and non-English speaking students learn together, resulting in shared language and appreciation for each others’ cultures. Her sister is now an elementary bilingual specialist in the Galena Park ISD, where both girls attended school.
Isabel pursued music and modeling in high school. Almost embarrassed of her startling natural beauty, she is quick to stomp on the stereotype that looks and brains don’t go together. “I know modeling, but it doesn’t define me,” she said. Case in point, music and grades became the compass for her next life chapter.
The first-ever mariachi singer in Galena Park High School, Isabel participated in an all-state choir camp at UNT. Students stayed on campus and sang in the Murchison Performance Arts Center. “It was amazing, an out-of-body experience!” she exclaimed. From that moment on, Isabel was UNT-bound.
Perseverance in action again, Isabel arrived at UNT in 2012 as an Emerald Eagle Scholar, a minority student with an exceptional GPA. She earned a Radio, Television & Film degree with minors in marketing, Spanish and social sciences, gaining a professional certification in Spanish Language Media along the way. At UNT, she worked in film production, wrote film subtitles, transcribed Spanish audio recordings to English, and worked as a deejay on KNTU radio. Her senior year, Isabel interned with DentonRadio.com, and joined the staff full-time upon graduation this past May.
DentonRadio.com deejays are visionaries, and Isabel is no exception. Her show “Denton by Degrees” is built on the premise that there are three degrees of Denton creators: those from Denton, those not from Denton but creating here, and those not from Denton or creating here but living their art among us. It’s an interview-based format featuring guests from music, yes, but also artists of visual and other mediums. To access Isabel’s podcast, released each Wednesday morning, listen on the go with your Podcasts app (search for Denton by Degrees) or listen online here. It’s that easy.
Isabel talks of family with a homesick note in her voice. “Will you stay in Denton?” I ask.
“It was difficult being away at first,” she said. “But then I discovered Denton’s music scene and found this big-but-small community where people know each other. Now I love it here.”
So, what’s next for Isabel? She says “Denton by Degrees” is just the beginning. In creation now, her next launch will be “Viva Denton Radio,” an exploration of local Latino music. She wants to engage Denton’s Spanish-speaking community by producing the podcast in both English and Spanish.
In the Discover Denton Welcome Center, Isabel doubles as radio deejay and Dentoning Expert. “This town has everything, but you have to know how to find it,” she says wisely. “I want to be part of facilitating that discovery for visitors, but also for all the people who live here.”