Veronica Cintron has always hated saying goodbye.
Whether it’s for a week or for forever, each “last” hug makes her feel like she’s 17 again, saying goodbye to her home in Puerto Rico to study journalism at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus.
It wasn’t easy to leave her family, she said. And it was even harder to walk off that plane, $100 in her pocket and an oversized comforter under her arm. But when she walked through the terminal at Tampa International Airport, Cintron said her worries and doubts seemed to melt away with every step.
“I just knew in my heart, I just felt it in my bones, that it was right,” she said. “I was coming home to where I was supposed to be.”
It’s an instinct that led Cintron back to the Tampa Bay area after she moved to Massachusetts following graduation. And now, after 10 years of reporting from the Spectrum Bay News 9 newsroom, the award-winning Your Evening News anchor said she’s following her instincts back to Tampa International Airport once more — this time as the airport’s vice president of media and government relations.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that God has a plan for you and that everything has a purpose in your life,” Cintron told the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday. “The day I told my boss I was leaving was probably one of the hardest days of my entire life. There was a lot of prayer, reflection, conversations with my family, but ultimately, I just knew this was a chance I needed to take. That it’s right.”
Cintron, 36, is steeling herself for another hard goodbye, this time to her viewers, when she signs off on her final Your Evening News broadcast Friday night.
She starts her job as the public face of Tampa International Airport’s communications on April 20.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve loved news, loved reporting, and I truly thought this was what I was going to do forever,” Cintron said. “But dreams grow and evolve as we get older and when this opportunity came about, it was something I could not ignore.”
The airport approached Cintron with the job just before she celebrated her 10-year anniversary with Spectrum Bay News 9 in late February, she said. It was around that same time that Janet Scherberger announced her retirement after eight years in the role on the airport’s executive team.
Scherberger’s yearly salary was roughly $160,000 in 2017, according to govsalaries.com, a website that tracks the earnings of public employees.
Like Cintron, Scherberger came to the airport after a journalism career, in part as a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. On her Facebook page, Scherberger said she plans to volunteer at community radio station WMNF, where she will co-host Rochelle Reback’s Midpoint show every other Thursday.
Apart from odd jobs in college, Cintron said reporting is the only career she’s ever known, and the only one she ever knew she wanted. She’s won multiple Emmys as “best anchor” and for her reporting on the state’s opioid crisis, Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico and Florida’s ongoing issues with immigration.
Cintron said she looks forward to using her production knowledge to help Tampa International Airport better connect with travelers during a time of unprecedented growth.
“Bay News 9 has been so good to me, it’s truly become my home now and forever, but this is such an incredible opportunity and a privilege to have a part in helping our airport take that next leap forward and connect with the community,” Cintron said. “It’s like I’ll be living my dream 2.0”