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Lena Hansen
November 21, 2017 12:56 PM

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Ilia Calderón made history on Nov. 8 when she announced she will be taking the seat vacated by María Elena Salinas on Noticiero Univision in December. She’s the first Afro-Latina to anchor a news desk from Monday through Friday on a major network in the United States.

“It’s a great responsibility knowing that I’m opening doors for other generations, not only for journalists, but for other girls and women who want to succeed at what they do,”  she tells PEOPLE CHICA of nabbing the coveted position next to Univision’s veteran journalist Jorge Ramos.  “My commitment is not only to the Afro-Hispanic community, but to the Hispanic community in general.”

Calderón, 45, is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. She grew up in El Chocó, one of Colombia’s poorest regions, with a single mother who taught her to dream big. “She was very proud to know that all the values she taught me are now bearing fruit, not only in me but in my sisters as well,” she says. Calderón calls her new post “a triumph for the entire family.”

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The journalist’s Hispanic and Asian household in Miami is another way to she’s breaking barriers and stereotypes. Calderon’s husband Eugene Jang is a physical therapist of Korean descent and their daughter Anna, 5, is being raised to celebrate her multicultural and multiracial heritage.

Like any working mom, being away from her little girl is a constant regret. “It’s hard to leave her behind when I have to travel and work long hours that I wish I could spend with her, but it’s also a way of teaching her the value of hard work and fighting for your dreams.”

The Emmy-winning anchor, who views life challenges as opportunities to grow and learn, says the journey to her daughter was rife with difficulties. After being diagnosed with endometriosis, she endured three surgeries to remove uterine fibroids to finally conceive Anna via in vitro fertilization. “In all paths to your dreams,” she says “there are obstacles, but you have to set the stones aside and keep going.”

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