This year of newspaper, for me, is best described in the works I’ve created. I ventured out from traditional news and feature writing, allowing myself to explore the more creative side of journalism: columns, editorials, reviews and infographics. These works and collaborations show that I am keen on seeing the bigger picture, looking for ways to stray from “the norm” and willing to take a risk in my work. My pieces also show how I’ve evolved as a writer; I’ve grown from the journalist who is focused on producing news stories to one who is ready to work towards new versions and forms of the craft, such as my 6-word review style of the tracklist on Ed Sheeran’s latest album ➗. Though my writing shows obvious growth, I’d still like to continue to explore the diverse ways available to share information in unique and visually appealing ways, especially through photography; I’d like to better my photography skills so that my images compliment my writing even more than they do now.
- Tell Them: how to move forward post presidential election *originally published online
TELL THEM: How to move forward post presidential election
We take two steps back, a hop to the left and an unsteady wobble to the right.
You drive home on crowded parking lots and you tell your children valuable life pro-tips as you tuck them in at night – because after all, science tells us we remember most what we hear before we sleep. All the while the wind barks outside their window and your own tribulations mix your grocery list and your bucket (or wish?) list.
You tell them men hold power, never apologize for being you, and never admit mistakes. The American dream is dead and maybe never even inhaled a drop of air.
You tell them life goes on, regardless of the direction. You tell them to make the most of it – whatever it is. That all will rattle you in the end.
Because that is what they’ll see when they turn on the TV for their afternoon cartoons. They see death and will inevitably see war – until the day we all decide; Enough. Is. Enough.
You tell them the truth.
Not the fabricated mess we make up on a whim. You tell them who was voted in, who wasn’t, and how to vote – but not who to vote for.
You tell them that when their input has a chance to be heard, they must choose the leader they see fit – the one they feel is right all the way to the inner workings of their soul.
You look into their small, gleaming, hopeful eyes and you light a fire within them – the most powerful kind.
You tell them they must BE the change they wish to see in the world.
They must embody it, devour it, and work for it. Though not at the expense of their humanity or the souls of those around them.
Relay that life isn’t a straight path, nor is it simply jagged – it’s full of choices, route comparisons, and risks. Lecture them on the power of their words, because though a tidy room makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy, a properly made bed never bred peace – or encourage them to find a way to breed peace from tidy beds.
Tell them America needs a new dream. The United States of America has a new dream.
A dream of peaceful, accepting day-to-day interactions where we embrace our souls and jump at the chance to learn all we can about the person to our left, right, and diagonal.
We’ll keep moving, the world will keep spinning and somehow we will make it through. Everyone faces obstacles in life and for some, this is a major one – but obstacles are made to be overcome, not walked away from. One day we’ll look back and remember how we thought the dark days were upon us once more, but now we’re living in the brightest light we know.
For now, tell them that the future is more uncertain than it was yesterday, but we’ll stand together with safety pins and hope, elbows locked in unity and the vision of happiness just within our view. We’ve just gotta keep moving, even if that movement requires a new path – one that isn’t directly forward.
This piece shows that I am able to voice my opinions in a journalistic fashion that doesn’t come across as blog, rant, or diary – like. By this I mean my words are spoken in a way that expresses my thoughts and concerns without coming across as pushy or childish. This is my first piece I’ve been stopped in the hallways for, or at least the first I remember being stopped for. Ms. Waugh and Ms. Wiersema both stopped me to tell me how much they loved the piece and how proud of me they were; this was such a memorable moment for me because I felt like my work was accomplishing something bigger than myself and my message was coming across as planned. This work of mine actually started as a creative writing assignment led by Georgia in which she read us a short story where things were outrageous and opposite of anything relative to “normal.” After she’d read the piece to us, she asked us to create something of our own that followed a similar structure: write something that sounds/is wacky or backwards. I began to write what is now the into of Tell Them and then, this column was born.
- Youth & Befuddlement: An ARS senior’s first (and last) YAG experience *originally published online
Youth and befuddlement: An ARS senior’s first (and last) YAG experience
“Let’s make this conference great again,” the youth governor spoke from his podium into the mic, with a good-natured grin to the conference attendees.
At first I thought the seemingly humorous and light-hearted, knowing references to the current U.S. president’s slogan that were made during opening ceremonies were just that: joking, tongue-in-cheek remarks. I wasn’t, however, as prepared as I thought for the real life aftermath of events that would follow.
Youth and Government, which will lovingly be referred to as YAG from here on out,is a nationwide program hosted by the YMCA. It welcomes thousands of participants at the middle and high school levels annually. In Texas, the program turned 70 this year with over 1150 high schools coming together for the annual State conference weekend in Austin.
The Renaissance Austin Hotel in The Arboretum housed more than 1400 participants who possessed a variety of political and social ideas. I’ve always wanted to join the YAG program , but prior engagements prevented me from doing so.However, this year ,ime seemed to be on my side.
A weekend, well, three days and three nights with over a thousand strangers, all around my age, who are interested and/or involved in politics in one way or another, is not something I can say I’ve had the availability to experience before. Sure, I’d heard my fair share of stories from past event-goers and bystanders. I knew that ARS had a history of winning YAG awards, but I really had no clue what I should expect (or not expect) at the 2017 edition of this ever-coveted annual event.
This was my first rodeo.
The beginning seemed as I imagined (from prior multi-school event experience) any other event of this nature would play out: schools arrived on overfilling busses, slowly piling into the hotle and then all at once, the lobby floor itself was overflowing. Students stood around in congregations of larger-than-life suitcases, carry-ons, and laughing fits.
In pre-ceremony district meetings, I learned that,contrary to my belief, there really weren’t many seniors at the conference. Was this a good thing? A bad omen? It honestly didn’t mean much to me, but it did make for interesting ponderings; Is that stranger a senior? She can’t be, she looks to be a Junior-Fresh-More. Him? He’s a freaking man, he has to be a senior…if he’s not then, I’m done.
The conference opening, however, hinted that students from Liberal Austin were in for a weekend of whole-hearted debates with differing, political voices from the mind of young America.
Flash-forward to the next evening: Social Night.
With my choices ranging from study hall to open-mic, I opted for the latter, wanting a brain break with others rather than a quiet night in the hotel room. Eyeing the others that followed suit, I expected I was in for a night – or at least an hour or two’s worth – of laughs, smiles, and a few cringes.
Half an hour later, and I was right, but I’d also been surprised: one sophomore girl, Niara Pelton, courageously spoke her mind on a political and social aspect of the country she felt strongly about; being black in America. There were no outbreaks or rude remarks after, but a good amount of snaps while she spoke – the room felt inviting, supportive, and hopeful – and I wasn’t even the one on stage.
Following a very dramatic and whole-hearted reading of the Bee Movie screenplay – camera framing included – my group of friends and I decided we’d head out and explore the hotel lobby and photobooth. Just a short time after, the lobby was crowded and that night I heard the story of what I’d missed shortly after leaving open-mic.
Youth and Government is a good a place as any to be political and share your views – goodness knows the teenaged and nearly-adult participants aren’t afraid to do so. I knew I’d encounter someone who viewed the world in a different light than I did, but I had no inclination as to how far one would go to voice those opinions.
The story goes something like this: A student participant signed up for open-mic, knowing full well that his performance would be one many would remember.
The young YAG member spoke on his support for Donald J. Trump’s wall and as he was speaking, nearly all of his audience walked out, leaving behind a plethora of empty seats. The leaving part didn’t strike me as odd, and the Trump mention didn’t faze me : after all,I more than expected that. Instead, it was the passion in which this young man spoke (from what I’ve heard of witness accounts) that more than astounded me.
I know Austin is a blue spec in a red state, and many hold the same views as Donald Trump, but this made it all the more real. Kids my own age and younger are as close minded as the current office holders.
In all honesty, if anyone had censored the speaker, the very ideals of YAG would’ve been diminished. Youth and Government is a program that welcomes and encourages young America to tackle the very things that plague our nation and our world. Limiting any participating individual would not only contradict their mission, but further threaten the future; if one can’t share their opinions at a conference geared toward changing the world and raising tomorrow’s leaders, then when can they? If not now, ever?
There’s one quote in particular that has stuck with me since the conference banquet on our last evening together.
“I keep thinking it will get better, but then I remember they’re raising their sons.”
I was sitting with some other ARS girls and a new YAG friend and her mentor when this was said, and though I don’t remember exactly who said it, I can’t forget the words. As we ate and discussed our conference experiences, my eyes were further opened to those I’d seen in passing all weekend.
ARS state affairs competitors told us of the outlandish bills other YAG-goers were devoted to seeing passed, including one that proposed driver’s’ licenses with immigrant indicators, which sounded to many, eerily similar to how Nazi’s identified Jews. I’d spent a weekend’s worth of hours with 1400+ individuals all around my age, only to truly realize that to some of them, people like the ones I love matter less simply because of where they were born.
Leaving on Sunday was a bittersweet experience. I’d had my own personal encounter with political divisions (I’d hung around hundreds of teens with political ideals that differed from mine) and I now understand that, as much as I wish it didn’t, politics plays a role in relationships throughout your life. At the same time, I’d met some funny people, mock trial-ed with other interesting ones, and seen people I may or may never see again.
For three days and three nights, this Austinite was submerged in a clash of cultures that I will forever know as my first (and last) YAG rodeo. Regardless of the craziness, I hope to stay involved. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised again in the future – for the better or for worse.
This piece was published online a bit of time after my Tell Them one and though they’re both column-y and creative writing pieces, this one was more of an experience share in that I was reflecting and recapping my first and last State Youth and Government competition. This work of mine also got lots of site views which I’ve just now noticed, but in the moment I just really enjoyed how I was able to set the scene before diving into what it all meant to me in the long-run. My state youth and government experience is one that not only means a lot to me, but one that was also very eye-opening for me and being able to share it in a way that readers could understand and maybe even relate to on some level was extremely gratifying. This piece really showed how as a writer, I am capable of combining writing styles (creative and news or feature like journalism in this case) into a cohesive format
- Sugar, Pumpkin Spice, and everything nice: A taste test compares morning beverages and eats *originally published in APP print edition
This piece was one collaboration I did this year that I was particularly proud of. It required lots of outside time, a bit of money, an adventure, and trying something new: food review writing and thinking. This work shows that I am capable of collaborating in journalism without compromising the voice of my co-writer or my own, while working to get a clear and hopefully at least entertaining message across.
- 23 to 3: Split movie review *originally published in an APP Print edition
This piece was my first published, full-fledged review and though I was proud of the final product, I felt it lacked a creative, unique aspect. The review was cohesive in that it gave a brief summary, necessary background or supplemental information and my own opinion, but that’s it. In the end, the piece came out similar to the way other movie reviews of the same nature were formatted, nothing new, nothing fancy, nothing exciting.
- The great sound divide: Ed Sheeran ‘Divide’ album review *originally published in APP print edition
With this piece, I allowed myself to take some risks and explore a new creative form of review writing that I made my own. I had never done any sort of music review, let alone an album review right after its release, so I was trying something new from the start. I took this further by trying out 6-word reviews, inspired by 6-word memoirs I’ve done in english class in past years. I was proud of not only this element, but also the research I did prior and throughout my writing process to find out things such as how the idea for the album came to be. I also looked over multiple music reviews to get a better idea of which direction I wanted to head with my own story and then this piece was written.