By Grace Anne McKenna
Wantagh High School

At age 17, Brandon Ortega has already begun to focus on the field he admires most.

With an interest in music, especially that of artists J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, Brandon found his inspiration for journalism by analyzing lyrics.

“I grew not to just enjoy the production, but also look more into the lyrics of songs and try to understand the meanings behind them,” Brandon said. “This has taught me that words matter.”

Jermaine Cole, better known as J. Cole, graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in communications in 2007. This has been a motive for me to chase something similar to that which would in fact be journalism,” said Brandon.

I would also wake up every morning hearing NY1 and Pat Kiernan’s voice and always wonder how cool it would be to work behind the scenes for that news channel,” said Brandon, a resident of Queens.

Brandon is involved in journalism at his school and hopes to further his knowledge with the Greene Institute. “I plan to give valuable information to the public that can impact their lives in a positive way,” Brandon said. He will be attending his senior year at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School this fall, and has taken full advantage of the journalism courses available to him.

Brandon has been part of the journalism program for three years and plans to continue in his final year of high school. In ninth grade, he was involved in graphic design, creating advertisements and learning how to use Photoshop. In tenth grade, he enrolled in media studies, learning about communicating through technology. By eleventh grade, Brandon became a writer and page editor of The Verdict, his high school’s newspaper.

“The journalism courses I take will provide me with knowledge that I can apply to school and work in the future.”

Through journalism, Brandon “has improved his ability to write and express his thoughts thoroughly and gain a bit of experience in the field,” his mother, Wendy Ortega, ​said. “It has made us proud of the achievements he has accomplished as a writer.”

Brandon was accepted and will be attending the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook University this summer. “I was so ecstatic that I would get the opportunity to live the college experience and find out more about the journalism world,” said Brandon.

Robert W. Greene was an investigative reporter, constantly seeking truth in his surroundings. This spirit was most prominent in his work in Arizona and with Newsday.

I hope to expand my knowledge of journalism so that one day I can mentor young journalists, as I am being mentored now,” said Brandon.

Brandon Ortega: Journalism instinct inspired by lyricists

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