Parker Schug: Born leader and writer

By Chelsea Sibri
The Scholars’ Academy

From a young age, 17-year-old Blue Point native Parker Schug has had a deep admiration for the craft of writing.

“Parker has always loved reading and writing,” Parker’s mother, Stacey Schug, said. “Every time we have ever taken a trip, she would bring her composition notebook and write about the adventure we had that day. She is a great listener and thinks even an opposing view can open her eyes on her beliefs.”

Schug’s love of writing led her to decide in the eighth grade to become a journalist. She created a newspaper for her high school — Bayport-Blue Point High School — with the help of her creative writing teacher. She said that her writing skills blossomed after she started writing for her own blog and for the Paris-based magazine Grumpy. She also attended the 2017 Washington Journalism Conference at George Mason University, where she delved into political journalism.

Schug said she keeps an open mind in her search for the perfect branch of journalism for her future.

“As I learn more about journalism, I realize there is just so much to it,” Schug said. “I’m just not 100 percent certain. But I really like talking to people and learning from people through hearing their stories. So I think that I’d like to do something where I’m interviewing others.”

She also hopes to use journalism to teach herself and others about diverse groups of people.

Though she participates in several extracurricular activities, she is most proud of her skill at tennis.

“Tennis has been my favorite sport for most of my life, and it’s something that I’ve worked hard at getting better at for years,” she said.

Schug coaches tennis in her free time. Although she considered playing tennis professionally, Schug decided to place all of her focus in a journalistic career instead.

She keeps a very close connection with her family especially with her two younger brothers, Kieran and Declan, despite her hectic schedule.

“Since we were little, my brothers and I were raised to be best friends as we are,” Schug said. “At times, it’s been hard for me because some of my friends don’t understand why I want to stay in certain nights to hang out with my family, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I was raised the way I was.”

When Schug was accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, she was most excited to get her hands on broadcasting equipment and to experience the cutthroat work demands of the program. Although she was nervous about finding areas of journalism she does not favor, she acknowledged that the field of journalism offers a wide variety of career opportunities.

“There are so many ways you could go with journalism,” she said. “My excitement overrides my nervousness.”

Stacey recalled the way her daughter’s writing helped her family heal when illness once struck her family. Shortly after Parker’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer, Parker received an assignment at school in which she was to write about a vivid memory of each year of her life. She took this as an opportunity to write about her family’s memories and hardships at the time to lift her relatives’ spirits.

After writing the piece, Parker decided to share it with her family. Stacey recalled it was a “love story to our entire family.”

“That’s the day I knew Parker should be a journalist,” Stacey said. “She kind of wrapped up our hard times and gave us all closure, and I felt like we moved forward that day.”

Corianna Jackson: From fiction to journalism

By Matthew Quan
Longwood High School

For Corianna Jackson, writing has been a passion since the age of 12.

At first, the 17-year-old Brentwood High School senior wrote general fiction. After a while, she started to get into fan fiction, which is writing a continuation of previously-known story. She met other people with similar interests with whom she could share ideas.

In 11th grade, Corianna took a journalism course. Her journalism teacher praised her writing, even though her English teacher didn’t like her writing at all. “She thought it was trash,” Corianna said. She recalled her journalism teacher, Kelly Buonaspina, told her, “I am sure I am not the first teacher to be impressed by you – and I won’t be the last.”

Corianna also worked on her school paper and started to publish her own fiction stories on an app called Wattpad so people could read her work. More than 110,000 people are doing that already. “A lot of people say that they like my writing,” Corianna said.

Diane Jackson, Corianna’s mother, is one of those people. “Her writing is very mature and gets better each time,” she said. “I’m very impressed with her.”

Besides her writing, Corianna has sung and played the piano for years, which she said has helped her cope with being painfully shy. All the while, she has remained an honor student.

Jackson said her daughter “would aspire to be a great writer or engineer, but she loves music and writing.”

Corianna said she doesn’t know where she wants go to college, but she still has another year to figure it out. She has no idea what she wants to study but is interested in journalism.

Her journalism teacher was the one who insisted that she should apply for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.

“I expect to gain more writing experience to further my skills,” Corianna said.

Adeishe Bagaloo: Working on projecting her voice

By Zoe Gordon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

After a teacher helped her realize that she had potential as a writer, Adeishe Bagaloo soon found a passion for the craft.

The 17-year-old Uniondale High School student applied for the Robert W. Greene High School Summer Institute for High School Journalists, hoping to transform her writing skills into journalism.

“I did a writing piece in my Microsoft Office class and my teacher was impressed with it,” Bagaloo said. “I got an email from my teacher telling me how good it was and I was kind of surprised. She encouraged me to go and apply for the program.”

Despite the encouragement by teachers and family members, she remains insecure about her writing. Part of the explanation is that she moved from the island of Jamaica a year ago. “I grew up in Jamaica and we learn the English that is found in Great Britain, which is different than the one found in America,” Bagaloo said. “It has different spelling, and I believe that it’s more difficult than the English in America. When I moved here, I found the language to be so different . . . than I’m used to so it puts a lot of stress on me.”

So Bagaloo leans on her mother, close friends and teachers to help her gain confidence in her writing. “I do not necessarily believe in my writing abilities, but the people around me have helped me to believe in it and realize that I’m actually a good writer,” Bagaloo said.

Bagaloo’s favorite writing topics are current events and issues that go unrecognized in the media. Her favorite story was her own autobiography discussing topics to which she wanted to give a voice. “I would state how the voice of the people matters to me and journalism can help me to get the voice of the people out there,” she said. “One of these topics that I want to make heard is the crime rate. There are certain things that are happening that you can’t really understand why it is happening. If I can go out there and talk to different people about the issue hopefully the world can find the root of the issue and hopefully come up with strategies to fix it.”

Crime and current issues are not the only subjects that interest Bagaloo. “I’m interested in health and beauty,” she said. “I think that journalism could help me get out there and give people different advice on health, beauty, self-improvement and mental health.”

In addition to writing, Bagaloo has always loved acting in school plays. She sees many similarities between the two fields. “In acting, you have to project your voice to the audience,” she said. “In journalism, using this technique helps you to be bold; you go out to talk to people and gather information when you wouldn’t normally do that in your everyday life.”

As for a dream career, Bagaloo feels torn between acting and journalism. By attending the Greene program and taking her school’s journalism course in the fall, Bagaloo hopes to find a clear path to what she aspires to do in her future.

“I hope that I can grasp a lot of knowledge from the program,” Bagaloo said, “and identify if I have a passion for journalism — if it’s for me or not for me.”

Sebastian Germosen: Looking beyond the Major Leagues

By Taylor Yon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Sebastian Germosen is devoted to journalism, but sees it as a backup career if his dream of becoming a professional baseball player falls through.

“My goal is to go to the Major Leagues as soon as possible,” said the 16-year-old junior at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. “It’s my dream job and it’s what my life revolves around. But my backup plan if baseball doesn’t work out is to major in journalism.”

In pursuit of his goal, Germosen plays catcher and third baseman on the his school’s baseball team. His sports role model is José Altuve, a second baseman for the Houston Astros.

Germosen’s interest in journalism was sparked by attending a lecture last fall at Stony Brook University by longtime broadcast journalist Ted Koppel.

He is a staff writer on the school’s newspaper, The Stanner. “I like the newspaper club because it allows me to speak about topics outside of the school and allows me to express my ideas and thoughts on political or world issues freely,” he said.

Germosen’s interest in journalism was also piqued by watching CNN and Fox News.

It isn’t just journalism that makes school appealing to Germosen. “I really enjoy high school, making friends and learning in general,” he said. Germosen primarily takes honors classes and is successful in earning straight A’s. For his upcoming junior year, Germosen will be taking courses including U.S. History Honors, Pre-Calculus, Spanish 3 Honors, Physics Honors, Participation in Government and Constitutional Law.

His teachers and his parents are his biggest role models. “Sebastian is an excellent student and the brains of the family,” Germosen’s mother Erica said. And “he looks out for his little brother.”

In his free time,  Germosen reads, exercises, plays video games and a lot of basketball. “I enjoy these hobbies because they let me relieve myself after stressful days,” he said.

After high school, Germosen’s dream is to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and major in sports management.

To keep his journalism options open, Germosen applied to the Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists when his newspaper adviser mentioned it. “I felt relieved and excited when I learned I got accepted,” he said.

“My expectation of the program,” Germosen said, “is that it will be a wonderful program with great teammates and awesome coordinators, and I will learn a lot of new things about the journalism industry.”

Jianni Burnett: Focusing on a journey

By Jenn Cirigliano
Mepham High School

Sixteen-year-old Jianni Burnett caught the journalism bug earlier this year after taking a media course at Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Park in Queens.

During the class, she took on such positions as director and floor manager for multimedia projects to help keep herself busy with something she loved and also to learn more about journalism to help her in the future.

Her media teacher, Michael Pepe, described her as “a young woman who has a keen interest and passion for journalism that can be shown through her hard work and dedication.” She has the ability to be everywhere in the room at once, he said, and she helped anyone she could and tackled any obstacle in her way.

The class would help to live stream and video tape graduations, celebrations, school productions and other events around the school. Jianni also helped shoot and interview elected officials about their daily jobs and things that needed to be done to improve community safety for the family’s living there.

Jianni is inspired by her parents to keep developing her knowledge and interest in journalism.

“I’m inspired by the people around me every day,” she said. “In my house journalism is around me. My parents watching the news and also reading the papers, giving us interesting topics to talk about at the dinner table.”

Jianni has developed an interest in places around the world and her dream is to be able to travel. She said she hopes the knowledge she gains through The Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists will motivate her desire to travel.

“Say you need to interview someone — they won’t always be able to respond and do the interview. But I’m learning that’s okay, and you can have other participants or find other willing people.”

Jianna said she also has a keen interest in writing poetry. She uses this skill to write about problems, express her feelings and increase her skills in writing.

Although she doesn’t know what her future holds, or have a set interest on certain colleges, Jianni’s mother, Marjorie Burnett, has seen an enormous growth in her writing and editing skills beginning in 8th grade.

In addition, her mother said, “Jianni has an amazing personality and strong caring ability for the people close to her.”

Now, going into junior year, Jianni is already looking for her next opportunity to advance her knowledge in journalism. For her, this includes social media.

“Social media is a wide platform so you can get word out there,” she said. “Photography is a big part of journalism, and … I know a lot of journalists and photographers promote their work that way.”

She said she will be taking AP English next year because of her academic ability in her English-based classes every year.

“I’m excited to make progress in my journalism journey and can’t wait to take on the challenge of an AP English class next year.”

Jennifer Cirigliano: An inspiration for journalism

By Jianni Burnett
The Scholars’ Academy

Jennifer Cirigliano’s interest in journalism grew out of a love for reading and writing that was fostered at an early age by her grandparents.

Jennifer, 17, said her grandfather, James Stasio, wrote an article for Newsday that also was published in The Washington Post about special-education students earning diplomas. Jenn’s grandmother, Josephine Stasio, is a librarian at the North Bellmore Memorial Library.

“Without my infatuation [with reading and writing] as a young child, or even my grandmother and grandfather, I would not be the way I am today,” said the rising senior at Mepham High School in Bellmore Park, Long Island, where she is a writer for the school paper, The Buccaneer.

“I remember Jenn taking off eagerly to the library,” recalled Jenn’s grandmother, Josephine, 76, of Bellmore. “She would read for hours, write about what she read, then would talk about her ideas. I know this has helped her to accomplish much in the last few years.”

Jennifer plans to join a college newspaper, like her grandfather. “I hope to follow in his footsteps and make him proud,” she said.

Jennifer’s vision for the direction she would take wasn’t always so clear. so to help figure out what she wanted to do, she took an array of courses, including creative writing and AP English and Composition, acquiring skills such as how to critique writing, how to properly organize ideas and how to express her interests within her work.

“I take things that I am most interested in and use those interests and incorporate them into the newspaper,” she said.

During this time, Jenn took part in a rock band at The Rock Underground in Bellmore, developing a love for reading and writing music, playing the guitar and singing. Jennifer’s mother, Susan Cirigliano, said Jenn’s love for music relates closely to her love for writing.

“She started to, unknowingly, realize that they went hand-in-hand,” she said. “As she started to read and analyze lyrics, writing her own stories became a way for her to express her ideas and feelings.”

Jenn joined the Newspaper Club and wrote multiple articles for the school paper, The Buccaneer, and the literary magazine, Fragments.

She said she gained real-world experience and was given the opportunity to build confidence for almost any journalistic career.

Jenn said she had the support of her peers who understood the pressure of putting their work out there. “A lot of people in the club who also had problems with expressing themselves had the ability to get good critiques without being judged harshly.”

Jenn said she would like to become a foreign correspondent or social media specialist.

Regarding being accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute program, Jenn said, “I’m a little nervous, but I can’t wait to meet all these journalists in the making!”

Meghan Reilly: Poet, photographer and journalist

By Manoli Figetakis
Francis Lewis High School

Even as a young child, Meghan Reilly dreamed of being a journalist. The 17-year-old senior at Westhampton Beach High School has been working toward her goal.

Reilly is a member of her high school’s poetry club, Seascapes. The club’s goal is to create a literary magazine at the end of each school year.

“I also have been photographer since seventh grade,” she said.

Meghan was thrilled to find out about a Stony Brook University program called the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. Although she was very nervous that she wasn’t going to get in, she was “super excited” when she was accepted.

“When I got the phone call, I was trying not to scream,” Meghan said. “My parents were standing next to me on speaker and very excited.”

Her parents, David and Theresa, are very proud of her. “They always wanted me to be a writer/journalist,” Meghan said.

In fact, they inspired her to develop her love for writing since she was five, when she began writing her own personal books. Later on in middle school, she joined her school paper.

“I loved every second,” Meghan said.

Being in the poetry club and attending a journalism class have helped Meghan improve her writing. She also took an English class, which turned out to be her favorite class. Her work became more organized and straight to the point, and she began to understand the different styles and techniques of writing.

Meghan was able to work for her high school newspaper and attend her poetry class. But she said she believed her journalism class and English class have helped her develop her skills in interviewing and researching  skills that are necessary to journalism.

“I developed my love for writing and taking photos and realizing that what I like doing was known as journalism,” she said.

Meghan’s journalism teacher, Mrs. Kirsten Mett, admired Meghan schoolwork. Meghan’s friends also saw that she is a great photographer and writer.

“Meghan is known as the writer in the club and in journalism class,” said her friend Kaitlyn Maschke. “If anybody needs proofreading or advice with something as a simple as an e-mail or an article piece, she’s the one to ask.”

Meghan said she is determined to study journalism in college.

“This summer will be my first time pursuing journalism and getting to know exactly what it entails,” she said of the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. “This opportunity, I know I’ll leave having more knowledge about the field and the experience than I ever will have.”

Caroline Ledoux: An international journalism journey

By Rachel Schneider
Great Neck South High School

Caroline Ledoux has lived in France, Miami, Queens and now Long Island. She has also traveled to Canada, Belgium, French Guyana, Suriname and Germany.

All of which have provided the 17-year-old Roosevelt High School senior unique and diverse life experiences that have shaped her writing and photography.

“I see myself as journalist because I have always had a curious spirit,” Caroline explained.

She speaks French, which is her first language; German, which she learned at school in France; Creole, which she learned communicating with her grandmother in Miami; and English, as well, as when she came to the United States. Furthermore, she has also picked up some Spanish throughout her world journeys. Her ability to communicate in at least four different languages has helped satisfy her curiosity and has been a vehicle for Caroline to learn about others. Caroline is most interested in writing articles about topics that she can personally relate to and that can have an impact on others, especially other teens. “I have always loved asking questions to people about what they do, why they do it and what they get from doing what they do,” she said.

According to Caroline’s mother, Lunie Nelson, two words to describe her are “emotional and intuitive.”

Her interest in professional journalism was sparked by taking a media and communications class followed by advanced media her sophomore year. During these classes, Caroline realized her true passion was in photography and videography. “My favorite activity was when we would have to get out of the class and take pictures or video,” she said. “I realized that I love taking pictures of moments.”

Her cousin, Henry Nelson, said, “Her pictures are filled with so many wonderful opportunities.”

Caroline, an international traveler, is also an international athlete. She has played badminton, been captain of a European handball team, run track and now plays lacrosse for her high school.

Caroline will begin writing for her school newspaper next year and she hopes to expand her writing skill set and gain more experience while at the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for Journalists. When she was informed of her acceptance to the program, she said she was “excited that the work I had put in was worth it and for the opportunity to better myself.”

Nijha Young: Unafraid to challenge herself

By Christian Miller
St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School

Nijha Young has embraced writing since she was only a few years old.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” said the soon-to-be senior at Baldwin High School. “Teachers helped me develop it more and complimented me on it. It’s been like a method of expression that I feel suits me more than other things.”

The 16-year-old Roosevelt resident said she receives strong support for her writing from her parents, older sister, teachers and friends. Her father, Patrick Young, said he is extremely proud of his daughter. “When reading her writing, it’s like I am in the story and can visualize the scenery and follow the plot,” he said.

Writing school essays might be boring to some, but Nijha said she treats it as a challenge. She enjoys analytical papers the most, and has written about complex characters such as Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. Nijah said she would also like to try new kinds of writing. “I have an interest in creative writing,” she says, “but I’d have to work more at it.”

Nijha is involved in many school activities: the trivia club, mock trial, sign language club and stage crew. She is also the event coordinator for the school band’s executive board and has been an AIDS peer educator since freshman year. Nijha likes meeting others in these programs with similar goals. “It’s a good way to meet people you wouldn’t meet in your classroom,” she said.

As for college, Nijha said she is particularly interested in Georgetown but has also scheduled visits for Northeastern and Harvard. She takes interest in these schools because of their out-of-state, yet close-to-home distance. To help her get into these schools, she plans to take advanced placement Italian and has already taken advanced placement United States history and physics.

With a packed class schedule, Nijha said she finds it hard to balance her out-of-school and in-school writing.

“It’d be nice to write about things I’m more interested in,” she says, “and explore my interests and skills.”

Emily Palazzotto: Combining passions for journalism and criminal law

By Laila Stevens
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Even as a young child, Emily Palazzotto knew how to spark emotion in readers.

“I have always been a strong writer and all my life I have been told my writing moves people,” she said.

For example, in middle school, Palazzotto, of Oakdale, wrote an essay about a personal experience that was able to bring her teacher to tears. The teacher shared the essay with all of her students and it is something she continues to do every year, said Emily’s mother, Kara.

In her freshman year at Connetquot High School, Emily recalled stumbling across journalism as a potential career that would allow her to tie in her other interests, such as dance and cheerleading.

Now 17 and an incoming senior, current events motivate Emily to write, whether it’s regarding a personal issue or something happening in the world around her. “20/20” and crime shows serve as inspiration, she said.

The most influential people in Emily’s encourage her to try new things and connect to people who work in the journalism and communications fields. They describe her as an adventurous, ambitious and caring young woman.

“Once you become a part of her life she opens her heart to you and there is nothing that she won’t do for you,” said Kara Palazzotto. “She will put herself aside to be there for someone whether it’s for the good or the bad.”

Emily’s friend, Alexa Dowling, 17, of Ronkonkoma, also sees her as a motivated writer in and outside of school.

“She always puts so much effort in everything she does, especially her school work. I know that a career in journalism will be a perfect fit for her.”

Emily said she is eager to explore different dimensions of journalism in college–including broadcasting and writing–while also combining her love for criminal law.

She intends on going into law school and travel the world.

“By traveling, I get to encounter more people and more experiences. It will give me more insight into the world and other cultures, and could only build up my character,” Emily said.

But all of Emily’s interests tie back to journalism and storytelling.

Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists came as a surprise presented to the class by her AP English Language and Composition teacher. She said she was thrilled to be accepted and optimistic that the program would “lead to so many amazing opportunities and experiences.”