By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School
Brianna Foster raises awareness in her community when she’s not raising quails in her basement.
The 17-year-old junior at Smithtown High School East believes that “if you want change, you have to do something about it.” Brianna is doing something about it. She joyously immerses herself in charity work, participating in causes such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the National Organization of Women, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and Habitat for Humanity. And when she isn’t volunteering with guide dogs or making blankets for the elderly, she’s raising endangered bobwhite quails.
The generous high schooler has been an outgoing, kind-hearted spirit ever since she was a child.
“She started talking at four months of age,” her mother, Rita Foster, recalled.
At a young age, Brianna — who lives with her mom, dad, 15-year-old sister Paula and three dogs — was thrust into volunteer work by her mother. Rita Foster, who is involved in many charitable organizations, was the one who suggested that Brianna start raising quails. Their family has been doing it for three years now, increasing the number of quails each time. They went from 12, to 16, to 21 this year.
Brianna explained that quails are important for Long Island because they eat ticks that carry Lyme disease. Two weeks after the quails hatch, she releases them at Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown. Raising quails isn’t easy.
“They’re really annoying, and they keep trying to eat each other,” she said.
Once Brianna hit high school, she started looking into other projects and causes. She’s deeply interested in the feminist movement, and she uses journalism to share that message with her school. In her school newspaper, The Matador, Brianna wrote a piece titled “My statement starts with a period.” The piece was about the need to add free feminine products in the girls’ bathrooms at her school.
When she isn’t writing to bring about change, she enjoys writing opinion pieces about music and drawing political cartoons. Brianna also likes to play the piano.
Brianna applied to Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists because she was interested in the profession and felt that the institute was “a good way to solidify it as a career choice.”
She would like to use journalism as a tool to expose corruption, raise awareness and stand up for what she believes in. Now almost a week into the program, she is surprised by all the different elements that go into publishing a story, from photography and videography to writing.
When asked how her work in the community ties in with her writing, Brianna responded that “journalism is a people activity, and my work taught me how to love people.”