Christian Miller: A journey through filmmaking

By Nijha Young
Baldwin High School

Christian Miller has showed interest in film since he began shooting YouTube videos on a friend’s channel in seventh grade.

Christian, a rising senior at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, was responsible for creating scripts and directing short comedy videos for the channel.

The oldest of four children, Christian has continued cultivating his interest in film throughout his high school years. On top of balancing a class schedule consisting of Creative Writing, Speech, AP Literature and U.S. History, among other courses, Christian contributed to the school’s newspaper and broadcasting department for the past three years.

Though Christian’s early film work focused mainly on comedy, his style expanded to various genres and perspectives over time.

“He goes through a variety of different things,” explained Andrea Miller, his mother. “Sometimes he’ll write from more of a historical, social studies, even current events nature and then it’s a little more straight-laced.”

Although Christian hopes to continue working on comedic movies in the future, Mrs. Miller said that he is also the type of person who is often willing to “try anything new.”

The West Islip teen’s experience, however, is not limited to what goes on behind the scenes of a production. Christian has also acted in a number of short films in addition to school productions like “The Music Man.”

The next step for Christian is deciding where to pursue his aspiration. At the moment, he is interested in attending Hofstra University or the University of Rhode Island. Whichever college Christian chooses, his field of study is not in doubt.

“I decided to stick with filming just because it made me happy when I did it with my friends,” Christian said.

Matthew Quan: A photographic storyteller

By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School

Matthew Quan said he has always been attracted to the idea of telling stories, but not with words.

The 17-year-old senior at Longwood High School is trained in photography, a craft that allows him to capture the unwritten tale behind beautiful, everyday things.

Matthew didn’t start seeing the world through a camera lens until three years ago. “I always thought it was interesting, but I didn’t start taking photography classes until I hit high school,” he recalled. He has taken every photography class that his school offers and has earned much praise for his work.

Matthew was raised in Astoria, Queens, by an Ecuadorian mother and a Chinese father. His parents traded the dynamic hustle and bustle of city life for a more relaxed life in the suburban Suffolk County community of Longwood when he turned 13.

This change did not come without hindrances. “At first it was hard to make friends,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone and it was pretty awkward at times.” Since then, Matthew said, he has learned to break out of his shell and has acquired an amazing group of friends. He now finds himself more comfortable in his cozy house in Longwood than his old apartment in Queens.

Matthew said snapping and editing photos helped him through a stressful sophomore year. He excels more in his art classroom where his photography teacher, Melissa Bussewitz, encouraged him to share his craft. She said she has consistently supported and critiqued his impressive work all year. Matthew wouldn’t have applied to Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists if it weren’t for Bussewitz. “He’s a great photographer,” she said. “I told him that he should apply.”

Matthew said when he isn’t working on his photography, he likes to stay active because it’s a “great stress reliever.” He enjoys taking long bike rides in his neighborhood and also studies mixed martial arts. He considers himself outgoing and he loves to talk to people.

He is undecided on what college he wants to go, but luckily, he said, his parents wouldn’t mind if he went away from home. Lately, he has been leaning towards journalism as a career option.

When he heard the news that he got into the Greene program, he said he was ecstatic and shocked. “I’m not a very good writer, so I was surprised that I got in,” he said. He said he is excited to learn new techniques in photography as well as other journalism skills. The only thing he worried about was the lack of air conditioning in the Stony Brook dorms.

Matthew shared he has doubts about his future. But the one thing he doesn’t have doubts about is his photography. “The pictures I take I’m always pretty proud of,” he said.

Zoe Gordon: An accidental journey to journalism

By Adeishe Bagaloo
Uniondale High School

At the start of high school, Zoe Gordon signed up for journalism by accident and immediately found a passion for it.

Zoe, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had to choose between her school newspaper and the yearbook staff. Her choice was the newspaper staff.

She has now been a part of her school’s journalism program for two years, and having developed a relationship with them, she said they are now like her family. “It’s like an instinct was telling me to sign up for it,” she said.

The most successful story she wrote, in her opinion, was about a first quarter issue. Her story was about Smart guns. According to Bloomberg News, smart gun technology is used to control guns in a way that they are able to detect their owners. Zoe said she found this to be her most interesting story because she was not educated about the topic and that helped her to apply herself and gather information well.

“I just immersed myself in information,” Zoe said. In her opinion, the story helped her to become more courageous because it provided her with the opportunity to communicate with a diverse group of people. This is something she believed she wouldn’t have done under regular circumstances. “I talked to police officers, people at my school and other people about their opinions,” she continued.

On February 14, 2018, a gruesome shooting happened at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The incident inspired Zoe to become more passionate about journalism. “Being able to tell my story and the story of others at my school has really made me want to pursue journalism as a career,” she said.

Zoe’s motivation as a student journalist is the response she gets when she publishes a story. “The reactions you get from sharing your story on a much broader basis, it really shows me how much people care to hear your story and see the truth,” she said. She said she is absolutely determined to get the truth out of a story to the nation.

When Zoe is not practicing journalism, she said she is either doing Pilates exercises, hanging out with friends or dancing.

“She does dancing in her spare time, she is passionate about journalism and she is a straight A student,” her brother, Zach Gordon, said.

Zoe said the people in her circle, including her teachers, parents and brother, are very supportive and influence her significantly on the person she is and her journey of becoming an outstanding journalist. “My newspaper teacher encourages us to go outside of the box and come up with new ideas to just convey a story really good and my parents really support me,” she said.

Zoe’s role model in the field of journalism is Hoda Kotb, a “Today Show” anchor. She is looking forward to pursuing journalism at the Syracuse University. Zoe said she cares about the voices of others and she believes that journalism can help her be someone else’s voice.

“I can express myself in a way that shares information with others,” she said.

Emily Bishop: Already an award-winning writer

By Lauren Nicks
Baldwin High School

Emily Bishop’s passion for writing piqued her interest in journalism as a potential career.

“My school doesn’t have any journalism classes, but I’ve always loved writing,” said Bishop, a 17-year-old student at The Stony Brook School.

Her passion led to her joining the school’s Journalism Club. It was during those after-school Journalism Club meetings where Bishop realized that writing was the perfect career for her.

“The idea of myself reading and reporting news to the student body was amazing,” she said. “I liked that. That’s where I’m comfortable. I like being in front of people and telling stories.”

Emily’s talent for journalism is widely noticed by her family, most notably her mother, Cheryl Bishop.

“Emily has loved all stories from a young age and was an avid reader even in elementary school,” Ms. Bishop said. “She wrote some outstanding essays then and had a poem selected for publication in a local community newspaper. I think that emboldened her to say she really enjoyed writing and considered it as a possible career.”

While Emily possesses superior writing skills − demonstrated by her annual winning of The Stony Brook School Writing Contest − her mother believes her curiosity makes her a good fit for journalism.

“She understands writing and has demonstrated capability,” Cheryl said. “She has done well in photography at school and enjoys it, but sometimes she is curious about how she could possibly become a host on the Today Show.”
Both Emily and her mother Cheryl believe that the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute at Stony Brook University is the perfect opportunity for Emily to gain insight on the inner workings of news organizations.

“The Stony Brook program appears to capture beginning to end of communicating in front of and behind the camera,” Cheryl said. “So I hope this helps Emily decide what area she might prefer or if journalism is even the best field for her to express herself.”

The week-long program Emily and other aspiring journalists are about to embark on is designed to provide training in skills that are necessary to the field of journalism. It will also allow students to meet and network with media professionals.

“I’m looking forward to a hands-on experience in tech and broadcast,” Emily said. “That’s something I don’t know anything about.”

Emily is also a ballet dancer. She has trained for over 10 years, and watched performances by famous companies such as the American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center.

While journalism isn’t Emily’s only topic of interest, she said it is the one that keeps calling her back. Emily believes that by attending the Greene Institute, she’ll discover if journalism is truly the career for her. She’s also keen on studying history and French in college, but she would really love to give journalism a shot.

“No matter what, I’d like to continue working on writing,” she said. “For me, writing is just something that comes naturally. I found my niche and became really comfortable about my writing, and it’s felt like that ever since.”

Lauren Nicks: Writing to make a difference

By Emily Bishop
The Stony Brook School

Acting was Lauren Nicks’ passion through middle and high school. However, during preparations for her eighth-grade performance in “Bye Bye Birdie,” she realized that she wasn’t as interested in acting as she was with the popularity that it offered.

“I started to look at acting as superficial, and I wanted to do something that would actually mean something to people and could actually help,” she said.

The 17-year-old senior at Baldwin High School looked to be a positive influence in her community. Friends and family suggested she consider becoming a journalist, so she began considering the possibility. The idea took hold while she was watching a news report two years ago.

“I was sitting at the dining room table, and there was this story on ABC News with Diane Sawyer,” Lauren said. “And she was in a different country, in the Middle East, and I was like ‘You know, I think I kind of want to do something like that. Go overseas, meet new people, and hear their stories.’ ”

Lauren was inspired to join her school newspaper, The Golden Wave, and eventually became a layout editor. There she not only developed her abilities as a photographer but also interviewed people and learned valuable listening skills.

“I’ve read her article on Black Lives Matter, and one thing I can say about her is that she is very involved in finding the truth and making sure often ignored stories are heard,” said her mom, Nakesha Nicks. She also praised Lauren’s curiosity and drive, qualities that she believes make Lauren a good fit for a career in journalism. Lauren says her parents have always supported her journalistic journey, as has her younger brother, Justin.

Lauren says that the main reason for her pursuit of journalism comes from her desire to connect with people and share their lives with the world. “What I really like is getting to know people, getting to hear their stories, getting to spread their stories, stories that need to be heard,” she said.

When one of her teachers set up a TV studio, Lauren was thrilled to be a part of that as well. Whether standing in front of a screen or delivering her school’s morning announcements for “Good Morning Baldwin,” she was delighted to be gaining more journalism experience.

Beside journalism, Lauren’s main interest is reading. As a child, she was mesmerized by the Harry Potter books and claims that reading those stories fostered her English skills and pushed her to become a better writer. She continues to search for books that transport her to different worlds and engage her imagination.

When Lauren learned about Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, she applied because she believed it would improve her writing and networking skills.

Lauren knows she would like to attend New York University, but she is unsure about whether to pursue journalism in college. She hopes her week with the Greene Team will make her decision easier.

“I’m going to figure out if it’s something that I want to pursue later on,” she said. “Other people have been telling me that I was a good fit for journalism, but being here, I want to find it out for myself.”