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.

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.”

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.”

Rachel Schneider: A curious, adventurous journalist

By Caroline Ledoux
Roosevelt High School

She may not know where she wants to go to college, but 17-year-old Rachel Schneider has no doubt about which career she will pursue. She is desperate to make an impact on society, and that’s where her interest in journalism comes from.

“Journalism allows me to foster my great curiosity and interest in current events in combination with my enthusiasm for writing,” the Great Neck South High School senior said.

Rachel’s mother, Debbie Schneider, said she’s always had a zest for life. She describes her daughter as “adventurous, hard-working and loquacious.” Her mother also said she’s inquisitive and honest.

Rachel said she’s passionate in everything she does. She’s proven her passion through her commitment to local media.

“I put a 100 percent effort in everything I do,” she said.

Rachel developed her love for writing in the ninth grade while producing entertainment, news and arts stories for the school newspaper, The Southerner. She is currently the editor-in-chief and section editor. She previously wrote for her local newspaper, The Great Neck Record, and is currently an intern at her local TV station, the Public Access TV.

Rachel credits her writing ability to the support of her family and her journalism teacher, Jennifer Hastings. “Ms. Hastings taught me everything I know,” Rachel said.

Besides writing, one of Rachel’s major interests is food. She owns an Instagram account entirely dedicated to her love of food. Her Instagram account, @_thefoodstagram, has over 1,000 followers and she uploads content daily. “My Instagram relates to my love of journalism because I love writing about food,” Rachel said.

Rachel said she believes that journalists play an integral and interesting part in American society today. As a journalist, she said, “you are given the responsibility to share news and inform the world in a compelling yet objective way. A journalist must [share information] in order to allow the public to form their own opinions.”

She believes that the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, which she found while searching online for a journalism internship, will be a stepping stone in furthering her knowledge of journalism and pursuing her career aspirations.

“This internship,” she said, “will give me the opportunity to share, learn and work with different students who all share the same passion.”

Julianna Orkin: Inspired by professional journalists

By Inna Ali
Secondary School for Journalism

Julianna Orkin’s passion for journalism began when she was 14.

That’s when the now West Islip High School junior wrote an article for her middle school newspaper on budget cuts in the Beach Street Middle School music program. She said her teachers were highly impressed with her work and suggested she become a journalist. After that, she knew she wanted to pursue that field.

She said her father, Steven Orkin, has a lot to do with that pursuit. Orkin — who didn’t pursue a career in journalism but enjoys creative writing and facilitates a local writing group — said he always does his best to discuss real-world issues so that Julianna can apply it to her own life.

“I’m very passionate about the craft of writing, both fiction and nonfiction,” he said. “I’m also very interested in learning about what’s happening in the world, trying to make sense of it and coming up with some answers as to what to do about it. I’d like to think I’ve inspired Julianna to do the same.”

Julianna attended her first Columbia Scholastic Press Association conference in March and described the experience as “mesmerizing.”

“There were many like-minded people, all interested in journalism or creative writing,” she said. “I got to hear the stories of many people in the various news workshops I attended. They talked about overcoming censorship … and tragedy. It was inspiring and gave me more of a look into journalism.”

Julianna hasn’t decided if she wants to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, political journalism or investigative reporting. She hopes her week at the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists will help her make a choice.

Julianna said she hopes to get better at meeting deadlines, become a better interviewer, and have a better understanding of journalism after her week-long stay at the Greene Institute. She hopes to meet new people with similar interests and overall become a better journalist.

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.”

Great start

So, this morning was exciting. When I got up, I surprisingly didn’t feel so tired. I honestly expected to be exhausted in the morning, but that’s only because I’m not a morning person. Moving on, breakfast was good. I got to eat and go through the news until the first lesson. Then, when the lesson started, I learned a lot of great things I didn’t know before and I’m excited to learn more. I also can’t wait for when we take pictures. Today has been a good day and I can’t wait for what’s coming next.