By Ni’yah Preacely
Newfield High School
Alex Nandallal is unsure of his career choice, but he knows this: he wants to find a way to help his diverse community in Jamaica, Queens.
“I think it really began when I started high school, as I began to learn more about social issues and the misconception that previous instances of activism rid the world of prejudice, misogyny, and corruption,” said Alex, a 16-year-old incoming senior at Queens Gateway to Health Sciences in Jamaica.
Alex takes part in the Capstone Program at school, which he says helps expose him to real-life issues.
“Researching stereotypes in infotainment, teenage bystander intervention, filmed assault, and police brutality, I began to admire the journals I came to read and the easily accessible information that held the power to teach anyone about the social climate,” he said.
Alex believes writing is useful in his everyday life. “Writing helps with thinking of the future and what I see myself doing and enjoying as time progresses,” Alex said. “I found myself spending hours annotating and analyzing pieces of literature. Ranging from nonfiction to poetry, writing was something that I believed I was able to do and helped me find understanding amid confusion in math and science.”
Ariel Salkey, a friend of Alex who attends Francis Lewis High School in Bayside, said he is, “very passionate about equality for all. He knows who he is and is sure of that, similar to his certainty for his enjoyment of writing.”
Because of his interest in helping his community, Alex has already started giving back. He volunteers at various libraries throughout the summer, reading stories to younger students. “I like to help the children, who gain amusement from such simple things,” he explained. “It is inspiring to interact with many young children who see the world with bright eyes.”
For Alex, journalism is another great opportunity to give back. “Journalism fascinates me because it focuses on a multitude of topics and highlights the perspectives of the underrepresented to assist in minimizing the ignorance society tends to have,” he said.
Alex applied for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at the urging of his mother, Sharon Shafi.
“Before writing, he used to be very shy and uncertain of many things within his life,” Shafi, a single mother, said. “I motivated Alex to sign up for this program to explore this career path because finding this interest helped him become more sure of who he is and what he likes.”
Alex said he hopes the program will expand his horizons.
“It’s good to learn about various occupations,” he said. “While I remain undecided regarding what career path I seek to follow, I like that there is never a definite answer and not only one specific way to look at issues in journalism. While there are concrete facts, there are also angles and opinions that impact how we approach different subjects and topics.”