By Anabella Torres
Ward Melville High School
Candace Russell began reading when she was three and hasn’t stopped since.
“I think that was the window into writing for her because she was exposed to these authors at a very young age,” said Fhairmain Maria Russell, Candace’s mom. “Her love of reading grew, and I believe that because she fell in love with books and different writers, she had the opportunity to see how they used voice and how they created images. I think that helped her write.”
As a child, Candace, now a rising junior at the Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, was a big fan of stories like the Magic Tree House and Harry Potter. As she got older, she began to realize that English and history were her strong suits. Writing book reports became an enjoyable task, rather than an annoyance, and over time her passion started to align with her skills.
At Kew-Forest, Candace has continued to explore her zest for reading and writing. She joined the Model United Nations Club in ninth grade, learning about different countries and developing new skills such as public speaking. “It gives me a chance to go to different places for the conferences and to meet new people from all over the world and hear about their experiences,” Candace said. In addition, she is a member of the Forensics Club, which she feels is one of the more interesting activities at her school.
While Candace may have always been a gifted writer, it wasn’t until she was in middle school that she discovered her desire to pursue journalism. The revelation came when she participated in a program about webcasting and broadcasting, in which, her mother said, she went beyond the routine. “Not only would she tell the weather, she would have props,” she added.
Her interest successfully piqued, Candace started looking beyond her school to expand her journalism knowledge. “I knew that I needed to find a program to advance my journalistic pursuits,” she said.
Candace had been considering applying to Stony Brook University, so when she and her mother came across the Robert W. Greene Institute for High School Journalists, they decided to take a closer look and she applied. “I want to continue to progress and grow,” she said. “One specific skill that I’m hoping to learn at Greene is how to improve my journalistic research skills.”
Candace hopes to become a journalist so she can inform the world and change public perception on important issues. “When I was younger I was surrounded by people who were misinformed,” she said.
While Fhairmain Russell will support whatever career choice her daughter makes, she has some concerns about Candace becoming a journalist. “My fear is that journalists are under attack,” she said.
Candace has a different concern about the profession: “When I tell people that I want to pursue journalism, they say, ‘That’s a dying art.’”
Despite the challenges, Candace said, “I have faith that there will always be a need for journalists.”