Lily McInerney: Activism shapes love of journalism

By M D’Alessandro
Huntington High School

When Lily McInerney broke the story of the hiring of a new principal at Irvington High School in her school newspaper, she realized journalism could be her career choice.

“That’s when I knew that this was going to be something that I was definitely going to be interested in,” said the 16-year-old incoming senior. “That excitement and buzz around an article was something that I constantly craved.”

Lily’s “craving” for journalism began during her childhood. Growing up in Manhattan, her passion was sparked by the news on TV in the background, by finding her voice in political family discussions and by walking through her diverse hometown on her own. 

When Lily moved with her family to Westchester, she left behind her introversion. “I forced myself to come out of my shell and make new friends, which I think was super important for me to grow as a person.”

Lily’s growth out of shyness also fed her passion for journalism. Her passion is more than just writing, filming, or speaking—it’s asking why and seeking the truth. According to her mother, Dana Stein, Lily is “tenacious, inquisitive and curious”—inevitably leading to Lily’s wonder about the world around her and her questioning of authority.

“[I want to] expose people in power, be a voice for the people and show them what’s really going on in the world,” Lily said, revealing how much watching the movie All The President’s Men in her high school journalism class inspired her. Lily’s journalism class inspired her in other ways as well; her closest friend Callie Crespo said, “Newspaper was her favorite class during the school year and it was often all she would talk about. She took every story seriously.” 

Anyone who knows Lily will agree that she’s destined to succeed. “She is a very hard worker who is willing to put in the time needed,” her mother said. “She is creative and curious.” Callie described Lily as persistent and stubborn when she’s determined to uncover the truth and express her ideas, never settling for anything but journalistic excellence. “These characteristics are what make her writing so good,” Callie said. “She genuinely really loves [journalism] so I think this will allow her to go far in the field.”­­

Lily’s love of journalism has led her from the streets of New York City to Westchester and now to the Stony Brook University Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. “This summer, I really missed writing and feeling like I could contribute to the world, so I was looking online on the Stony Brook website, thinking about what I could do, and I saw this.” ‘This’ meaning the opportunity to live on the Stony Brook campus and attend an all-inclusive summer program for journalism.

“I was looking through it,” she said, “I emailed a few people about it, sent in my application, and got in. This is something I really want to do when I get older.”

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