By Phoebe Lawson
Patchogue-Medford High School
Something unexpected happened during Cielo Castaneda’s freshman year of high school. And something even more unexpected happened in her junior year.
In her first year at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, the only class she was able to take in order to fill up her schedule was journalism.
“I never thought of journalism as a career or interest until I got put into a journalism class,” said the 17-year-old rising senior. Now, Cielo is planning on minoring in journalism while majoring in business.
At the beginning of her junior year, Cielo learned she was pregnant; her son was born in February 2019. She brought this news to journalism teacher Scott Menscher who suggested doing a self-feature. Cautious at first, she eventually wrote the article. “I used it to address the idea of teen pregnancy and to share my story,” she said.
Cielo’s article, “Not Your Common Teen Life,” published on The Murrow Network a month before her son Caleb was born, has gotten more than 50 shares on social media and more than 1,500 reads. “My son is my biggest motivation to push me to finish school and to do better in life.”
Her love of writing emerged at an early age because Cielo felt she could express herself “without the need to talk to people about it.” She used writing to communicate what she was feeling. “Once I got into high school it became a way for me to release stress.”
Throughout her freshman and sophomore year, Cielo continued taking journalism and ended up enjoying it. She was encouraged by Menscher, who is also the newspaper adviser, to join The Murrow Network in her sophomore year. She was named online editor at the beginning of her junior year.
Despite her love of writing, Cielo envisions a career in business, more specifically accounting, because she enjoys math.
Menscher encouraged her to apply for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook University. Although she felt indecisive about whether or not to attend, she decided to give it a shot.
“I’m looking forward to the experience and getting the opportunity to get hands-on [experience] in the field.”