2016 Student Profiles

Profile on Alyssa Calubayan

By Emma Wilenta

While many teens dream of attending New York Fashion Week or meeting world famous supermodels, 17 year old Alyssa Calubayan has other ideas in mind. An incoming senior at Cherry Hill High School West, Calubayan hopes to make it big in the world of journalism by pursuing a career as a fashion writer. Her goal is to one day cover New York Fashion Week.

“My dream is to be a fashion journalist that has a stable career and can provide for myself, living in  New York,” Calubayan said.

The Cherry Hill resident currently serves as the Style and Trends Editor on her school’s newspaper, a position that was created for her. Her section focuses on fashion, makeup and anything else that is trending in the world of style.

Calubayan considers herself an outgoing, fun and goofy person, and is the older sister to two younger brothers. Her hobbies include eating, sleeping, shopping, makeup, and of course, writing.

Creative writing has always been a passion for Calubayan.

“I always have a lot of thoughts running through my head,” Calubayan said.

Although fashion journalism is her main goal in life, Calubayan sometimes struggles with how she wishes to pursue it, whether it be on camera or behind the scenes.

One of her major role models in life is Rihanna. Calubayan admires the performer’s style, personality, looks, success, and overall attitude towards life.

“She just does not care,” Calubayan said of her long time idol.

While only 17 years old, Calubayan has quite a strong focus on where she is headed in life, knowing that it will take pure hard work to get there.

Profile on Trina Sanyal

By Daniella Ignacio

How many high schoolers can say that they’re the anchor of their school’s weekly TV show? Seventeen-year-old Trina Sanyal can, and she loves every second of it.

A rising senior at Bridgewater Raritan High School in Bridgewater, N.J., Trina is part of the school’s media program where she writes scripts and anchors for the school TV show. This program, she said, was how she became passionate about journalism.

“I like [journalism] because it allows me to be creative,” said Trina, who is soft-spoken and speaks quickly. “In terms of reporting news events, I enjoy being informed on all perspectives and reporting from the most neutral standpoint that I can.”

She is considering going into television and wants to study media studies, political science and computer science in college. Although she is not part of the school newspaper, Trina has written for newspapers outside of school in the past and enjoys writing about social justice issues and politics, as well as theatre, hip hop and music.

Trina is also the captain of her school’s speech team, where she participates in humorous interpretation, an event in which she condenses a book, movie or play into a 10-minute performance. In Trina’s words, it’s “competitive acting.” She’s traveled all over the country to compete in this event, achieving high placements at national level competitions at Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

This activity, while exhilarating, has some downsides. “I love love love singing and acting,” Trina said, “but since speech/humorous interpretation takes so much of my time, I haven’t been able to join any of my school’s productions, which kind of sucks.”

With all these activities, Trina operates on three hours of sleep during the school year.

Said Trina, “I’m super stressed, but at least I’m happy!”

Profile on Serena Chen

By: McKenna Samson

Serena Chen is a three dimensional writer that has accomplished a lot in her fifteen years. The golf star, pescatarian*, and rising sophomore lives in West Windsor, New Jersey attending The Lawrenceville School. She’s spending time on Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus to improve as a journalist. Serena enjoys writing for her school newspaper and playing sports, golf being her passion.

Serena started golf at seven through a non-profit organization called The First Tee.

“The First Tee taught me more than just golf. It taught me life skills,” Chen said.

These skills include managing new situations and settings.Three years ago, she started playing golf competitively. She began winning regular tournaments and has worked her way from small scale competitions to attending and competing on the Augusta, Georgia golf course, the most prestigious course in the U.S. She is a key member on her school’s golf team and plans to pursue the sport when she attends college.

Serena also enjoys keeping healthy food on her plate. She has a deep interest in food and nutrition, and even has her own health blog with her friend. The blog, avolicious.com, was the product of Serena and her friend connecting through a mutual interest in nutrition. Serena posts weekly articles to their blog. Her personal favorite being the first one she published. It was about cooking, a topic she was not used to.

A documentary on the Watergate scandal that Serena and a peer created three years ago kindled her interest in journalism. She and her peers also created one on Jane Austen. From there, she joined her high school’s newspaper and continued her passion for journalism. She believes that this program will help her to grow as a journalist.

Serena describes herself as friendly, approachable, and sometimes, reserved. She’s full of energy and is on her way to major accomplishments in the near future.

“Golf and journalism are major points in my life and I’m excited to see where they take me.” Chen smiled.
*Someone who eats fish but not meat

Profile on Suubi Mondesir

By Rohan Kremer Guha

Suubi Mondesir cannot get enough of writing. Her favorite class is English.  She keeps a journal, which she updates every day.  She has written 31 pieces over the last two years, and is currently working on writing a play.

“In fourth grade, we did narrative writing, and also fiction writing, which I enjoyed,” Mondesir said. “My mom is also a poet.  So writing was a major part of both my school and my home, and I was hooked.”  She also is part of the Creative Writing academy at Red Bank Regional High School, a school known for its excellence in the arts.

“I’ve enrolled in the Creative Writing Academy for all four years in high school,” Mondesir says. “It’s a selective program where students learn about writing techniques, learn about writers and poets, and learn about performing.”

Journalism, then, would seem like a natural fit for her.  But she quit the school newspaper, because, “It wasn’t taken very seriously at my school.  It’s sad though, because it would have been great to be part of it.”

Still, Mondesir would like to make writing her career, whether it be as a journalist or as an author.

Besides writing, Mondesir plays field hockey for her school, and is interested in politics, social justice, and world news.

“Social justice issues have a lot of meaning to me, because I’m African American,” she says. “It’s very emotional for me to see people who look like me being treated differently.”

This concern for social justice ties into her feature and digital projects.  Her digital project is about the Black Lives Matter movement.  She will include pictures of protestors from various American cities.  But she also seeks to provide an alternate angle, and show protestors from other countries.  The reason, she said, was to show that Black Lives Matter, “is not just an American thing”.

Besides having a passion for writing and advocating for social justice, Mondesir enjoys watching shows such as “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Last Week Tonight”, as well as spending time with family and friends.  Despite her busy schedule, Mondesir can strike a balance, which is no small feat.

Profile on Mckenna Samson

By Serena Chen

McKenna Samson, a rising senior at the Lenape High School in Medford, New Jersey, has her eyes set on becoming a screenwriter and television producer.

“I have a passion for writing stories,” said the bubbly 17-year-old. “And I also really do enjoy videography so I figured combining the two and seeing my stories come to life on screen, like on television, would be the coolest thing.”

McKenna’s interest in journalism began when she became a teen panelist for her county newspaper, the Burlington County Times. Some of McKenna’s favorite topics to write about include feminism, music and school.

Watching dozens of YouTube about Bratz and Moxie dolls when she was 10 sparked McKenna’s interest in videography. The videos inspired her to make films with her dolls talking to each other. Her parents encouraged this hobby and decided to enroll her in summer film camps at Drexel University and Swarthmore College.

Following her time at film camp, McKenna furthered her interest by taking a television broadcasting class in high school. At the end of her junior year, she made a documentary about her family for English class. Her family was “amazed at the quality” and her teacher “praised it as a very innovative piece of investigative journalism”.  McKenna is clearly talented, but her humble and kind personality shines through.

“I don’t want to sound cocky,” she said with a smile.

McKenna is passionate about the Black Lives Matter campaign, too.

“Every day I do see what goes on in America and what’s happening to people who look like me and how they’re being treated by the police,” she said.

McKenna will be writing and creating a digital project about the movement at the upcoming Boyd Journalism Workshop.

Profile on Rohan Kremer Guha

By Suubi Mondesir

Many of us can’t wait to experience college life and for Rohan Kremer Guha, the opportunity is right around the corner. Rohan is a rising senior at Columbia High School in  South Orange, where he lives.

From  a young age, Rohan has enjoyed reading or listening to the news, which he describes as “his springboard into journalism.” Rohan became more interested in news stories, especially the ones relating to politics and world events. He took a journalism class last year, and will be editor for the news section of his school’s newspaper this year.

Rohan said he wasn’t sure what his career path might be.

“I’m not totally sure what I want to do when I am older, but I am leaning towards having a job in the sciences.”  Rohan said his interests include politics as well as public policy, especially relating to public transportation.

In terms of his personality, Rohan is outgoing and likes to talk to people, to which he added, “I’m very social.”

Some fun and interesting facts about Rohan include: he swims competitively both on a club team and for his high school, he plays cello in his school’s chamber orchestra and he likes playing board games, such as “The Settlers of Catan.”

Rohan also mentioned he likes to read the comic “Pearls Before Swine.”  Rohan is a fan of “The Late Show” and “Last week tonight with John Oliver”.  Rohan described himself in one word. “Passionate.”

Profile on Daniella Ignacio

By Trina Sanyal

Seventeen year old Daniella Ignacio has seemingly unshakable enthusiasm. When interviewed for this profile, her emailed responses were full of exclamation points and smiley faces. Her answers were lengthy but interesting despite her busy schedule as a summer intern at the Kidz Theatre, a professional venue in Manhattan. In person, her passion is nearly infectious  when she talks about her favorite musical Into The Woods or the hip hop musical sensation Hamilton. Daniella, a rising senior at West Essex High School, has always loved writing, but her interests in journalism peaked in high school after she joined her school’s newspaper.  As managing editor of the Wessex Wire, Daniella is in charge of digital long projects and hopes to start a television broadcast through her position.

Amazingly, This gifted writer is also a gifted performer and has been performing in school productions since she the age of ten. Her role models include playwright Lin Manuel Miranda, actress Lea Salonga who is Filipino just like Daniella, and author J.K Rowling. All three of these creators span across three different fields, showing Daniella’s versatility of interests. In addition, Daniella is a talented musician and singer, and is currently teaching herself how to play the ukulele.
As far as journalism, when asked what kind of reporter she’d like to be, Daniella replied almost without hesitation, “theatre journalist.” “I love theatre! And I love journalism” she said, “so why not combine the two?” Daniella’s ever present grin grew even wider when she described why she loved them so much. “Both are so important and both are about story telling”, and that’s exactly what the world needs.

Profile on McKella Sylvester

By Michael Pereira

A few years ago, McKella Sylvester, 2016 Boyd Workshop student, was struggling to find her way in journalism. Now she is the Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper.

Her interest in journalism began at a young age, even while she was still into reading Nancy Drew.

“When I was nine years old I was watching CNN,” McKella said.

As she grew older, she broadened her scopes to follow different news sites, and even began working on her middle school newspaper. However, her interest waned, and she lost interest.

Now she attends Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and joined the newspaper there during Freshmen year. She rose through the ranks of The Fanscotian, becoming the Opinion Editor in her Junior year and is the Editor-in-Chief in her Senior year.

However, she found that being Editor-in-Chief is not without its difficulties.

“People want to change the name of The Fanscotian, but it’s tradition,” she said. The name has been associated with the school and the town for over a century, which combines both names.

Yet McKella will not allow any difficulties to affect her performance.

“I plan to make every story as best as it can be,” she said.

During downtime, McKella spends her time watching anime.

“I watch a lot of anime like Naruto Shippuden and Bleach,” McKella said. “I also write short stories and fan fiction.”

She also enjoys listening to all types of music, ranging from rap to country. She also likes Game of Thrones. “I read all seven books of Game of Thrones in seven days.”

Now, McKella is trying to decide what she wants to do in the future. She is considering a career in journalism or medical science.

“My experience in leadership will help me because it has taught me many of the skills in communication required in my future career,” she said.

Profile on Michael Pereira

By McKella Sylvester

Meet Michael Pereira. He is a rising senior at Saint Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. As an editor in chief at his high school newspaper, Benedict News, and a student at another local school that teaches in Portuguese, Pereira is quite accomplished.

Pereira is also one of ten high school students who was selected for the 2016 Hugh N. Boyd Journalism Workshop at Rutgers University for candidates who have a strong interest in journalism.

With a strong Portuguese cultural background and open view of the world, Pereira is seemingly well-assured for his age. Despite this, Pereira, like many young adults, is not yet sure about what he plans to do in the future.

When asked about the journalism field in his future, Pereira said, “ I’m still 17. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I am interested in it. It’s a field that is very competitive. So, would I be interested in it? Sure.”

Additionally, Pereira has strong feelings regarding the discipline aspect of learning at the Portuguese school. In recalling that the school demanded that he had to stay hours past closing in order to learn in a different language was grueling but was worth it.
After graduating from the school, Pereira is still impacted by the experience as shown in his body language as he described what he remembered. “It was two and a half hours after seven hours of normal school,” Pereira said. If he decides to pursue journalism, Pereira will no doubt succeed in this field due to his intense sense of discipline.

Profile on Emma Wilenta

By Alyssa Calubayan

For the past week, 15-year-old Emma Wilenta has been keeping track of the turmoil of the 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  The student journalist would like to dive into writing about politics in Washington D.C. someday.  For now she’s a writer for her school newspaper and was selected for the Hugh N. Boyd Journalism Diversity Workshop.

“I would love to be a news writer in Washington D.C. one day,” she said.

She mainly writes political news stories.

“I wants to write about politics because it’s an exciting field to work in, where you can meet new people and experience different things,” she said.

So far she has written a feature article about the Republican National Convention and hopes to write more political articles. She doesn’t let her opinion affect her writing.

When not immersed in politics, Emma enjoys baking part time in Simona’s Bakery in Sea Girt, NJ. She also works as a camp counselor at a summer kids program called vacation bible school camp. You can also find her with her youth group in church.

“I am involved at my church a lot with service projects and the youth groups.” she said.

Emma will be going into her sophomore year at Communications High School in Wall, NJ, a high school that specializes in journalism and communications. She enjoys learning all the aspects of communications/ journalism field which has helped her overcome shyness and make a lot of friends. She enjoys putting a smile on everyone’s face. Seeing people happy, makes her happy.

One interesting fact about Emma is that she’s trained in self-defense. She also lives a 15-minute bike ride away from the beach.

Said Emma, “You might not think at first glance that I would be training in self-defense but I’m tougher than I look.”