2017 Boyd Students

Molly Cuddy


by Channing Russell

Consider the stereotypical “blonde.” Is it true “blondes have more fun” and live up to the “dumb blonde” jokes?

Meet Molly Cuddy of Nottingham High School. She is a natural blonde born May 16, 2000 in Princeton, New Jersey. Molly grew up in Hamilton, New Jersey and, at 17, has already read the classics like The Great Gatsby and writes for the school newspaper, Star Status.

So is Molly characterized as a stereotypical dumb blonde who only seeks to have fun? She says “yea…. it happens”. However, some people take one look at her hair and assume the worst of her intellect without knowing she participates in Field Hockey, Lacrosse, and has been active in four plays during her high school career.

Among her numerous activities, Molly has taken an acute liking to creative writing. She started writing short stories in third grade where she says her teacher, Ms. Khan, loved her work and inspired her to continue writing. Molly’s short stories draw inspiration from a wide range of topics, but mainly she claims to “write what [she] knows.”  Whether it be the teenage experience, poetry, romance or the trip she took to London, Molly Cuddy is able to craft a beautiful story.

Molly plans to further her education at Syracuse University and dreams of becoming an author so she can express herself to a larger audience.

How’s that for a blonde?


Alan Dang

by Joelle Tancredi

John and Lien immigrated from Thailand to pursue the American Dream.  They found that dream in Lien’s son, Alan Dang, a 16-year-old from Manchester Township, New Jersey, with large aspirations.

Alan sees two potential futures for himself: in the first, he is at Princeton University, studying to become either a doctor or a lawyer.  A dedicated student, he prioritizes his grades and enjoys attending school.  At an Ivy League school like Princeton, he could spend his college years preparing for a lucrative career to enable him to support his family financially. His parents, like many who had to start over in a foreign country, want Alan to follow that American Dream and reach his highest potential.

If Alan does not get into Princeton, he will, instead, attend Rutgers, studying something completely different: Journalism.  According to Alan, he enjoys listening to stories and can envision himself as a reporter in the future.

Alan’s love for stories began at a young age.  He grew up speaking Vietnamese and had trouble understanding English until he enrolled in an ESL (English As A Second Language) program.  At age eight, with the help of his mother and a second grade teacher, he learned English.  His love for stories grew as he read more and more fantasy stories with his mother at the library.

Whether he goes to Princeton or Rutgers, Alan wants to remain involved with journalism.  As he starts his junior year, he still has time to think about his career path, but he knows that these are the paths he wants to explore.

Victoria Mione

by Tahirah Khan

After years of dreaming of becoming an entertainment and music journalist, 17-year-old Victoria Mione got her first article published last spring. The article “Four Affordable and Stylish Stores For Plus Size Teen Girls” was published in the online teen magazine Affinity.

“I was really excited,” she says recalling the day she found out the story was posted. Since then she has written five more articles for Affinity about art and music.

Born and raised in Old Bridge, New Jersey, Victoria, senior at Old Bridge High School,  is Irish, Danish and Italian. She is the youngest of four, and grew up in a  musically oriented family.  Victoria plays the guitar, piano, ukulele and sings and writes songs. Both her brother, Peter Jr and sister, Alexa also have musical interests.

Her interest in writing was sparked in the third grade after writing a poem on the weather. Ever since then writing has been a hobby alongside of her music interests.

For Victoria, writing channels her emotions and has been a way to express her feelings without directly expressing them.

“I write when I am sad, mad, and happy,” Victoria says.

Victoria plans on attending a college in the city rather than staying local. She plans on majoring in Journalism.

Matt Chirico

By Ria Malatesta

Matt Chirico warns us to look twice when watching supposedly “open” and “unfiltered” government news.

Matt is a 17-year-old from Manchester with sharp values of honesty, authenticity, and straightforwardness. These values are reflected in his interest and expertise with subjects ranging from politics to sports.

“I’m a strong believer in trusting the first instinct you have when you meet a person for the first time,” he said, referencing his distrust for politicians with “crooked” backgrounds.

Matt’s ethnic background – he’s Syrian and Lebanese -has played an especially important role in determining his perspective on the government’s role in the Syrian refugee crisis.

“I don’t want to believe the media entirely. You can never know what the government keeps from the public; are they really fighting terrorists in Syria?” he said.

These ideas have progressed since Matt was 13, citing his fascination with various YouTube videos of conspiracies surrounding the Kennedy terms, 9/11, and other government-related activity.

His interest with YouTube did not stop at conspiracy videos. Inspired by a friend who runs a thriving YouTube page as a daily vlogger, Matt decided to start his own daily vlogs, though he stopped in July.

“It was too time consuming,” he said. “For the feedback I was getting and how much work I put in, it wasn’t worth it.”

However, Matt resumed work in his other hobbies – baseball, music-making and sports media – with dreams of becoming a sports newscaster like Stephen A. Smith, a fellow straight-forward and authentic speaker.

Mustafa Ali

By Raven Harper

Mustafa Ali has spent his entire life in Piscataway, New Jersey, but has a vision beyond a small city, in a small state: he wants to be a human rights lawyer to help people in court who don’t have the funds to do so.

Mustafa, 16, is the oldest of three. Both of his parents are from Pakistan. His mom is a stay-at-home mom, and his dad is a price manager for Honeywell. Growing up, his parents have always told him to help people who don’t have a voice. This comes from his religion, Islam.

“In Islam, there is a saying, ‘What you do with your right hand, your left hand shouldn’t know’, ” he says. In other words, you shouldn’t do things just to get praise and attention for it.

Another thing that inspired his career goals, came from a common teenage pastime – television. Mustafa would watch tv and news, and wonder why and how certain things happened. For example, when President Donald Trump announced his travel ban, Mustafa was intrigued as to why Trump wanted to prevent certain immigrants from entering the United States, when America is built on diversity. The reason America is the country that it is today, is because of all the immigrants that have come here, so he started looking it up and researching about it.

After he graduates from high school in 2019, Mustafa hopes to go out of state for college, but he is not sure if he will have the money to do so. He plans to major in law and journalism when he starts college in the fall of 2019. Mustafa hopes to go out-of-state for college, but he is not sure if he will have the money to do so. He plans to major in law and journalism when he starts college in the fall of 2018.

Ria Malatesta

by Matt Chirico

Ria Malatesta is an aspiring writer who had a dream of getting her work published. The young author had always had aspirations of being a published writer but has not found a publisher that best fits her and her writing style.

The 17-year-old Fort Lee, New Jersey native’s inspiration for writing stems from her love for Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series. Said Ria, “I always admired his detail and character development. I try to do the same when writing my short stories.”

While Ria’s writing often reflects her emotions, she has also found the guitar as a way to channel her inner feelings. She said her passion for guitar stems from YouTube videos that she used to watch.

Ria describes her music as a way to channel her emotions and she listens to whatever genre of music seems to fit her mood at the time. Before she discovered her love for writing and playing the guitar, Ria played soccer but eventually let go of sports due to the constant pressure from coaches, peers, and spectators. With her love for literature, Ria hopes to attend Columbia University to focus on reading and writing while continuing to look for publishers for her short stories.

Raven Harper 

By Mustafa Ali

Combining your passion with your career isn’t something many can do, but Raven Harper plans to do it.

Raven Harper, a 16-year-old Houston, Texas native, hopes to major in Journalism and African-American studies. Raven wants a job that will allow her to be a voice for people of color.

Journalism, she hopes, will help her do that. And her plans also include pursuing a major in African-American studies. It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless, she says.

Raven hopes to be a journalist covering injustice happening in communities such as police brutality against African Americans.

Her father’s job as a freelance ministry consultant led her family to move from Houston to New Jersey in 2015.

At Plainsboro High School, where she’ll be a senior, Raven is a special assignment officer for the student council. She plans and organizes notable school events such as prom and other dances.

When Raven isn’t in school, she spends her time buying and doing her makeup, but with a purpose – she eventually hopes to start her own YouTube channel.

She also likes to read books on African-American history so that when she begins her blog, she is aware and “woke.” Some of her favorite books include “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

“It’s important to be knowledgeable about African-American History especially with the majors I would like to pursue,“ Raven says.


Joelle Tancredi

by Alan Dang

Joelle Tancredi developed an ambitious and creative dream of becoming a writer. Now 17, Joelle is focusing that fascination outward. With eyes on becoming a professional writer, she has been studying journalism for the last three years at Old Bridge High School in her hometown of Old Bridge, New Jersey.

Joelle can trace her fascination with the world around her to when she was 3. She would routinely create stories by drawing pictures. It was the news from the mind of young Joelle, and the kindling of a lifelong passion.

As a child, she could always be found buried in books, like her personal favorite Walk on Two Moons by Sharon Creech. In third grade, she was accepted into a Literacy Challenge program. During the three years in that program, Joelle said her teacher challenged her to write based on what she was absorbing from her surroundings.

“When I was very little, my mother encouraged me to use my imagination and create a world of my own,” she said with a smile.

In middle school, Joelle discovered that she wants to be a writer. For a year, she was the editor and publisher of a life-saving story on the polio vaccine. With the best intentions, middle school helped guide her bright and wonderful future.

In high school, Joelle found journalism and fell in love. She quickly rose through the ranks at her high school paper, Knight Life, and has been an editor for two years.

In the 10th grade, she was the business editor and fashion editor. Now, she is proudly the senior editor in her staff. A rising senior, Joelle hopes to major in Journalism in college. On her own time, she prefers to write, study psychology, and dance to tap. As a writer, she wants to make stories and magazines for a company. Her main interest is politics and the universal issues being discussed on CNN.

At the workshop, Joelle hopes to sharpen her skills for the real world of professional journalism. She wants to figure out how she needs to write, in order to compete with the standards of today.

Tahirah Khan

By Victoria Mione

Tahirah Khan, a 17-year-old senior who attends North 13th Street Tech in Newark, says she’s always loved writing and has used that passion to get through some hard times. When she decided it was time to take a risk and come out as bisexual to a family that didn’t understand, she turned to her pen and paper for comfort.

Tahirah was born in Guyana, a country in the northeastern corner of South America, and came with her mother to America when she was 2 years old. Tahirah says her growing up in a Guianan family impacted how she struggled with her sexuality, since her family is, according to Tahirah, “really religious, judgmental, and small-minded”.

Even so, Tahirah came out to her family earlier this year. “When I told my stepmom I had a girlfriend, she said that’s not acceptable,” Tahirah said. “I feel like when I came out she [stepmom] didn’t have respect for me. It was like I was a stranger in my own house.”

“I like people. I don’t just like boy or girl, they’re just people.” said Tahirah.  Tahirah loves tattoos and piercings, and has some of both: she has  a tongue and tragus piercing, and a tattoo of a crown on her chest. She also has a tattoo of a heartbeat with her mother’s name on her shoulder since her mother died of a heart attack when Khan was five years old.

She took her first journalism class this year in school, and didn’t like it at first – until she wrote a story on Enrique’s Journey and got to meet the author, Sonia Nazario.

Though she plans on majoring in journalism in college, Tahirah says she wants to go to law school as well.
She takes a law class in school, which touches on the police academy and criminals, and dreams of being a lawyer when she grows up. Law appeals to Tahirah due to her love for debating and criminal law is especially intriguing to her because she finds criminal justice interesting.

Channing Russell 

By Molly Cuddy

Channing Russell is an athlete, but he’s far from a stereotypical high school jock.

The 17-year-old from West Orange, New Jersey, is dedicated to his teams; he is charismatic and passionate when he talks about sports. And Channing, who will be a senior at The Pingry School in Bernards Township, New Jersey, wants to share that love with others, by writing on his blog, Blaise Sports.

Launched during the summer of 2016, the blog focuses on some of Channing’s key interests.

“I write about sports and race issues and when that intersects, I write about that,” he said. “Those are two things that are really important to me.”

Channing got into the world of sports journalism from his being exposed to sports his entire life. That interest also led him to play sports. He started playing flag football when he was seven and now is a Wide Receiver for the Pingry football team.

He’s also on the school’s basketball team, inspired by his father who played basketball at Fordham University. Channing is extremely dedicated to his team which leaves little time for other activities.

Although he is more familiar with print journalism, Channing said he hopes he can one day branch out to broadcasting. He hopes to attend the Newhouse school at Syracuse University to continue studying sports journalism.

But Channing doesn’t focus all of his time on sports. He’s active in his school’s Politics Club. He enjoys listening to rap music and being a part of an African American social organization called Jack and Jill.

Said Channing, “I like speaking up for what I believe in and making sure I get heard.”