Ever since I was a child, I struggled to keep quiet about issues that I felt needed to change. At the age of 10, I realized the power of the petition to enact change, and I have not been able to shy away from the pull towards activism I’ve felt thenceforth.
As I got older, I realized that making the truth known is one of the most vital ways to effect change. Working for a local cable station as a student reporter for the first few years of high school gave me the skills I needed to take my work to a higher level.
I began working with PBS Student Reporting Labs when I was a junior in high school. After spending the previous few years mostly reporting local events, it was astonishing to see the value the organization took in hearing my voice, and that of everyone from my generation.
Student Reporting Labs gave me a platform to tell the stories I felt were important, and to learn how to become not only a better journalist but also a better citizen. Although many older generations discredit my generation, I came to realize how much of the youth was willing to work to make the world a better place for everyone and, in doing so, I also realized the duty I felt to tell these people’s stories, and help them in their work by uplifting their voices.
In a year filled with newsworthy occurrences, from a global pandemic to nationwide protests to the election, it has been an unpleasant irony that many student journalists are stuck at home. It has required those students to embrace some unconventional methods of reporting, and a certain level of resourcefulness. I decided last March that I would not let these trying times impede my journey.
At the end of the 2020 school year, I did my best to finish strong. So many people continued to flourish and help others despite the complications arising from the circumstances. Working remotely, I produced a story on Gateway to the Great Outdoors’s Go and Grow project, which helped low-income elementary students continue their STEM education despite learning online at home.
I strongly believe that education needs to change and improve as technology and society advance. I worked on a story regarding career and technical education programs, as well as one on students dealing with racial slurs and stares here in suburban Detroit last year.
One of the stories I felt most passionate about that I produced in 2020 was about a Detroit teen’s experiences when she participated in a police brutality protest following George Floyd’s death, where she was roughly arrested. This was also one of the most difficult, and personal experiences I have had in either activism or journalism, because that Detroit teen was also a friend of mine. I am glad I was able to help her to get her story out there, but remaining unbiased in a personal scenario like that can be hard.
As a journalist, I do my best to stick to the facts. I think when it comes to activism, any just cause can be advocated by showing everyone the truth.