Meet the 2021 class of summer academy fellows

May 12, 2021

Arlington, Va.– PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) announced the selection of 24 distinguished students from 13 different states for its 2021 virtual student academy. Now in its seventh year, the award-winning academy is an immersive video journalism fellowship for teens. All production costs are covered in full by the PBS NewsHour, and selected students receive a $1,000 and journalism toolkits.  The workshop will be a two-week, full-time intensive starting Monday, June 14 and ending Friday, June 25. Each fellow will produce a local story, following pandemic safety guidelines while reporting in their own communities.  “The unique educational experience connects students to media professionals and teaches vital video journalism, production and communication skills,” says SRL Senior Director Elis Estrada.   SRL’s Youth Media Producers and other team members will support fellows by providing coaching and mentorship through every step of the production process. Fellows will connect virtually with their local PBS stations and NewsHour correspondents and producers, and engage in conversations about the future of journalism, public media and the most important issues of their generation. 

Meet the distinguished fellows below:

NAME: Alice Scott

GRADE: 9th

SCHOOL: McCallum High School

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

LOCAL STATION: KLRU

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I started out in broadcast journalism wanting to be on camera as a news anchor. But my advisors always encouraged us to try to learn more than one type of role in our program. As I started to interview people and create segments, I fell in love with getting to talk to others and hear their stories. I think it is important that I help share these stories because not only does it give a voice to those involved, but also services the community in getting to hear and see these stories.

NAME: Andrea Salazar Lopez

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Beaverton Academy of Science and Engineering

LOCATION: Beaverton, Oregon

LOCAL STATION: Oregon Public Broadcasting

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Over quarantine I learned about a lot of different branches of science and social injustices that I had strong opinions about and wanted to be heard. I’m the most proud of my thanksgiving COVID precautions video because I put a lot of work into it over the course of three months. It was great because I interviewed medical professionals and did research.

NAME: Aneka Torgrimson

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Nevada Union High School

LOCATION: Nevada City, California

LOCAL STATION: KVIE

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I have always been passionate about storytelling because it opens up conversations between people. Shared experiences and meaningful moments can come from sharing our stories with each other, we also have the power of inspiring others with storytelling. I discover the real power of storytelling in Freshman year of high school when I participated in Story Corps. I got to interview my mom and for the short 40 minutes that I had talking to her, we laughed, cried and learned so much about her. That was the moment I realized how impactful storytelling could be.

NAME: Bailey Liebert

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: Cody High School

LOCATION: Cody, Wyoming

LOCAL STATION: Wyoming PBS

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

No matter how cliche it sounds, everyone has a story. I love to listen to people talk about themselves and I want to record it and share it with everyone. In this time, we have to recognize that we are all human. Our strongest power is relating with each other and seeing each other as equals. Telling people’s stories bonds us together and lets us move together as one.

NAME: Brianna Valcarcel

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Judge Memorial Catholic High School

LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah

LOCAL STATION: PBS Utah

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

I am most proud of my culture. I am proud of my culture because it takes a big place in my identity. My identity is who I am and I take that with me wherever I go. My culture has taught me how to be kind, free, passionate and caring. My culture reminds me of where I came from and how I should not be ashamed of that.

NAME: Cheyanne Jauregui

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Don Antonio Lugo High School

LOCATION: Chino, California

LOCAL STATION: PBS SoCal

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Telling someone’s story is how we connect with people across the globe. It gives us the ability to have compassion and empathy for others. It inspires people to bring change to the world. Words can impact communities everywhere. Controversial words have changed the future. We need change for future generations and this is one of the many ways to do it. I want to be the person to deliver these stories unbiased, with credibility, and facts. We need it more than ever.

NAME: Damein Williams

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Franklin Learning Center

LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LOCAL STATION: WHYY

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I love telling stories that inspire people. I am most proud of the story I made about my school’s building environment, because it felt like I was inspiring people to look into the history of the building.

NAME: Lilly Rodriguez

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: The U School

LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LOCAL STATION: WHYY

WHAT STORY ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

I’m most proud of sharing the story of the black trans women of this country. The average lifespan of a transgender woman of color is 35. I found this fact to be revolting, and I felt the need to voice this critical issue. As a student journalist, the most someone can do in my shoes is bring awareness to the issues I feel are important. If I could turn just one head of someone in power who also believes these issues are important, it would be worth it.

NAME: Gracie Osborne

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Oakland Military Institute

LOCATION: Oakland, California

LOCAL STATION: KQED San Francisco Bay Area

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Storytelling is the art of highlighting real but unseen stories into the light. I am most proud of the story I co-produced about mental health and how teens can normalize (talking about) it, not glamorize it. Mental health is the essence of well-being; it impacts our physical health. The story was relevant to teens and to everyone, especially while enduring this pandemic.

NAME: Ho’ohieokala Luna-Beamer

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Maui High School

LOCATION: Wailuku, Hawaii

LOCAL STATION: PBS Hawaii

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I wish to bring the important tales of those who are unrepresented to mainstream media. Personally, I know what it feels like to be unheard and I hope that others who feel the same way––know that their story matters to myself and so many others. 

NAME: Isaac Harte

GRADE: 8th

SCHOOL: Shipley School 

LOCATION: Coatesville, Pennsylvania

LOCAL STATION: WHYY

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?

Amna Nawaz, (you know who that is). I really enjoy her reporting style, as a national correspondent she reports on everything from immigration and black female country stars to women fighting the Taliban and the capitol insurrection. I could go on forever. 

NAME: Jazlynn Joanna Lorenzo

GRADE: 8th

SCHOOL: Carroll M. Johnston Middle School

LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada

LOCAL STATION: Vegas PBS

WHAT STORY ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

The story that I am most proud of is my story on Malala Yousafzai. Malala is one of my greatest role models. Not only did she fight for her education, but she didn’t let others silence her. That is why I was very excited to be able to do a biography video presentation on her, and to present it to the school during the morning announcements.

NAME: Jeremiah Mitchell

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Greater Atlanta Christian School

LOCATION: Tucker, Georgia

LOCAL STATION: Georgia Public Broadcasting

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I love the idea of weaving together a narrative that can be used to inspire others or simply communicate information in a dramatic way. A personal story I tell fairly often is the story of my birth. Whenever I tell it I don’t intend to be narcissistic or expect/want pity because I tell it to relate to others. Put simply I was born with a condition at birth that made the doctors assume I was dead or going to die early on but through the faith of my parents and myself I was brought into this world, beating the odds at each turn.

NAME: Kiera Eckhart

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Etiwanda High School

LOCATION: Rancho Cucamonga, California

LOCAL STATION: PBS SoCal

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I discovered when I first began journalism that I was able to not only further educate myself on topics that I found significant, but I was also able to teach others in ways that I had never been able to do before. Storytelling drives politics, social movements, and opens up conversations that are difficult to talk about which I believe is unmatched in importance. 

NAME: Kylie Flores

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Jersey Village High School

LOCATION: Houston, Texas

LOCAL STATION: Houston Public Media

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Originally, I was going to go down a music/sound engineering path, so I joined the Digital Audio Technology class at my school. From there, I realized my passion and what I wanted to do with my future. The story I am most proud of is one about the Pledge of Allegiance, and how a number of students are protesting by sitting down during that time because of ongoing racism in America. I interviewed a variety of students with opposing viewpoints and tried to highlight everyone’s opinion.

NAME: Madeline Mayes

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Fort Hamilton High School

LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York

LOCAL STATION: WNET

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

The world is filled with stories––most of which we will never be able to know. Everyone has a story that deserves to be heard. On our school’s podcast, we promote cross-partisan dialogue, and this was my first podcast where our guest––who spoke in support of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett––was comfortable to openly discuss their beliefs. Our listeners mostly consist of youth, and I was so grateful that our listeners could learn from the other side of the aisle and try to understand it.

NAME: Marshall Burkhalter

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Oak Ridge High School

LOCATION: Spring, Texas

LOCAL STATION: Houston PBS

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I have spent my junior year making news stories for War Eagle News Network, my school’s weekly news and I have a knack for editing and a love for having a finished product that I can show to the world no matter how many people see it. I plan on going to film school and pursuing video journalism editing as a full time career and I think this would be an amazing opportunity for me to grow as a creator.

NAME: Mustafa Aly Fawzy Aboud

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Penn Treaty School

LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LOCAL STATION: WHYY

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

During the summer, I had a wonderful time learning the nuances of journalism from professionals, and how a workplace operates. I learned the interesting process behind developing a story and an outline, and had a great summer due to this unique experience.

NAME: Ruby Barrus

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Madison High School

LOCATION: Rexburg, Idaho

LOCAL STATION: Idaho Public Television

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I think there are a lot of people whose stories are forgotten because they aren’t recorded. I want to help people have their stories spread and remembered. I wrote a story about my grandma for my English class. I interviewed her before I wrote it, and it was about some of the hikes she has been on.

NAME: Sinaiah J. Pointer

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Etiwanda High School

LOCATION: Rancho Cucamonga, California

LOCAL STATION: PBS SoCal

WHAT STORY ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

The story that I’m most proud of would be ‘My Black History’ story. I’m most proud of that because it brought talk among the students and change.

NAME: Terry Jones, Jr.

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: Clay-Chalkville High School

LOCATION: Pinson, Alabama

LOCAL STATION: Alabama Public Television

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Storytelling is very important to me because there are so many people and topics in the world that don’t get enough attention. I enjoy bringing light to those stories to provide representation to people and topics that are overlooked.

NAME: Thaïs Giraudet

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Westview High School

LOCATION: San Diego, California

LOCAL STATION: KPBS

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

I chose to get involved in storytelling because I can share incredible and inspiring stories with the world by using my own voice to help those who can’t. The “Moving Forward” story about race and equality is the one I am most proud of because I felt like I was actually doing something to better educate myself and those around me on the current issues happening in our society. I was especially proud of having interviewed three people at once virtually and by myself. 

NAME: Timothy James

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: G.W. Carver High school of Engineering and Science

LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LOCAL STATION: WHYY

WHAT STORY ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

I am most proud of the article that I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer about taking standardized tests during a pandemic. It was the first professional writing experience that I ever had, and I was so proud of myself for being published in a newspaper. 

NAME: Vivien Williams

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Washington-Liberty High School

LOCATION: Arlington, Virginia

LOCAL STATION: WETA

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN STORYTELLING?

Ever since I was very young, I’ve loved watching the news and staying informed. I think it’d be just the coolest thing to be the one informing others. (One day I hope) to be on the streets interviewing people and hearing their stories directly.