Meet 2022’s 20 under 20 young storytellers
In 2020, we began recognizing future changemakers from our Student Reporting Labs network who are already making a difference in their communities in a list of 20 up and coming storytellers under 20 years old.
For the past two years, the SRL team has come together to identify specific students who have gone through our program and produced powerful stories. This year, we accepted nominations from educators in our large network from across the country.
Meet this year’s exemplary students.
Ajani Obaseki, 16
Ajani Obaseki is a junior at DC International School in Washington, D.C. He was a fellow at this year’s SRL Academy in Arizona, where he collaborated on a story about Phoenix-based painter and muralist Lalo Cota, who challenges prejudice with his art. He was nominated by his teacher Ashley Porter, who says he is “the lead anchor and an executive producer for DCI’s new student news show, Dragon TV.” Ajani also recently interviewed the mayor of Takoma Park, Maryland for an upcoming SRL story about 16-year-olds being able to vote in local elections.
Alexa D’Amato, 17
Alexa D’Amato is a senior at Masconomet Regional High School in Boxford, Massachusetts. She was a fellow at this year’s SRL Academy in Arizona, where she also collaborated on a story about painter and muralist Lalo Cota. She was nominated by one of her Academy group leaders, Emily Hope Dobkin, who said that Alexa was “an extraordinary, thoughtful, and inquisitive participant” and that “she really carried a holistic, collaborative, and comprehensive approach to producing a project.”
Caedmon Peterson, 16
Caedmon Peterson is a junior at DC International School in Washington, D.C. He was a fellow at this year’s SRL Academy in Arizona, where he helped produce a story on an organization that provides mentors, resources and support systems to youth in foster care. He also recently collaborated with SRL on an election related story in Maryland and Washington DC. He was nominated by his teacher Ashley Porter who described Caedmon as being a “a primary creative and technical force.”
Dakota Hendren, 17
Dakota Hendren is a student at Royal Oak High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. In addition to being a fellow at this year’s SRL Academy in Arizona, she also helped produce a piece on young voters, featuring Vice President Kamala Harris. She was nominated by youth media producer Briget Ganske who said that “Dakota has proven passionate about journalism and really taken initiative.”
Deesha Pancha, 17
Deesha Panchal is a senior at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. She was the Special Mental Health Correspondent for season two of On Our Minds. She was nominated by youth media producer Briget Ganske who described Deesha as “smart, dependable, and extremely hard working.” She is currently pursuing a micro internship with Student Reporting Labs, creating social media content about the podcast.
Delilah Brumer, 18
Delilah Brumer is a senior at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Los Angeles, California. In addition to being the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Pearl Post, Delilah has participated in several Student Reporting Labs projects including one remembering the 20th anniversary of September 11. Recently, she helped produce a powerful story on the PBS NewsHour about her school’s attempt to censor their journalism program over a vaccination story. She was nominated by her advisor and educator Adriana Chavira who faced suspension for her role in publishing the story. According to Chavira, Delilah was “ instrumental in organizing the student media’s coverage of [her] suspension and ultimately its rescission, as well as an editorial that took the school’s administration to task for violating student press laws in California.”
Emit Brown, 16
Emit Brown is a junior at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, Colorado. They were a fellow at this year’s SRL Academy in Arizona where they helped produce a story on a unique yoga practice that connects participants to nature by incorporating animals in the routine. They were nominated by their teacher Joy Hamilton who said Emit has “a clear sense of justice and compassion for communities who are marginalized” in their reporting.
Faiza Ashar, 17
Faiza Ashar is a senior at Eastern Tech High School from Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to being a fellow at this year’s Summer Academy in Arizona, she was also a co-host for the second season of On Our Minds. After high school, Faiza hopes to study journalism in college. She was nominated by production assistant Jaylah Moore-Ross who worked closely with Faiza during the production of the podcast.
Flora Farr, 17
Flora Farr is a senior at Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, Texas. She is the co-editor in chief of her school’s journalism program and has helped start their first website. Flora has also produced stories for SRL, like this one about a student reconnecting to her Hispanic heritage through poetry. She also served on the San Antonio Express News Teen Team during the height of the pandemic and currently writes for her community newspaper Alamo Ranch & Potranco Highlights. Flora was nominated by her teacher Carey McCarthy who listed her many accolades.
Johann Rodriguez Viera, 16
Johann Rodriguez Viera is a junior at Holbrook Middle-High School in Holbrook, Massachusetts. His teacher Zack Gorman nominated him because he has been “one of the best broadcast journalists” to ever come through his program. Johann was a 2022 SRL Academy Fellow, where he produced a story on immigrant entrepreneurs building community in Phoenix. His teacher says he’s “a young, driven, passionate, charismatic broadcast journalist whose work will continue to make an impact on those around him for years to come.”
Liam Wady, 18
Liam Wady is a senior at Oakland Military Institute in Oakland, California. In addition to being a fellow at this year’s Summer Academy, Liam also helped produce several stories for Student Reporting Labs like this one on school closures in Oakland. Recently, he also was a production assistant for this Moments of Truth series episode on misinformation in the Vietnamese American community. He was nominated by his teacher Rachel Mahlke who described Liam as “an intellectual” and “an astute observer of society.”
Mariana Arboleda, 17
Mariana Arboleda is a student at Brentwood High School in Brentwood, New York. She was a recent fellow at the 2022 SRL Summer Academy in Arizona where she helped produce a story about a cowboy camp for foster kids. She was nominated by her teacher Dr. Sequoyah Wharton, who says Mariana’s “hard work and perseverance is a step above the rest—inspiring her peers to do their best in whatever task they set their minds to.” She recently joined a panel of students speaking about the future of news at Twitter HQ in New York for NAMLE’s Media Literacy Week.
Matt Suescun, 17
Matt Suescun is a senior at Bergen County Academies in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He was a co-host for the second season of On Our Minds, our award-winning podcast on teen mental health. Matt was nominated by youth media producer Briget Ganske who said that he “grew a lot as a student journalist, improving his interviewing and public speaking skills” while recording episodes of the podcast.
Rachel Setlik, 17
Rachel Setlik is a senior at Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, Texas. Along with student Flora Farr, she is the co-editor in chief of her school’s journalism program and has helped start their first website. She is also on the San Antonio Express News Teen Team. Rachel was nominated by her teacher Carey McCarthy who noted that Rachel is president of the Spanish National Honor Society at her school which she believes will help her “explore the field of journalism through a bilingual lens.”
Roberto “Berto” Suarez, 17
Roberto “Berto” Suarez is a senior at Rockville High School in Rockville, Maryland. Berto was the co-host of Student Reporting Labs’ midterm election special, “We the Young People: Moments of Truth,” and he was a fellow at this year’s Summer Academy in Arizona. He was nominated by his teacher Krista McKim who says she’s “been so impressed with his growth” over the last two years.
Roury Fitzpatrick, 16
Roury Fitzpatrick is a junior at Westview High School in San Diego, California. She was nominated by her teacher Robert Casas who says that she is “the driving force behind [their] work for SRL.” She produced and submitted interview footage for the “I’m Voting Because…” Rapid Response that was featured in the “We the Young People: Moments of Truth” midterm election special. She also led her team in producing her school’s first ever podcast story for On Our Minds.
Tiffany Rodriguez, 18
Tiffany Rodriguez is a college student from Philadelphia. She was also a co-host of Student Reporting Labs’ midterm election special, “We the Young People: Moments of Truth,” and a fellow at this year’s Summer Academy in Arizona. She previously worked with SRL and WHYY Media Labs in high school. She was nominated by editorial director Marie Cusick who described her as “hardworking, kind, and talented behind the camera and in front of it.”
Ty Kajihara, 17
Ty Kajihara is a senior at Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawai’i. He has participated in a number of PBS projects, with some airing locally with PBS Hawaii’s Hiki No program, PBS American Portrait Project, and Student Reporting Labs. He was nominated by his teacher Leah Aiwohi who said that she has “a great admiration for this young digital storyteller.”
Tyler Whitfield, 17
Tyler Whitfield is a senior at Dominion High School in Sterling, Virginia. He was nominated by his teacher Mitch Schwartz who said that Tyler “is an awesome representation of what SRL stands for by amplifying student voices for the issues that impact students the most.” Earlier this year, he produced a story about his struggles with dealing with loss for our podcast On Our Minds He was also instrumental in creating an original podcast for his school which follows four seniors throughout their last year of high school.
- Alex Gutowski, Saline High School, Saline, Michigan
- Damarion King, Enloe Magnet High School, Raleigh, North Carolina
- Effie Gross, West Ranch High School, Stevenson Ranch, California
- Hannah Coulthurst, Northview High School, Covina, California
- Javier Chevalier, Brentwood High School, Brentwood, New York
- Kimberley Donis, Brentwood High School, Brentwood, New York
- Zianna Christian, Northwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada