REPORTING & WRITING
THE SKIN WE'RE IN
I decided to explore beauty standards and their effects on the student population in my first solo El Estoque story. In these interviews, I struggled with asking unbiased questions and getting meaningful quotes from my sources as a result. I also found it difficult to integrate the four different takes on skin and beauty into a single piece, so I wrote three smaller mini-features instead. In this story, I learned how to add color to my writing without adding bias and the power of getting perspective from an expert source, two tenets of journalistic writing that laid the foundation for my future endeavors.
DREAMS COME TRUE
This feature story delved into the immigration journey of a Mexican family in my community. Cupertino is a primarily Asian, affluent area, and the stories of Latino families often go unheard. At one point during the interview, the mom broke down into tears. She recounted how decades of hard work had borne fruit in her dream coming true, at the expense of not knowing when she could see her Mexican parents again. The Hernandez family taught me the importance of searching for and drawing inspiration from the underrepresented stories in my community — a duty that I believe lies within all journalists.
SOCIAL JUSTICE REPORTING
My community faced a reckoning after the publication of this #MeToo story, which brought the rampant misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault to the forefront of our attention. A revision of Title IX policies by student advocacy groups and our district administration followed suit. This story pushed me to cover an issue from every perspective and resulted in vigorous community debate and positive change.
One year into the pandemic, my school had not yet announced plans to return to even a hybrid model. In conversations exchanged over Zoom calls and in chat rooms, teachers were often erroneously blamed for this delay in the reopening of schools. I was able to provide an intimate picture of the struggles that teachers encountered by trying to balance giving students the best education possible with maintaining their own physical and mental health.
Throughout my El Estoque career, I’ve felt compelled to connect national and international events to my community and this story was my first attempt at doing so. I interviewed two students and a teacher, all of whom were Iranian-American and had family living in Iran. Through their perspectives, I was able to amplify a view on U.S. military action that was not being discussed — the one of Americans that feared for the lives of their families living thousands of miles away.
OFF THE MARKET
Investing is thickly woven into the fabric of my community. The surge and subsequent crash in Gamestop stock directly impacted many of the student investors that hedged their bets through Robinhood. A local financial consultant, AP Economics teacher and student investor provided their perspectives about the implications of the incident. I took inspiration from articles by professional publications and learned how to synthesize interviews into an engaging piece.
I’d seen numerous online petitions circulate social media platforms, and after growing frustrated with how insignificant these social justice efforts seemed to me, I decided to write an editorial about it. As I was researching the petitions, however, I ended up learning about how they can also have a very positive impact on movements, which prompted me to shift my angle totally. Writing this editorial showed me the importance of approaching every pitch with an open mind and thoroughly researching ideas before writing about them.
In this story, I examined the importance of destigmatizing female masturbation education in sex education curricula. We decided to break up the story into five parts, each that described a different part of our personal and educational journey sitting in biology classrooms. By speaking to the Biology department lead, conducting thorough research online and creating graphics that added a visually appealing element to our story, we were able to deliver a powerful message.
BEING BRAVE: I DON'T DANCE
This was the second installment of my recurring column sophomore year. My schtick was to face a new fear each month, and this month, I’d decided to try out for the school Bhangra team and face my fear of public humiliation. In this column, I coated my vulnerability in a layer of humor to showcase my authentic voice. It captured both the raw fear and exultation I felt about the tryouts and ultimately making the team.
My recurring column junior year centered around the lessons and experiences I collected as a Target cashier. In this installment, I focused on a harrowing encounter with a moody customer that had left me reflecting deeply on the meaning of independence and other childhood ideals. I used anecdotes and dialogue to show, rather than tell, how the encounter had shifted my mindset.
FOOTBALL FALLS 42-0 TO WESTMONT
Game reviews were a challenge I took on as Editor-in-Chief — a new sphere of sports and photojournalism that I'd never explored before. For this story, our diligence with the camera and insightful interviews with players allowed us to capture the emotions of a large loss through a photo-heavy story. Our subsequent promotions of this story on social media led this story to garner hundreds of views, making it the most viewed story this year.
CHEERING FROM THE SIDELINES
For this sports feature story, I explored football games through the eyes of cheerleaders. I interviewed cheerleaders and a football player to understand how they performed during both wins and losses learn about the relationships between the cheer and football teams. I didn’t initially include the perspective of the football team in this story, and pushing this story through edits taught me how important it is to allow all groups a chance to advocate for themselves in every story.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
"RESPECT" TO "WAP"
This song review coalesced my advocacy of women’s rights and love for music and history. I drew inspiration from my social media feeds as well as the lessons about women’s suffrage and Civil Rights movements I learned about in my history class. The result was the creation of a story that embodies what it means to be a student journalist — finding meaning in the topics and trends that are most important to my peers by approaching them from a unique angle.
THE GOLDEN ERA
I combined my love of rap music with my penchant for social justice in this story, which examines the development and historical significance of rap music. I created an interactive timeline and embedded a playlist into the story, multimedia elements that enhanced my storytelling by creating multiple points of interest for my users. I was able to shed light on a different aspect of a popular genre of music in my school community by examining the history and rampant cultural appropriation linked to it in a compelling manner.