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Alumni Reflect on Their SJP Experience

It's hard to think about where I'd be without SJP. As a student, in 2007, my eyes were opened to opportunities that I knew existed, but always believed were for other people. Never me. At SJP, I was encouraged to reach for those opportunities and endure any amount of sleep deprivation along the way. The counselors have helped me every step of the way in my education and career: they edited countless drafts of my college essays, offered college and career advice, wrote internship references, and more recently, recommended me for jobs. They are my most important and valued mentors. I return to SJP every year as a counselor, first and foremost because I am indebted to them, and want to "pay it forward" for other students. But I also return because the counselors and students inspire me to be better in every sense of the word. I leave feeling invigorated about the world around me. SJP is magic and special, and dear to me in ways I could have never imagined five years ago.
---Amanda Cormier, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Westview High School, San Diego, Class of 2008
Columbia University Class of 2012

Unlike any other program, SJP challenges as well as fosters a community of intellectually driven students. Personally, SJP has helped me develop my journalism skills and because of it I have landed an internship at The New York Times. The support I got from this program is like no other: Even after the program ends, the mentors help you in as many ways that they can. I enjoyed this program and I will forever be grateful for all that they've helped me accomplish.
--Feruz Erizku, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2006
DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx, Class of 2007
Princeton University Class of 2011

My first experience with journalism was the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. The program was fundamental to my journalistic and academic accomplishments, as it not only introduced me to journalism, but pushed me to apply to top-tier colleges. I became the first in the history of my high school to go to an Ivy League university, Cornell, and am currently a staff writer for my college daily, The Cornell Daily Sun. Coming from a rough inner-city public high school that didn't even have a student newspaper, I never would have imagined that I would be where I am today.
--Ariel Estevez, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2004
EBC High School for Public Service, Brooklyn, Class of 2005
Cornell University Class of 2009

In day-to-day life, it's easy to focus only on your own immediate circumstances, but the journalism program changed that for me. I learned to open my eyes to pressing world issues and to try to address them through intellectual discourse. Now, I'm on the newspaper staff as a news writer at my college and I plan on pursuing journalism as a career. But what's even more important is that I have become a participant in a life-long discussion that can bring about social change in my community and, hopefully, in the global arena as well.
--Angela Fabunan, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2006
High School of American Studies at Lehman, Bronx, Class of 2007
Bowdoin College Class of 2011 

I was blessed to have the Summer Journalism Program as an integral part of my career. My mother was a huge sports fan and I watched every Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bulls game. So I was fortunate to find an ardor for sports and writing at an early age. Now a production assistant for Major League Baseball, I took from the journalism program the confidence to pursue my dreams. I worked hard through my collegiate career, securing internships with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia 76ers, CBS Sports and The Philadelphia Daily News. Despite the accomplishments I have attained so far, my only wish is that I am able to touch and positively affect as many lives as this program has.
--Tamara Fisher, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2002
Baltimore City College High School, Class of 2003
Temple University Class of 2007

The memory of the small, impoverished town in central Mexico where I was born and raised ignited in me a desire to help promote social change. At first I remained uncertain about how to enter the political world. However, at the summer journalism program, I found the answer. I found inspiration in foreign correspondents we met who had traveled to Iran and Zimbabwe because they had risked their own lives in order to seek the truth and to inform others about global issues. With my interest in global politics, foreign languages, and intercultural communication, the journalism program has inspired me to pursue a future career in journalism.
--Ruben Gaytan, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Kennett High School, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania,Class of 2008
Yale University Class of 2012

The Summer Journalism Program has come to mean so much to me in the course of three years. As a student in 2005, my introduction to the world of journalism included opening my eyes to Princeton University and the opportunities available there, as well as professional journalists imparting their knowledge of the craft and the business. I have now taken those skills into my position as an opinion writer for The Daily Princetonian. In 2006, I returned to the program as a mentor to that summer's class. This led me to want to involve myself even more with the program. When the opportunity arose to organize the 2007 program, I was ready for a challenge but, more importantly, eager to put together an extraordinary experience for 22 students. Being able to work with dedicated volunteers as well as such amazing students--who took as much out of the program as I did when I was a student (if not more)--let me know that my relationship with the program will last for a long time to come. I look forward to seeing how the program will grow in future years.
--Walter Griffin, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2005
J.R. Masterman High School, Philadelphia, Class of 2006
Princeton University Class of 2010 

The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program allows a student to grow not only as a journalist but as an individual. The mentors equip students with the tools necessary for success long after the program's end. SJP was one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime. I received more preparation for the world of journalism and the college application process in ten days than I had gotten all throughout high school. The program shapes great writers into exceptional journalists capable of capturing audiences through the power of their words. I am truly grateful for the opportunities to excel that the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program gives students access to.
--Tranashea Hyman, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Phillip O. Berry Academy High School, Charlotte, Class of 2008
Duke University Class of 2012

The Princeton Summer Journalism program gave me the confidence to thrive at an elite college. I took that confidence and went on to become the general manager of the Bowdoin Cable Network and the executive producer of BCNews, Bowdoin's campus-wide weekly news broadcast. The critical thinking and writing skills I gained from the program served as a solid foundation for my college education. After graduating in May 2007, I interned at The Today Show in New York, and I'm currently a production associate for NBC Universal's Channel One News.
--Dotan Johnson, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2002
William Penn High School, Philadelphia, Class of 2003
Bowdoin College Class of 2007

The journalism program was a life-changing experience. Before the program, I planned to apply to “safe” colleges. “Aim high,” all the counselors told me. Because of their powerful encouragement and guidance in applying to a prestigious school, I now attend the University of Pennsylvania. I also write for the first bilingual youth magazine in Philadelphia, called Motivos. It was because of the program that I continued writing for the newspaper in my high school and won the silver medal in journalism at the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards. At the awards ceremony, I was scouted by the founder of the magazine, Jenee Chizick, and have been writing for her ever since. I have been given exciting opportunities, such as interviewing and writing articles on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and artist Pepón Osorio. I am grateful to the program for what it has helped me accomplish.
--Vanessa Martinez, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2005
Bodine High School for International Affairs, Philadelphia, Class of 2007
University of Pennsylvania Class of 2011 

I learned from the counselors and staff at SJP not only how to become a more effective writer, but how to balance my love for journalism with my interest in sports. Now with their help in the hectic college process, I am looking forward to four years at Williams College, where I will join the women's softball team and The Williams Record sportswriting staff. Thank you to the SJP directors and counselors--you guys deserve the best for what you have done for SJPers!
--Oriana McGee, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Hamilton High School, Los Angeles, Class of 2008
Williams College Class of 2012

One of the things that, to this day, makes me grateful to have attended the Princeton Journalism Program is the discussions about applying to college. The program broke down the application process and revealed the major points that any serious student pursuing a writing career should know. The program gave me the confidence to apply to a private university, and, acting on the advice of my mentors from that summer, I've studied various subjects other than writing to expand my knowledge. Oh, and meeting Jimmy Breslin was a perk!
--Stephanie Nolasco, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2003
John F. Kennedy High School, Bronx, Class of 2004
New School University Class of 2008

Before this program, I was still unsure as to what I wanted to do after high school. But, with the guidance of the amazing counselors, I was able to discover my niche in journalism and build the confidence I needed to apply to really prestigious universities. Next year, I will be attending the University of Notre Dame, where I will study to become a journalist. I believe that this program provided me with the means for great opportunity as well as great memories.
--Stephanie Perez, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2004
Robert E. Lee High School, Baytown, Texas, Class of 2008
University of Notre Dame Class of 2009

Though I’ve always been a diligent student, I had never considered the possibility that I would be accepted to a top university. The counselors at the Summer Journalism Program convinced me not to limit myself to colleges I thought I would get into, but to reach for more competitive schools as well. I am confident that without the hours they spent guiding me through the admissions process, my college application would not have been as strong as it was. I am now a freshman at Brown University, and I cannot imagine another university that I would rather attend. The counselors’ sincere passion for journalism inspired me to continue writing in college, and I am a regular contributor to the college newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald.
--Leslie Primack, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2006
Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, Maryland, Class of 2007
Brown University Class of 2011

I've always had a knack for writing, but I never quite figured out how to meld my writing skills with my other interests in travel and current world events. That was until I attended the Princeton Summer Journalism Program last year. By the end of my short, but intense, experience at the program, I had learned how to use my voice as an intermediary to tell the stories of the world around me. It gave my writing, and my life, a direction. I now plan to work on the campus newspaper as a freshman at Middlebury College and take on travel journalism when I study abroad my junior year. Thanks to the Princeton Summer Journalism program, I want to pursue journalism as my future career.
--Jordie Ricigliano, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Zillah High School, Outlook, Washington, Class of 2008
Middlebury College Class of 2012

The program was and always will be what I consider my "journalism roots." It's not just any journalism program, it's an enlightening environment: a tight-knit community of journalists and aspiring journalists, and a support group that is always present, even after the program. Those ten days prepared me to report and write for The Daily Princetonian, allowed me to apply to college successfully and helped me land internships at local television and radio stations. The program gave us the tools to make a difference and showed us why it's important that, as the next generation of journalists, we work tirelessly to disseminate the truth.
--Tasnim Shamma, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2006
Brooklyn Technical High School, Class of 2007
Princeton University Class of 2011

When I applied to the program, journalism was an interest, not a career choice. I knew how competitive the industry was and never really had the guts to consider pursuing it in the future. But spending ten days with the most fantastic group of people I've met in my life made me realize just how passionate I am about journalism. From traipsing around the New York subway to reporting from the ball game to all-night revisions of articles, the program really was the most enjoyable ten days of my life. Not only did it help me win scholarship awards and get accepted into my dream school, it also provided me with a great support system of friends and counselors who gave me the confidence to set my goals high and push myself in all aspects of life.
--Eileen Shim, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
John P. Stevens High School, Edison, New Jersey, Class of 2008
Yale University Class of 2012

I had never considered applying to a competitive university until after I completed the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. The program really helped me reach past the limits I had set for myself and also helped me to confirm that journalism is my passion. Because of the encouragement and support I received from the counselors and directors of the program, I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall as a Gates Millennium Scholar. I'll be the first in my family to go to college, let alone an Ivy League school. Much of what I've accomplished I owe to SJP; there isn't another program like it.
--Marion Smallwood, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
Landsowne High School, Baltimore, Class of 2008
University of Pennsylvania Class of 2012

The program was an amazing experience that helped me become not only more knowledgeable about journalism but also more confident and skilled in my abilities as a writer. The program helped me to learn from my peers and professionals in the field. The counselors inspired me to apply to top colleges, and were incredibly supportive and helpful throughout the admissions process, sending words of encouragement and pushing me to do my best. The program has provided me with so many opportunities, and I am forever grateful for each and every one of them. Because of SJP, I will continue to be active in journalism, to earnestly seek the truth, and to strive to be an intellectual.
--Krystal Valentin, Summer Journalism Program Class of 2007
McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, Class of 2008
Princeton University Class of 2012