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Meet the Princeton Summer Journalism Program Class of 2014

Rashid Binnur lives in Imperial Beach, CA, and attends Mar Vista High School. He plays Indian percussion in concerts and volunteers at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. He is interested in journalism because “reporting true and important news to the general public is crucial to a functioning democracy and society.”

Kaygon Finakin lives in Bronx, NY, and attends DeWitt Clinton High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the debate team. “I absolutely love to write. I found myself evolving into a person who appreciated more than a good story,” she says. “I want to expand my knowledge of the world around me, so that I may be able to share it with future generations.”

Johnny Flores Jr. lives in Coachella, CA, and attends Xavier College Preparatory High School. He is a youth reporter for New America Media. “Journalism has allowed me to inspire others to take charge and advocate for the betterment of our community,” he says. “It has allowed me to identify myself, my strengths, weaknesses, and who I am as a person.”

Catherina Gioino lives in Astoria, NY, and attends St. John’s Preparatory School. She is the captain of the varsity soccer team, president of the student newspaper, and founder of the film making club. “I would like to further my career in journalism as I have such a fond interest for it already and I constantly crave the need to learn as well as discover things that interest me,” she says.

Najay Greenidge lives in Philadelphia, PA, and attends Freire Charter School. He is a member of the robotics team, and tutors at the writing center. He is interested in journalism because “journalists have a full responsibility to create beauty in worlds so people can appreciate it, make it creative enough so people can remember it and explicit enough to create change.”

Angela Kim lives in Valencia, CA, and attends Valencia High School. She is an editor at The Korea Daily and the student newspaper Viking Vision. She wants to pursue a career in journalism because “journalists have the ability to narrow the gap between the masses and policy makers by relating the news to the common people and becoming involved in the decision making process.”

Eliana Lanfranco lives in Brooklyn NY, and attends A. Philip Randolph Campus High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the volleyball team, and volunteers at Amsterdam Nursing Home. She is interested in journalism because “it’s a powerful tool that can influence people into thinking a certain way, or to bring awareness about social issues in foreign nations.”

Marily Lopez lives in Los Angeles, CA, and attends Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School. She is a member of the book club and the baking and cake decorating club. “Writing is my opportunity to formulate opinions on injustices, shine light on real world adversities and privileges, assist other students with their writing, and help teenagers find their own safe haven,” she says.

Eric Macias lives in Chicago, IL, and attends UIC College Preparatory High School. He is a member of the math club and the debate team. He is interested in investigative journalism because it “serves a helpful part in our society.”

Asia Matthews lives in Queens, NY, and attends York Early College Academy. She is a tutor at the African Children’s Center. “Pursuing journalism would allow me to read and write for the public, and allow my skills to impact the world and attempt to change the way people see the world,” she says.

Jie Ying Mei lives in Queens, NY, and attends the Academy of American Studies. She is a member of Teen Advisory Board at the Noguchi Museum and a member of Minds Matter. “My writing advisor from Minds Matter had inspired me to become a journalist. After hearing about her exciting experience while working in a pressured environment, I wanted to do the same.” she says.

Nelly Mendoza lives in Houston, TX, and attends Jefferson Davis Sr. High School. She is her school’s junior class president as well as a member of the debate team. “Writing is what characterizes me best. I want to be an innovative writer like Shakespeare,” she says.

Ashley Nava lives in El Paso, TX, and attends Austin High School. She is the editor of her school’s yearbook as well as the president of the student council. “Every aspect of journalism defines me,” she says. “It is my curiosity and honesty as I dig deep to expose the facts.”

Amna Nawaz lives in Brooklyn, NY, and attends New Utrecht High School. She is a member of the Brooklyn College Community Partnership Program and the student government. “Through journalism, not only people’s stories but also world conflicts can express themselves and reveal a bigger picture,” she says. “I want to use journalism and the medical field to help people all across the globe.”

Paige Pagan lives in Bronx, NY, and attends Health Opportunities High School. She is a member of her school’s student government and co-captain of the Python Squad. She wants to pursue a dual profession in journalism and medicine in order to “supply the knowledge of both to everyday lives.”

Justin Park lives in Forest Hills, NY, and attends ACTvF High School. He is a volunteer helper at church retreats and the Powerhouse program, and also shoots films independently in and out of school. “I wish to report news without refraining myself due to political loyalty. If people are better informed, the people can better themselves,” he says.

Nathan Phan lives in Rosemead, CA, and attends Schurr High School. He is the Visual Arts Editor and Lead cartoonist of his school’s newspaper, The Spartan Scroll, and a member of the poetry and creative writing club. “I have always been motivated to inform people about topics that have an impact on society,” he says. “As a journalist, I want to pursue the truth and enlighten the local community and others.”

Diego Pineda lives in Raleigh, NC, and attends Cardinal Gibbons High School. He is the president of the WRAL/FOX 50 Post 5 Program. He wants to pursue a career in journalism because it allows him to “not only share thoughts, views, and opinions, but also tell stories and news that can interest someone or even transform their lives.”

Nicholas Santiago lives in Newark, NJ, and attends Science Park High School. He is a member of his school’s debate team and the student leadership organization. “The news was a way for me to interact and try to understand the world,” he says. “The inattention to real issues like those in Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, Philippines, and the general failings of the ideals of facts and honesty galvanized me into considering journalism.”

Jodi Sterling lives in New York, NY, and attends Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She is a member of her school’s newspaper club and the National Honor Society. She is interested in journalism because “journalism can allow human beings to empathize with one another and become more of a unified society.”

Razia Sultana lives in Brooklyn, NY, and attends Brooklyn Technical High School. She is the senior president of the student government, and also writes for the student newspaper. She is interested in journalism because it’s the “perfect career path to hone one’s creative skills and stay true to one’s inner academic.”

Sania Syed lives in Los Angeles, CA, and attends University High School. She is the president of her school’s debate club and volunteers in a lab at UCLA. She wants to pursue a career in journalism because “newspapers can inspire entire movements and classify a generation.”

Saintra Thai lives in San Bernardino, CA, and attends Arroyo Valley High School. She is the founder of Eco. S.T.E.M. Inc., a club dedicated to teaching students about environment sustainability, as well as a member of her school’s drama club. She is interested in journalism because she believes that “sharing stories can lead to further acceptance of one another’s differences.”

Hasani Valdez-Velasco lives in Chicago, IL, and attends Lake View High School. He is an IIT Boeing Scholar and a member of the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. “I want to pursue journalism because I want to be a great reporter, and progressing in my career, reach the point where I inspire minds,” he says.

Vanessa Zamora lives in Vista, CA, and attends Vista High School. She is the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, Panther Press, and also a teaching volunteer at Bobier Elementary School. “I believe that all individuals should be informed of events occurring in our world, and being a journalist will help me accomplish this vision,” she says.