Speaking For A Better Humanity: Smith Uses Journalism To Inspire Improvement

A miscommunication between friends has led 18-year-old Rodjae Smith to become a passionate speaker inspiring those around her to always improve in the face of adversity. The senior was once soft-spoken in middle school, but was forced into presenting two seventh-grade projects when her friends were unorganized and embarrassing her group with poor collaboration skills. Realizing it was better to boldly present a project than have it seem like the group was unprepared, Smith shed her quiet personality and used impromptu communication skills to have a successful presentation. “I think, most likely, there was a competitive side to me that liked the attention of speaking,” Smith said. Today, the high school senior from West Haven, Connecticut, has been inspired by speaking her mind to use journalism to challenge readers’ ideas by introducing them to new perspectives.

In Music Alyssa Finds Comfort, Self-Expression

Music is present in all of Alyssa Hodge’s passions. Alyssa, 15, was born in New Haven and is of Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic descent. A junior at Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, she said music is a constant in many of her endeavors. Since she used to play both piano and percussion instruments, such as the drums, in her school band, she has equal experience with playing as well as using music as an outlet for self-expression and comfort. “Music has always been a way to help me de-stress,’’ she said.

Falling In Love With Films

Ava Dell’Orfano’s dream would be accomplished if she could spend her life producing movies. Despite her love of films, Dell’Orfano, of Durham, hadn’t always wanted to make movies. The 17-year-old’s first childhood dream was to be a teacher, specifically a music teacher. However, that dream was short lived when she realized her love for education did not extend to a love for children. It wasn’t until the spring of her eighth-grade year when Dell’Orfano, who is a senior at Coginchaug Regional High School in Durham, became interested in film production.

Jobe: A Blossoming Connoisseur

Sainabou Jobe began cooking dinner for her family when she turned 13. She began with simple stir fries and advanced to complex handmade pastas. Every week, Jobe would spend long evenings in the kitchen experimenting over the stove. She quickly became her household’s star chef and eventually a baker too. “Cooking and baking make me feel so relieved and make me want to stay in the kitchen all day,” she said.

Chasing Her Dream To Help Others

Amy Zheng, 17, is leaning towards the fields of education and STEM, although she does not know what she wants to do career wise. For now, Zheng of West Hartford, spends her time volunteering and teaching children. “Helping others is the best gift for myself and makes me feel good, that’s why I love teaching” Zheng said. She volunteers at schools and helps teachers with their students.  At home, she helps her brother, Ryan, 12, with art and math, during the summer. She is a member of the school’s foreign language practice group.

Allyson Is Setting Her Sights On The Silver Screen

Allyson Anderson’s life’s journey began in Kingston, Jamaica, and she intends to end it in Hollywood, California. She has played roles like Jamaican track star and a dedicated American high school student, but her greatest role is yet to come as she hopes to dazzle the world from the silver screen. “With acting, you have the opportunity to be every and anything,” she said. Allyson, 15, lives in Hartford with her sister Saige, 2, her brother Malachi, 1, and her mother Trudy-Ann. Allyson attends Achievement First Hartford High School in Hartford.

Dunn: An A Student In High School – And College

Jax Dunn, 17, of East Hartford, has not yet started her senior year in high school, but she is already more than halfway done with getting her associate’s degree in criminal justice. In middle school, she had learned about Great Path Academy, a school located on the Manchester Community College campus. Dunn said she learned about students graduating from high school with their associate’s degrees and decided that was something she wanted to pursue. Dunn has been a straight-A student through high school and recently found out that she is in the top 10% of her college. She has also been invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

A Lover Of Science And Math, Sidhi Aspires To Be An Engineer

Sidhi Dhanda, 15, a rising sophomore at Hopkinton High School, has a passion for jazz music, robotics, and engineering. She’s been playing the electric guitar in a jazz band since middle school, made it to nationals in the Invention Convention competition this past January, and participates in yearly competitions with her school’s robotics team. “I really love robotics, engineering, in general, really love coding, and I’m also really into music and guitar,” said Sidhi, of Hopkinton Mass. Sidhi even created an invention in a 24-hour period that made it to national Inventathon Convention. “In January I entered with my friend in the Inventathon, which is kind of like a hackathon where you have 24 hours to invent something that solves a problem related to COVID in schools.

Ava Aims To Be A TV Anchor

Ava Roulier, 15, a rising sophomore at RHAM High School in Hebron, has always had an interest in journalism. She’s written multiple articles and done several interviews. More recently, Ava has been looking into broadcast journalism and hopes to learn more about the people and society around her. “Many of us watch TV more than we read now, especially younger generations, due to advancements in technology, and [I want] to be able communicate to all different crowds,’’ she said. Ava’s mother, Laurie, is a counselor at Manchester High School and runs her own clinic while her father, Kenneth, works as an insurance regulator.