I remember my final days at East St. Louis Senior High School (circa 2010). As senior class president, there was so much to accomplish in such a short amount of time. But I was no stranger to juggling commitments. Not to mention, our class officers and advisors were life savers!

One fond memory I hold dear is our Senior Celebrity Day. Mostly everyone came dressed as TV characters, rappers, singers or some other personality. Some showed up as themselves, which also sufficed. (I’m actually smiling from ear to ear writing about our classmates who I consider my extended family.)

I dressed as one of my favorite R&B artists, Alicia Keys. I absolutely admire her and get a kick out of belting her Empire State of Mind lyrics: “I’m from New York!” Which is not really true since I am PROUDLY from East St. Louis, IL. It’s just that, outside of home, New York City just so happens to be one of my favorite places. Why am I sharing this with you?

Well, it’s the beginning of August, and I’m beyond thrilled (egregious understatement) to finally meet other Active Voice fellows and the Student Press Law Center staff in the Big Apple soon! I’ve been blessed to travel to New York City on a number of occasions, mostly for school-related travel and ALWAYS in the winter. This time, I’ll be walking the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” in what I hope will be a cool, summer breeze.  

But I won’t be walking alone. I’ll join five other “First Amendment First Responders” this year as we embark on a journey to empower high school women interested in exploring free speech through the mediums of journalism and communications. Our goal is not to encourage them to dress like or become someone else for a day, but to help them find and magnify their voices over their lifetimes.

While I might be a few years their senior, I anticipate engaging with and learning so much from other fellows and the women we’ll work alongside. I feel so humbled to give back in this way and help develop this fellowship (I’m doing my best to refrain from a Lord of the Rings reference).

Let’s hear it for New York and to improving our communities, one high school student at a time!

Jamie Crockett is a 2017-18 Active Voice fellow. She is a second year M.A. student at the University of Missouri, Columbia studying strategic communications and nonprofit and public management.

Posted by Jamie Crockett

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