Many high school students, particularly those in low-income communities, are not afforded the opportunity to access journalism courses. Additionally, many low-income high schools do not inform students of their free speech rights. Schools that allow students to contribute to their media often limit the content that the young journalists can produce.
As a former student of a low-performing public high school, I now know the importance of exposure to journalism. I did not learn that journalism was a career option until I began my matriculation at Howard. So, I chose to major in nursing because at the time, it made sense. Afterall, in my low-income neighborhood we were taught to pursue careers that would be “stable.” I did not learn about the opportunities that journalism had to offer until the second semester of my junior year of college. Inevitably, my last minute decision to change my major to journalism resulted in an extra year of undergraduate studies.
This is why I became an Active Voice Fellow. I want to bridge the gap between high school students and journalism and show them that journalism is a feasible career choice. I want to inform high school students of their First Amendment rights to empower them to speak on the issues that matter to them. I want students to be aware of the many ways they can use their voices to be the change they want to see. I want them to be prepared, before they enter college, to prevent delayed experiences like mine from happening to them.
I hope to advocate for students who may be experiencing censorship at their schools. I also hope to use my platform to target minority students who may be dealing with issues of discrimination, or feeling like their voices are not important.
For my project, I will host seminars at local DC libraries so students can learn about their free speech rights in a safe, comfortable environment. To make real-world connections with the students I will discuss current mainstream issues concerning censorship, such as Colin Kaepernick’s recent protests, and the censorship of college media in some controversial cases. I will also incorporate technology game-based learning in my seminars to ensure that students are engaged and receptive to the information. I will have guest speakers who can introduce new ideas and expound on the effects of censorship in the media. I hope to develop lasting relationships with my students.
I am looking forward to an amazing year with the Student Press Law Center to raise awareness on student censorship!