What’s your favorite book and who is your favorite author?
Can I say two? The first one is probably Looking for Alaska by John Green. The second is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I liked the first person perspective, getting to know the character personally. And I liked how they told the story in such a way that allowed me to feel as if I was in it. I loved the connection that was established between the characters and myself throughout every page.
Do you have any special hobbies or talents?
I don’t know. I’m a pretty creative person, so I usually find new things to do. It’s not consistent. I do collages, I’ve desired to learn how to paint, things like that. It always changes.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I would say my favorite thing about writing is being able to find, my voice and show that voice to other people without them having the ability to change what you’re saying. It’s my story.
I hear that this is your first year with 826CHI. What brought you to us, and how has Teen Writer’s Studio been going for you so far? Do you have a favorite memory of your time here?
They gave an announcement at our school, and I have a teacher that I have a really close relationship with who told me to check it out. So I did, and I applied. I really like the environment. It’s really friendly. It’s been really welcoming. It’s my first year and I haven’t been afraid to share my work or anything. It’s just a really nice and safe environment to be in.
I liked when we read this particular piece and then we were told to mock it. I love when we’re given a piece and then told to write our own version of it.
I also heard that you recently started a new blog for your writing! Can you tell me a bit about it? What inspired you to start it?
826CHI actually inspired me to write it. We had Luvvie come in and do a Q&A, and she told us about how she started a blog. She was talking about how she didn’t consider herself a writer til years later, but I’m the opposite. I knew I was a writer way earlier, so I decided to start it. It’s a place for me to keep all my writing. It’s an outlet for me. I want other people to be able to connect to it and realize that they aren’t alone in the things they go through. I want my blog to showcase this idea of all the things thought of but never really said out loud.
What’s your favorite thing to write?
I would say poems, because I like starting off with a main idea or a main phrase and kinda levitating back to that idea repeatedly so the message is received in a unique way that displays who I am as a person.
Do you have writing advice for other students?
Yeah, I would say to keep writing. It’s gonna be difficult and you’re gonna fall into many obstacles where you won’t want to write or know what to write, but just keep writing. Just don’t stop. You’ll never recognize the power words really hold until you put them out there. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, either, because you never know you’re potential.
What do you want to do when you’re an adult?
My goal is to become an author and the dream is to write books. That might take a while, so I’d also like to be a teacher for creative writing in the meantime or something related in creative writing.
What’s something else you want the world to know?
There’s always more than one side to every story. No matter how much you think you know someone-- there’s always another perspective or side to them.
Our 826 Day event on the roof of Ace Hotel Chicago was a beautiful celebration of our community from our donors to our students and everyone in between (pictured above is 826CHI supporter TASHA’s performance). Our book P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust was available in the hotel’s suites, Ace Hotel Chicago has hosted our annual love-themed print show featuring work by local artists inspired by our students writing on love, and their Senior Sales Manager, Tenasha Wilcoxon, spoke to our students in After-School Tutoring & Writing’s Speakers & Snacks series about what it’s like to work at a hotel.
The partnership between East Village Youth Program and 826CHI is a yearly collaboration to help students achieve their goal of being accepted into their college of choice and for many to be the first in their family to attend college. This fall, 826CHI staff and 12 volunteers worked with 13 high school seniors on their personal statements for college applications. The partnership continues in the Spring when 826CHI and volunteers will return to EVYP to support students as they apply for scholarships.