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Active Voice

Empowering underrepresented youth to share their own stories

Before I arrived at Swarthmore, I worked at the Los Angeles Times as an editorial intern. I’d always been passionate about writing, but working at the Times gave me the photography, filmmaking, and social justice education that I didn’t find at my high school.

That summer, I learned the power of digital media in inspiring social change, as well as the power of youth voices. I had the opportunity to interview and share the stories of people from all sorts of backgrounds, but I couldn’t help but wonder how different their stories would be if they were the ones telling them.

During my sophomore year at Swarthmore, I attended an information session at the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility where I learned about Project Pericles, a $25,000 grant for groups of students implementing projects with a social justice mission. That was when I created the concept of Storyboard, a summer program teaching high school students how to use storytelling for social change, and providing them with the tools and resources to share the stories impacting their communities.

Storyboard had its first program in Los Angeles during summer 2018 with 10 high school girls from across the city. Each student applied to the program with a pitch of a story they wanted to tell, with topics including immigration, mental health awareness, and LGBTQ+ issues.

By the end of the four-week program, each student had produced a mini-documentary, photo essay, and article addressing their topic. I’ve been deeply impressed and inspired by the students I’ve worked with, and I’ve learned so much from them. I have loved being able to work in my community.

On my 20th birthday last fall, I was honored at a conference hosted by the Clinton Foundation, where I received another grant to expand Storyboard to New York—the best birthday present I could’ve asked for.

Storyboard just wrapped up its second summer program in Los Angeles. Swarthmore gave me the tools and support to achieve this, and for that I’ll always be thankful. Storyboard hasn’t always been easy, but it’s definitely been worth it.