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We’re mid-way through our Summer Journalism Institute, a six-week program that brings Boston teens together to learn the ins and outs of journalism, explore college and career options, meet teens from all over the city, and write stories for our student newspaper, Teens in Print.

We want to acquaint you with some of the kids. Below we’ve shared some snippets from interviews the students conducted to learn more about each other’s interests and goals.

As always, our students reflect the vibrant diversity of our city. Hailing from 18 schools, speaking 9 different languages, and with 31 unique futures ahead of them, each student brings something different to the table.

sji students smiling
Kamila headshot
Kamila is a rising 10th grader attending John D. O’Bryant Public High School in Roxbury, MA.

Interview by SJI student Daniel Scibelli

Daniel: Where do you go to school? And what grade are you in?
Kamila: I go to John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, and I’m going into 10th grade.

I’ve seen that you like dancing…How was dancing critical at a young age and in your life now?
Dancing in my life is critical now, and was then, because it helps me emotionally and mentally. And back to when I was younger, it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It was really important to me.

Is dancing an outlet? Or is it something else? Meaning, does it eliminate stress or does it give you energy, etc.?
I think dance gives me more energy. It helps to calm me down and gives me peace.

As person who doesn’t know much about dance, I wonder: Does the type of dance determine the person you are? So for example…if you listen to hip hop, you’re more likely to do hip hop dances. I assume that applies to you and what type of dance you do. Is that true?
In a way, yes. For me, I do liturgical dance, and the liturgical is used in my church, and it helps me praise God and is a connection and very spiritual, and it’s just peaceful. So I would say it is, but I also like other types of dances that also show who I am inside.

Dancing is a passion of yours. Was it pushed more by your friends, or your parents, or just yourself…where does this passion come from?
When I was younger, it was kind of forced upon me when I was in church. I had to take ballet classes and that wasn’t my best interest, so I quit that. And when we got to church, my mom wanted me to be really involved with praising God, and just, you know, adoring Him like she did. She was in the choir and she wanted me to be involved also, so I thought to dance instead of singing.

elieser headshot
Elieser is a rising 11th grader at Fenway Public High School.

Interview by SJI student Jesse Correll

Today I sat down with Elieser Bonilla Lucas and asked him a few questions about his journey and adaptation to the US which he previously identified as one of the most challenging moments of his life.

Jesse: Hey, so you were born in the Dominican Republic?
Elieser: Yes, sir.

Where in the Dominican Republic were you born?
La Vega.

So what language did you grow up speaking?

Was it hard learning a second language?
In the beginning it was, because like I didn’t know nothing so I had to get used to it, you know, to the new environment and all that. But when I started school it was much easier because I started to like listening to music and watching TV and reading. That helped me a lot.

Okay, so how old were you when you came to the US?
When I came to the US, I was 12. That was 3 years ago.

What was the hardest part of your journey?
It was like…the hardest part of my journey was leaving my family because I spent 12 years with them. Yeah, I felt like I wasn’t ready to—you know—to come here and get used to a new life and all of that.

So, it was hard to adjust to life in the US?

What do you think made it easier to adjust?
Making friends, going to school, and getting to know my dad a little bit more because I grew up with my mom’s side of the family. And like, I didn’t know him… when I was born, he came here [to the US] so he was like a stranger for me.

Okay, and he spoke English?
He spoke both languages, Spanish and English.

What do you miss most about the Dominican Republic?
My friends and family.

nathan headshot
Nathan is a student at Fenway High School.

Interview by SJI student Brandon Mendes

Brandon: Testing, testing. One, two. Okay, we’re good. I would like to talk to you about your career in photography. How long have you been taking photos for?
Nathan: I’d say about two years now.

Do you see yourself in a [photography] career?
Yeah, that’s something I get asked often. I don’t know. I can’t say that. I definitely do see it as a way to profit and make money, but I don’t see it as something that I can take and make a living off of.

Do you know what college you are attending? 
See, I really don’t at the moment.

Photography has definitely crossed my mind because it can really boost my like popularity…But I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field because you know, my sister’s a nurse and it’s something that goes within the family.

So do you feel like your parents or your family supported you during this photography process that you have? 
Yeah, most definitely. My parents have all my pictures all over the house. My grandmother and sister have [my photos] on their phones. They’re posting on their Instagram and they tag all my pictures. It’s something that they know my stance on… I’m not gonna choose to make a living off of it. They’re okay with that and they know that it is truly just something I’m good at. It’s a hobby.

That’s a good family, staying by your side making sure that you make it in life. What inspired you to become a photographer?
Actually, nothing did. I didn’t have an inspiration. I first started—I was actually in a thrift shop and I found a camera. It was $15. It was the first picture I ever took; it was a bee on a flower and it’s probably the best picture I’ve ever taken.

Do you feel like your first picture has meaning?
Definitely. That picture right there inspired me and let me know that maybe this is something that I’m good at and I should keep going with it.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I definitely see myself in college no matter what; and I don’t see myself in state, either…My sister went to college in Florida so I probably want to go down south.

Also, you will not try to build a business with your photography, or try to build an empire—well, a career?
Yes and no. I definitely want to get known within the photography field, but it’s not something—like I said—that I need a lifestyle to live off of…Just like a little hobby for now. I definitely in the future plan on making money off of it [to] just support my everyday living.

royal headshot
Royal graduated from Urban Science Academy and plans to attend Bridgewater State University in the fall.

Interview by SJI student Jack Trapanick

Jack: What school do you go to and what grade are you in?
Royal: So I just graduated high school a month ago. I am a freshman at Bridgewater State University.

Okay. And so…have you started college yet? 
No, I haven’t started yet. So far it’s just been placement testing and orientation. Just kinda the prep, getting into the fall semester.

How’s that all been so far?
It’s actually been kind of fun. I just went to orientation a few weeks ago—it was overnight orientation, for on-campus students and off-campus students. So it was really fun. You met a lot of new people and it gave you the “already on campus” kind of vibe, so you got really comfortable with a lot of people because you’re all freshmen with just welcoming personalities. So it was pretty cool. And these are gonna be the people you’re gonna live with for the next four years of your life, so why not talk with them? So it’s really cool.

Okay, so what brought you to this journalism program?
Oh, what brought me to journalism? I would say, back in middle school, I was in journalism club, and I would write a lot. Once I got to high school, that’s when I started noticing that math is just not it, and I just like writing better, because I feel like I got more out of my English classes… I sort of like English classes because they cover a lot of topics that people don’t like to talk about. We got to talk about a lot of things, to express ourselves through writing as well… Then I started actually realizing that I loved reading and writing. So I worked with Sarah Robbins [a WriteBoston staff member] to do my college essay. She actually got me to do my college essay in like, September, and I’ve known her ever since. And we’ve just been cool, and I saw this opportunity pop up, with journalism, you get paid, these hours work with my other jobs, so I’m like, and “I’ll just check it out.” And of course, so far so good.

Okay, that’s awesome. So I see you’re interested in law and criminal justice? What do you want to do? Do you have a specific career you’re interested in doing when you’re older…?
You touched a topic I love. I would say, my main goal, I want to be a prosecuting attorney. I don’t want to be like a public defender or anything like that. I feel like a prosecuting attorney holds way more power. They’re able to send you to jail, press charges, take the charges.

And also, they’re controlling a lot of people’s lives. I feel like when you give that power to a lot of people who are ignorant to the community around them, they’re not worried about, ‘Oh, maybe this person may just need mediation instead of being locked up for three years,’ because you’re continuing a cycle that definitely needs to stop growing, especially for African Americans.

So I feel as if that’s a really good job, because you don’t always have to throw people in jail, sometimes these people need to be taught skills, they need proper placement, they need somebody who can support them, because when we just throw them to the side and just want to keep putting them back in jail, they’re really never gonna get any better. And change starts from right there.

That’s like one thing I want to do. But I don’t want to really narrow down by saying, “oh I wanna be a prosecuting attorney,” and going straight into that. I want to do a lot of different work with the law, and mainly I just wanna do a lot of work in the courtroom. I wanna do… kind of criminal cases, some civil, but the more interesting are the criminal. Yeah.

Is there any kind of specific crime you’re interested in?
Not really, I would say one thing: there are just certain things that are looked at as “Oh, just a drug dealer,” just like, you don’t know why they were selling drugs, maybe it’s hard for them to get a job because they have all these unnecessary things on their record, they have to make sure their families can eat at night.

Instead of looking at somebody as, “Oh, they’re a drug dealer”—well, this is their way of providing for their family, because it’s so hard trying to get a real job out here. And, you know, you do have a real job, it’s a full-time job in Boston that may not be able to pay your rent. So you just have to understand where other people are coming from.

So you want to humanize criminals that are usually just viewed as dehumanized.
Yeah. Because I feel like the criminal justice system is made to dehumanize a lot of people. If you look at the way jail is set up, it’s basically slavery, legal slavery. So it’s like…I wanna do a lot of things, trying to help my community and minorities.

Original writing by these teens and more will be published in the September issue of Teens in Print. Visit to read the issue online.