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White text on a dark blue background reads: Student Voices. The text is surrounded by overlapping speech bubbles.

Our six fellowship recipients attend high school in Chicago, Newark, or Philadelphia.

Lauren Bryant / Chalkbeat

Meet Chalkbeat’s Student Voices fellows

These high school students will be writing about their lives and education.

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others thinking and writing about public education.

This school year, Chalkbeat is thrilled to pilot our Student Voices writing fellowship in three of our bureaus: Chicago, Newark, and Philadelphia. The fall and spring fellows — all high school students in communities Chalkbeat covers — will be writing First Person essays about their lives and journeys through public school. (You can read about the fellowship program here.)

You’ll be learning more about these impressive and accomplished students in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, please join me in welcoming the inaugural class of Student Voices fellows. Their bios and photos are below. 


Teenage girl in a white shirt and a teenage boy in glasses and a blue sweatshirt.

Chicago fellows Ajibola Junaid, left, and Jeremiah Griffith

Courtesy photos

Ajibola Junaid (Fall semester):

Ajibola Elizabeth Junaid (she/her/hers) is a senior at Wendell Phillips Academy High School. She moved from Nigeria to the United States when she was 13. She has taken part in the University of Chicago’s Equitable Learning and Development Project, which works to improve public schools for all students, and in the dance education project Forward Momentum. Ajibola plans to study biology in college and go on to medical school to become an OB-GYN. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music and dancing. 

Jeremiah Griffith (Spring semester):

Jeremiah Griffith (he/him/his) is a junior at Noble Academy. He writes about sports for TrueStar magazine and manages his own sports blog, The Ball Talk. Jeremiah is a TrueStar Youth Violence Prevention Ambassador and a volunteer at Rush University Medical Center. He is a member of the National Honors Society and his school’s basketball team. During the fall semester, he is interning at Vega Partners and Chicago House AC. 


Teenage girl in glasses and another teenage girl sitting at a table with a blue tablecloth.

Newark fellows Chimdindu Okafor, left, and Daniela Palacios.

Courtesy photos

Chimdindu Okafor (Fall semester):

Chimdindu Okafor (she/her/hers) is a senior at North Star Academy Lincoln Park High School. She is a social justice activist and organizer currently serving as a youth board member for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and on the steering committee of the National Agenda for Black Girls. Chimdindu is “inspired by stories from urban youth whose experiences often parallel mine.” 

Daniela Palacios (Spring semester):

Daniela Palacios (she/her/hers) is a senior at Science Park High School. Daniela is also the creator of Para KIDS!, a media company that publishes bilingual children’s stories with immigrant characters. She is the author of a forthcoming Spanish bilingual children’s book, “Sara’s New Country and New Friend/ El nuevo país y la nueva amiga de Sara.”


Teenage person in a green t-shirt and a teenage girl wearing a red headscarf.

Philadelphia fellows Lin Lin, left, and Umme Orthy.

Courtesy photos

Lin Lin (Fall semester):

Lin Lin (they/them) is a senior at Central High School. They are the co-president of the student-run newspaper Bullhorn News, where their goal is to make student journalism more accessible by increasing the number of BIPOC journalists and translating articles into multiple languages. Lin was previously a reporter for the paper, covering the School District of Philadelphia, where they enjoyed writing about racial consciousness and curriculum. In addition, they have done community organizing with such groups as Asian Americans United and VietLead.  In their spare time, Lin enjoys reading and hiking. 

Umme Orthy (Spring semester):

Umme Orthy (she/her) is a senior at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. She is passionate about biology and wants to become a doctor. Umme is originally from Chittagong, Bangladesh, and hopes to provide free medical services to people in her hometown one day. She likes to write about her own experiences and express herself through writing, including poetry. “As an immigrant student, there are so many untold stories I want to share,” she said. In her spare time, Umme enjoys painting, cooking, and watching K-dramas.

We also take student submissions on a rolling basis. Have a pitch or a piece that’s a good fit for First Person? Read our submission guidelines, and email us at firstperson@chalkbeat.org.