Student Voices 2023-24: Meet Chalkbeat’s newest fellows

These six high school students in NYC and Newark will be writing essays for Chalkbeat.

A photo collage featuring the headshots of six high school students.
Top row, from left: David Malakai Allen, Alexander Calafiura, and Emily Munoz. Bottom row, from left: Shamima Ahmed, Alexa Brown-Hill, and Miriam Galicia. (Courtesy Images)
First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others thinking and writing about public education.

As Chalkbeat’s Student Voices program enters its third year, we are thrilled to welcome our 2023-24 fellowship class.

In the coming months, these six high school students will publish essays on Chalkbeat about their lives and schools. This year’s Student Voices fellows — all public school students in New York City and Newark, New Jersey — will also be learning about journalism and taking part in writing workshops.

The published work of all previous fellows is compiled here.

Readers can expect to see the bylines of Chalkbeat’s new fellows on our pages soon. In the meantime, meet these impressive teens and hear what they hope to accomplish at Chalkbeat.

Fall Fellows

David Malakai Allen, Newark

David (he/him/his) is a senior at University High School in Newark. He is a social justice advocate, a public speaker, a proud member of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, and the founder of the Black Student Union at his former high school. David recently attended the international politics program at Harvard Summer School, and he aspires to one day become a criminal defense and civil rights attorney. James Baldwin’s nonfiction masterpiece “The Fire Next Time” inspired David to write, and he loves to read the works of Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Audre Lorde. “I write because the plight of a Muslim is to stand up for those who are not able to stand up for themselves,” David said. “My words are a medium for accomplishing that.”

Alexander Calafiura, New York City

Alex (he/him/his) is a senior at East Side Community High School in Manhattan. He spent the first 10 years of his life in Shanghai, China, before moving to the United States in 2017. Alex is the co-founder of his school’s mock trial team and intends to use his voice to bridge inequalities in the criminal justice system. To learn more about the law, he has interned at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Alex also loves writing and is co-editor-in-chief of his school’s newspaper, the East Sider. In his free time, Alex enjoys folding origami, teaching himself math, and reading nonfiction. At Chalkbeat, he hopes to hone his writing skills and use his voice as a tool to empower and inspire others.

Emily Munoz, New York City

Emily (she/her) is a senior in the law program at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx. She’s a staunch intersectional racial and gender equity advocate and a published and award-winning artivist poet. Emily is the co-chair of the 2023-24 Youth ACT! cohort of A Call to Men and a 2023 Young Scholar at the African American Policy Forum. After high school, she plans to major in political science with a concentration in African American studies and to one day work for the U.S. government. In her free time, Emily enjoys hosting the student politics podcast “The Round Table,” eating soul food and seafood boils, and listening to Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj. At Chalkbeat, she hopes to bring awareness to intersectionality and help readers understand what it means to be a Black girl in an inequitable school system.

Spring Fellows

Shamima Ahmed, New York City

Shamima (she/her/hers) is a senior at Central Park East High School in Manhattan. She is a secretary of her school’s National Honor Society, a member of the volunteer organization Glamour Girls, and a current OppNet Fellow. Shamima studied coding and product management through America on Tech, and she did a case study on Doc Martens during a summer program at the private equity firm Permira. A mental health advocate, she loves to journal, walk, reflect, and spend time with the people she loves most.

Alexa Brown-Hill, Newark

Alexa is a junior and taking her first year of college courses at Bard High School Early College in Newark. She is driven by a powerful sense of social responsibility and advocates for such issues as curbing bullying, fostering body positivity, and encouraging self-care. Alexa has held positions with a local chapter of the NAACP, is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, and founded her school’s step team. In addition, she is a makeup artist and finds peace in faith and music. Alexa has a passion for literature and hopes to become a published author, sharing her personal stories with the world. At Chalkbeat, she wants to write about how students’ home lives can affect their education and show schools how to support children facing adversity.

Miriam Galicia, New York City

Miriam (she/her/hers) is a senior at the Institute For Collaborative Education in Manhattan. When she graduates in June, she will go on to become a first-generation Mexican American college student. She comes from a family of hard workers who never say her dreams are impossible. Miriam is the co-president of her school’s student council and works to ensure that school can be a welcoming experience for all. She loves to find ways to improve the community and herself. Over the summer, Miriam honed her leadership skills at the Sadie Nash Summer Institute. At Chalkbeat, Miriam hopes to strengthen her writing and learn from her fellow writers, mentors, and educators.

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