Senior column: Making a difference


Photo provided by Emma Short

I have spent a huge chunk of my high school career giving a voice to the voiceless and informing my peers on unjust situations they may have not otherwise gotten educated on. One step at a time, I am working to change the way my audience views unjust situations happening in my community.

“Ugh, that’s just not fair!”

It’s a sentiment I’ve been sharing from the time I first learned to speak, and one I still find myself mumbling under my breath. 

As you can probably guess, I have never been afraid to voice my opinion. From the time I was 2 years old and my new baby brother started attracting the attention of every adult within a 50-mile radius, I just knew I could identify when things were “fair” or not. 

I have been lucky enough to grow up in an extremely political and influential time where social media and opinions on controversial subjects infiltrate every aspect of daily life. In my high school years alone, I have witnessed the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the controversy behind COVID-19 and its vaccines, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the #MeToo movement, countless school shootings and far too many other important social and political events to count. 

I also, both luckily and unluckily, am part of the first generation with the opportunity to use the internet as a voice for causes we believe in and to sound the alarm for situations that are unjust. During my sophomore year, after exploring a variety of classes to pursue in high school, I was given a third medium through which I can voice important information on unjust situations: my school’s newspaper program. 

Over three years, I have worked my way up from a rookie reporter to the Editor-in-Chief of “The Hawk Eye,” and I have thrived during every minute of it. Even as a reporter, I was obsessed with the idea of being the one educating our audience and using my platform to advocate for those of marginalized status. I have always poured the majority of my energy and passion into investing in people, whether that be checking up on the mental health of those close to me or using my voice to advocate against injustice. Through my work on the newspaper staff, I’ve been able to bring attention to those issues. 

It has been the morning ritual of my family since I was in elementary school to turn on the news while eating breakfast before school. I witnessed countless significant events in my fascination with watching the news, inspiring me to write stories on controversial topics such as the gender pay gap, social media’s effects on the mental health of teens, the double standards between fangirls and sports fanatics, Gen Z teens handling grief, the controversy behind COVID-19 vaccines and the importance of people using their vote to voice important opinions. I found my place writing for the newspaper, not just by writing stories, but by diving into the world of photography, attending and covering protests and interviewing people with incredible stories. 

Because of newspaper and my love for journalism, I’ve had the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with world-renowned journalists such as Emmy-award winning news anchor Shannon Bentle and KXAS DFW Consumer Correspondent Diana Zoga and discuss what journalism in the real world entails, both the pretty and the ugly. I now yearn to be in their positions and make the differences the journalistic stars above me have. I’ve had freelance job opportunities arise, received scholarships related to the writing skills I developed on staff and, through my role as an officer of the New Voices Texas board, a group of student journalists working to enact a law to end student censorship, I am already helping shape the future in my own way. I had the incredible opportunity of driving down to Austin over my spring break to speak to lawmakers about passing our bill during the 88th legislative session. Using my own voice to advocate for necessary social change will continue beyond my college years, and I know through my career as a journalist, I will help change the world. 

While there may be bias and limited journalistic integrity in certain media outlets, what I have learned is this: student journalists are superheroes. I have spent a huge chunk of my high school career giving a voice to the voiceless and informing my peers on unjust situations they may have not otherwise gotten educated on. One step at a time, I am working to change the way my audience views unjust situations happening in my community. Learning the appropriate ways to speak up about the injustices in society through either an unbiased story or an opinion column has transformed the way I respond to controversial situations in my day-to-day life. I can recognize the feelings those that are involved in unfair situations are experiencing and work to help solve the conflict in an unbiased way — something I struggled with growing up. 

It is fair to say the little girl who just wanted her share of dessert has been given a platform to help others get theirs many years later. I can say, with confidence, that elementary school Emma is proud knowing she can now do her best to ensure what is not fair gets its air time. I look back and cannot believe how much I have grown into a passionate woman in journalism. My value of seeing justice served is now being expressed in a new way: I am no longer a 2-year-old jealous of my brother’s unfair advantages — I am instead using my passion for speaking up for those without power, without a voice and without privilege, and I cannot wait to continue this journey for the rest of my life.