For Sharon Ahmed, grades have always been her first priority.
“Ever since I could remember, my parents always wanted me to be a doctor,” said Sharon. Then she found her true passion for writing. “It was in sixth grade that I discovered my talent for poetry.”
Her brother, Zubayer, would have her listen to lectures and spoken word poetry, which encouraged her to read her writings aloud. In sixth grade, she shocked the students and even the teacher with her poetry, she said.
“I love the thrill of getting up and reading my work aloud, which encouraged me to continue writing and expressing myself through rhymes,” said Sharon.
Although Sharon wanted to focus on math and science to push herself toward the career her parents wanted, her guidance counselor, Lonny Dugger, suggested she take a journalism course.
“I expected it to be an elective that would be an easy A because I consider myself to be a great writer,” Sharon said. “That’s where I went wrong.”
She found the constructive, but sometimes “brutally harsh” criticism useful in improving her writing. Fishon, her journalism teacher, told her that she should never take no for an answer and always know the importance of deadlines.
Around her sophomore year, Sharon began hanging around the wrong crowd, she said, steering her away from the bright future she had worked hard toward. Core classes didn’t seem as important to her anymore, but her love for journalism stayed strong.
“That was the only class I actually focused [in], stayed after for, and tried in, because I actually loved it,” she said.
Her hard work and dedication paid off when she won the second place Aura-Diaz award for first-person narrative at the Long Island Press Club conference at Hofstra University. “Winning an award for something I genuinely love doing felt great,” she said.
Sharon’s friend, Shaheda Mohammad, says Sharon has what it takes to be a great journalist. “She has strong social skills, which are a huge asset to journalism,” she said. “I think it will make her a strong girl for journalism.”
Her former editors, Brianne Garrett, Maggie Colbert and Elise Ambos, were role models, Sharon said. “I’ve never seen people work so hard at something,” she added. “They made me want to follow in their footsteps.”
After devoting long hours of hard work after school, Sharon was elected senior editor in chief of broadcasting in June.
Although Sharon said she would like to be a pharmacist in the future, her love for journalism endures. Fear that she won’t make money doing journalism makes her feel as though she will let her parents down, she said.
“My parents have always struggled and it’s time I pay them back,” she added.
Sharon said she was beyond happy when she was accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, eager to meet new people and improve her writing skills.
“Getting accepted to the program meant making it clear to me whether I wanted to go down this route,” she said. “I hope that I could get over this obstacle and figure out what I really want to do.”