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Shannon Kavanagh: From spelling bees to journalism

By Margaret Hans
Holy Trinity High School

Although Shannon Kavanagh won a statewide essay contest when she was in seventh grade, as well as many spelling bees throughout her life, she first noticed her love of writing during her freshman year of high school. It was not until her junior year that she truly discovered her passion for English though her AP Literature class.

Shannon’s 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Madama, at McGann Mercy High School in Riverhead, is significant character in Shannon’s literary journey.

“He inspired me to read more books and write more often,” Shannon said. Mrs. Comanda, her 11th grade AP Literature and Composition teacher, greatly helped to improve her writing through constructive criticism.

“I love writing because it allows me to put everything that is bothering me onto paper,” Shannon said. “It’s a great way for me to relieve stress.”

Shannon likes English more than math and science, and she prefers to write papers based on facts as opposed to creative pieces. She enjoys writing research papers and book reports. Although she has not written for her school’s newspaper thus far, Shannon plans to write for the Monarch Spark next year. “Since I attend a lot of sports events for my school, I think that I can greatly improve the sports section of my school’s newspaper.”

When Shannon found out that she had been selected as one of the nineteen high school students to attend the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, she was extremely excited. “I thought that the program was an interesting opportunity because I had never lived in a dorm,” Shannon said.

“Through this program, I hope to gain a better understanding of journalism,” Shannon said, “and I would like to improve my writing skills and broaden my knowledge of photography. This program will help me to decide whether or not journalism is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

Outside of journalism, Shannon is active in her school’s honor societies. She is the secretary of the Math and French Honor Societies, and the vice president of the National Honor Society at her school. “I love being involved with my school in all aspects, including athletics and academics,” Shannon said.

Shannon also participates in her school’s International Mentor Program. Through this program she serves as a guide and advisor for foreign exchange students, as well as 7th and 8th graders and incoming freshmen. “Through these mentoring programs I get to share my experience through high school, allowing students to have a different perspective.”

She is also athletic and runs for her school’s winter and spring track. She has played tennis since age 4 and works at a tennis center. “It has always been my dream to play tennis in college, and I think that SUNY Cortland is a great fit for me,” Shannon said.

Although at this point she is undecided as to her major in college, she is considering majoring in Psychology, Journalism, French or English.

“No matter what I choose to major in, writing will always be a passion of mine,” Shannon said.