Reporting Biographies

Eileen Markey - Teacher

Eileen Markey is an investigative journalist and the author of A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura (Nation Books 2016), a biography that tells a Cold War story of revolution, religion and an American woman's quest for justice in Central America. Markey's work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and America, among others. She has worked as a producer for WNYC New York Public Radio. Markey graduated from Fordham University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and lives in the Bronx with her husband and two sons.

Shanie Vasquez - T.A

Shanik Vasquez is a recent graduate of Lehman College, completing a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications Studies and a minor in Japanese language in June 2017. Having taken three College Now courses (ART 112, PHI 172, and ENG 111) when she was a high school student, she is grateful for the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for the summer journalism course. She has been working at Lehman since her sophomore year, beginning in the Study Abroad Office and later moving to the College Now office. She is a huge proponent of study abroad and language learning, having spent a semester in Japan herself. In her free time, she enjoys watching sitcoms like Friends, Modern Family, and That 70’s Show.

Elisabeth Awolowo

Elisabeth Awolowo is a sixteen year old rising junior at the Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching and Learning. Elisabeth identifies as Nigerian and African American. She was born in a small town called Central Islip. When she was twelve years old Elisabeth moved to the Bronx. Elisabeth’s hobbies include sleeping, relaxing and going on social media. She also enjoys reading, sometimes writing. Elisabeth hates that she has a big heart because people may take her kindness as weakness. She absolutely loves to put a smile on everyone’s face. She chose to take the summer course because she sees it as a great opportunity. The program was offered to her at school and she just took it. She also chose journalism because she sees it as a way to be a “voice” for people who don’t have one.

Joevander Bess

Joevander Bess is an African American male, aged eighteen years who attends Christopher Columbus High School. Joevander is the oldest amongst his eight siblings. His interests consists of football, studying law and maintaining his health. “I take my health very seriously” said Bess. In September 2017, Joevander will become a senior and will be graduating June 2018. Joevander aspires to major in law and pass the LSAT exam to pursue his career in becoming a defense attorney or work the business fields of law, such as closing contracts and creating endorsements. However, apart from studying law, he is currently taking a College Now summer journalism course to improve his writing abilities, and to communicate better, because he believes that “these are important aspects that you will need in life.” Outside of his educational life, he works a job as a “mover” which is someone who helps individuals move their furniture, clothing, or any heavy items in particular out of their houses and into their new ones. Joevander’s personality is curious, nonchalant, and impulsive at times, and he enjoys making others laugh. He takes interest in getting to know new people and who they are. He shows interest as individuals tell their stories and he makes these individuals feel comfortable opening up about themselves.

Briana Boateng

Briana Boateng, a Dewitt Clinton High School student has many attributes that are unique. She is the fourth of five siblings who lives in the South Bronx with a household of pure women figures such as her aunt and mother. These days it is not surprising to find single parent households, but she points out that this allows her character to flourish “learning the foundations of self-respect and independence.”Briana values truth and honesty from whomever she interacts with. So if you are a boyfriend or a brother, it is safe to say, the truth will set you free. In addition to this, with the rising prices in today’s economy, she enjoys online shopping to spend less while getting more. As the idiom goes, “work smarter and less harder”. Briana never shies away from being social and on the scene and hence, wants to take her aptitude into the entertainment field. Female figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen are a few that aspire her to one day hopefully host her own talk show. It's not hard at all to envision her in that field given that she is very blunt and can keep any conversation going. On her path to achieving this goal, she wishes to major in communication and journalism. Currently, she is taking a journalism college course to improve her abilities as well as gain the experiences it has to offer.

Jocelyne Coulibaly

Jocelyne Coulibaly was born in the country of chocolate, coffee beans and sunshine: the Ivory Coast. She was raised by her grandmother but now lives with her mother and 3 other siblings. Her nurturing and protective personality is due to the fact she helped coparent her brother and sisters since the age of ten. She attends the very diverse High School for Language and Innovation. At only 17 years old, she won a writing competition and got to see the Alexander Hamilton Broadway show which is the reason why the soundtrack is her favorite music to listen to. Jocelyne’s described as a mix of “rude, friendly, caring, and bipolar” by her friends Valentina and Kiyatou. In her own words her personality is based on her outfit, hairstyle or just the day of the week. Jocelyne’s great memory is a positive one when it comes to her love for U.S. History but not for wrongs others commit towards her.

Valentina Flores

Valentina Flores also known as Val is from Honduras. She is 17 years old and goes to Collegiate Institute for Math and Science. She came to the United States when she was 5 years old. It was hard for her to adapt to a new environment. Her family was poor, and she used to buy her clothes at 99 Cent stores. Val is the oldest of five siblings, her mother has Spanish ancestors and her dad has African ancestors. When she came here at the age of 5 she started first grade. It was difficult for her because she had to learn English. She had been bullied because she did not speak English, but she did not give up even though the bullies made her hate school. She believes that education is the way out of the Bronx for a better future. Val has a beautiful personality. She is funny, quiet, smart, and very serious. She makes people laugh even though they do not want to laugh. She loves to eat and play sports. The two sports she plays in high school are Soccer and Lacrosse. She is looking to attend Maryland University because they have a good Lacrosse team. The type of music she likes to listen to is sad and depressive music. Her favorite singer is Alessia Cara.

Hayley Gunning

Hayley Gunning’s life so far has been very fascinating in many ways. She describes herself as a very driven, optimistic, outgoing person and after getting to know her a little better I’m sure you’ll agree. Hayley recently turned 16 and attends Theatre Arts Production Company where she majors in Drama. Her major is not only a hobby, it is a lifestyle. She’s participated in many commercials for companies such as McDonalds, Optimum, and Nikon. She has also acted in many different roles in plays and television shows. One interesting role she played was as a woman named Wendy Fritz who eventually got murdered in the show. This role is very interesting because it showcases her versatility. She was also in the Broadway show Lazarus, in which she played a peasant. Hayley already has her future planned out as she plans to attend New York University as a drama major with a journalism minor. It is pretty clear that Hayley loves New York; she has lived here her whole life. Her love for drama and arts seems to have given her a love for the city; she wants to stay and attend college here. Ultimately, Hayley Gunning is just proof that it’s never too early to chase your dreams.

Michelle Hernandez

Born in the early 2000s, Michelle Hernandez is a sixteen year old that is very interested in writing and art and is actually in the process of writing her own book based on a true story from her experience. She currently goes to Lehman High School, and will be a junior. She enjoys classical rock, and spends her free time drawing artistic pieces. She often makes drawings to illustrate the short stories she writes. These help her understand and describe the characters she is creating with words. She is raised in a Mexican household and has a family of eight. She has one younger brother and a younger sister, along with her parents, aunt, uncle, and their daughter. She enjoys English and writing, but isn’t such a great fan of science and chemistry. She loves listening to classical rock, hanging out with her friends and watching funny memes online.

Ambar Khealie

Ambar Khealie, a high school student at the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science in the Bronx, is a very driven and determined young lady. She focuses on her school work and makes sure she reaches high 90s to the best of her ability. When she is not doing something school related, she focuses on doing something creative. During this time, she writes poems and later tries to expand them into short stories hoping for much more development. Every so often, Khealie draws and doodles to keep her creativity flowing. Living in the community-based neighborhood of Co-Op City, she is able to express all her creativity with her friends, neighbors, and, of course, her family. Similar to some households, she lives with her mother, older brother, and grandmother. Together, they all share their Dominican culture. The sense of togetherness in the household allows for stories to be told which will later blossom into one of her very own writing pieces. At the age of seventeen, she has many things ahead of her. Perhaps your grandchildren will be reading a book written by Miss Ambar Khealie herself; however, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Kiyatou Konate

Her name is Kiyatou Konate but many call her ‘Tutu”. Every morning, she makes her way to the High School of Language and Innovation with a chopped cheese sandwich and an Arizona Mango flavored drink which she calls “mucho mango.” Although shy at first, Tutu proves to be a very humorous person. Standing at only five feet one inch tall, Tutu is a high school varsity lacrosse player who for two years has scored over 40 goals. Scoring goals has been not much of problem, however migrating to the United States from her native country of the Ivory Coast proved to be one. At the age of twelve Tutu began to learn English, a task that was not easy. She recalls being bullied and says that she learned Spanish her third language, to understand what her bullies were saying about her. Four years later, at the age of 16, Tutu intends to graduate high school like her two older brothers. Becoming a young woman empowered to take the world by storm is a task Kiyatou Konate is not far from completing.

Prettystar Lopez

Prettystar Lopez is a 16 year-old rising junior at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy High School. She is both Dominican and Venezuelan. Lopez has one younger sister and three older brothers. She has many interests, including softball, wrestling, movies, and writing. Some of her favorite movies are, The Heathers and The Mask. Lopez incorporates her interests into her career goals, as she wants to be a screenwriter or an architect. Lopez also has several hobbies like sports and playing her guitar. She is a very shy, quiet, and friendly person. Her favorite types of music include rap and Spanish music including artists like Badbunny and Migos. Lopez’s favorite colors are green and blue and her favorite food is lasagna. Lopez decided to take this College Now course for several reasons. She believes it will look good on her transcript and that she will gain incredible experience from it, learn new things about writing, reading, and analyzing different stories.

Irene Martinez

Irene Martinez, a determined high school student from Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy 141, joined the College Now summer journalism course to meet new people within her age group, obtain college credits, and learn about new writing formats/styles. Irene aspires to use this course as background for the career she wants to pursue, either a lawyer or a college professor. Irene comes from El Salvador and she is the youngest of three sisters. She spends her free time watching television shows, movies, and reading. Irene is a hardworking 16 year old student, who is quiet, nice, and shy, but she does not let these traits limit her. The pizza loving adolescent lives in Kingsbridge and takes many advanced placement and dual enrollment classes in high school. Irene has a great sense of fashion, due to her interests which include clothes and makeup. Irene wastes no time; she has a purpose and she intends to fulfill it, no questions asked.

Alexandria McPherson

Alexandria McPherson is a 16 year old New York City student at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math & Science. She is originally from Jamaica, but she moved to the United States 10 years ago. Living with her single mother and little sister is not easy, but Alexandria feels spoiled and loved at home. Her religion shapes her moral values. She is humble, patient, and a good listener. Reading books, watching movies and singing are her hobbies. With her calm personality, intelligence and chill sense of humor, Alexandria aims to become a marriage counselor someday. As in the Divergent series, by Veronica Roth, Alexandria is Abnegation (selfless) and Erudite (intelligent), because she cares about the people around her.

Kiera Moné Morgan

My name is Kiera Moné Morgan. I am 17 years old and I am now a senior in high school. I am an army brat and both of my parents are currently serving in the U.S. Army. I live with my mother and older sister, Imani. Other than Imani, I have two younger brothers who live in Virginia with my father, Richard, and stepmother, Joi. I was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina in July 2000. Due to my parents’ profession, I move every three to four years and I have lived in places from Kaiserslautern, Germany to Olympia, Washington. I have traveled to many places, from Amsterdam to Hawaii. With such a worldly childhood, I have acquired the skill of adaptability, and the ability to understand and communicate with people of various backgrounds. I can comprehend basic German from childhood classes and Jamaican Patois, since my mom is Jamaican. In upstate New York, at Theodore R. Durgee Jr. High School and Charles W. Baker High School, I took three years of French so I can write, read, and speak the language for the most part. When I moved to the city in November, I enrolled at Bronx Compass High School and have excelled in my studies, finishing out junior year with phenomenal grades. In the final weeks of my junior year, I was offered the opportunity to attend Lehman College for a summer course. When I heard that I could receive four college credits for participating, I instantly accepted. I knew I would need to get a jumpstart on my college credits since my school did not offer advanced placement. I also knew I would need some college preparation, and would like to be able to improve my literacy and connections to the community. Also, this experience would help me with my social anxiety and make me a better public speaker. Lehman College would be a way to better myself and create a brighter future, not only for myself, but for the world.

Rene Mukendi

Rene Mukendi is 16 year-old life-long resident of the Bronx and a high school student at Collegiate Institute for Math and Science, in the Pelham Parkway area. Rene is of African descent and his ancestry links back to Zaire. He is a driven young man who has aspirations to be a sports journalist, which encompasses his passions of both sports and writing. Rene has played football from the time he was a child, and has been playing on an organized team called Christopher Columbus ever since he started high school. Rene decided to combine journalism with his love of sports when a family member who is also a journalist inspired him. Rene is the middle of three siblings and often finds himself taking on the brunt of responsibility in his household. He finds that because he is the middle child, he often has to take care of his younger sibling, while his older sibling is busy attending to his own needs. While Rene has no particular favorite musical artist, he enjoys listening to hip-hop and R+B.

Gearod Murphy

Gearod Murphy is a 16 year old student at  The Bronx  High School of Science.He is the oldest older of three brothers. His sarcastic sense of humor keeps people laughing and his ability to hold a conversation adds to his many personality traits. Gearod is amongst the many American “geeks” that enjoy reading comic books, listening to music, and watching television. Gearod is now attentending the Lehman College Now journalism class over July and August. He is very studious and active in his school work.

Dimitra Ramos

Dimitra Ramos goes to Pelham Preparatory Academy in the Bronx. She is on the bowling team but would also like to join the track team in December. She lives in Parkchester. She is fifteen years old. She likes to listen to music that is pleasing to the ear or what catches her attention. Other hobbies include singing Spanish and Christian music. Ramos is also a part of the school campus band and plays percussion instruments, including the snare drum. She lives in a dominant Puerto Rican household with her mother, older sister and two dogs; Smokey and Pokey. Her dogs mean everything to her. Her favorite subject is English. She likes to write poems and develops them into stories. Her recent writings involved an opposite world and based it on a utopia. She stated “It’s better to write something you don’t know about.” She has already uploaded two pieces of her work online.

Danaé Smith

Danaé Smith is a 15 year old African American rising junior at the Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching and Learning. Danaé was born and raised in the Bronx, New York where she enjoys spending time with her family of five. She is inspired by both her mother and aunt to be a hard working woman. She considers herself an intelligent, funny, and shy person to be around. She chose to take the journalism course with College Now because she believes it is a great opportunity to receive college credits and to come out of her comfort zone. Although not being too familiar with journalism, she believes it will “benefit her” in the near future.

Chloe Wilson

Chloe Wilson, age 15, is an enthusiastic young woman heading into eleventh grade. Despite her age, her grade status is due to her birthday landing in November, putting her in the same grade as those who would typically be 16. She attends the New Vision Charter High School for the Humanities, and currently, in the summer of 2017, is attending the Lehman College Now program for journalism. She has a passion for jokes and horror films such as The Conjuring 2 and The Shining, as well recent films such as Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad. She looks forward to the rest of the summer in the College Now program, and hopes to make new friends.

Rachel Yeboah

Rachel Yeboah is a 16 year old who attends Bronx Prep High School, and will be a senior this September. She is of African descent, and while her family is originally from Ghana, she was born and raised in the Bronx. Rachel does very well in English while math is her least favorite thing about school. She likes to draw, listen to upbeat hip hop music, and purple is her absolute favorite color. Rachel is the oldest of four kids. When in doubt, Rachel likes to refer to the famous Nike brand quote, “Just Do It”.

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