Letters: A Pirate Goes To Princeton

Wednesday, August 28, 2018 || LETTERS || @maywoodnews

My experience at Princeton University’s summer journalism program

The historical background that laced the environment of the quad of Princeton University took my breath away. It was like stepping back to a time when the forests and castes of royalty would be seen for miles around.

The buildings made of greyish brick with majestic vines of metal curves and arches that framed the windows. The black squirrels that wondered about the grass in a playful manor and the elegant trees that would lavish the grounds like a perfect painting. It was a peaceful place to be free of the busy city life in the seclusion of the campus; however, our schedules would prove to be as busy as the city life over the next 10 days on campus.

The concentration of so much information would create chaos from the steady streams of speakers coming and going into spaces to indulge our awaiting minds, to the expeditious typing away on the keyboards in the computer labs to finish our stories for our newspaper.

There were people who spoke on the importance of fact checking to ensure that predicament that could potentially put news outlets out of business don’t happen. Others like political candidate, Daryl Kipnis, spoke about their political standings that were so confusing and perplexing that it reminded me of the engineering equations I worked out at UIC.

There were also alarming realizations when we investigated stores to check their shelves for expired products within the Princeton community. The number of expired medications, baby food and other such products were vast and some managers took a great offense to us just reviewing the shelves. Some, however, were very kind and even asked us to show them the expired products for disposal.

It was mind-blowing to think that as a consumer the trust we bestow upon these stores to carry good products was not a priority. It did however make for an interesting paper that a group later published in the Summer Journal.

Looking back at it, the experience in the Summer Journalism Program reminds me that the time for being a child is running out and that being an adult means sacrificing socializing, self-care and free time to get things done.

The same was true when I went to the UIC S.T.E.M Academy a week prior to going to Princeton. These universities set a tone that the environments would be the space to inspire and transform the mentalities of those who studied there.

Of course with mental growth comes pain and accepting that in college you may not be used to being away from home, struggling in every class, culture shock, or even taking on the struggles of home away from home.

Despite these hardships at either university, it’s blatantly evident that there are people who will stand by each other to help in any way they can. The alumni at Princeton were always on the scene as councilors or presenters during the program, and at UIC the councilors and teachers were the family.

The common theme of community and family held strong bonds to their students and the people that inhabit the university grounds. It was an honor and a privilege to be a student at both of these universities, and as a result of these summer programs, I have learned that I have many interests in many fields that may open my eyes to getting a double major or attending different schools outside of Stanford. Either way that I look at it, I’ve found a home at these schools. This was the most exhausting, comforting, and inspiring summer I’ve had.

Many thanks to the teachers and staff in the community and Proviso East High School for allowing me to be a student and gifting me with their knowledge. And a special thanks to Dylester Palm. If it wasn’t for Ms. Palm, a Proviso East High School dean, I never would have had those sleepless nights of writing, listening and insightful conversations that I miss so much to this very day. Thank you.

— Anahi Soto, Maywood

Onward and upward

Greetings citizens,

May 19 marked three years that I have had the great honor to serve the residents of Maywood and has truly been a pleasure in doing so.

The Village continues to shine beyond our border. As people around the world tuned in to watch the royal wedding, Maywood took center stage. Bishop Michael Curry, a native of the village, challenged us all to allow love to be the way. His connection to our community helps us to see that we have great people that have called our community home.

Community outreach

What a busy season this has been. This past March, for the third year, I had the pleasure to take students from across our local high school with me to participate in the National League of Cities conference. This year we challenged ourselves to expand the program to take even more students. The students were highly engaged when it related to identifying resources for their community.

I also had the pleasure of joining men from across our community to participate in fathers take you kids to school day at Garfield school. The Garfield PTO did a great job.

Major partnerships took place. Understanding the major need for fresh produce within our community, I was able to team up with Forty Acres Fresh Market owner Elizabeth Abunaw to bring to the residents a fresh produce popup market.

The market was originally scheduled to be a onetime event, but due to the overwhelming support from our community we decided to continue it for several months.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I teamed up with Maywood’s very own recording artist Spaceman to offer the residents a free concert. We look forward to making this an annual event.

I was invited by the Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network to speak on what’s happening in the community from a development perspective. During the talk, I was able to highlight all of the progress being made within our community.

I also attended an elected official’s game night at the Maywood Park District, which allowed me to connect with other elected officials serving our great community. This event was hosted by the Maywood Park District.

Public Safety

One of the most important pieces to a strong community is its ability to ensure the safety of it residents, businesses and those who travel through it. With that understanding, I worked with the mayor’s office, the Maywood Police Department, PTMAN and organizations from across our community to kick off the annual Safe Summer initiative.

This initiative was started to provide young people across our community with programs without barriers. There will be signature events that will be designed to include the entire family unit.

Fiscal Responsibility

We must work to continue improving our financial infrastructure within the village. After learning about major budget issues, I strongly urged my board colleagues to move swiftly to reestablish our finance committee. Within our first couple of meetings we were able to identify systems that should be used moving forward. In April, we approved our FY 2018-19 budget.

Major development is on its way in the village. A trucking company is looking to take up the last vacant parcel, on 9th and St. Charles, that was occupied by the American Can Company.

On First and Lake Street, we have a developer looking to bring in some national brand retailers on the two vacant parcels. On 5th Avenue, between Bataan and Roosevelt, we are preparing the way for a developer to build affordable new homes.

And soon, when you enter the village off Madison, you will notice a much smoother ride with major improvements on the way and some alleys being addressed this summer as well. I will provide a list of alleys to be improved within this budget year.

— Isiah Brandon, Maywood trustee

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2 thoughts on “Letters: A Pirate Goes To Princeton”

  1. Congrats Anahi Soto, its nice to see young people like yourself express themselves and showing gratitude to those who opened doors and saw that special thing in you. Be strong, be vigilant, be humble and be yourself. Dont forget where you come from and dont loose sight of the dream and where you are going. Your words touch me, and I hope that mine and many other peoples that believe confert you and give you strength. Always wishing you love, life, health and happiness.

  2. I just finished reading the post that Anahi Soto wrote, and as a graduate/alumni of Proviso East High School…this definitely put a smile on face. I am so proud of the accomplishments that she is recognized and is living proof of District 209’s motto, “Nothing But The Best.” Keep going, Anahi! You have a fantastic future. Bigger things are happening at my beloved alma mater. Let’s continue to challenge and “re-brand” Proviso East and Proviso West high schools, for far too long have been the stereotype of a “lost cause” or “forgotten students”.

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