Annie Aguiar, 19, a young woman with a lifelong interest in drawing, was careful to add an art course to her list of classes during her freshman year of high school in Tampa. But the class was full, so she chose another: journalism.
Now, a rising sophomore at Indiana University, she looks back on that last-minute switch as a stroke of luck. Soon after, she began reporting for the school’s newspaper, Red & Black, and later served as its editor in chief. She is now a journalism major.
“I am so beyond grateful that art class was full,” she said. “Student publications have made me the person I am today, and it's brought out the best in me.”
In her sophomore year of high school, Annie won the Florida Scholastic Press Association’s Emerging Young Journalist award. Shortly after, an editor at the Tampa Bay Times’s Floridian Magazine asked if she would write a personal essay. She accepted and wrote about her grandfather, who died two weeks after she won the award.
“He’s always been like the biggest encourager of my education,” she said. The article is her proudest work.
She's gone from features reporter and page designer to design chief at The Indiana Daily Student, the school’s independent newspaper. In a way, she’s returned to her roots.
“When I look back at my old drawings, a lot of them are kind of very geometric in nature, so it does make sense I would be involved in design,” Annie said.
In the coming year, she wants to focus on writing narrative journalism and is taking a crime reporting class called “covering murder and mayhem.”
Annie is the secretary of her school’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and is thrilled to be one of 25 students in this year’s New York Times Student Journalism Institute.
"I'm excited to see the stories that come out of this, and meeting people my age who care intensely about the things I care about,” she said. “And it’s pretty cool to have finished your first year of college and have a thing on your résumé that says New York Times.”