Meet the 2014 Intermediate Camp teen reporters

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On Sunday night, 12 teen writers from the Twin Cities moved into the University of St. Thomas dorms to become esteemed members of ThreeSixty Journalism’s 2014 Intermediate Camp. These wide-eyed students are spending two weeks learning how to interview and report the news while also rubbing shoulders with journalists and communications professionals. This year’s theme is “the next generation,” and students will work on features profiling 12 local youth organizations doing awesome work with their peers. Look for the finished pieces in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press over Labor Day weekend, plus our fall ThreeSixty magazine.

But first, get to know this year’s awesome campers …

Sagal Abdirahman

Hometown: St. Louis Park
School: St. Louis Park High School
Grade: Senior
Favorite musician(s): Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, J. Cole
Favorite movie(s): Titanic, Gone Baby Gone, The Godfather
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Roller Gardens, Yogurt Lab and Lake Calhoun
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Morgan Freeman, because I wouldn’t mind listening to his amazing voice ask me questions.
What do you like about writing? It’s a way to get away from everything around you and there are no limits to writing.
What issues are important to you? Racial issues and poverty
What is your ideal future career? Lawyer
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Mecca, Saudi Arabia
What are your special talents? I can (sort of) sing and I’m a pretty good debater
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Netflix and hanging out with friends
What else do you think people should know about you? I’m a pretty open, easy going person

Gabriel Blackburn

Hometown: St. Paul
School: SPCPA (St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists)
Grade: Senior
Favorite author: John Green
Favorite musician(s): Justin Timberlake
Favorite movie(s): Step Up series
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Explore — bike rides and long board
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Justin Timberlake, because he is a Renaissance man.
What do you like about writing? It is a creative outlet for me.
What issues are important to you? Social justice
What is your ideal future career? Performer (dancer, musician), writer or teacher
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Europe
What are your special talents? Rapport with people, performing and listening. I’m also a great hugger.
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Dance choreography, writing music, writing short stories
What else do you think people should know about you? I love to hug. Not in a creepy way.

Katie Braman

Hometown: St. Paul
School: St. Paul Academy
Grade: Junior
Favorite author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Favorite musician(s): Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz
Favorite movie(s): 42 (The Jackie Robinson story)
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Target Field, Twins games, shopping at the Mall of America
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Barbara Walters, because she has been a trailblazer for women in the field of journalism.
What do you like about writing? I like telling a story and meeting new people.
What is your ideal future career? Newspaper journalist
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? France or Italy
What are your special talents? Photography and social media
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Walk my dog, photography, spend time with family and friends
What else do you think people should know about you? I have visited 18 different Major League Baseball ballparks. I have an adorable Yorkie-Poo dog named Briggs.

Patrick Commers

Hometown: Mendota Heights
School: St. Paul Academy
Grade: Junior
Favorite author(s): Michael Lewis, Ernest Hemingway
Favorite movie(s): Moneyball, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Going to a Twins game, eating out at restaurants.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Vladimir Putin, because I really want to know what is going through his head right now.
What do you like about writing? Providing information for people that want it.
What issues are important to you? If you gave me any issue, I could find a reason for it to be important to me.
What is your ideal future career? Statistician or a pollster
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Europe
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Play baseball
What else do you think people should know about you? I love baseball.

Dillan DeGross

Hometown: Robbinsdale
School: FAIR School Minneapolis
Grade: Sophomore
Favorite author: Lemony Snicket
Favorite musician(s): The ’80s pop station on Pandora
Favorite movie(s): We’re the Millers, Scary Movie
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Walking around the skyways and eating at Panera Bread.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Ke$ha. She seems like a crazy and interesting person, which would make for a great interview.
What do you like about writing? Seeing people read and enjoy my final product.
What issues are important to you? Food shortages are a really important issue to me. They may not seem like that big of a problem now, but I’m not looking forward to the future, where we may end up having to eat insects.
What is your ideal future career? I don’t know of a specific job, but I do want a job that allows my family to live comfortably.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would travel to Florida. I love the beach and Disney World.
What are your special talents? I can make some pretty good Ramen noodles!
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? You’ll most likely find me at one of my siblings numerous sports events.
What else do you think people should know about you? I love playing games. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game of spoons, tag or Super Mario Bros.

Daniela Garcia

Hometown: Edina
School: Edina High School
Grade: Sophomore
Favorite musician(s): Lana Del Rey
Favorite movie(s): In Time
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Explore!
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Leonardo DiCaprio, he is in/has produced many films that I enjoy.
What do you like about writing? Expressing myself, informing other people
What issues are important to you? Racial issues and major trends
What is your ideal future career? Journalist.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Egypt
What are your special talents? Soccer
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Play sports
What else do you think people should know about you? I’m super energetic!

Isabelle Loisel

Hometown: Minneapolis
School: Edison High School
Grade: Senior
Favorite author(s): J.K Rowling, Arthur Golden
Favorite musician(s): Kellin Quinn, Hayley Williams, Lana Del Rey, Pierce The Veil, Arctic Monkeys
Favorite movie(s): Moulin Rouge, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Bruce Lee movies, Kill Bill
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Hanging out in Uptown, getting lost on the city buses
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? Hayley Williams, because I’m nosy and want to know about her life.
What do you like about writing? The freedom
What is your ideal future career? Interior designer or makeup artist
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Asia
What are your special talents? I’m told I’m fun to be around. I can open jars and find things easily, as well.
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Walking around town and chilling at my house.
What else do you think people should know about you? Do not try to challenge me in Mario Kart. I will beat you.

Shay Radhakrishnan

Hometown: Woodbury
School: Math and Science Academy
Grade: Junior
Favorite author(s): Marni Bates, Rick Riordan, Margaret Peterson Haddix
Favorite musician(s): Stromae, Green Day, Ed Sheeran, Panic! at the Disco, Marina and the Diamonds, K. Flay
Favorite movie(s): Mean Girls
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: When I’m not being a (couch) potato, I enjoy generally loitering at the Mall of America like a typical hoodlum.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? I’d be interested in talking to Marina Diamandis for supporting human rights and being a generally awesome, talented musician. She also refers to herself as “the laziest ambitious person I know.” What’s not to love?
What do you like about writing? Being able to tell stories is always fun. Conveying important opinions backed by facts and forcing many people to understand the reality of a situation is also pretty great.
What issues are important to you? Education, feminism
What is your ideal future career? I would be so happy if I could get paid for running a political satire blog.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? London
What are your special talents? I play piano and I’m particularly good at finding things, despite the fact I’m not a Hufflepuff.
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Listening to music, blogging and generally doing things I’ll regret in two years. Oh, the cringe.
What else do you think people should know about you? I really like French fries. I could eat them every day for two weeks. Not that I’m going to, of course.

Elena Renken

Hometown: St. Paul
School: Central High School
Grade: Senior
Favorite author(s): Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood
Favorite musician(s): HAIM, Diana Ross, Vampire Weekend, Dessa
Favorite movie(s): The Fall, The Departed
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Central Library and Grand Avenue
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? I would choose to interview Ilyse Hogue, who worked as the director of communications for MoveOn.org, and is now the president of NARAL Pro-choice America. I would like to learn more about her career and her views on a variety of issues, and I think I could gain valuable insight from her about writing and story-based strategy.
What do you like about writing? Journalistic writing lets me take advantage of my curiosity, and writing in general lets me arrange words and ideas just the way I want to convey a message or a feeling.
What issues are important to you? Feminism, gay rights, health care, among others
What is your ideal future career? Ideally, I would write features on science for a major newspaper.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Beijing or Venice
What are your special talents? I throw on the potter’s wheel, bake and fold origami.
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? I would probably be listening to music or scribbling in a notebook.

Ubah Salad

Hometown: Minneapolis
School: Ubah Medical Academy
Grade: Senior
Favorite author(s): John Green
Favorite musician(s): The Beatles
Favorite movie(s): Mean Girls
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: Visit the Karmel Mall.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? I would interview Bill Clinton, because he’s my favorite president and I think the work he did during his presidency had an impact on me and my family in a positive way.
What do you like about writing? Stating my ideas
What issues are important to you? Tribalism in the Somali community, religion
What is your ideal future career? Journalist
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Hajj, Saudi Arabia
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? Volunteer work
What else do you think people should know about you? I’ve started an organization at my school that deals with issues that impact my community.

Kayla Song

Hometown: Maple Grove
School: Maple Grove Senior High
Grade: Junior
Favorite author: Stephen King, Dan Brown, Tim O’Brien, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen.
Favorite musician(s): The Black Keys, The Wombats, The Killers, The Arctic Monkeys, O.K. Go, Panic! At the Disco, Coldplay, Young the Giant, and so many more.
Favorite movie(s): Taken, 007 movies, Life is Beautiful, The Little Mermaid, The Lord of the Rings series, Iron Man, Frozen
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: I love running outside in the spring and summer, ice skating at the community center, going to the State Fair, and seeing local concerts.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? It would be AMAZING to speak with Stephen King in person about his writing style, history and basically everything about him. His books are brilliant! I’d love to try to unveil his genius!
What do you like about writing? I love the fact that you can write about anything. Serving as a creative outlet, writing gives a person so much freedom to communicate. I also like how, in writing, you can see a bit of the author in the writer’s work. I find it intriguing that the book or article is the only thing the reader has to identify the author. I like the mystery.
What issues are important to you? Children and their rights/protection, teen suicides and bullying, racial integration
What is your ideal future career? I would love to be a print journalist/reporter or a TV broadcaster. Eventually, I hope to become the editor of a newspaper or magazine.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would love to go to Paris, France or the United Kingdom, just because I think every girl needs to go to Europe at some point in her life. I would also love to go to Korea, since that was where my family came from. Plus, the food there is amazing.
What are your special talents? I like to think that I’m a good artist, I can read a 487-page book in one day, I can cook, and I’m a “kid whisperer.” :)
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? You could find me reading a good book on my porch, running outside around my neighborhood trails, swimming laps at the gym, or writing on my personal blog that I keep on my computer (that no one has ever seen and never shall see).
What else do you think people should know about you? I am a swim instructor and lifeguard at LifeTime Fitness, I love sushi, I have a wand and a feather quill (like Harry Potter … now I just need an owl)

Danielle Wong

Hometown: Lakeville
School: Eastview High School
Grade: Junior
Favorite author(s): Andrew Carnegie, Lisa See, J.K. Rowling, John Green.
Favorite musician(s): Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, Jason Zhang, Idina Menzel, Kurt Hugo Schneider.
Favorite movie(s): Frozen, Three Idiots, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and the entire X-Men series.
Favorite places/things to do in the Twin Cities: I watch touring Broadway shows, eat at Shuang Cheng, K-Wok, Kieffer’s Court and Bravo Bakery. I also participate in musicals and plays.
If you could interview anyone (living) who would it be? I would interview Andy Serkis, the voice of Gollum, because I want to hear what his real voice sounds like. I also would like to ask his secret to creating the voice of Gollum and how he keeps from damaging his vocal chords. But I essentially want to see him do his Gollum impression — vocally and physically … muahahahahaaa
What do you like about writing? Finding different ways to express the same, life changing idea.
What issues are important to you? Race, health, community-changing Individuals
What is your ideal future career? A journalist by day and actress on Broadway by night.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Australia or China
What are your special talents? I can speak Chinese, Spanish, do multiple accents and I can sound like a duck.
What do you do when you’re not at school or journalism camp? I’m either at a rehearsal for an upcoming show, reading, eating, or annoying my sisters :)
What else do you think people should know about you? I’m a friendly (I think), outgoing person who loves making new friends, and I will always put my best foot forward in any situation.

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