Former youth reporter Alex Medina on the campus of Hamilton College in New York. Photo courtesy of Alex Medina,
Alex Medina

I spent my first week at college camping throughout upstate New York, digging through mounds of dirt and mulch, picking potatoes and other vegetables while learning about farm life. It’s something I never imagined while growing up in South Los Angeles or going to school in Boyle Heights. My week-long orientation trip introduced me to the new environment I’ll be living in for the next four years at Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school.

Growing up, there were many times that I didn’t know if I’d make it to adulthood. I’m 18 years old now. I’ve come so far, and I still have so much further to go.

During high school, I dealt with a lot of personal issues. There were times when I felt alone and ashamed of my body. I had low self-esteem and let myself get taken advantage of.  One of the things that helped me was becoming a youth reporter at Boyle Heights Beat.

Writing my first article and having it published made me realize that I could have an impact in my community. The story that really changed my life for the better was one about the LGBTQ+ community in Boyle Heights. It showed me that I wasn’t alone because I realized there were other people like me, and that I could help bring awareness for a community I was a part of.

Alex on campus.

With a newfound confidence, I took over the dying Gay Straight Alliance club at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. I took that step after joining Mi Centro, the local LGBTQA+ center that I learned about through my reporting. The Bravo club grew, and I grew with it, too. With avid support from my amazing parents, who themselves became activists in support of my identity, I joined other clubs and organizations in and out of school. I finally felt like there was somewhere I belonged.

Earlier this year, I made the choice to leave the city where I was born and raised to move across the country and pursue a higher education. Making the choice to move so far from home was tough, especially considering I had just started establishing myself in my community. Yet I felt like I needed a change in my life.

It was difficult at first, but I began to adjust after a month living in the small upstate New York town of Clinton. Getting involved early has prevented me from getting too homesick, even though I do really miss my family and friends back home.

With fellow students at Hamilton College.

I’ve joined clubs and organizations similar to ones I was involved in back home. I’ve found a family of people with similar backgrounds with La Vanguardia, a club creating community and spreading awareness for the Latinx Community. I also joined the Queer Student Union in hopes of continuing my work for the LGBTQ+ community.

I am continuing my passion for writing through a writing job for the Communications Office at my school, using all the skills I learned over three years of writing for the Boyle Heights Beat.

I wrote around 30 articles at the Beat, covering topics ranging from local businesses and prominent figures in the community to communal events and issues. I gained extensive experience with photography, interviewing and writing.

In college, I have joined The Continental, my school’s magazine, to highlight campus life and student achievement. I have a second job making calls to former alumni to invite them to school events, update their contact information and raise money for the college.

As a student at a small liberal arts college, my learning experience has improved. In small classes, it’s a lot easier to be engaged and have conversations with my professors and fellow students. I love all of my classes, which include Japanese, English Literature & Ethics, Intro to Psychology and Intro to Economics.

Hamilton is about the same size as Bravo high school, so it’s a pretty small, tight-knit community. There are students from all across the United States and other countries, as well. It’s been really enlightening to meet people from all walks of life.

I really love it here. The town that I’m in is beautiful, the people at my school are friendly and outgoing and school administrators and faculty are always open to help. I think I made the right choice moving here, but I still can’t wait to come home to my family and friends in the winter.

All photos courtesy of Alex Medina.

The BHB youth team.

The Boyle Heights Beat has become a go-to news source for community residents, civic leaders and policymakers. The Beat also opens new horizons for its youth reporters, providing them with unparalleled experience in civic participation, critical thinking and community leadership. The youth news team asks for your financial support to continue this important work in the coming year.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

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Alex Medina

Alex Medina is a graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School and 2018 alumnus of the Boyle Heights Beat. He is a recent graduate of Hamilton College in Central New York where he majored in Hispanic...

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