This is the first in a series of stories created by Trenton high school students who participated in the "Telling Your Trenton Story" workshop created by the Trenton Journal and Isles Youth Services. Special thank you to Stacy Heading, After School and Outreach Manager for Isles Youth Institute and the Trenton Free Public Library.
I was born and raised in Trenton in 2003. My parents have lived in the capital city since the 90s. They moved here around the same time as their friends, so my connections to community were nurtured over time. My uncle is a local barbershop owner and my parents are close friends with the neighborhood corner store owners. I was first introduced to people in my parents' inner circle at a young age, and my relationships with everyone have exponentially grown and the bonds are tighter than ever.
One person who has gotten me closer to know Trenton is my elementary school teacher neighbor, who I’ll call Mrs. L. She was involved in everything that was happening in Trenton, including parent-teacher events, and at one point I was invited to a community function where I could voice my concerns over the state of the city to Mayor Gusciora. I got to meet many teacher, community leaders, and even current and past Trenton Central High School (TCHS) students.
Currently, I am the President of the TCHS Interact Volunteer Club. I started becoming active in my junior year of high school, but I wanted to start earlier in my sophomore year, unfortunately, commitments and timing would not allow me to. As I reasoned with my parents during quarantine, they allowed me to leave my house and stay after school for extracurricular activities. My very first volunteer opportunity was serving food with the Salvation Army Canteen to different locations throughout Trenton. While doing so, I got to meet so many of the locals, and converse with them about food, their day-to-day lives, and future serving dates. The canteen has been an important part of my life as I have gotten to learn more about these members of my community, and I have been regularly participating in this ever since.
Another one of my old next-door neighbors, who I have known since I first learned how to walk, would always poke fun at my staggering height and size. He would constantly ask me why I never joined my school’s football team, but he had a son who was fascinated by STEM and so was I. Whenever I would see him on my way home from school, I would talk to him about math, computer science languages, his school's robotics club and the recent news on a popular tech-savvy forum.
Last March, my parents received a notice from our landlord that our lease had expired and that our house was unsuitable to live in, which ultimately resulted in our eviction. I had to set aside my academics and focus on helping my parents look for affordable housing during the peak of the Covid pandemic. Our family was in a tight financial situation, so I looked for an alternative way to help. I became a private tutor helping students with calculus and algebra to make extra money.
As of writing this, it’s been more than a year since we’ve moved into our new home. With only a few days of the school year left, I'm ready to begin my new journey at Princeton University where I’ll be majoring in computer engineering. I have learned so much from these recent experiences, such as gathering new insight from my community on how to multi-task, proper time management and personal wellness.