The Mess of a College Decision: Part One

by Liz Setti

Choosing a path after high school may feel like a daunting task. Here are a few helpful tips for narrowing in on a decision.

During this time of year high school seniors are at the pinnacle of stress due to the pending decision of choosing their home for their next four years, which I think is not discussed enough. While this dialogue focuses on the students who choose to transition to an academic institution, it is also important to acknowledge the pressure that other students experience when grappling with decisions to take alternative paths. As a current freshman in college it was not too long ago that I faced the choice of which college and career I was going to commit to. In my opinion there is a lack of guidance for seniors in high school that may assist them during this pressing time. Therefore I am here to give my unsolicited advice that helped land me in a college and major that I absolutely love. While it is important to  mention that not all high school students have the opportunity to choose from multiple colleges, I believe these tips can be useful in other monumental life decisions. 

Avoid comparison 

About a year ago when I was a senior in high school, I felt that applying to and choosing a college created a toxic environment with my friends and classmates. For weeks every conversation seemed to be related to college decisions, our GPAs, standardized test scores, and other discussions that made me easily compare myself to my peers. I committed to my college in December of my senior year, which is extremely early compared to most. I selected Loyola University of Chicago that has one of the top programs in the nation for my major and is in a location that I absolutely love. I decided on Loyola after stepping on campus for my college tour and immediately feeling like it was the place for me, which I did not experience at the other schools on my radar. Despite Loyola being an almost perfect match for me, I still compared the rank and prestige of my future college to the schools that my peers were considering. I believe that many seniors can feel that way since naturally some students will be accepted and attend institutions that have a better reputation than others. As hard as it may seem, I implore seniors to avoid comparing their future to their classmates. In the grand scheme of life the standing of the college you attended is fairly insignificant; however, being in a place and program that you truly love will be far higher in importance than the rank of your institution. 

Picking a major is almost as hard as choosing a college to attend. I believe having an 18-year-old decide what they want to do for the rest of their life is slightly ridiculous. While every student should do their best to consider what career path they might take and apply into a compatible program, it is important to remember changing your major or going in as undecided is nothing to frown upon. In my experience I changed my major from public health on a pre-med track to nursing before I even began at Loyola. Not to mention I have met so many freshmen at Loyola who are already planning on switching their major in a future semester. There is also a plethora of students who have an undecided major and are still in the midst of figuring out the direction they want to take. The majority of colleges are staffed with incredible academic advisors who assist students in figuring out a major that would be most suitable for their strengths and general life goals. Additionally there are countless fairs and events that schools host that are centered around different careers for students to explore. Therefore do not feel pressured to select a certain major while applying to a school and keep in mind that there is always an option to change your major once you are committed. 

Be sure to check out the March issue of Giving Voice to learn about the other tips I have about how to go about deciding on a college!

About Elizabeth Setti

Liz Setti is a Peoria area native and graduated in the class of 22 from Richwoods High School. She is going to be a freshman at Loyola University Chicago this fall where she will study nursing. Liz is passionate about writing and has her own blog, “A Hidden Addiction” and was former co-editor in chief of the newspaper at Richwoods. Some of Liz’s favorite hobbies are running, cooking, and hanging with her friends. 

The Exhaustion of Job Searching as a Black Woman

by: Kianna Goss

For Black women, searching for a job means more than just submitting a resume…

The time has come for me to deep dive into the search for my first adult job. The anxiety of trying to find the right match, figure out my direction post-graduation, and hear rejection scares me. However, my biggest concern is the challenges I may face specifically as a Black woman.

As a journalism major, I like to make my resume creative to express my personality in addition to my skills. I’ve attended resume workshops that pair you with employers. I was given great tips to enhance my resume during a meeting—however, when I asked if I should add a photo, I was told, “No, because you are an African American woman and you do not want to give people the opportunity to discriminate against you.” After the meeting, I was mind blown because I have all these great skills to offer an employer, yet if I add a photo, the only thing they will see is the color of my skin. 

With this perspective, what happens once I land a job right for me? How do I interact in the work environment knowing that many people of color report they are usually ‘on guard’ to protect themselves from discrimination, according to Allyson Zimmermann? Will I be like these individuals who are willing to change their appearance, their language, arrive to work meetings earlier than their white colleagues, and any other methods that don’t bring attention to themselves?

I cannot help but wonder how comfortable it is to work as an adult in an environment where you can’t be yourself. Years ago, I used to be like that; I used to change my dialect around my white employers or white co-workers. It puts you into a box, where you don’t feel comfortable being yourself, and I do not want to go back to that feeling.

After all that, there is still the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype that portrays Black women as being aggressive or hot-tempered. I may have to confront that perception in my future workplace, even though I, and all Black women, can be passionate about a subject without being angry or aggressive. 

On top of being nervous for interviews, being discriminated against should not be a concern for my generation, or Black women of any generation. If you can relate, here are a couple suggestions:

  1. Do thorough research on the company you apply to. Make sure it matches your values and get a feel of the environment and look at the diversity within the company. Make sure they represent different backgrounds for a purpose, and not just to make their company look good.
  1. Go to a few resume workshops or seek out interview tips online to help you feel less nervous, but don’t take advice from individuals who discourage you. 

I am still quite nervous about my job search, however with using these tips I am mentally prepared for anything that comes my way. I hope I find a job that matches my value and honors diversity. 

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a senior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. The importance of community involvement is to use your voice. Kianna’s voice is one of the strongest platforms she has, and utilizes it through her writing. Being a Black woman, Kianna often writes to give a voice to the Black community to gain control over the media that portrays them in a negative way. Kianna is a writer with different form expressions. She has written poetically, through blogs, newspapers, and opinion pieces. Kianna always looks for more opportunities to grow as a writer and person. Kianna is currently the social media director for Her Campus, works as a peer mentor for Bradley’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and is a team leader/caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what she loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspires to be.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

Four Must-Read Books

Got the wintertime blues? These books will distract you…

Sorcery of Thorns

Margaret Rogerson

Even if you’re not a fantasy fanatic, don’t immediately disregard Sorcery of Thorns!  If you’ve ever had to read a book for school or a book club, I’m sure you may not have picked each suggestion out for yourself. This was my situation with Sorcery of Thorns, but I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be amazing. Along with making the main character a young and strong female (immediately grabbing my attention), Sorcery of Thorns was so action packed I couldn’t put it down. Its descriptive imagery and engaging text transported me to Margaret Rogerson’s world of magic. One of the best parts about this book, though, was that it was set in a world that evolved around stories—and if you can’t tell already from this article, I love books!

Here’s To Us

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

If you are looking for an adorable and cheesy love story that will probably have you crying tears of happiness in the end, Here’s to Us is for you. Any book written by my favorite author, Becky Albertalli, is one I can rave about nonstop—but I will keep this short. This book is the sequel to What If It’s Us, the story of a meet-cute set in NYC in the summertime. Becky Albertalli has an incredible way with words that makes me think she is a teenager at heart. Her references to musical theater and modern pop culture help make her books relatable and hilarious. I received this book the day it came out on December 28 and finished it four days later, which just goes to say how much I loved this story.

Felix Ever After

Kacen Callender

On the back of this book there is a review from Mason Deaver, another YA writer, that sums up this story perfectly: “This is a story about friendship, finding first loves, and continuing to discover yourself even after you thought you had all the answers.” I loved this book so much. It was such an emotional rollercoaster that never gave my heart a rest. To me, this story is one that needs to be told. I feel it can speak to every person in this world who’s struggling to figure out who they are at any age; because they need to know that they are not alone.

Firekeeper’s Daughter

Angeline Boulley

This book has so many different themes playing out in, I find it difficult to place it in one genre. Firekeeper’s Daughter is an action-packed story containing murder mystery, grief, friendship, romance, and culture. If you’ve never read a book told from the perspective of a Native American teenage girl living in modern times, you might find this interesting. This book was very entertaining but also educational. It gave me an insight into modern Native American reservation life and the issues they face.

Happy reading!

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a Sophomore in the Pre-IB program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in Student Council, Student Leadership Team, speech, tennis, and Spanish Club. Outside of school she loves to travel, bake, and perform as a singer, dancer, and actress!

About Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best. 

My Mother’s Homeland

by: Rasheedah Na’Allah


With all its heat and glory

Shines like a streetlight with pride in my heart

Food, family, and love surround the country

As admiration and hard work keep it on its feet

I love the country that birthed my father and mother

With all its flaws and faults

I let the smoky orange sky engulf me with my heart on my sleeve

I feel free and at one with my culture

When I’m there I never want to leave

Although all good things must come to an end

It only starts a fire within me

A fire that lives in everyone before me

And one that will live on with kin after me

I keep that fire ignited wherever I go

As a homage to the person that I am and what made me

One day the flames will be taken home

And create a blaze nothing can ever distinguish

In Nigeria

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

High School So Far

by Ayannah Garcia

“So how is high school so far,” they ask me

And if they let me, I’ll tell them everything

I’ll tell them how I started high school when I was just thirteen

Yes, that’s right, in freshman year I won’t be fifteen

I will tell them how I learned some algebra two 

Made some friends and lost some friends I sadly outgrew

Had a favorite teacher and some crushes in the first semester

Made plans then disbanded them with my best friend who wears polyester 

But if you ask, “So how is high school so far,” ask my tear-stained pillow

Ask my day where I almost had a panic attack and cried just a little

Ask my stress levels after tests and midterms

And ask my obsession with beating my brother into being the smarter child full-term 

Oh yeah, almost forgot, ask my Sundays where I silently fold clothes pondering life

No, they’re going to ask, “so how is high school so far” and I will answer 

“It’s pretty great honestly. In almost 2 years I will be starting the rest of my life to be a dancer.”

“It is pretty darn great” It really is, with my friends, my best friends

And reconciliations with friends of the past, because sometimes it does work out in the end

And so many achievements I think, no, I will have and I feel a chill

So many moments where it matters, and my life comes to a standstill 

The moments where nothing matters when I’m with friends

The moments where the work was worth it, and I left the floor to ascend

I do think it will, and it will be a pretty darn great rest of my life

So, when they ask about high school so far, staring directly into my eyes

And they are talking about my experience, only mine 

I will, and I will answer, “it is hard, but the fun outshines the bad almost all the time.” 

And I’ll smile. 

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.


by Kamia Fair

She is learning and growing,
What a great women she’s becoming
She’s becoming who she was always afraid to be.

I compare her life to a blooming flower and cold weather
She is no longer looking for someone 

To cherish her—she cherishes herself.

The crying and worrying is over for her 

She’s bloomed so bright and smooth.
She no longer tries to fill that hole in her heart
Her soul is pure gold, she will never steep low as a sold item.

She won her most prized possession
She is no longer looking for that obsession and affection.
That blooming flower loves who she’s becoming.

Young age, dark things, dark place, 

Young, troubled girl with men grooming her
Now she finally found her right place.
No more darkness but she still has less to say (that won’t change).

I am she and she is me

She, him, they, and them hurt me
And I blamed me but him above says no more
“Let go and let god” and now I’m free.

Raise a toast to me
I’m me and I’m actually proud to say that I’m KAMIA
What a great feeling to finally feel me
My blooming name, this is me.

About Kamia Fair

Kamia Fair was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, and is a senior in high school at Manual Academy. Fair loves nature and R&B music. She has many personalities—one is a free spirit and another is closed in and shy. She loves anything that has a true meaning. Fair’s book is her voice and freedom. She likes to write about things like her past, present, and future, as well as the things she lives around. What inspired her to start writing poetry was trauma that happened in her past. It began as an every day journal, to finally bringing it out her inner self. Fair hopes to bring more people like herself from her community to write— or at least more people from her community to read what she speaks, and hope for it to inspire them and hope for them to hear her voice to feel where she is coming from.

The Films of 2022

Izaak Garcia

If you’re a fan of film, then here are the 2022 movies you do not want to miss.

No doubt, 2021 has been an outstanding year in history, with both good aspects and bad. The same can be said for the film industry, with box office numbers surging up and falling back down every other month. Looking back on the films released throughout 2021, this was arguably a great year for the industry overall. Bigger production-heavy studio films released in the last half of the year such as Dune, No Time to Die, and of course Spider-Man: No Way Home absolutely crushed the box office, giving hundreds of millions of people around the world a reason to go to the cinema. But these weren’t the only types of films made. 2021 offered unique films like Wes Andreson’s The French Dispatch and Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. Films like these offer more niche stories, paired with brilliant cinematography and editing to create a world that takes after the director’s vision. Especially in the face of a pandemic, each of these films gave us an escape to a completely different world, from the sand-filled dunes on the distant planet Arrakis (Dune) to the aesthetic of a 1940’s pre-war New York circus (Nightmare Alley). Despite the multitude of obstacles present in 2021, these vibrant stories made their way onto the silver screen nonetheless. Studios and production companies may still face difficulties today, but based upon the previous year, 2022 is shaping up to be even better and the upcoming films only add to that hope. 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe ended with a bang in 2021, and they clearly have no intention of slowing down for 2022. With new films such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the cinematic universe (or should I say multiverse) is expanding at an incredibly fast rate, introducing new concepts and characters all the time. The DC Universe, Marvel’s rival, is also making their world bigger, officially introducing audiences to characters Black Adam and The Flash, each with solo movies. 

In addition, DC and Matt Reeves’s The Batman is set to be an exciting film, taking a much darker and grittier perspective to Gotham’s crime fighting vigilante. Batman (played by Robert Pattinson) will be taking on criminals like The Riddler and Penguin—not for the first time, of course, but in a very new way. By far, however, one of the most anticipated films being released in 2022 is James Cameron’s Avatar 2. Over a decade has passed since Avatar was first released, with the film being massively successful and grossing over 2.5 billion dollars. Expectations are certainly very high for the sequel, as well as for all the other films being released. But, very soon, movie watchers all over the world will be able to see these films in theaters; happily, excited and with smiles all around. And hopefully, as the movie industry heads into 2022, box office numbers will be smiling with them. 

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

About Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.