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Welcoming the gray area – Olivia Rojas

By Lily Williams

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Rojas is influenced by a variety of cultures that do not define her, but rather shape her sense of who she is.

Olivia lives in the small town of Sanford, North Carolina, which she said is racially segregated. “In Sanford, either you have to be one or the other,” she said. Olivia believes one should not limit themselves to simplicities as she can understand a person better by expanding her comfort zone.

Although impacted by Puerto Rican, Peruvian, and American culture, Olivia tries to carve her own path outside of ethnicity.

“When you have all these stereotypes, you should go beyond that. You are a person,” she said, “no one should focus on assumptions; therefore, I like to advocate in my town for individualism.”

Olivia is the founder and president of “Jacket Talk”, a school podcast encouraging students to share their stories with their peers. “There was a lack of communication in my school. A bunch of diversity but students weren’t sharing, just running through the motions.” She found this podcast necessary for the community members to learn from other’s experiences and ideas.

Planning to pursue journalism or public relations, Olivia would like to continue encouraging a variety of people to share their stories. Olivia will use her background and understanding to further develop the credibility of journalists.

She hopes to redirect the current course of modern media. “I feel like journalism loses its credibility when starting to attack and focus on the negative.” Olivia hopes to stress positive, unbiased reporting over the big picture. She stated, “dealing with story that is generally negative, I focus on what the person learned, the impact, or gain.”

Her plans for the future include becoming a contributor for a major publication and expanding her network over the years. Olivia’s strong sense of self provides her with a foundation to begin building her brand in her community to future locations.

Olivia refuses to be constrained to norms, as an outlier in her town as well as with her plans for the field of journalism. “You can be in the shades of gray. It is a great place to be,” she said.