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Classroom A111: Where Stories Come to Life

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In the heart of the Silicon Valley, there is a classroom where dreams do come true. Located on the bottom level of a two-story building is classroom A111. A111 is where students walk in with curious minds and walk out with open-ended questions for this magical world.

As a college senior about to step foot into this mysterious "real world" situation, I have been approached by underclassmen with inquisitive questions about my life journey. I am often taken aback by these questions as I do not feel like a wise adult. I do not have much "grown up" life advice other than the silly stuff like "don't fall off your bed to turn off your alarm clock and break your foot in two parts" (true story) and "don't trust crazy strangers who promise rides to pearl milk boba tea shops" (also, an unfortunate true story). But on a more serious note, I always tell people about a particular room, classroom A111, where the magic began.

Perhaps growing up around technology propelled me to believe that simple ideas can change the world but I do think my relentless belief to pursue my dreams must be credited to the friends, mentors and teachers that supported me along the way. My journalism adviser, Michelle Balmeo, gave me the greatest lesson of all -- the art of storytelling -- that helped me get to where I am today.

High school journalism taught me to ask questions, to tell stories and to learn about the beauty of humankind. Some of my best friends to this date are friends I met in A111. We bonded over picas, word orphans and long email threads. Our paths weaved in and out as we moved across the state and across the country. We still laugh over the ridiculous email threads, the news feature stories and the late night gChats. Though most of our paths swerved out of journalism and design, we still dust off our Photoshop cobwebs to create and send terrible e-card memes to each other. Whenever I have news to share, my former journalism mates are the ones that I text, tweet and email.

Journalism taught me how to appreciate human relationships in this tricky world. Everyone has a story to tell and the world is filled with untold stories. My senior thesis is my current journey to tell the untold stories of college students with hidden disabilities. Every person we meet has a story of their own, a battle they must fight and a lyric that expresses their current thought. There is something so beautiful about finding the light in human beings -- to figure out what makes them tick and what makes their faces lights up. And sometimes, when we are lucky enough, both humans click to the same beat and a relationship is formed.

I often imagine that we are all journalists as we make our way throughout this world, in search of an answer to the question that looms in our mind. Stories are told in different forms -- songs, plays, television dramas, application essays, job interviews -- but these stories all root to the same link that connects the past to the present. As I write down the words of my life story, I remember those simple high school days with my trusty reporter's notebook with my eyes fixed on my interview subject to begin the beautiful process to tell an untold story. For me, all of these stories came to life in a wondrous place called classroom A111.