Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival Media Coverage

From March 3 to 5, I was granted the opportunity of attending Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival as a reporter for the Miami Herald. I wrote two pieces on the event, each with their own set of photographs. The first is very news-oriented while the second is a personal account…. Next up? Miami Ultra Music Festival! 

Source: Young fans travel from all directions to enjoy Okeechobee Music & Art Festival | Miami Herald

Source: Okeechobee Fest 2017: I’ll Be Back – OUTLOUD Multimedia

Why I Write

There is nothing that keeps me awake at night more than words. Because of them, I toss and turn ceaselessly, hoping not to disturb my mom as she snores softly beside me. I try to stop the words from flashing through my mind as they build phrases then sentences then paragraphs until, finally, I give in. The words don’t stop unless they become something I can’t wait to put on paper.

“I’ll write this in my next article,” I think to myself. “Maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference.”

And that’s what I can do with words. Every day I walk into my journalism class, though I am exhausted by the strings of words that kept me awake the night before, I choose to use them for good. Some people find freedom speeding down the highway at midnight, but I find freedom in my writing. What I cannot say, I know I can write. I use that freedom not only to express my innermost thoughts but to try and move the people in my community to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

Whether I’m writing about teenage homelessness in South Florida or the endless bloodshed in Syria, I find great satisfaction in keeping the students of my school and the local community educated about issues going on in the world. Creating conversation excites me. It moves me to write even more, seeking to find local stories in the globality of my writing and, vice versa, scavenging ways to make my local stories more global.

I spend most nights sitting in front of my computer screen, fussing over comma splices and fragmented sentences because I want my message to come across eloquently; I work hard so that my readers can indulge sentence after sentence without interruption as I immerse them across seas and into the battlefields where the greatest violations of human rights occur. Then I shift them back into reality, showing them that there is something that can be done, something that they, themselves, can do.

And so, as my mom sleeps quietly beside me, I rise from our bed and pick up my laptop. I sit in the bathtub so that the click-clack of the keys do not wake her and I turn down the harsh glare of the brightness to a soft glow. I allow my thoughts to take hold of my fingers and I type away into the night where the world unfolds before me, beckoning to be put in words.

From the Editors: You Can Count on Us

By Edysmar Diaz-Cruz & Daniela Morales

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-9-10-50-pmAs editors of Miami Lakes Educational Center’s student paper, the Harbinger, we pride ourselves in leading a newsroom comprised of young minds, young talent, and young voices. We may be high schoolers, but we know what it takes to publish authentic news when the student body needs to hear it most. We share the stories that take place within our school, we analyze the politics in our local community, and we are well aware of the struggles facing journalists of the future.

Continue reading “From the Editors: You Can Count on Us”

The Old Man and the Sea


The following is a thematic essay I wrote for my AP English Literature class. For our winter break assignment we were given several options to read and I chose The Old Man and the Sea: 

In Ernest Hemingway’s short novel, the Old Man and the Sea, the main character, Santiago, is an elderly Cuban fisherman who has become salao, the worst form of unlucky. Having gone 84 days without catching fish, he set out into sea farther than ever before to prove that, despite his age, he still has what it takes to be a great fisherman. He seeks to reclaim his former title of El Campeón, a token of his long gone youth. In doing so, he endures a journey of survival ridden by great physical suffering and isolation.

In order to highlight the severity of the old man’s struggle, Hemingway uses the universal archetype of a hero in pain and suffering, Jesus Christ. The image of the old man trudging uphill with his mast across his shoulders and the way in which he falls onto bed later in the story face down, arms out and the palms of his hands up — juxtaposes with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In addition to his hand injuries, which are similar to Christ’s stigmata, the old man wore a straw hat in the novel: “He had pushed [it] hard down on his head before he hooked the fish and it was cutting his forehead,” an image similar to that of Jesus Christ wearing the painful woven crown of thorns.

If that’s not enough for the reader to draw parallels, Hemingway blatantly makes the connections for them: “‘Ay,’ [the old man] said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into wood,” he writes. Perhaps, Hemingway uses this parallel to draw sympathy for the old man whose struggle to prove his self worth as a fisherman is one that readers can relate to.  

Ultimately, the old man endures his suffering alone. In his pursuit of catching the biggest fish, he finds himself in complete isolation. He is forced to seek companionship with la mar, the sea in which he regards as a feminine entity: “The old man always thought of  [the sea] as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.” The old man’s relationship with the sea and all that comes with it perhaps reminds him of his deceased wife, who is but a memory from his youth  another reason for him to prove that his golden days are indeed not over.

The sea ultimately gives the old man what he has been searching for, his greatest opponent of equal nobility and strength, an eighteen-foot Marlin. For three days, the old man battles the creature, the fishing line connecting the two as if by kinship. As the Marlin drags the boat further away into the sea, the old man finds himself searching for every ounce of strength he has left in his frail, elderly body. Throughout his struggle, one that has been established of great suffering, the old man begins to admire the Marlin and the beauty of the natural world. Somehow, he feels related to the Marlin. He says, “There are three things that are brothers: the  fish and my two hands.” He acknowledges that the Marlin is suffering as much as he. They are one and the same.

Bringing home the Marlin would be the ultimate trophy, a testament to his skills. The sharks, however, destroy what was supposed to be his moment. As the old man battles with the seas’ creatures again, he loses the Marlin. Ultimately he brings home a carcass, which pains him greatly. He feels as if he lost a part of himself. Yet, when he arrives to the shores of La Havana, the fisherman and the boy, look up to him more so than ever before. The words he had uttered whilst he was suffering alone at sea A man can be destroyed but not defeated” — ring true as he arrives defeated by nature, but not broken. Risen from the waters after several days and as if by baptism, he arrives as a new man, a man whose talents transcends age, a man who finally understands that there is as much honor in defeat than as victory.

FootNote: The purpose of sharing this essay is to help students, like myself, either draw inspiration or to help them come to their own conclusions about the short novel. Plagiarism is for losers, so don’t do it.

A Letter to Millennials

This year’s election has proven that our country is more divided than ever. Although it will be difficult, it is our job as Millennials to mend the tear in our country’s fabric of core American values: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.

First, realize that we have the power to make a difference— had all Millennials turned  out to vote, the results of the election would have been much different. Had all Millennials been old enough to vote, we would have easily overwhelmed the electoral college, tipping the scale of history.

Our generation has already proven long before this election cycle that we are heavily involved in the things we believe in. We can’t stop now. Fighting against hate and bigotry is the battle we have inherited. The only way to counteract that is by informing the public with sincere journalism and activism.

Right now, many people are afraid for the future. They are afraid of the tensions that have developed over the past year. Immigrants and minorities are afraid for the fate of their families, the LGBTQ community is afraid of their place in society, and women are afraid of whether or not they can succeed amidst sexist ideals.

Your fear is valid and it’s okay to take time to mourn. Prior to Nov. 8, many dreams and hopes were tangible, now the future seems uncertain.

But after overcoming the five stages of grief denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance  we need to take action.

The fate our our country lies in our hands. Now is not the time to give up because if we do, there will be no change. We must look at where things went wrong, where we went wrong, and make sure that this never happens again.

It feels impossible right now but don’t lose hope. There are things to be done. Get educated, educate the people around you, and the next time you have the opportunity to vote — go out and do so.

Two years from now we will have a chance to make a difference. If you’re not satisfied with the result of this year’s election results, you can get involved now to influence the Congressional elections that are held midway into a president’s term in office.

Let your voice be heard. This is only the beginning and we sure do have our work cut out for us.

This editorial was published in Miami Lakes Educational Center’s school newspaper, the Harbinger, not long after the 2016 presidential election results.