SOMERS, N.Y. - For her senior project, Samantha Reyes knew she wanted to do something “big and extravagant.” So when the time came in April to present it to her Somers High School classmates, the 17-year old took to the stage and recorded an episode of her original podcast, “FashionYour Passion,” in front of 250 people. 

“What I decided to do was a live podcast recording—it was all about how you can find your passion—what your passion is right now,” she said. After completing a personal inquiry project in tenth grade about mental health and then later studying public and motivational speaking, the confident teen was moved to take the valuable lessons she had gleaned and begin recording a weekly podcast. She said she considers it her “brand,” along with a website she created with inspirational writings and words of spiritual discovery. 

The podcast, titled “Fashion Your Passion,” can be found on major platforms like Apple, Spotify and Google podcasts and has thus far received 1,400 downloads. Though it is geared toward teens, Reyes explained that the content can be applied to anyone on their life journey. 

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“I really wanted to give out practical advice and tangible tips that I have used to “fashion my passion,” Reyes said. “There is only so much work you can do in finding your passion—there are a bunch of other things you need to set up in your life that will help you uncover it or un-fog that mirror.” 

Recording from her home studio or at other locations with various guests, like teachers and friends, the aspiring rabbi and motivational speaker wants listeners to “uncover their gifts” and fashion a life of purpose and meaning. Episode topics for the podcast are based off of surveys Reyes had distributed to students from all grades in her school. Issues include time management, friendships, staying focused in class, procrastination, college prep and dealing with family. 

“Although it is going to change over time, I feel like it’s having something that you are excited about to get out of bed to pursue, or you dream about at night; having something like that in your life that you can hold on to.  I want to help people enhance their lives, to create the clarity and that inner peace that a lot of people seek.”

The eldest of three sisters, Sammi (as she is known) attended Somers’ schools and spent a semester studying in Israel during her junior year. Besides teaching Hebrew and Jewish History outside of school, the honors student has been involved in student government, community service projects and with interfaith youth groups. Along the way, Reyes found that listening to her favorite motivational speakers made her want to share the powerful sentiments in her own individual way. 

“I feel like a big thing is for me to give people tips that improve everyday life so that eventually, a passion will just click and happen and it will be like, ‘I’ve enjoyed this for so long, I can pursue this as something that will make me happy; let me engage in this more.”

The soon-to-be graduate will attend San Diego State University in the fall with a plan to major in Jewish Studies and Communications, while continuing her weekly podcast. 

“I want to have it impact more than just Somers High School,” Reyes said.  “I want to have a bunch of motivational speaking engagements in the U.S. and all around the world.” 

As a last piece of advice, she added: “As a whole, you are the only person who is in control of your life. You can blame other people, other situations: but it is not what happens to you that is the issue, it is the way in which you react to what happens: it is not happening to you, it is happening for you.”