NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – North Plainfield High School (NPHS) seniors Victoria Kisling and Amaiana Sajjad were recognized last week for their efforts and dedication to completing an internship with TAPinto North Plainfield.

At a special scholarship dinner held May 26 at the River View Banquet Center in Berkeley Heights, Kisling and Sajjad each received a $750 scholarship from their community’s daily online newspaper. The monies will help the incoming college freshman offset the cost of books and other much-needed items.

“The TAPInto internship was a great opportunity for Amaiana and Victoria,” said NPHS English teacher Jennifer Magliaro, who served as the advisor, helping the students develop story ideas, providing critiques, and instituting deadlines. “Their understanding of journalistic writing improved tremendously over the course of the year, and their passion for the subject grew as well.”

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From October to May, Kisling and Sajjad put their journalistic skills to work, interviewing, writing, and, at times, re-writing articles on a variety of community and school-based topics. As interns, the girls wrote about teachers, administrators, and fellow students, shared information about school fundraisers, and highlighted sports teams and clubs. They also branched out into the community they call home, covering special events and programs offered by the Borough of North Plainfield.

“Since I had to write articles that pertained to town events, I had to break out of my shell and actually approach people for information that I wouldn't necessarily speak to otherwise,” said Kisling. “I gained a new confidence and I became more comfortable with myself. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to take part in such an amazing program.”

During her high school career, Kisling was also involved in athletics, as a member of the varsity softball team since freshman year and a starting pitcher since sophomore year. She was also captain on the North Plainfield’s girl’s varsity tennis team. Kisling was a mentor leader for the Canuck Mentor Program, secretary for both the senior class council and National Honor Society, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper Tunlaw, and master copyeditor for the yearbook. In addition to the TAPinto North Plainfield Scholarship, Kisling, who plans to major in accounting and journalism and play softball at Baruch College in the fall, also received the Michael Sheehy Memorial Scholarship and the North Plainfield Parks & Recreation Commission Scholarship.

Kisling said what she liked most about the TAPinto internship was that it provided her with the opportunity to write about topics of interest, improve her writing skills, and gain journalism experience outside of the school newspaper setting. Although she first considered the red edits marks on her work as criticism, Kisling said that as time went on she realized they were there to help her improve.

“I feel as though this experience has definitely improved my writing in so many ways. I feel that my writing has matured and developed in a way [and] that I have gained a new confidence. I feel more comfortable writing and being able to share what I write,” said Kisling.

For Sajjad the editing experience and ‘open criticism of her work’ was one of the things she liked most about the internship program. “Many times as a young writer, people are more gentle in their manner of telling me what is good or bad with my writing, however, this program allowed me to expand from my edited articles, with great criticism on every word I wrote,” Sajjad said.

As a student at NPHS, Sajjad served as a hurdler for both the winter and spring track and field teams and was a member of Debate Club, Spanish Honor Society, the Canuck Mentoring Program, and the school newspaper Tunlaw. On a local front, she is also a volunteer at her local mosque and, in her spare time, enjoys hobbies such as baking, photography, and writing poems and narratives. Sajjad plans to Rutgers University in Newark in the fall where she will be pre-med with a minor in journalism.

“This program gave me more experience in this field of study. I was able to work along side an editor, under pressure at times, to get my work published [and] put out the best piece of writing I could,” Sajjad said. “Looking back to October when I started, I am extremely glad that I took part in this program, I learned a lot, all of which I will take with me to learn more in college. It was an amazing experience.”

Kisling added, “I am so happy that I took part in this program. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to connect more with my community and it helped me grow not only as a journalist but as a person.”

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