Upon deciding to photograph Mrs. Paula Siwek's photography class at Hillside High School, I would not have anticipated developing such a strong relationship with such an incredibly accomplished and talented student. Hydeia McQueen is intrigued by her academics, a role model and great friend to her peers, and an inspirational leader outside of the classroom as well. I first noticed this sense of motivation when visiting her photography classroom, demonstrated by her willingness to ask her teacher for assistance and share her knowledge with her classmates.
I soon learned about Hydeia's initiative to give back to her community through starting a club called Teens on the Go, which works to discourage teen gang violence and strengthen youth relationships in her residential community. Hydeia's vision and drive serves as great inspiration. One does not need to be granted a title of a leader in order to feel motivated to act as one. In looking at my photographs, I hope that Hydeia's warm heart, dedication, and appreciation for community is understood. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet her this semester, and owe many thanks to Mrs. Paula Siwek, and to Hydeia and Valencia McQueen.