For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Maria Olloqui, and I’m a current sophomore at New York University. I am pursuing a double major in Journalism and Language and Mind (a fancy name for an integrated degree in Psychology, Linguistics, and Philosophy), as well as a minor in the Chinese language. I attended Ransom Everglades for high school, where I met Joshua in 6th grade. Our paths led us both to NYU, and we have been best friends ever since!

Who and where I am today has been greatly shaped by Joshua’s Heart. I first joined the foundation when I was 14 years old, following a conversation with Josh about his passion for helping the community. I had always tried to take action in making a lasting imprint, but hosting weekly garage sales and lemonade stands were the most I felt I could do. Volunteering with Joshua’s Heart and ultimately becoming a member of the Junior Advisory Board (JAB) gave me a newfound sense of leadership – one that I could use to fulfill my own goals. After attending numerous food drives and helping Josh organize events, I applied to become Secretary. My board position, along with my contributions in the JAB blog, solidified my passion. In addition to fighting for our mission of stomping out world hunger, I worked towards considering the greater good of the community. Near the end of my sophomore year of high school, my friend Cecilia Sosa and I created a project named Supply Cycle. With the help of Carlota Sosa and Anastasia D’agostini, we aimed at delivering gently-used school supplies to students in Venezuela. The act of collecting and donating supplies from local schools in Miami gave me an irreplaceable sense of satisfaction.

I drew from my leadership experience in JHF when I started NYU. Early into the year, Josh and I were interviewed by CNN for the Young Heroes Project. While Josh began joining NYU Stern business clubs, I leaned towards those involving my two passions: writing and fashion. I quickly became a part of the NYU fashion club, as well as two independent newspapers, including Washington Square News (WSN) and Latin Dispatch. I am currently a staff writer for Latin Dispatch, and I write weekly blurbs about breaking news in the U.S. and Mexico. As a contributing writer and photographer for WSN, I have covered topics ranging from culture to fashion. I attended New York Fashion Week in 2019 and 2020 to report on designers Zang Toi and Hillary Taymour. The experience was one of a kind, and it certainly welcomed my analytical lens on fashion.

Staple looks, statement pieces, and playful trends may seem frivolous, but fashion journalism explores these concepts almost religiously. I am a firm believer that seasonal collections reflect both the designer’s imagination and current events. Fashion journalism is of huge importance, and as an enthusiast myself, I have developed an emotional bond with it. Curating an Instagram page dedicated to my own style was the first step in establishing a voice in the world of fashion journalism. In Style with Maria showcases some of my favorite looks over the years. Besides sharing a glimpse of my taste in popular trends, I include snippets of art and reviews of yearly events, including the Met Gala. My story highlights also show behind-the-scenes of backstage production and post-show briefings at New York Fashion Week, as well as Miami Fashion Week. Using this platform – though it is still growing and is very much based on my personal passions – I hope to create a network for fashion journalism.

My second step in developing a critical view on fashion emerged in London. In the fall of 2019, I was fortunate enough to study abroad. NYU London offered an experience-driven course of study; learning outside the classroom, meeting new people, and interacting in innovative ways prompted the peak of my intellectual and personal growth. Among the countless course options, I settled for a British art class, two journalism courses – one based on British politics and the other on live arts – and “Fashion, Culture, and the Body.” The latter course tied the history of fashion into conceptions of contemporary culture and beauty. Although my career path at NYU does not target fashion directly, taking these courses has allowed my passion to live on.

Ever since I was six years old, I have been a naturally inquisitive storyteller. My eagerness to pursue journalism roots from this acceptance of my inherent drive to learn and inform. Seeking to learn more about the profession, I started interning at Univision the summer of my sophomore year of high school. Though unfamiliar and initially terrifying, Univision grew to become my second home. In 2016, I reported on the Stanford Rape Case and Orlando Massacre alongside my mentor, Vilma Tarazona. Over the years, I have helped interview lawyers and inmates, attended press conferences at police stations, and assisted editors in visually constructing the news story. In the present climate, delivering and accessing accurate information can mean the difference between life and death. Facing the uncertainties of the novel coronavirus, journalists are now taking stricter (and more responsible) measures to keep audiences informed. Though there is little one can do during a global pandemic, the role of news networks remains central. Working from home – writing my articles and interviewing remotely – I have been constructing a brief article on the pivotal and ever-changing duty of journalists.

I am blessed and happy to be in the presence of my family during these difficult times. My sincerest wishes go out to everyone in the Joshua’s Heart family. Let’s continue to follow our passions despite the setbacks.

All the best,

Maria

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