Write to the Point!

A Neighborhood Studios Program at the Mark Twain House

Introducing The Mark Twain House Studio Apprentices

Writing apprentices, from left, Jahyra White, Indira Senderovic, Molly Miller, Rae Martin, Nick Sherman, Ambriel Johnson, Cecilia Gigliotti, Lina Allam, Grant Henry, June Tran, Ashaya Nelson, Alan Berkholder, Meaghan Szilagyi, in front of the Mark Twain House.

Writing apprentices, from left, Jahyra White, Indira Senderovic, Molly Miller, Rae Martin, Nick Sherman, Ambriel Johnson, Cecilia Gigliotti, Lina Allam, Grant Henry, June Tran, Ashaya Nelson, Alan Berkholder, Meaghan Szilagyi, in front of the Mark Twain House.


Lina Allam

Lina Allam

Born in 1996 in Quebec, Canada, Lina Allam wants to earn a doctorial degree in either biology or law. Allam studies at the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy, where she is working to gain both her high school diploma, as well as the International Baccalaureate Diploma, in an International Advanced Degree. Allam volunteers her extra hours at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and a local soup kitchen. There she gained experience on communicating with children as well as working in an office environment. Allam earned honors throughout her high school education and takes part in Student Council, managing the school store, Interact, Class Interact Officer, Biology Club, and as advisor for the school’s celebration of Chinese New Year.  By working with different people, Allam has gained confidence and is able to speak in front of large audiences and is comfortable taking the lead of a challenging project. Currently Allam is a Writers Apprentice at the Mark Twain house and is working on an extended thesis paper in biology, looking at different methods of helping Third World countries become less vulnerable to common diseases. Besides her interest in biology, law, and writing; she is also engrossed in photography, painting, and reading. Allam currently lives in Connecticut, and is fascinated by different cultures and languages. She has traveled to many countries, including Canada, Egypt, France, and all across the United States. She speaks fluent Arabic, English and a little French, Spanish, and Chinese. Allam likes to spend her extra hours reading or taking nice quiet walks along the beach.

Alan Burkholder

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What do you get when you take the writing style of Ernest Hemingway, the satire of Samuel Clemens, and the creative mentality of a hyperactive 10-year old? Chances are you’d get an incredibly odd person. In this case, you get Alan Burkholder.

Alan Burkholder, AKA Argo Brimstone, has many odd tastes and interests. He is a big fan of cartoons, rock music, junk food and a lot of other things that are “bad for you.” He loves creating characters, telling jokes and bringing those characters to life however he can, whether it’s through writing, art, music, or even acting.

Alan is a recent graduate of Bristol Eastern High School, a great school with horrible students. He is currently preparing for the next semester at Boston University. He is studying communication and hopes to have some idea of what he’s doing by the end of his first year.

Alan is a nice enough person if you get to know him well, and loves to crack wise about all sorts of topics. Nothing is sacred to him, but almost everything has merit. Alan often wonders to himself about why subjects become taboo, and what he can do to talk about them in a way that people need to hear. His writing delivers a punch where the punch is needed and never apologizes for it. After all, if you don’t offend somebody, you’re doing it wrong.

In the end, all you really need to know about Alan is that he has a great sense of humor, is an extreme opportunity-taker, and always plays fast and loose with rules and conventions. He’s not afraid to take the world head-on, and no matter what happens, he will always have something to say. And chances are, he’ll probably say it just to make you laugh. You’re welcome for that.

Cecilia Marie Gigliotti

Cecilia Gigliotti

Cecilia Marie Gigliotti (as in gelati, a multitude of Italian ice creams) was devouring books by age two and soon after started scrawling down the stories in her head as well. The remaining time she spent riding the flowered horses at the Bushnell Park Carousel in Hartford, Connecticut. These hobbies have shaped the writer, singer, and thespian she is today. The combination of a sophomore year, week-long excursion to Italy, a summer in French Canada, two trips to Disney World, vacations in Cape Cod and Delaware, and frequent visits to family in the Midwest and D.C. area sparked her love for travel. She hopes to pursue a writing career that will take her around the world; meanwhile, at home in New Britain, Connecticut, her Italian and Chinese studies have tided her over. She would especially like to see Paris, the city that spurred two of her favorite writers – Fitzgerald and Hemingway – on to greatness. She aspires for her work to reflect “a happy talent for composition and a remarkable felicity of expression” (John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 1776: The Musical). She has sung in school and church choirs since age seven – high school brought her to regional and statewide festivals and one East-Coast-wide treble choir – and has appeared in various theatrical productions since age nine. A recent graduate of New Britain High School, Cecilia is bound for Pennsylvania’s near-Amish country to answer the call of Susquehanna University as a creative writing and music double-major. Over this last summer before college, she plans to hone her journalism skills and expand her horizons beyond the realm of creative fiction.

Grant Henry 

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Grant Henry grew up in Connecticut. He tries to enjoy the world of art and media from any angle possible. Though his heart lies in the mediums of animation, film, comics, and video games, most of his experience lies in theater and music, having written and acted in a variety of plays. He also sings and plays piano in musicals and ensembles. In the fall he will head to Clark University. His high school years took place at Watkinson School in Hartford, Conn. As a writer he hopes to explore culture and sociology from a critical and personal perspective. He also likes to explore the different techniques and tools required when exploring different artistic mediums, such as cinematography in film or the flow of language in prose. If you asked him his favorite Pixar movie he would be a hipster and say Ratatouille. Among his many pet projects are thrillers of varying lengths and a ‘rap musical’ based on the television series Breaking Bad. He does not know where the future will take him, but it likely will be in academics or the performing/media arts.

 Ambriel Felide Johnson

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An aspiring writer and musician, Ambriel Felide Johnson was born Jan. 29, 1999 – two  months late – a burden to her mother. Born and raised in the capitol of Connecticut, Ambriel has been living in this bustling city all her life. She resides with her family and a handful of red leghorn chickens right in her backyard, despite the fact that she does not like eggs. Ambriel graduated from Breakthrough Magnet School in 2013 where she won first place in the Science Fair for a project on cyber bullying. In the fall, she will attend high school at the Connecticut IB Academy in East Hartford, Connecticut. At the Academy, she will take college level courses to earn her IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma in addition to a high school diploma. Ambriel spends her time away from pen and paper playing clarinet.

Ambriel got her start as a musician in the school band, where she was part of the group that won first place in the Trills & Thrills Music Festival three years in a row. She intends to remain a part-time musician for the rest of her life. In her free time, Ambriel also enjoys skiing the glades at Sugarloaf Mountain, reading John Green novels, and playing soccer. Ambriel loves working with children. During her free time at school she volunteers as a teacher’s assistant in preschool classrooms.

Still, writing always comes first for Ambriel. This is her philosophy, something that she lives by. She got her love for this field from her grandparents who are both published authors, as well as from her favorite book, The Fault in Our Stars. She is currently honing her writing skills by working as an apprentice at The Mark Twain House & Museum. In the past she participated in the writing summer camp at Central Connecticut State University. Ambriel also received the highest writing prompt score out of her eighth grade class. Her favorite thing to write is short stories. She has one published in the Central Connecticut Writing Program Anthology. She plans to attend a four-year college, earn her master’s degree and then her PhD in journalism. After this, she would like to start her own magazine geared towards teens, focusing on reviews of popular books and films. She is currently taking the first few steps to make this dream come true.

Rae Martin

Rae Martin

Born into an age where vapid statements and shallow fancies were the norm, Rae Martin could never envision himself consigned to an existence revolving around the nine-to-five work schedule. To him, that way of life has always been the sickest of things. Not just the job, but the uniformity associated with it. He has also been known to dry heave at the idea that such a level of conformity is the ideal way to live in a nation supposedly as “free” as America.

Writing happens to be one of the only things he has been able to outright call himself good at. It is the only occupation he can see himself in without the urge to quit overwhelming him every day that he is essentially asked to be happy, just for the chance to make someone else wealthier than him. He always wants to improve his craft, and if no one around him is willing or able to help him, he’ll do it himself, sticking to his regimen of one short story a week, with a few free-form poems on the side.

To Rae, writing is more than just a string of words on a piece of paper: it can speak to an existential sub-layer of the human consciousness. Both prose and poetry highlight aspects of the world around us that usually go ignored to the “regular” man, but Rae prefers to not judge others that way, because, after all, what defines regular? What defines normal? It has always amazed him how people judge others so quickly without an objective criteria on which to gauge each other.

Inspiration comes to him in many and all forms. Sitting on a bench during gym can lead to a poem or short story – many times both – even if they go unwritten. It comes in the form of people as well, though not many of his inspirations are still living. Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and William S. Burroughs all influence him in the creation of prose and poetry, though Bukowski has left the greatest impression. He had a certain sensitivity in his poetry and a unique, gritty, dark, and sometimes humorous perspective on the world in his prose that, while Rae doesn’t mean to copy, he can’t help but admire.

When he’s not writing, Rae can be found drinking coffee into the wee hours of the morning, usually for fun.

Molly Miller

Molly Miller

As a kid growing up in Hartford, Conn, Molly Miller had many different ideas about what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be a marine biologist, a writer, a teacher, and a Boston Duck-Boat tour guide.  All of these fields have at least one important aspect in common: communication. Molly’s interest in being a writer, scientist, tour guide, and teacher stems from her passion for sharing information and stories. In order to pursue this passion as a career, she enrolled at the University of Connecticut as a pre-journalism major, and hopes to double-major in history, political science, or environmental studies.

Molly is concerned by the scarcity of mainstream publications and news programs in which journalists report facts without any intention of skewing viewers’ opinions. That being said, some of her favorite journalists and writers include Rachel Maddow, Matt Taibbi, and Chris Hayes, all of whom refuse to sacrifice their leftist slants for the sake of providing unbiased news. Molly thinks that these journalists provide fabulous insight on today’s issues, but their insight means nothing to viewers or readers who have no idea what the Affordable Care Act consists of, or what the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt actually is. She wants to go into media because she wants to make details about legislation and international affairs more interesting and accessible.

In high school, Molly was a columnist, reporter, and editor-in-chief for her school newspaper, and she wrote articles for both the Kingswood Oxford Alumni Magazine and the West Hartford News. She was also the captain of the JV volleyball team and the co-president of the gay-straight alliance. She enjoys reading, running, acting, singing, and finding fantastic bargains at tag sales, and she is excited to continue writing this summer!

Ashaya Nelson

Ashaya Nelson

Ashaya Nelson intends to have a career in journalism. As a 17-year-old aspiring journalist, she looks forward to having her articles published in Newsweek and The New York Times. If you think Ashaya’s missing, she’s most likely at a mall, and Forever 21 might be the store you want to look first. Being interested in fashion, she would love to write for a fashion magazine like Elle.

Writing is the best way that Ashaya has found to express herself, because she can share both her feelings and views on world and local events. Creative writing is an outlet where she’s not limited by the opinions of others. When writing, she loses awareness of her surroundings, and creativity takes control of her thoughts. After writing, her vibe improves. It feels as if her problems and thoughts are on that paper. She recommends journaling to her friends and family if there is something bothering them. They have also found that after journaling, they feel much better.

Her desire to become a writer began in freshman year of high school. She attends Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield, CT.  A friend suggested journalism as a possible career. When Ashaya’s older brother Javon Turner passed away last year, writing helped her cope with the loss. Today she still writes to him about things that are going on in her life. Without the gift of writing, Ashaya would have probably kept her emotions bottled up to this day.

As an apprentice for “Write to the Point” at The Mark Twain House & Museum, Ashaya is getting a taste of what journalists actually do and also hopes to improve her public speaking skills.

Indira Senderovic

Indira

Born in Switzerland but currently living in Wethersfield, Conn., Indira attends Wethersfield High School, and has been in Wethersfield public school systems since third grade. Before that, she went to Naylor Elementary School in Hartford.  Her grades weren’t perfect, but her English grade was always excellent. Her ninth grade teacher, Carrie Guarino, had a big impact on her. She was so tough on Indira that it made her persevere and work hard, which spurred a great interest in reading and writing., Connecticut, Indira Senderovic wants to learn journalism and art but also very much enjoys music. She volunteered at the Keeney Museum of Arts in Old Wethersfield helping analyze and write about the art gallery and what she saw.  Courteous and organized, she hopes to one day have an artistic family just like herself.

Indira grew up in a normal, five person family household where her parents taught her good morals: never give up, go to school and pursue a career in what you love.

Every year she’d choose a music-related class for her elective. Indira played the violin from third grade till eighth grade. She highly enjoyed it and still till this day can pick up a violin and play a little song.

Art is a fascination to Indira. She’s traveled to many countries around the world. For example, she’s been to Italy, France, Switzerland, and Holland. So while you could say she’s seen a lot of different types of cultures and art around the world, Indira hopes to have many more chances to learn about art and grow as a writer.

Nick Sherman

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What can an eccentric, genderless, self-identified freak with a perpetually bad haircut be but an artist? Nicholas Samuel Sherman’s favorite pastime is writing – poetry, novels, and nonfiction alike – but Nick is also an accomplished painter, photographer, comedian, pastry chef, and the drummer in New Britain, Connecticut’s most celebrated klezmer trio, Shalom. To date, Nick’s biggest success was birth, accomplished at the young age of zero years and zero months. An overachiever of the worst kind, Nick is at the top of every class (at the nightly expense of several hours’ sleep) and is not afraid to tell anyone with ears of scoring 2130 on the SAT, although failing a recent chemistry test temporarily convinced Nick to drop out of school and  pursue a career in starving artistry. Past writing experience includes community theatre reviews for the local paper and the business side of things for New Britain High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Some of Nick’s major obsessions are Greek mythology, paradox, and the rain. Nick identifies as a Potterhead, but not usually enough to scare people. Nick is currently going through a punk-rock phase for the third time.

Meaghan Szilagyi

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Born in and raised in Wethersfield, Connecticut, Meaghan had always been a happy child. Then, at the age of 13, she went through a difficult time. The fact that people had feelings, in her mind, made them vulnerable to being taken advantage of and getting hurt. She witnessed many bad things happen to good people. This made her see the world differently. Meaghan was scared to be herself, and she learned to develop a mask.

When Meaghan entered her freshman year of Wethersfield High School, she joined the Literary Magazine. This is a school club where artists and writers come together to share their work. Lit Mag gave Meaghan the creative space she needed to grow as a writer, as well as a person. She became more comfortable in her own skin.

Throughout high school, Meaghan has had many influential teachers but none as great as Cheryl Ryba, who was Meaghan’s Humanities English teacher. During her time in Ryba’s class, Meaghan came to appreciate writing and literature in a way she never had before. Meaghan was fascinated by Ryba’s passion for teaching. Ryba is not afraid to fail when trying something new and Meaghan could not help but aspire to be like her teacher.

When Meaghan isn’t writing, she is like any other girl. She can be found reading or spending time with her friends. Most people who know Meaghan know that she is never without her iPod. She is constantly finding new music artists or vloggers to follow.

June Tran

June Tran

 Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 1996, June Tran immigrated to the United States in August 2004 and is currently living in Central Connecticut. June attended South Windsor High School, where she received accolades such as the Academic Award of Excellence, the Interact Club’s Community Services Award, and the Rotary Club Award of Merit. In addition, Tran spent a lot of her time volunteering as a mentor in the JUMPSTART Mentoring Program and as a summer volunteer at St. Francis Hospital. Despite her busy schedule with extracurricular activities and Advance Placement classes, June found time to participate in sports as a Junior Varsity indoor and outdoor track runner and thrower. Other than on the outdoor tracks, June can be spotted in the school library shelving books or working with the preschool students. Tran is spending this summer as a writing apprentice at The Mark Twain House & Museum. As a rising senior, she will be beginning the process of applying to college. She hopes to stay in the New England area and major in biochemistry. Inspired by a family friend whose work with wounded veterans changed lives through reconstructive surgery, June intends to pursue a dentistry career in maxillofacial prosthetics.

Jahyra White

Jahrya White

Born in Hartford Connecticut, Jahyra White has lived her whole life in the state capital. At 16 years old, she currently attends Global Communications Academy. Though her parents split up when she was five years old, she still manages to stay close to her father. She feels as if she’s been moving from house to house all her life, whether it be staying at the home of her grandma, dad and mom.  Her parent’s names are Jason White and Cerice Collins. Jahyra has one brother who is three, Kameron Willson. She also has one older sister who is 20 years old. Her name is Quanesha Terry and she and Jahyra are always bickering; they are like cats and dogs and can never get along.

Though Neighborhood Studios Jahyra would like to make connections with new people, learn the importance of being part of a group that shares her passion for art. She wants to be a team player, which will help her in the future when she uses these skills in college. Jahyra has the exuberance and dedication to push herself and those around her to succeed.

Jahyra would like to take a new look at the different areas of art that she hasn’t experienced yet. Jahyra wants to get out of her comfort zone and meet new challenges that she cannot get at her high school. She expects to broaden her awareness of the world of the arts, which is where she intends to be after high school. Her goal is to leave this program enriched with the experience of creative writing and journalism and to make connections with new people. When Jahyra’s not writing, she’s usually taking pictures or babysitting.

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