For this seventh year of The Seattle Times Student Voices project, we’ve invited eight Washington teens and young adults to detail their experiences and suggest how schools can better support students in overcoming language, financial and transportation barriers, among other obstacles.

Between now and the end of the school year, these eight young people will share their perspectives and suggestions for making systemic changes they believe can improve the school experience for all students, and help everyone receive a fair, just and accessible education. 

These young writers have shared the following bios. We’ll update them with links to their essays as they are published. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as we have. 

Riya Bathina is a freshman at Issaquah High School. A self-described “passionate human rights advocate,” Bathina strives to make the community “a safe space for everyone,” and loves baking and reading. “I hope to utilize my writing to make minority groups feel represented and appreciated,” the teen said.

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Rahma Gaye is a senior at Olympia’s Capital High School and a self-professed screenager (that is, she spends a lot of time online and in the digital world). “In all my activities as an Olympia School Board Student Representative, Black Student Union Vice President, and children’s therapy intern, I aim to help make the educational system truly inclusive of its diverse student body,” she said. In the future, she wants to have “positive impacts on teaching, learning, and communication in schools nationwide.”

Lucas Salm-Rojo is a junior at Ballard High School. He is in the BHS Digital Filmmaking program and is also “President and Supreme Leader of the BHS Bicycle Club.” In the future, he hopes to go to film school and create documentaries that inspire positive change in the world.

Ballard High School junior Lucas Salm-Rojo poses with his bike under the school’s covered bike parking area. He argues that more Seattle schools need this kind of infrastructure to ensure students’ rides stay safe and protected.
Student Voices: Better bike parking could remove roadblocks for student cyclists

Reagan Ricker is now in her sophomore year at Lakeside School, after moving to Washington from California, where she attended public schools, in 2021. A staff reporter for her school paper, Tatler, she is fascinated by the impact that journalism can have and hopes to use its influence to advocate for immigration policy reform. Outside of school, Reagan enjoys ceramics, obsessing over Victorian literature, and trying to keep her plants alive, although her succulents are proof that she may not have a green thumb. In the future, she says, “I hope to always have more questions than I have answers for.”

Elliana Wickline is a sophomore at Lincoln High School. She loves basketball and track. Her favorite classes at the moment are AP human geography and world literature. She said she “is currently working on her tendency to overthink and learning to let go of failure.” For fun, Elliana likes to read historical fiction, hang out with friends and listen to music.

Paige Censale, 21, was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Bellingham, where she attended Squalicum High School. After graduation in 2019, she returned to El Paso, capturing stories of asylum-seekers on the southern border and later in Europe on the U.S.-German fellowship Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. She is now applying to college while blogging, freelancing as a videographer and graphic designer, and spending time with friends and family. 

Daniela Mattson is a junior at Sammamish High School, where she writes for her school newspaper, The RedHawk Talk. She also helps lead a mentoring program for multi-language learner students and plays on the tennis team. Passionate about social justice, she loves to use writing and storytelling as a way to raise awareness. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in journalism and media, focusing on documentary production to tell impactful stories.

Jasmine Zhen is a sophomore at the International Community School in Kirkland. In her spare time, she reports for Youth Journalism International, debates international policy in Model United Nations, writes poetry and prose, and practices the piano for her school’s symphony. In the future, she hopes to use her passion for writing and speaking to serve as a catalyst for positive social change.