In front of a crowd of over 600 people, one strong voice rang out. “She is a poet,” read high school senior and fourth-year Girls Write Now mentee Emely Paulino, “a girl who writes now/a girl who reads her work out loud.” The “she” that Emely was referring to was none other than herself.
Emely read Evolution of a Writer when she was honored as an Urban Hero by Catalog for Giving last November. The work was based on Emely’s own experiences as a writer, many of them throughout her course at Girls Write Now, which Emely says “has changed my life.” One of the main reasons Girls Write Now has had such a strong impact on Emely? Her mentor, Jess Pastore.
“I don’t know how to fully express how grateful I am to have a mentor,” Emely says. “Jess helps me make sense of the craziness in my life, but most importantly, she inspires me to write.” Jess and Emely have bonded through a shared love of poetry and willingness to take new directions with their writing through workshops like this year’s narrative gaming series, where Emely polished her game, “Ancient Hidden Jewels”.
Their last year together at Girls Write Now was bittersweet as Jess helped Emely compose her college essay. “After more than five drafts… I found that my writing improved substantially,” Emely says. “The New Worlds theme truly fit my experience with Jess this year, as she helped me make my way through the college process.”
Jess says of the admissions essay writing process that she “expected it to be tough, [but] what I didn’t expect is how transformative the year would be for me as well. As she looked ahead to college, Emely inspired me to take a deeper look at my own journey to where I am today.”
Emely will matriculate at Bard College this fall, but that doesn’t mean her Girls Write Now experience is over. “As I begin college,” she says, “I will take with me all the memories that I share with Girls Write Now and my mentor… Jess has helped me take risks; feel confident in myself and in my writing. She has inspired me to do the same for others.”
And while Emely carries the Girls Write Now message with her on her new adventures, the two are certain they will keep in touch. “I’ve found inspiration, strength, and friendship that is at the heart of a great writing partnership,” Jess says of her relationship with Emely. “One that I hope will continue long after the last reading.”
We’re wishing Emely the best of luck at Bard, and welcoming Jess to our Program Advisory Committee in the fall! Don’t miss Emely’s final performance with Girls Write Now at our June CHAPTERS reading, where she spoke about religion and identity.
PLUS! As a member of our Youth Board, Emely not only helped to run our Creative Publishing digital workshop series, but co-wrote the preface for the e-zine (with fellow mentee and Youth Boarder Shannon) — check it out and get a glimpse of what it means to bring your writing into the 21st century.