LIHUE — Growing up, Brooke Kanna didn’t just want to experience life as a kid, she wanted to document her life story.
That ambition as a child has only grown stronger throughout the years and as a junior at Kauai High School, her childhood dream of being a storyteller has culminated into a summer fellowship with “PBS NewsHour.”
The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs selected Kanna to participate in its 3rd annual SRL Academy in Washington, D.C., from June 25-June 30.
Kanna, who will be a senior in the fall, was one of 20 students chosen from 13 states to spend time learning and improving storytelling skills as well as developing digital production skills under the direction of professionals.
“I called all my relatives and told them I got accepted,” Kanna said. “It was really exciting.”
Kanna knew she had the passion for digital media since she grew up wanting to buy a camcorder to create a vlog, before she knew what a vlog was in the first place. But she had her doubts that she would have the opportunity to participate in something like the SRL Academy because she thought she was at a disadvantage.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it since they told us only 20 students would be picked across the nation. I said that I was just going to try it but I probably wouldn’t get it because everyone else probably have these technology things and we’re just over here in Hawaii,” Kanna said.
Kanna didn’t let living on Kauai become an obstacle. She filled out the forms required and produced a one-minute video for PBS explaining why she would be a candidate for the academy.
Her passion for telling stories got her where she is today.
“Ms. (Leah) Aiwohi said that only one person from Kauai High School was chosen, and it was me. I couldn’t believe it,” Kanna said. “It was really exciting. I think I actually cried.
Kanna participated in the advanced media class at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and its CKTV program. When she got to Kauai High, she enrolled into Leah Aiwohi’s digital media classes and never looked back.
“I like telling stories. Hopefully one day, I’ll make a difference with my stories,” Kanna said. “There are so many things in the world that people don’t know about or people won’t talk about and I want to bring those things to light.”
With her PBS fellowship, Kanna will get that opportunity.
“Young people may be digitally savvy, but they are desperate for strategies to understand how to make sense of the endless waves of information coming at them on a daily basis,” said Student Reporting Labs Director Elis Estrada.
Kanna has one more year of high school which she recognizes as a chance to branch out.
“I want to go to a film school and go on to study something like journalism,” she said.
The one thing that is for certain, however, is that she wants to continue telling stories.