The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Blossoming with compassion

Ella Yee touches her community through journalism and STEM
Alena Suleiman
“The highlight of my day is always small moments, whether it’s a good conversation with someone, learning a lot from an interview, or one small move forward in a research project. Those are the things that bring me the most joy,” Ella Yee (12) said.

While most high schoolers yearn for the comfort of home on a Friday afternoon, Ella Yee (12) can be found in the center of a busy newsroom pitch meeting, undeterred by the imminent weekend. Flitting from whiteboard to whiteboard, Ella eagerly converses with section editors about their pitch ideas. An hour later, she’ll log onto her computer for a WiSTEM meeting, discussing the ethics of AI to middle schoolers. When she finally goes home, Ella will sit down and delve into her independent computational biology research.

Each day of Ella’s is packed with what many would consider time-consuming activities. For Ella, though, each commitment in her schedule poses an opportunity to grow as she learns new lessons and perspectives. The latter is a core aspect of journalism, which Ella began in frosh year. From her first day as a reporter to leading the staff as editor-in-chief this year, Ella aims to integrate diverse perspectives into every story.

“The part about journalism that really attracted me and continues to make me feel inspired is the human connection,” Ella said. “It’s really about telling a story and trying to understand a perspective, which in a lot of cases may not be like your own, but trying to honor that story and highlighting what other people can learn from it.”

While taking upper school science teacher Chris Spenner’s classes, Ella discovered a novel way to apply a diversity of perspectives: through a systems approach as opposed to a reductionist approach. In a systems approach, each variable cannot be isolated from its network — similar to how journalism narratives cannot be told without context.

“When I first learned about that approach, that was so exciting — the idea that you can be looking at the same things from a completely different perspective, and you can go so much deeper,” Ella said. “You don’t have to change what you’re studying; you just change your approach to it.”

Ella’s dedication and curiosity don’t go unnoticed. Her relationship with close friend Julie Shi (12) has blossomed through dance classes and a shared sense of humor. Calling her “wise beyond her years,” Julie admires Ella’s unwavering diligence and reliability.

“Every day Ella does it again,” Julie said. “I cannot think of a single instance ever where she was ever late for anything, for homework or meetings or whatever. She’s always prepared, and you can go ask her something, and she’ll have the answer.”

In her junior year, Ella served as the co-news editor, rising to the occasion by promptly covering breaking news. She also found that her position allowed her to engage with the school community.

“There’s two sides of me because there is one side of me that’s more analytical,” Ella said. “I like to be very organized. That plays into the fast-twitch muscle with news. But then the other side of me is really interested in community and interaction. I really enjoyed the opportunity to highlight different things around our campus and outside, so news helped me bridge together those two roles.”

To each interview, Ella brings a touch of compassion. Close friend Claire Luo (12) notices Ella’s enduring empathy, which extends beyond journalism to interpersonal relationships.

“Ella is the most considerate person I’ve ever met,” Claire said. “That’s one of my favorite qualities about her. She’ll always pick up on how you feel, and she always wants to make the people around her comfortable.”

Above all, Ella values human connection. Whether she’s collaborating with underclassmen to make their story ideas come to life or simplifying complex STEM topics for younger students, Ella aims to uplift her community by allowing everyone to feel a sense of belonging.

“Creating these environments where everyone feels included — that’s what’s most meaningful and what draws me in every single thing I do,” Ella said. “It’s being able to help people, help the community and bring people together.”

Ella demonstrates her willingness to help others in all settings, including the classroom. Spenner, who taught Ella throughout high school, commended her ability to assist her classmates in both traditional learning environments like AP Physics C as well as self-directed courses like Honors Advanced Research.

“Ella quietly excels at everything and supports the people around her,” Spenner said. “She’s very willing to make sacrifices to support those people and makes the most of every learning opportunity.”

In the small moments, Ella finds fulfillment. These precious opportunities for growth, inside and outside the classroom, are the ones that bring happiness to her journey.

“The highlight of my day is always small moments, whether it’s a good conversation with someone, learning a lot from an interview, or one small move forward in a research project,” Ella said. “Those are the things that bring me the most joy.”

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About the Contributor
Alena Suleiman
Alena Suleiman, Aquila Co-Editor-in-Chief
Alena Suleiman (12) is the co-editor-in-chief of Harker Aquila, and this is her fourth year on staff. Alena wishes to interact with new people and work with all members of staff to craft engaging stories. Beyond journalism, she is an exhibited artist, humanities scholar and art museum enthusiast.

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