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Reno High senior reflects on personal development during COVID-19

A young woman seated on the left is wearing headphones and holding a microphone up to another young woman who is seated to the right. Both are inside of a sound room.
Michelle Billman
KUNR Public Radio
Kathleen Leslie (left) interviews Fiona Perrault to learn more about how she was able to focus on self-improvement during the pandemic on Sept. 21, 2021, in Reno, Nev.

Despite the pandemic bringing about many negative emotions, Reno High senior Fiona Perrault has used the extra time at home to work on her own personal development. To learn more, KUNR Youth Media’s Kathleen Leslie talked to Fiona about the process of becoming more comfortable with herself and how she’s honed her creative writing.

Kathleen Leslie: How do you believe participating in the KUNR internship will help you go out of your comfort zone?

Fiona Perrault: Well, typically, what I do every day is I go to the library and talk to no one, and then I go home and I talk to no one, so I think talking to people is actually going to get me out there a lot more.

Leslie: How have you been able to improve your artwork over the pandemic?

Fiona: I’m a poet. So poetry is kind of just stewing in your own emotions, and that’s kind of all I was able to do. And looking back on it, I’m writing a book right now, and looking back on some of the earlier poems I put in there versus the ones that I just put in there, I’m like, “Oh, man, that’s a really big improvement.” And I’m kind of filled with pride every time I see it, like, being able to be open about my emotions.

Leslie: In what other ways were you able to find yourself during the pandemic? 

Fiona: I think I kind of started being myself unapologetically. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, so not having to wear a mask around other people and how to hide that, and keeping all my thoughts and stuff inside, and just being able to just do what I need to freely, that was a really big improvement for my mental health, and stuff like that, and being able to find myself.

Leslie: You mentioned that you wanted to be more unapologetically yourself. In what other ways have you been able to do that?

Fiona: I kind of stopped apologizing for liking things because beforehand I was always like, “I know this bad, but I really like it.” And now I’m like, “No, I like it. This thing is good because I like it,” [and] not having to censor what I think is good because it doesn’t fit other people’s preconceived notions of what I should like.

Kathleen Leslie and Fiona Perrault are high school seniors and KUNR Youth Media classmates. This news story is an excerpt from a peer interview, which was one of their first assignments for the class. Kathleen reflected on the experience of getting to connect with a fellow student about how they’re doing during the pandemic:

“Honestly, I found it comforting getting to talk to Fiona. It was nice knowing that someone has similar goals as me and that I was able to talk to them about it so openly. I found it very inspirational because it reminded me of exactly why I want to improve myself.”

KUNR’s Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists. Over the past several years, this program has trained dozens of high school journalists, many of whom have gone on to study journalism or a related field in college. This unique program has also received national recognition from the Public Media Journalists Association in the best collaborative effort category. You can view and listen to all of the program’s student work here.

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