From Rwanda To New Trier, Hotchkiss, and Yale

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Let’s start the week with another example of great writing about education (among other things). The latest example isn’t traditional journalistic reporting but rather a long personal essay, “Everything is Yours, Everything is Not Yours,” by Clemantine Wamariya (pictured above) and Elizabeth Weil, which was a finalist for National Magazine Awards prize:


The piece, which lost out to Esquire’s “The Friend,” tells the story of Clemantine Wamariya, which includes a stint at Chicago’s tony New Trier High School, then Hotchkiss, and then at Yale — along with harrowing childhood experiences as a refugee in Africa.

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The piece includes some lighter moments, as when Wamariya decides to do as much as possible to be a “normal” American kid: “At school, the cheerleaders looked happy, so I became a cheerleader. I ran on the track team. I acted in the school’s improv troupe. I peer counseled. I even fundraised with my school’s Aid for Africa club.”

Now a young adult, Wamariya’s bio describes her as “Curious • Critical • Connector & Crazy about education and storytelling in all forms.” Indeed.

Read the piece, and find more of her writing here. Follow her at @Clemantine1 if you’re not doing so already. 

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Her collaborator, Liz Weil, has written about education for the New York Times Magazine (When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten?Single-Sex Public Education) and in The New Republic (Self-Regulation: American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids).

Related posts: Education Pops Up In 2015 National Magazine Award Winners & Losers

Big thanks to BuzzFeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy for the reminder.

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Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at