The Culmination of High School: Journalism Capstone

At Miami Lakes Educational Center there are academies and strands inside those academies. As part of the journalism strand in the Cambridge academy, senior students must create a capstone, a project that represents and reflects all they’ve learned throughout their three years in the strand.

My partner, Juanita Cardona, and I created a Miami lifestyle magazine aimed at Miami-Dade and Broward County residents. This project encompasses our greatest efforts throughout two months.

The magazine is divided among sections: culture, food, art & music.

Below are raw and unedited photos taken exclusively for the magazine:

Cuban roosters in front of El Pub in Calle Ocho, Little Havana by Daniela Morales.


This wall is painted inside Maximo Gomez domino park in Little Havana, by Daniela Morales.
The Biltmore Hotel by Daniela Morales.


Gabriella Ibanez at the Wynwood Walls.
Kalen Siddiqui photographed at the Wynwood Walls for a Reebok ad by Daniela Morales.
Gabriella Ibanez, a sun goddess, by Daniela Morales.


Viva magazine models Kalen Siddiqui and Gabriella Ibanez in Wynwood, an artistic area in South Florida.

This is a pdf of the print version presented to the judges, Paradise Afshar, Chabeli Herrera, and two Herff Jones representatives, Jose and Jordan.

Viva Magazine

Moving Away for College?

By Daniela Morales

[Another introspective essay, this time for a class assignment – a monologue.]

I am in a place right now where I always expected I’d be, but somehow my feelings are so different from what I’d expected I’d feel. Since my sophomore year of high school, when I started traveling more often, I knew I wanted to move away for college. Then I started having fights with my mom and I really knew I wanted to move away for college. Then, I applied to college and, by random chance of the universe, my only option came to be one of the farthest colleges I could possibly attend.

The harder days at home reassure me that moving away is the right decision and the happy, calm moments make me scared for what’s to come. When people ask, the staple answers are always ‘I’m super happy. I can’t wait to start’  but how can I, at only 18 years old, move so far away and live by myself? I would say I am responsible and mature – I do my schoolwork, fulfill my extracurricular activities, work to pay my own bills, and take care of my sister when needed. In college, I will do just about the same. My responsibilities will remain – do my schoolwork, involve myself in extracurricular activities, and work to pay for my own expenses.

The process is pretty straight forward but when I realize that I’m moving away from everyone that I love, to start a life from scratch, to build relationships and stay focused in the present, not those I left behind, I get a little scared. I don’t know if I’m ready to be a part of a completely different atmosphere, climate, culture, to work to fit into a new denomination.

Maybe if plane tickets weren’t so expensive, maybe if I weren’t moving 1,526 miles north of Miami and only 90 miles south of Canada, maybe if I knew that my relationship with my mother wouldn’t suffer, that I wouldn’t miss my boyfriend, and that my sister won’t grow up.

“What is four years of your life? It’s only college.”

Well, it’s missing my sister’s first day of school, seeing her excited after making a new friend or hearing the story of how she pulled a girl’s hair for taking her toy. It’s missing home cooked meals – the few because my mom hates cooking more than anything. It’s missing the hugs, the kisses, the pep talks, the encouragement, the foot massages after working full shifts, the surprise outings, the moments when he makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

When I move I’ll be all alone, just a phone call away from hearing their voices but hundreds of miles away from seeing their faces. I know I’ll have to tough it out. I can’t cave. No matter how much I want to I can’t back out. It’s all for my future. In life everyone has to make sacrifices for a better life and I am just finding out what that’s like.

In the Fall of 2017 I will be moving to Middlebury, VT to attend college. It will definitely be different than anything else I’ve experienced.

Life at the end of senior year

by Daniela Morales, a senior ready to graduate high school

I’m thinking now, that maybe I’ll read this in a couple of months, or maybe a year, and think of how I was ungrateful and unappreciative of my time in high school but as I write this sentence I’ve decided that I like to live in the present and therefore, right now, I am so tired and so ready to graduate.

By this point, everything should be running smoothly. Exams are about over and classes are about done but there is one project that is hovering over my head like impending doom – capstone.

But like everything, soon enough that will be over too and I will be moving on to the next chapter of my life. If you follow me on Twitter, which you should (@MoralesVDaniela), like my bio says – “Always onto the next thing.” Also, “Middlebury ’21.”

Yes, I committed to Middlebury College. On September 4 I will be moving 1,533 miles away from home to a cold, cold area of the world. On the bright side, I will be able to experience all four seasons (there are four seasons right – living in Miami made me forget.)

Even though it’s set in stone and I definitely do not have an escape route, I was freaking out a bit about moving so far away, to such a different environment, for so long. Some of the questions plaguing my brain are “Who will be my roommate? Will I pack all I need? Will I feel comfortable living there? Will I be homesick? How do I make friends?” I have zero answers at this moment and hopefully, throughout the summer, I will be enlightened with some knowledge and no longer fear entering the next chapter of my life.

That’s it for today. I know it was a very disorganized train of thought but now you’ve gotten a sneak peek into my brain, the brain of a senior ready to graduate. Goodnight!


It’s 12:16 am and I have my Advanced Placement Biology exam at 8 am. Wish me luck!

Washington D.C. (Geometry in Architecture)

My First Story

This was the first story I wrote (actually, co-wrote) as I begun my internship with the Miami Herald. The story published as follows:

To kick off October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, Luminaire founders Nasir and Nargis Kassamali will host GlasLove, an online and live auction of glass pieces from top designers and architects.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. The live auction and gala will take place Thursday evening and include a preview at Luminaire Lab, followed by a dinner at the Moore Building in the Design District.

In 2006, the Kassamalis launched the first auction of the Love series, called PuppyLove. GlasLove is the fourth event in the series, which features one-of-a kind glass works by noted designers and architects. To date, the project has raised about $1 million for Sylvester.

The Kassamalis created these auctions after Nargis was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the past 12 years, she has survived five bouts of breast cancer.

“Everyone has been affected by cancer. There is nobody on this earth that can say, ‘I don’t know anybody that has cancer,’” Nasir said.

Having seen firsthand the effects of cancer on various people in his life, Nasir chose glass as the main material of design, reflecting both its strength and fragility.

“I love my wife so much, and I’m so happy that she is alive,” he said. “Every day she is alive is a celebration for us. Instead of privately celebrating it, I want other people in the world to celebrate with me.”

The original story was published here:

Family Day at the Zoo

Making m’EMORY’s

My friends and I took a road trip to Atlanta, Georgia to explore Emory University. While exploring the city by the directions of a friend and resident of the city, we stopped by Ponce Market and the Beltline.

Ponce Market is a mall style food court with small little shops outside. The cuisines range form Mediterranean to Hispanic to American with a small wine shop camouflaged among the restaurants.

The Beltline has 22 miles of pedestrian friendly transit and even though my friends and I only walked two of those miles we saw a lot of different kinds of people running, jogging, walking their dogs, taking part in a pub crawl dressed up in funny Christmas costumes.

Ponce Market and the neighboring Beltline offer a unique ambience in central Atlanta.

Visit the post for more.

Source: Making mEMORYs


Two Families, One Death, and the Beginning of Change

By the age of five I had already heard enough conversations about politics to know that I should hate George W. Bush and (pretend to) love Fidel Castro.

I’d often say  “I can’t wait for Bush to leave, then there will be Liberty” and my grandfather on my father’s side had me repeat it to other family members, showing me off as a ‘politically conscious’ little girl standing up for her country.

At that age I listened and repeated, not necessarily understanding, what adults said in hushed conversations behind closed doors.

My grandfather was a Colonel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Las FAR— Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) and my grandmother was a civil worker of the FAR. Growing up under their influence, my father decided to attend the military school Camilo Cienfuegos as a means of achieving a military career. Despite gaining interest in pursuing aeronautics, my father was forced into military service and sent to war in Angola from 1987-89 during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

In this household, I spent most of my time as a child hearing his war stories, his pride in  servicing the government. My summers were spent elsewhere, vacationing with my mother’s side of the family— one that was against the government.

When the revolution became successful and as Fidel Castro took power in 1959, my grandfather’s motorcycle shop was brought down and then built back up, forced to function as a clandestine workshop.

For years to come, my grandfather on my mother’s side would be prosecuted. My grandmother, a soft spoken woman, tried to abide by the rules and stray from trouble by attending the Revolutionary Defense Committee meetings (CDR— Comite de Defensa Revolucionaria).

Disagreeing with the government was (and still is) punishable by imprisonment, and eventually death. Castro’s regime assigned committee leaders to city blocks to look out for activities residents would partake in— especially illegal ones— in defense against the revolution.

In 1994, my grandfather brought three of his sons to the United States, fleeing the communist government via boat like many have done since the revolution. My father also left the country in fear of government persecution.

We left the island four years later.

We arrived in 2008 just when President Obama started working on his legacy, forever impacting immigrants such as myself and my mother. Meanwhile we’d send phone calls, care packages, cash money and heartfelt letters to family members waiting to someday be reunited.

Eight years later, on Nov. 25, 2016, Fidel Castro was announced dead, after 57 years of leading the country to extreme levels of poverty, crime, and destruction.

When my mother received the news of the dictator’s demise, she half-jokingly said, “Now I can return to Cuba.”

The division between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries created a divide between both sides of the family with me as the common factor. But, now, as the outstanding symbol of communism no longer stands, neither does the divide within my family.

Presidential Candidates Aren’t the Only ones on the Ballot

Collaboration of Nathalie Del Valle, Ericka Miller, Daniela Morales,.

The United States Senate makes up half of the legislative branch and plays a vital role in our country’s system of checks and balances. Congress, comprised of the House of Representatives – which has 435 elected officials – and Senate – which has 100 elected officials -,  can veto the president and reject appointments to the Supreme Court as well as propose amendments to overrule court decisions. The legislative branch, along with the judicial and executive, is made to cater to our country’s needs but first, officials who will represent those needs must be elected.

The Senate is the upper house in Congress. Senators serve a six year term, as opposed to presidents who serve four year terms and representatives who serve two year terms, which allows them more time to push their agenda and make lasting/impacting decisions for the country. In Florida, the candidates are Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy. The Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, is seeking reelection. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate, Patrick Murphy, is campaigning for Senator after two terms as a representative.

During an election year such as 2016, when presidential candidates are on the ballot, other candidates for public office tend to be overshadowed. Voters are usually unaware that state representatives have a bigger impact on the policies implemented in that specific state than the President of the United States. More so during this polarizing election, it is pertinent that voters focus on the Senate election too. The Senate will also approve the next Supreme Court justice, the ninth justice, breaking the tie between Republicans and Democrats in the court.

Even though the United State’s next president will drive the country either left or right, Senators and Representatives are the ones who stand for each state’s specific needs. As a voter, it is one’s duty to elect those officials so that each of our needs may make it to the forefront of this country’s important issues.