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!