By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Elena Grande is a senior at Niskayuna High School, a varsity field hockey player, and a future journalist — the very near future, in fact. Grande, age 17, is launching her writing career as Your Niskayuna’s intern for the 2014-2015 school year.
“I like balancing my creativity in my writing with communicating with people,” she said. “I like getting out there and learning new things.”
Grande knows combining a new internship with all that the senior year of high school brings — college applications, varsity sports, schoolwork and social events — won’t be easy.
But she loves to be challenged, which is something she learned about herself just a few years ago. She says she had just begun to develop an interest in sports in seventh grade, when she joined the modified field hockey team. When she reached high school, Grande was entering her third year of field hockey, and she wanted to be better at the sport.
“It pushed me a little harder,” she said. “That was a big turning point for me.”
Grande began to work out constantly. Now, it’s one of her favorite ways to take time for herself, but at the time, it was a major challenge. She stayed the course and lost 68 pounds.
“It developed me as a person,” Grande said. “I know even if something doesn’t go right, I can persevere.”
Her newfound dedication extended to every obstacle in her life. Once a self-described mediocre student, she began to earn A’s and B’s in all her classes. Her parents were shocked at the sudden shift. Grande said she felt like a new person.
“Sometimes when I’m getting down on myself, I’m like, ‘If I can do that, I can do this,’ ” she said proudly. “I love challenging myself.”
Grande, who lives on Mountainwood Drive, grew up attending Niskayuna schools with her sister, Camila, who is now 20 years old.
“I love [Niskayuna High] School,” she said. “I respect the education that we get so much.”
Throughout her school years, Grande has developed an appetite for reading that informs her desire to become a journalist.
She devours realistic and historical fiction, as well as unusual stories and psychological thrillers. When it comes to news, she prefers the witty, opinionated stories in magazines like Entertainment Weekly.
“It’s news with a flair,” she said. “They’ll take on current issues like gender roles in film. They’re educational.
“It’s like entertainment for the smart person,” she added.
She especially likes to read journalistic pieces about successful people who faced down big challenges, as well as anything that teaches about the economy.
Love of outdoors
When she’s not reading and writing, Grande loves to get outside and get moving. Her field hockey career jump-started a fitness-oriented chapter of her life that evolved into a love of the outdoors and any kind of adventure. She runs, hikes, canoes and kayaks. Someday, she hopes to climb all of the Adirondack High Peaks, sign up for the Warrior Dash race, and maybe even go skydiving.
Grande will work with Your Niskayuna through Niskayuna High School’s Career Exploration Internship Program until June, when she’ll leave for her next big adventure: college. She’s not sure yet which school she wants to go, but just like Grande herself, it’ll be a place with a big personality and lots of energy — and, of course, field hockey.
“It’s a really big part of my life and a big passion,” she said.
And, most importantly, when she faces a challenge, her favorite sport will remind her to keep trying.
Welcome Elena to Your Niskayuna and send her your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.