National Merit finalist Tom speaks in poetry

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Roslyn senior Stephanie Tom was recently named a National Merit Scholarship program finalist. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Tom)

Stephanie Tom has been a budding writer almost since she could first form letters.

The Roslyn senior, who was recently named a National Merit Scholarship program finalist, was inspired from a young age by a gift.

“It all started when I was around 5 or 6 years old and my parents got me a big book of poems called ‘Treasury of American Poetry,'” Tom said. “I was just enthralled with all the pictures and all the words and how pretty the words sounded when I read it out loud. That was my start to the literary world. As I got older, I started trying to emulate that and tried to recreate the same feeling when I read that book.”

Tom, 17, is executive editor of Student Prints, the Roslyn High School literary magazine, as well as managing editor of the student newspaper and president of the volunteer club, which works with Bryant Library to create and plan programs for middle and high school students.

Tom said her poetry is inspired by classic authors such as Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe, whose works were in “Treasury of American Poetry,” as well as more modern writers like slam poets Frannie Choi and Chen Chen, who Tom said write about their cultural identity which is something she also wants to explore.

Tom’s works have been published in Student Prints annually as well as in various online and print magazines outside of school about a dozen times. Tom was also responsible for many student newspaper editorials during her sophomore year.

Tom said she is still deciding her future school but plans to stay in New York for college, possibly studying English, creative writing or psychology as well as a possible minor in economics since discovering her love for her AP economics class this year.

A Queens native, Tom moved to Roslyn in third grade, and during her time at Roslyn, she has taken French for seven years with the same teacher, Cecily Lawrence, who Tom said has given her more knowledge than French grammar and vocabulary.

“She’s really changed my learning habits and how I think as a person about the world,” Tom said.

Tom said she was also heavily influenced by Roslyn newspaper advisor Kristen Hamilton and English teacher Marigrace Cirringione, who taught Tom AP language arts her junior year.

“[Cirringione] helped me expand my expression of thought and opinion there which is something my newspaper advisor [Hamilton] also helped me with sophomore year,” Tom said.

In her spare time, Tom said she enjoys singing and dancing. While she was in the school chorus until her literary club commitments gave her less time in her schedule, she still sings on her own and is learning contemporary dance.

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