Daisy Lawrence of The Thacher School in California wins this month’s “Decoder in the Spotlight” award for her strong reporting and leadership.
By Alexandra Gray
Daisy Lawrence has reported on trailblazing climate change initiatives in her home state of California. But she has only begun to address the weighty problems she hopes to address as a politician or journalist.
One of three News-Decoder Student Ambassadors at The Thacher School in California, Lawrence wins this month’s “Decoder in the Spotlight” honor for her on-the-ground reporting and the strong leadership skills she has demonstrated as a Student Ambassador this year.
In November, Lawrence published a story on her state’s plan to launch a satellite to help combat climate change. An avid rider, she then produced a podcast on Thacher’s efforts to cut back use of water by its 120 horses in the midst of California’s drought.
Lawrence was instrumental in planning and coordinating News-Decoder’s recent webinar on climate change, featuring a team of Thacher students on camera with students from King’s Academy in Jordan and Friends Seminary in New York City.
Underscoring the boarding school’s creative, multi-media approach to learning, another team of Thacher students produced a video for News-Decoder on efforts farmers in California are making to protect the environment.
Lawrence not only contributes to News-Decoder, but she also regularly writes for her school’s newspaper, The Thacher Notes. Daisy’s latest piece, “Journalism with Consequences,” examined freedom of speech following the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. She posed the question: “Why do journalists report what they do if it means facing drastic consequences?”
Lawrence is not afraid to ask the big questions, and as one of News-Decoder’s 40 Student Ambassadors, she upholds our mission and helps other students get the most out of our program.
I asked Lawrence about her interests, studies and future plans.
Q: What are your main academic interests?
Lawrence: History and English have always been my favorite subjects. I love the way both can be interpreted through a wide variety of lens, and how writing, which is a passion of mine, can so thoughtfully capture different periods.
Q: What are your interests outside of class?
Lawrence: Outside of class I enjoy writing for my school’s newspaper, the Notes, and riding horses. I discovered both while at Thacher, and so they have become central to my life here.
Q: What do you plan to study in college?
Lawrence: I know for certain that I would like to continue studying Chinese, perhaps as a minor, but in terms of a major, my current thoughts gravitate towards Journalism or International Affairs. I’m still not sure though.
Q: Do you have any ideas about what you’d like to do as a career?
Lawrence: When I was younger, I really wanted to be an architect, but now I think I’d like to be a politician or a journalist. I think this is partly due to my passion for current events and writing, and partly due to the times in which we live in today and a desire to impact the world in a meaningful, positive way.
Q: Have you found News-Decoder to be useful, and if so, how?
Lawrence: News-Decoder has been extraordinarily useful, especially in fostering in me a desire to pursue journalism. Learning about the editing process and the reporting process under the guidance of News-Decoder has helped me grow to become a more aware and passionate journalist, and for that, I am thankful.
Q: You reported on climate change, one of News-Decoder’s eight themes. How did News-Decoder help you connect this big issue to what’s happening in your part of the world?
Lawrence: News-Decoder made me more aware of how multifaceted the issue of climate change is, and how one can approach this huge issue through various levels, like looking at it through the lens of a state or town. Through examining climate change in this way, I was better able to grapple with its effects on campus and how our campus sustainability connects with the efforts of California as a whole.
Q: What do you consider to be the world’s biggest problem right now?
Lawrence: While there are many issues in the world today that need to be addressed, I think one of the greatest is freedom of speech and the press. I feel that too frequently these two freedoms are undermined by governments and other people in power who see them as barriers to furthering their own agendas, which often leads to either the silencing of the public or the cultivation of a culture that is unable to label fact from fiction correctly. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for my school newspaper that touched upon this topic, and currently, I am working on an article about freedom of speech at Thacher, so while I have learned much about this topic, I still do feel as though there is much more to learn about it with the passing of time.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
Lawrence: I can’t wait to write more for News-Decoder!
Alexandra Gray is News-Decoder’s Community Engagement and Business Development manager. She develops creative marketing and communications content, manages social media accounts and works closely with the Student Ambassadors. She has a master’s in marketing from the University of Edinburgh and spent one year of high school at one of News-Decoder’s partner institutions, School Year Abroad Italy.