Datla joined HS Insider in her freshman year in 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic when she was searching for an outlet to express herself.
“What I decided to do was express my concerns, my peer’s concerns, and my friend’s concerns. In fact, my first story [with HS Insider] was on the pandemic, and how it impacted mental health,” Datla said.
She said her goal in journalism is to be an advocate for mental health, while pursuing her interest in the STEM field. Datla started the podcast “Youth In STEM” through HS Insider, where she explores the stories and experiences of students within the field, in hopes to inspire other students to pursue a career in STEM.
Even outside of journalism, Datla keeps advocating for mental health through extracurriculars such as Active Minds, a nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for teenagers. She served as her school’s Chapter Founder and President for the program, and currently serves on the nonprofit’s Student Ambassador Program.
“My goals for the future are to spread awareness and destigmatize mental health in my ethnic Asian community. As an Active Minds Student Ambassador, I hope to continue to be a leader in my community and advocate for change in the way mental health is valued,” Datla said.
Through Active Minds, Datla was able to have mental health discussions with her school’s psychiatric social worker, nurse, counselors, and other students. She also held school events like “Kindness Day” where students used chalk to write and draw kind messages on the concrete so other students could see them as they entered the school.
One of Datla’s close friends Cindy Li said Datla has an amiable and confident personality that brings out the best in those around her.
“I think I would have had a much more difficult time connecting with my peers. Sriya was easy to talk to from the beginning and was very confident in everything that she did,” Li said.
In all her endeavors, Datla said she is an advocate for mental health awareness. Datla said she’s always looking for new ways to make her voice heard through different platforms, to help others who may need support. Her friends would “describe her as proactive instead of reactive,” Li said.
Over the course of the internship, Datla hopes to bond with the other interns and share the passion that they all have for multimedia journalism and writing. She is also excited to learn from her peers and journalists who have built extensive careers with the L.A. Times.
“I aspire to bring awareness to the social issues I am passionate about, while empowering others and giving a voice to those with a story to tell,” she said.