Riona Sheik is a rising senior at Whitney High School in Cerritos and a High School Insider 2019 summer intern. (Mel Melcon / L.A. Times)
Orange County School of the Arts

Riona Sheik — world traveler, political fanatic and journalist

From food to extracurriculars, Riona Sheik loves to try new things, which came from her years of traveling.

By going to more than six countries including Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Costa Rica, and all over the United States, Sheik has met all kinds of people and believes that has given her a better understanding of the world around her.

“The world is a big place,” Sheik said. “There are so many different people with so many different perspectives. You can’t really sum [the world] up in one sentence.”

Through her worldly experience, she has been able to gain a certain intellect.

“She’s really intelligent in every way,” her friend Alisha Islam said. “She understands other people really well.”

Seeing new places inspires her to learn and to step out of her comfort zone. She stays focused on what’s going on around her.

“I’ve always been … aware of what’s going on in the world,” Sheik said. “Me and my dad watch ‘World News’ every day. I always thought it was really interesting.”

Sheik is now a rising senior at Whitney High School. During her sophomore year, she joined a program called Young Senator Leadership Program and became more involved in politics.

“She’s told me she wants to be a lawyer ever since she was really young,” Islam said. “She’s always been really focused on getting there.”

Sheik went on to intern for two congresswomen, Judy Chu and Linda Sánchez, immersing herself in the political world.

Sheik found the perfect thing to mix her love for traveling and politics: writing.

Because there was no newspaper at her school, Sheik began to write for the L.A. Times High School Insider. Although she always liked writing, it wasn’t until recently that she got into journalism.

“She started writing a lot when she was a second or third-grader,” said her father Sheik Moinuddin. “It was something she always liked. She would write for classes and for herself.”

Sheik is the founder and editor-in-chief of her school’s first newspaper. Without opening herself up to new places and experiences, she said she may have never found the things she cares deeply about.