826 Boston’s Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB) represents students from across Boston. YLAB members apply and are selected in the fall and receive paid stipends for their work during the school year as artist-leaders and peer editors. The students meet weekly, and their work culminates every year in a final project. Past projects have included a podcast and a professionally printed book.

The 2023-2024 YLAB members are:

Ishmael Sanoe (he/his) is a 17-year-old who attends the Boston International High School. He was proudly born in Ivory Coast and grew up in Guinea, but he is Liberian. He moved to the United States in June 2022 with his mother and his three siblings. He really enjoys communication in various mediums such as writing, speaking, and language. Oftentimes, he focuses on his creative endeavors and making sure he gets the most out of his education.

Oriana Dunker (she/her) is 17 years old and attends Boston Latin School. She was born and raised in Roxbury and is passionate about social justice and improving her community. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music while reading, writing, painting, or drawing. At school, Oriana loves public speaking, math, and using her strengths to be a leader. She would never miss out on an opportunity to learn, and is currently improving her acting and roller-skating skills!

Blessing Adedeji (she/her) is an 18-year-old writer born in Nigeria and raised in Boston. No matter the depth, length, or subject of her writing, she strives to write with honesty and authenticity. Her goal is to give people the companionship she found in writing when she was young. She aspires to become a writer that ignites emotion in her readers. After high school, she plans to pursue higher education and keep developing herself as a writer and person. Her favorite quote is, “I live so I love,” and she strongly upholds the belief that a park is not complete without a set of swings.

Maya Koreth (she/her) is a 16-year-old Roxbury native who attends Boston Latin School. While juggling the many stresses of high school, she likes to unwind by reading, sleeping, and, of course, writing. Her hobbies include trying new and exotic foods, learning Latin, and scrolling through endless Spotify playlists. She gets most of her inspiration for stories from walks through the city, and everyday conversations with friends.

Mariam Joumal is an 18-year-old from Boston who attends Josiah Quincy Upper School. Her hobbies include playing basketball, reading, and dancing in her room. At school, Mariam enjoys English, history, and biology. She is passionate about social justice and closing the economic gap for POC/minorities. She aspires to make a difference and make her dreams come true!

Tina Nguyen (they/them, she/her) is a 17-year-old from Dorchester who attends the John D. O’Bryant School for Mathematics and Science. Her main interests consist of social and climate justice, biology, the arts, and gardening. She aspires to continue her journey as a climate justice activist in her future college and career life, and wants to build a more equitable and green society and system for Massachusetts. She also hopes to pursue a side career of publishing creative writing pieces and is currently involved in numerous literature clubs and organizations.

Daniela Martinez is a 16-year-old junior attending John D. O’Bryant School for Mathematics and Science. She currently lives in East Boston and hopes to one day move to New York. She aspires to become an author of a book series marketed for tweens to teens. Aside from writing and reading poetry and short stories, she loves to scrapbook, doodle, and play the drums. In spite of being a massive introvert, she’ll always be the first to speak up for her fellow quiet kids.

Justis Porter (she/her) is an 18-year-old senior, born and raised in Dorchester. She intends on pursuing a career in the STEM field whilst also advocating for herself and others through her writing.

Evelyn Agama (she/her) is a 15-year-old sophomore attending Brighton High School, and is an aspiring forensic psychologist and novelist. Although she isn’t a native Bostonian, she has grown to enjoy spending her time here and with her friends. She enjoys creative writing, and learning and sharing more of the world and life with others. As a returning member on YLAB, she is enthusiastic about the year of experiences ahead, and what stories come to light during her time on the board.

Muna Warsame (she/her) is a 14-year-old student who attends Boston Latin School. She was born and raised in Boston but also spent four years of her life in Somalia and Kenya. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends in her free time. This is her first year at YLAB and she is ready to explore more through her writing.

If you have any other questions about the YLAB—please send us an email.

YLAB’s mission—as written by the inaugural cohort of participants—states:

826 Boston’s Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB) is a program that exists to inspire youth. It provides a supportive community,  a safe space for teens,  and a place to fulfill self- expression. It’s a transformative experience that encourages students to be comfortable with their self-identity.

YLAB is student-driven. We are a collective providing students support to discover their artistic voice through book publishing, podcasts, and civic engagement opportunities to fuel change. We strive to break the mold, push back against stereotypes about our generation, and take power in society.

YLAB believes that our identity should not be defined by adults or society. Our identity should be defined by us. We believe in ensuring that unheard voices are heard. We believe in limitless expression.