The Essay: Meet Serenity Cruz, Our Newest Bronx Intern!

By Serenity Cruz

Hello, my name is Serenity, the 14-year-old latest arrival to the New York Videogame Critics Circle. I love to draw what comes to mind, yet most of my drawings always have to do with video games. From the small Megaman doodles to the Mudkip and Slowking drawings on almost every card stock paper I’ve owned, video games are must haves in my drawings. Starting off by playing games like Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo DS to games like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team that was released on the GameBoy Advance, I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember.

I first learned about the New York Videogame Critics Circle from my ELA teacher, Mr. O’Callaghan, who was in contact with Harold leading to the 10-week writing course starting in Mott Hall 3, my school. Throughout the course, I was able to enhance my skills as a writer and learned the art of journalism through video games from Harold, Whitney, Isaac and Ronald. I was also able to make close friendships with my fellow members in the small community of school gamers such as Khloe Wilkerson. The group would have engaging conversations after the intense silence of the first day jitters. At the end of the course, we had to complete three writing assignments which were: a review of a video game of our choosing, a poem that reflects on a social injustice, and a narrative that focuses on a social injustice and has at least two characters of color. 

I thought I didn’t have what it took to impress the Critics Circle, so I had pushed aside completing the three assignments until the final few days. This was due to the persistence of a certain Mr. O’Callaghan, who decided to save the three documents. When Mr. O’Callaghan handed me the paper for the results of the writing competition, the first words that popped into my head were: “There is no use looking at this flimsy paper, I didn’t accomplish the spectacular.” As soon as I looked down, I saw my name “2nd Place (Tie) – Serenity Cruz – $1,500.” I shoved that paper in my backpack and once I got home, I stared at that paper, saying, “How in the world did I do this?” I also received an offer for working as an intern, however, I declined that particular year. 

Time for Round Two! During the following year’s class, there was a lot more of a chaotically fun atmosphere with most of the group being very competitive like the time where the group played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mr. O’Callaghan showed no mercy towards us young ones. This time, the students were like that – assertive. Towards the end, we had to start writing our three writing assignments once again. I also was feeling a lot more confident in myself since I started writing as soon as the after school program started. As a way to gather together everyone that was in the after school program both the previous year and this year, the New York Videogame Critics Circle has organized a trip to Microsoft Experience Center. Besides being squished into elevators, pretending we were one big happy family only to giggle at the intense silence, we learned a lot about what happened there, how the place and the history of the Xbox and its games.

 At the end of the trip in the Microsoft game area, the winners were announced for this year. This time I got third place, not being surprised about me winning because of that confidence I had.

Shortly afterwards, assistant mentor Ronald Gordon said to me, “Serenity, you also have an offer for an internship.” I don’t remember exactly what I said but I do remember saying I would “actually think about it.” As soon as I got home, I told my mom about the internship. She said that it is my choice whether to do it or not and, for the obvious reasons that I am writing this, I said I will do it. My mom supports the decision I have made and will be helping me as well. Remembering what Mr. O’Callaghan said about the benefits of doing the internship, I finally agreed and was inspired by how zealous and now is as the Circle’s Executive Director.

From the young traditional artist who loves drawing video game characters to the newest intern of the New York Videogame Critics Circle, I have made quite the journey to end up writing this introductory piece. I’m very excited to say that I can play a part, even if I was a bit hesitant at first. I’m ready for the challenge!

Bronx writer/artist Serenity Cruz is the New York Videogame Critics Circle’s newest intern. This is her first story for the Circle.

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