Amy Briseño was taking an Advanced Placement English class in her high school when her teacher gave her the opportunity to earn some extra credit by participating in a Tucson poetry slam.
Briseño followed through and attended the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam event. She didn't win, but the experience changed her life.
This year, the young poet and aspiring teacher won an award from the Tucson Pima Arts Council as an "emerging artist" in Southern Arizona.
TPAC gives out the annual "Lumies" to people who are seen as "luminaries" for their support or participation in the arts.
"I'm a poet who's 19 from South Tucson," she says with a smile. "I haven't even been doing this two years and I won, so it's just amazing, it was shocking."
Briseño is currently studying early childhood education while she pursues her passion for poetry. That pursuit includes co-hosting the monthly poetry slam held at Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea, which was also honored with a Lumie this year.
Briseño says her participation in poetry has also improved her public speaking skills, personal confidence and artistic awareness.
She says she hopes to do the same for other young people in the community who may be looking for something new to try out--or some extra credit.