You saw a photo in the Washington Post with Defense Secretary James Mattis's phone number scrawled on a Post-it note. So you decided to contact him for an interview?

I didn't really think about it; it just kind of happened. I called the number to see if it was him, and when the call went to his voice mail, I hung up and then sent him a text message asking for the interview. I didn't think about the fallout or what would happen if he called back.

How did you and your editor, Jane Gormley, go about shaping the interview?

We knew that I would ask policy-related questions, and Jane would ask human-interest questions, because of our interests. I love reading about politics, foreign policy, and military history, while Jane is more interested in finding stories that can relate to our audience, especially high schoolers. I made a lot of questions up on the spot after we ran out of questions because Mattis kept talking.

Were you nervous during the interview? What was the highlight?

I wasn't really nervous, because I was very focused and knew what I wanted to do. The highlight was probably at the beginning of the interview when he said he talks to congressmen, politicians, and generals the same way he would talk to high schoolers. He also remembered and addressed me by my name—showing that he took me seriously.

What was the biggest takeaway from this experience?

The biggest takeaway for me would be that if you are respectful and polite when asking questions, most people, regardless of their occupation, age, and power, will take the time to answer. As a student, I learned not to be afraid to ask anyone anything, and that it's okay to press people as long as you are willing to listen to their responses and maintain a polite attitude.

What other kinds of things do you like to do, besides write for the student paper?

I love to draw, I also play goalie in ice hockey and instruct at Mercer Island Martial Arts as a black belt in tae kwon do. I love to volunteer during the summer, especially with VOICE and Global Visionaries, two programs that I have spent much time with. I enjoy reading and comic books and graphic novels. I listen to most genres of rock. And I spend my free time getting into pointless, heated political arguments online that I'm sure Mattis would disapprove of, based on his advice.

Million-dollar question: After this experience, did you decide to go into journalism as a career?

I'm not really sure; I'm still exploring my options. Certainly, after this interview, I'll consider journalism as a career prospect. recommended