Student-led Humans of Mason Instagram page showcases unique student perspectives

Bradyn Johnson | The Chronicle

High school teenagers with aspirations have taken it upon themselves to create a social media account that mimics a famous New York Instagram page. Humans of MHS (@humansofmasonhigh), is an Instagram account that was established in 2017 by senior Kunal Arora and his sister, Anvi Arora, who is now an MHS alumni. The account features 75 students
interacting with their passions, interests, concerns and displaying aspects from their daily lives that make them unique.

Arora drew the inspiration from the account, Humans of New York, which features personalized interviews of New Yorkers from different cultures and backgrounds. Arora said he drew his inspiration from the New York page in order to meet new people while he and his sister were new to Mason, in which he simply said, “We thought it’d be cool to start the page.”

In order to be featured, an MHS student must be nominated by a peer, teacher, Instagram Direct message (DM), or by simply, word of mouth. The team of people behind the construction of the page goes so far as to do research on the students themselves in order to serve as a pathway to shed light on notions they believe will help their followers learn more about the high school.

“We’ll reach out to them and ask if they’d like to be interviewed,” Arora said. “We have a conversation with them about something they’re passionate about and an experience that defines them.”

The Instagram account was created with a purpose to inform and inspire their followers to explore their passions and create a unified online environment that may serve as an outlet to those who are overwhelmed in a large high school. Lead team member Shriya Parthasarthi said that the Humans of Mason High School Instagram account serves as a special way to present students with a variety of talents with opportunities to find a way to highlight students of MHS.

“Usually it’s just a platform for people to share their hobbies or what they’ve been through,” Parthasarthi said. “I think it impacts how everyone else is dealing with what they’re going through in life.”

As a new student, Arora felt that it was tough having to adjust to a new environment when he was a new student in Mason, and took it into his own hands to impede the cycle of unfamiliarity within the school. Parthasarathi said that Humans of Mason High is an encouraging building block for students to get to know each other, inevitably impeding the big school atmosphere that Mason presents.

“There are so many people we don’t know here,” Parthasarathi said.“It definitely is a starter step to getting to know more of the people present around us.”

The social media posts suggest that students feel more comfortable opening up about their personal experiences, dreams and aspirations. Junior Anna Gogul was recently featured on the page for her involvement in Hope Squad, and said that she feels that the Humans of Mason Instagram page is a necessity that the high school needs in order to make students feel celebrated as well as encourage other students to get involved.

“They highlight parts of the school that aren’t seen as much that should have more awareness around them,” Gogul said. “I think it’s really cool, it’s like a little spotlight.”

Because mental health awareness stretches to a vast majority of students in Mason, the Humans of Mason Instagram page team makes it a priority to highlight the opportunities for students to be involved as well as to provide knowledge on a place for students who are struggling to go.

Gogul is a part of Hope Squad, a club that prioritizes mental health. Because of the Humans of Mason High’s post about Gogul and the Hope Squad, Gogul said that highschoolers began to come out of the woodwork and express themselves.

“A couple people reached out to me and were like, I didn’t really know this about Hope Squad and that you guys did all this work,” Gogul said. “A couple other people then reached out to me because of their mental health, and were seeking a peer.”

Not only were students inspired by the work of Humans of Mason, but they also found this social media platform as a means of informing and connecting with students to one of the numerous resources that enables students to get the assistance they desperately need.

“I was really flattered,” Gogul said. “It was humbling, I got to say what I wanted to say about something that I care so much
about, and put it in a way that other people can understand and connect to.”

Gogul said that Humans of Mason High takes pride in including everyone in it’s big school community, allowing everyone to feel welcome no matter who you are.

“They highlight parts of the school that aren’t seen as much that should have more awareness around them,” Gogul said.

Graphics by Nishka Mishra