My name is Emma Shalmiyev and I’m a member of the class of 2024 at Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Pennsylvania. I like to sing, read, write, and play video games. Some would say I’m pretty creative—I connect everything I create to something I love, like a show, a book, a quote, a character, my interests, or even my identity. In middle school and high school, I’ve performed in my school’s music showcase. What I love about writing is that you can connect to the reader in a way that no one else can, and truly and purely tell a story that connects to them, too. I love being able to help people reach that goal.
I was born and raised in America, but my parents grew up in Azerbaijan while it was part of the Soviet Union and my great grandparents migrated to Azerbaijan from Iran and Iraq—which also makes me Persian. Azerbaijan is a country mainly consisting of Muslims, and only very few Jews live there. Unlike most Muslim countries, the Jews and Muslims got along, and that even helped preserve many Jewish traditions.