A Portrait of Gen Z: Winners of Our Second Annual Student Photo Contest

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A Portrait of Gen Z: Winners of Our Second Annual Student Photo Contest

Wake up. Go to school. Learn. Do extracurriculars. Go back home. Do homework. Sleep. Repeat. And look good for college.

While her peers applied to college last year, Johnna was sworn in by the U.S. Army and supported by her family, her teachers and her friends. From a young age, we’re told to go to college after high school so that we can make ends meet, money and happiness. But we’re pitted against each other in an education system that rewards the wealthy but punishes the poor. This is a reality for me and my peers except for Johnna, who defies that perpetuated stereotype — in the U.S. Army. She paves a nontraditional path and wears her JROTC uniform proudly, saying beginnings don’t always start with college. — Brandon Yam

These 20 students made it to the final round:

Sienna Balardeta, Jaden Brown, Grace Buckland, Jaidin Flanagan, Trevor Joseph Giesberg, Davit Hakobyan, Ashley Henderson, Marina Petrovic Kinzy, Zoe Lynch, Maria Mairaj, Juliet Marcus, Alyiah Medina, Sadie Mossa, Elizabeth Nguyen, Natalee Kayla Park, Sophie Parsons, Kimberling Rivera, Aaron Seibert, Aida Topic and Mackenzie Werking

Thank you to everyone who participated, and don’t forget that The Learning Network runs contests for teenagers all year long.

Thank you to Times art director Corinne Myller, photo assistant Pia Peterson and visuals producer Karen Hanley, who worked with Learning Network staff — Nicole Daniels, Jeremy Engle, Ross Flatt, Michael Gonchar, John Otis, Natalie Proulx and Katherine Schulten — to choose from the many wonderful images we received.