In the competitive world of today, young achievers and entrepreneurs are on the rise globally. Evelyn Atieno, 19, is no exception with her several achievements, including creating Affinity Magazine – a platform for teenagers to voice and form their opinions. Besides being editor in chief of the magazine, Atieno studies international relations at the University of Baltimore, writes for the Huffington Post and works as a freelance photographer. She also wrote a children’s book titled “Where Did Daddy Go?”, covering the effects of immigration and deportation laws on immigrant children.
“As long as I remember, I’ve always been writing,” she confessed in an interview over Skype. “I started writing poems, then short stories, and then I started writing articles,” Atieno recalled. She shifted from one blog to another but none of them felt enough for her. The idea for creating Affinity Magazine sprung from a passion of hers. She “had stacks of Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazines” in her room but later realised she was “sick of adults writing for teens”, and therefore decided to create the magazine to tackle the issue.
Affinity started as a blog where Atieno took pictures of people at her school in February 2013. “Several months later, I kept pondering the idea of something bigger,” she admitted, turning Affinity into a physical and online monthly publication solely written by Atieno from August 2013. In 2015, however, it became a daily online magazine, and she started accepting applications from teenagers around the world.
Today, Affinity Magazine has over a hundred writers. “The staff is so diverse,” she stated and later added that she received submissions from various countries such as Romania, Germany and Australia. Moreover, Affinity’s Twitter account is now verified and the magazine has over one million views, gaining it more credibility.
When asked about the opportunities Atieno’s creation presented her writers, she immediately explained that “they get to have a portfolio from a young age to help them out in their career. They gain responsibility, credibility and experience. They are also more likely to get into the colleges they want.” As for the readers, Affinity “presents them with a community.” Atieno communicates with her audience through Twitter to build a sense of trust and safety. She admits that they even come to her with their homework and personal problems.
Furthermore, Affinity also presents itself with advantages for Atieno. She was listed in Business Insider’s list of “20 incredibly impressive kids graduating from high school this year” for creating the magazine. Besides being the chief editor, she also writes for the magazine. This helped her become a writer for the American online news aggregator, The Huffington Post, where she also promotes the magazine. Additionally, since she plans to study law. The topics Affinity discusses, such as race and gender, fall under human rights issues, which will eventually help her broaden her horizons for her career.
“Oh my God, of course,” was her response to being asked if she faced challenges running the magazine. “There’s so much backlash when you post an article and someone doesn’t agree. [Many] people ask us to delete the article or say it’s terrible.” Atieno struggles with these replies since she cares about her writers’ views, yet she still believes that “everyone has their own opinion.” The challenge of time management became easier as the staff became diverse. Articles come in around the clock, making it easier to publish at any free point of her day.
Finally, the future of Affinity remains strong as she said, “I don’t want to be twenty five and still writing for the magazine. However, I will oversee operation to make sure Affinity stays authentic for teenagers.”
Teenagers and young adults are creating their own future, and Evelyn Atieno is the paradigm to prove this.