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Meet Dahria Messina — Storyteller, Writer, Filmmaker

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by Carla Occaso

Dahria Messina. Photo by Carla Occaso.
Dahria Messina. Photo by Carla Occaso.

MONTPELIER — Dahria Messina most likely does not fit the mold of any high school student

you’ve ever met. She is 17, has written a screenplay that she is in the process of producing, knows where she plans to go to college and has a career mapped out. Much of this clarity she attributes to the adult support she received from her mother, her film teacher and her guidance counselor at Montpelier High School.

Dahria exudes confidence, which springs forth despite what sounds like a backdrop of adversity. She has been home-schooled for years by her single mother (who she describes as “amazing”) because of a medical problem that prevented her from regularly attending school. As a result, Dahria and her mother worked with the local school system to create her own individualized study plan. “I’ve had some odd schooling,” she said.

The Bridge asked, “What is your education like?”

“A lot better than I ever dreamed it would be in high school. I got to sit down with somebody and create a graduation plan called ‘alternate pathways to graduation,’” Dahria said. Right now she is working with Central Vermont Basic Education on a program that plots out how to fulfill the requirements needed to graduate high school. Through this program she is taking an audio storytelling class called “True Stories” at Goddard College and a film class at Montpelier High School from Daniel Miller-Arsenault. It was an event that occurred during her class at MHS that helped crystallize her vision of higher education.

A visiting filmmaker to Arsenault’s class inspired Messina to switch her original choice of colleges (New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts) to Chicago’s Columbia College, which specializes in communications, media and visual arts. Talking about getting this hands-on exposure to filmmaking and other broadcast media makes Messina’s eyes sparkle. What exactly does she see herself doing for a career? “I would love to be a screenwriter and a filmmaker,” she said.

Dahria is a storyteller who has been crafting narrative since she was very young, but “only since” the fourth or fifth grade has she decided to make it her vocation. In keeping with her interests and ability to reach out to real-world experiences, Messina will be writing some features for The Bridge about, you guessed it … film, filmmaking and filmmakers.

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