Multnomah Village 11-year-old Siena Kelso-Mooney wins opportunity to help put out issue of favorite magazine for tweens

Siena Kelso-Mooney is 11 years old, lives in Multnomah Village and loves to write. She is also a longtime reader of Discovery Girls, a magazine that aims to help girls navigate their preteen years and features articles written by the girls themselves. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Siena Kelso-Mooney.

“I really like how Discovery Girls magazine is very honest,” Siena said. “They focus more on being a girl rather than … making cupcakes, or stuff like that — sugarcoating.”

This year, for the first time, Discovery Girls chose 36 girls from the United States and Canada to come to San Francisco for a summit where they had the chance to work on the magazine — and Siena was one of them.

“It is a huge deal for the 'tween' set of girls,” said Siena’s mother, Nicole Kelso. “Many of Siena's friends submitted an entry as well.”

The contest called for applicants to submit three personal photos and to complete a lengthy questionnaire consisting of essay prompts similar to those asked on a college application.

Though there was no minimum length for answers to these questions, “I wrote about a page for each,” Siena recalled. “I like to write.”

It turned out that Siena’s passion for writing was complemented by skill, and she was chosen to attend the second of two four-day camps at the summit from July 23 to 26. The girls were divided into groups of six and assigned an upcoming issue of the magazine — Siena’s group’s was October/November 2014.

“We got to review a book they’re coming out with, and they videotaped us talking about issues like friendship problems,” Siena said. “You took profile shots, and you also get a paragraph to write about what you like to do. You can choose to write all about how you want to be a veterinarian when you grow up or how you love to kayak. It’s kind of just your space.”

Though the hours were long — from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Siena said — the girls were given breaks throughout the day. However, there were few breaks from being photographed for marketing purposes.

“Sometimes on your breaks you’d be sitting around, and … huddled up reading a book together, and then somebody comes up and says, ‘Start twirling your hair and get in the picture better,’” Siena said. “But it was a lot of fun.”

Overall, Siena said the experience was extremely positive.

“I got 16 new friends and got a lot more confidence from it, because there were some 8,000 other entries,” she explained. “They gave us little contact books and I have a lot of new numbers, and now I have an excuse to visit other places.”

But the greatest part by far was finding out that she had been deemed beautiful enough — on the inside and out — to be chosen for the summit.

“She is 100 percent about the writing aspect of this opportunity,” her mother said, “but will be happy to be on the cover of an international magazine too.”

“It makes you feel really good to know that your writing and your smile were really good,” said Siena. “When you get the email and get through the initial ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s so cool,’ you kind of think, ‘Really, wow, it’s super awesome,’ like, ‘You’re so lucky.’”

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