Maria Carrillo student Brooke Cichosz combines her passion for storytelling with her quest for social equality. Press Democrat photo by Jeff Kan Lee


Brooke Cichosz has core beliefs and interests that propel her through busy days in her senior year at Maria Carrillo High School.
The Santa Rosa 17-year-old is keen on the craft of storytelling and has pursued that art through a full schedule of speech and theater projects.
She is a regular entrant in school speech events and has acted in and directed stage productions since she was a freshman. Next month, for the second year, she will co-produce Maria Carrillo’s annual assembly honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
That project highlights her deep belief in social equality and human rights.
Cichosz, whose Polish last name is pronounced Cheehosh, is not shy expressing that commitment.
“I am for strong women,” she says with a smile.
Her mother and maternal grandmother are close role models, instilling her with the curiosity of a world traveler and a confidence that has made her a leader among her peers.
A practicing trapeze artist, she has a flair for the dramatic. Her parents also are trained actors who met when her mother traveled to Poland for a summer workshop.
That background pays off on stage, said theater teacher Carl Kraines. Brooke has great command of each of her projects and is able to translate that into deft, helpful direction for the actors around her, he said.
“She has that touch,” he said. “She’s very, very insightful.”
At school, she has dropped in to pen letters for Amnesty International, the human rights group. At the assembly next month, she’ll be giving parts of two speeches by Coretta Scott King, one reciting her husband’s famous address opposing the Vietnam War and another about the importance of education and the power of youth.
Her teachers say she is poised to deliver again.
“She’s an an amazing speaker. She makes anything come alive,” said Brigette Mansell, an English instructor who oversees the speech and assembly programs.
Cichosz fell in love with storytelling from an early age, soaking up the alternative lessons at Summerfield Waldorf School. Recently, she has read books on the plight of impoverished women and a biography of England’s Queen Elizabeth I. The 16th century monarch made an impression on her.
“She rose to the challenge and showed everybody how strong a woman could be,” Cichosz said.
She is planning a career as a TV producer, with hopes of studying at one of two Los Angeles-area universities. She hopes the training will lead to a job that takes her around the world, telling stories “about people who make a difference.”
“About something that wouldn’t otherwise attract attention,” she said. “Especially women’s issues.”
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or

Brooke Cichosz

Age:  17
Birthplace:  Santa Rosa
Lives with: Parents Marek and Bridget; sister Shawn, 15; brother Aleksander, 12; grandparents Suzanne and Allan
Music playlist: Country, world folk music, “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
Hobby: Trapeze
Dream job: TV producer
Favorite TV show: “How I Met Your Mother”
Favorite food: Barszca, a Polish beet and dumpling soup
Quote: Her grandmother Suzanne’s saying — “Life is mysterious. Stay curious.”