Selena Gomez went back to her roots and surprised students at her old middle school in Texas.
On Monday, the award-winning artist went back to where it all began at Danny Jones Middle School in Mansfield, Texas, stopping by her old stomping grounds to encourage current students and reconnect with some of her past teachers.
“Hello, students at Danny Jones Middle School. This is Selena Gomez talking to you,” the 27-year-old said over the intercom, in a video shared by the school on the Mansfield Independent School District’s website.
According to the school, Gomez had returned to her hometown to film for a new documentary about her childhood.
“This trip, I wanted to take my best friend Courtney, and also some of my people from my label, just to show them where I grew up and how proud I am of where I’m from,” Gomez explained. “Some of my teachers I got to see again, and they were part of my life for so long.”
While the former Disney Channel star greeted students in a montage of videos — taking selfies and granting hugs — her seventh-grade basketball coach recalled the type of student the singer was when she walked the halls.
“As a student, Selena was so humble and she was very kind,” Gray said. “She had a really kind, soft spirit. Hard, hard worker. Real humble. Just a real neat kid.”
Gray also described the day Gomez told her she was withdrawing from school to move to Florida and pursue her acting career. “I remember the day that she was leaving Jones,” Gray recalled. “She said ‘Oh I’m just going to Florida.’”
“And I said ‘How come?’ She said, ‘Oh I’m just going to be in a little Disney film.’” Gray added. “I said, ‘Oh. OK.’ Because sometimes middle school kids kind of exaggerate.”
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He may not have a driver’s license yet, but Jack Rico does have something most other 13-year-olds don’t: a quartet of college degrees under his belt.
The California teenager earned his associate’s degree this week from Fullerton College, bringing his total number of degrees to four, his mom Ru Andrade tells PEOPLE.
“It has been pure joy having Jack as a son and I couldn’t be any prouder of him,” she says.
The accomplishment makes him the youngest graduate ever from the community college.
“The college was established in 1913, so this is quite a legacy he can claim!” a spokeswoman for the school tells PEOPLE.
Jack started college courses when he was just 11 years old, and has spent the last two years earning his different degrees.
Andrade says she knew her son was “not your average kid” as early as 3 years old, when he asked to visit the White House for his 4th birthday.
“I told him that was a big trip for a little guy, and that I would take him if he could learn all the presidents,” she says, adding that the request was just a joke. “A week later he said, ‘Mom, I have a confession to make. I already knew all the presidents, but I learned all the vice presidents if that will still count?'”
Andrade says her son struggled in public school, and so she began homeschooling him in third grade, which allowed her to better focus on his areas of weakness.
“When he was 11, I knew he needed more of a challenge and a better teacher than me,” she says.
With that in mind, she entered him into Fullerton College’s Bridge Program, which allows K-12 students who pass placement exams to attend.
“He started out just taking one class and he absolutely loved it,” she says. “He just kept requesting taking more and more classes.”
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Selena Gomez is congratulating the class of 2020! The singer, 27, gave a surprise commencement address during the #Immigrad 2020 Virtual Commencement, which was a national celebration of students from immigrant families and supporters of immigrant rights from hundreds of high school and college campuses.
In a video message, Gomez shared a heartfelt message to the graduating students who were hosted by Define American, FWD.us, United We Dream, I Am An Immigrant and Golden Door Scholars.
“I know that this is a virtual ceremony, but it is very real. And it’s very real to all the families and all of you and your communities. I want you guys to know that you matter. And that your experiences are a huge part of the American story,” the star said.
“When my family came here from Mexico they set into motion my American story, as well as theirs. I’m a proud third-generation American-Mexican, and my family’s journey and their sacrifices helped me get me to where I am today,” Gomez said. “Mine is not a unique story. Each and every one of you has a similar tale of becoming an American.”
Gomez added, “Regardless of where your family is from, regardless of your immigration status, you have taken action to earn an education, to make your families proud, and to open up your worlds. I’m sending all of my love to you guys today and congratulations, and I hope that you guys are set off to be everything that you want to be.”
The Living Undocumented producer also recently made a special message to this year’s graduates during the #Graduation2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020 livestream.
“When people ask me what I would tell my younger self, I always said, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ You all have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and I know it’s not exactly how you imagined your graduation to look like,” Gomez said in a video filmed from her home. “I want to say it’s okay not to know what to do with the rest of your life. It’s a journey to find your direction or your passions, so don’t get frustrated by the mistakes and setbacks as they happen to all of us.”
“The amazing Oprah, like she said, you don’t become what you want not, you become what you believe. I think that really resonates as if you don’t believe in yourself, don’t expect others to believe in your abilities,” Gomez advised.
“Hopefully, you know, when large gatherings are allowed, everybody can get together and celebrate your important achievement. But until then stay safe, stay connected with your friends and loved ones, and congratulations for this milestone,” she said.
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Meet the Latino and Latina Power Houses that are gaining the world’s attention.
Patty Rodriguez is best known for her role as on-air talent for KIIS.FM’s morning show with Ryan Seacrest.
“I never saw myself on-the-air,” she tells HipLatina. After 13 years On Air With Ryan Seacrest, she finally became comfortable with telling stories of local heroes. “People on social media would always tell me, ‘oh you don’t have the voice for it’ and I guess I just believed it,” she adds. She didn’t pursue it for a long time because imposter syndrome was holding her back.
Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, also known as Checo Perez, has amassed more points than any other Mexican in the history of the F1. But Perez is yet to match his hero Pedro Rodriguez and take the chequered flag in first.
Perez recently committed to a long-term deal with Racing Point beyond 2021. Perez has been with the team since 2013, when he signed with the group, then called Force India. The group reformed as Racing Point in 2018.
“I feel very confident and very motivated with the team going forwards,” Perez said, “with how things are developing, with the future of this team, the potential I see.”
It was also recently announced that the Mexican Grand Prix, an FIA-sanctioned auto race held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, in Mexico City, will stay on the F1 calendar for the next three seasons.
“It was great news,” Perez said of the renewal. “It’s a massive boost on my side to know that for the next three years I’ll be racing home. Three more years to have an opportunity to make the Mexicans very proud.”
The 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honored 23-time Latin GRAMMY and two-time GRAMMY-winning singer, composer, musician, and philanthropist Juanes for his creative artistry, unprecedented humanitarian efforts, support of rising artists, and philanthropic contributions to the world.
Juanes (born Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez) is a Colombian musician whose solo debut album Fíjate Bien won three Latin Grammy Awards. According to his record label, Juanes has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.
Silvio Horta, best known as an executive producer of the hit ABC television series Ugly Betty, died in January. He was 45. Horta was an American screenwriter and television producer widely noted for adapting the hit Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea into the hit series, which ran 2006–2010. Horta served as head writer and executive producer of the series.
From the arts to activism, here are five Latina Woman that are making strides, breaking boundaries and that you should be paying attention to.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is an American labor organizer and author. On August 12, 2019, Ramirez announced her intention to challenge incumbent United States Senator John Cornyn in the 2020 United States Senate election in Texas. Tzintzún began organizing with Latino immigrant workers in 2000 in Columbus, Ohio, and then moved to Texas. At graduating from University of Texas, Austin, she helped establish the Workers Defense Project (WDP), serving as its executive director from 2006 to 2016. Following the 2016 election, Ramirez launched Jolt, an organization that works to increase Latino voter turnout. Her bid for the Senate has been endorsed by New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Texas representative Joaquin Castro, and actor Alec Baldwin.
A rising star in the male-dominated world of urbano (Ozuna, J Balvin, Bad Bunny), Mariah Angeliq, who goes simply by her first name, is here to prove that the girls can be bosses, too. On debut single “Blah,” the Miami-born and raised singer of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent lets the men know that their money (and their bragging) don’t impress her much, while her latest track “Perreito” is dripping with swag as she boasts about stealing the show with her flow as the one that shoots and never fails.
Lineisy Montero Feliz
Lineisy Montero Feliz is Dominican model known for her work with Prada. She is also known for her natural Afro hair. She currently ranks as one of the “Top 50” models in the fashion industry by models.com, including Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Céline.
Rico Nasty is one of the leading voices in the current style of hip-hop that adopts elements from hardcore and punk rock. Rico released a new song in January titled “IDGAF;” it’s built around softly echoing electric piano sounds and finds the DMV rapper in melodious sing-song mode.
The singer announced the summer launch of her cosmetics company, Rare Beauty, via Instagram on Feb. 4. The cosmetics company shares a title with her most recent album of the same name.
“Guys, I’ve been working on this special project for two years and can officially say Rare Beauty is launching in @sephora stores in North America this summer,” she captioned in the Instagram video.
“I think Rare Beauty can be more than a beauty brand,” the singer says in the video. “I want us all to stop comparing ourselves to each other and start embracing our own uniqueness. You’re not defined by a photo, a like, or a comment. Rare Beauty isn’t about how other people see you. It’s about how you see yourself.”
Creator of the Latinx series, The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia, which debuted on Netflix in February?
Saved by the Bell icon?
Lopez is many things to many people—a modern-day Renaissance Man.
Currently, he’s rebooting Saved by the Bell—which stole the hearts of a generation during its run from 1989 to 1993—and overseeing the already-popular Ashley Garcia, about a teenage robotics engineer and rocket scientist who works for NASA.
Lopez said Saved by the Bell, which features many of the original cast members, is off to a rousing start.
“We’ve gotten great reviews,” he said. It’s a fun, charming, sweet show that shows us in a great light.”
Ashley Garcia is a different animal. There have been other programs about young geniuses (Doogie Howser, MD comes to mind), but this series features a Latina lead and layered storylines. For one thing, Ashley, who earned a PhD at 15, has a complicated relationship with her mother, so she moves from the East Coast to Pasadena to live with her uncle Vito, a high school football coach (Lopez made an appearance in the show’s pilot episode, as uncle Vito’s friend Nico).
“The actors have great charm and the whole show has gentle tween appeal with strong pro-girl messages,” a review in Common Sense Media stated.
Lopez is indeed a Renaissance story, and it traces back to Dick Clark, the original host of the iconic Bandstand and a staple in the lives of TV viewers.
“He persuaded me to look at myself as a brand, as a host,” Lopez, the 46-year-old husband and father of three, said. “He influenced me in a big way.”
Taking advice from a legend was a pivotal moment in Lopez’ career. It’s easier to list what he hasn’t done than what he has done.
Across many platforms, Lopez has served as a role model for Latino and Latina entertainers and entrepreneurs.
He prefers to lead by example. Becoming a powerhouse brand is what allowed him to create the groundbreaking Ashley Garcia.
“We need more people to tell our stories,” he said of the Latinx community. “And that comes from writers and producers.”
Asked about Latino values, he chuckled.
“I just celebrate good values,” he said. “Good values are good values. We raise our kids in a faith-based environment.”
Lopez, who in 2018 was baptized in the Jordan River, said his own faith plays an important role in his prosperity as well as his peace.
“It helps me be still,” he said. “It helps me be humble and focused. It balances me.”
Mario Lopez Jr. was born on October 10, 1973, in San Diego, California, to Elvira, a telephone company clerk, and Mario Sr., who worked for the municipality of National City. Lopez was raised in a large Catholic family of Mexican descent. He started to learn to dance at the age of 3, training in tap and jazz. He also did tumbling, karate, and wrestling at his local Boys and Girls Club when he was 7 years old.
A fitness fanatic to this day, he competed in wrestling in high school, placing second in the San Diego Section and seventh in the state of California in his senior year while attending Chula Vista High School, where he graduated in 1991.
Lopez was discovered by a talent agent at a recital when he was 10 years old and landed jobs in local ads and commercials.
In 1984, he appeared as younger brother Tomás in the short-lived ABC comedy series a.k.a. Pablo. That same year, he was cast as a drummer and dancer on Kids Incorporated for three seasons. In March 1987, he was cast as a guest star on the sitcom The Golden Girls as a Latino boy named Mario who faces deportation. He was cast in a small part in the movie Colors.
Then came his big break. In 1989, Lopez was cast as A.C. Slater in the hugely successful sitcom Saved by the Bell.
His career was off and running.
In 1997, Lopez starred as Olympic diver Greg Louganis in the television movie Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story. The following year, he was cast as Bobby Cruz in the USA Network series Pacific Blue. In In 2006, Lopez joined the cast of the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, playing the role of Dr. Christian Ramirez.
In the fall of 2006, Lopez appeared on the third season of Dancing with the Stars, where he placed second in the competition and once again stole the hearts of women across the country.
Lopez began hosting Access Hollywood in 2019.
Asked about his most memorable interviews as a radio and TV host, he mentioned President Barack Obama.
“He knew who I was and that was pretty flattering,” Lopez said. “He’s very down to Earth and a cool guy. We talked about our kids.”
Lopez branched out to radio in the 1990s. Today, he hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, ON with Mario Lopez. In addition, he’s starred on Broadway and published three books: Mario Lopez Knockout Fitness, Extra Lean, and Mario and Baby Gia, about Lopez and his daughter.
At the end of the day, Lopez is a family man, a businessman, his own brand and an advocate for the advancement in all walks of life for Latinos.
Admirers often cite his heartthrob looks, but Lopez is all about hard work and… no excuses.
He recently cited the fact that Latinos are opening more small businesses than anyone in the United States. Not everyone can build a brand like Mario Lopez, but they can strive to be their best every day.
“No opportunity?” Lopez said, “We’ll make our own opportunities, and flourish!”
A fully taped production of the Broadway hit, Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is being released to Disney+ in its entirety on July 3, 2020, just in time for Independence Day.
Originally due to premiere as a theatrical release on October 21, 2021, the movie has been moved up to provide a sense of hope and comfort due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the cultural and historical impact that Hamilton has had since its Broadway debut in 2015, Disney plans to make the experience more captivating and to include as Disney quoted, “the best elements of live theater, film, and streaming.”
Creating this kind of atmosphere will not be a difficult task, due to how the filmmakers have already produced it. The production was filmed from various camera angles from the show’s original Richard Rodgers Theatre home and filmed across three different performances in in 2016.
The production will include all of the original Broadway cast members, including Leslie Odom Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Jonathan Groff, Daveed Diggs, upcoming In the Heights star Anthony Ramos, and of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced a $4 million grant to the American Indian College Fund to support college students whose educational progress has been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are engines of opportunity—propelled by a cadre of dedicated educators and administrators—many lack the resources needed to deploy information technology tools, student services, and other solutions at the scale needed by their students during the COVID-19 pandemic. TCUs have been disproportionately and devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to historical inequities, structural and enrollment-related challenges, and overly burdened institutional financial aid budgets. The Mellon Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts to allocate resources and ensure that aid is delivered to students most in need.
“Tribal Colleges and Universities are central to our nation’s fabric and critical to its future. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the societal and structural challenges that many of these institutions have long confronted, and we are committed to doing all that we can to support them and the students they serve,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander.
Even in better times, many students at these institutions face impediments to their individual well-being and academic progress. As campuses have closed in efforts to contain the virus’s spread, undergraduate and graduate students struggle to navigate these unprecedented times.
According to the Tribal Colleges and Universities #RealCollege Survey report published this March, 29 percent of TCU student survey respondents were homeless at some point in the prior 12 months, almost 62 percent were food insecure in the prior 30 days, and 69 percent faced housing insecurity in the prior 12 months.
“The College Fund appreciates the ways that the Mellon Foundation has demonstrated leadership in its support of tribal colleges and has shown care for the well-being of our students and their families during this crisis,” said American Indian College Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull. “Our students are not only the backbone of their families, they are our hope for the future— through their perseverance and creativity, our tribal communities will survive this pandemic and bring prosperity to our society.”
The American Indian College Fund will distribute the emergency funds to its network of tribal colleges so that they can address immediate and pressing needs related to the pandemic and provide persistence resources to support new and returning students in the summer and fall of 2020 and beyond as determined necessary. Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund is the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education. In addition to providing thousands of scholarships to Native American students, the College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations.
Members of the public may add their support by making individual contributions on the American Indian College Fund’s website.
About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, our core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. Additional information is available at mellon.org.
About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $208 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.
Fable Cottage. These fun audio and video stories in French, German, Spanish, and Italian are usually locked under subscription, but are now freely accessible.
Conjuguemos. This teachers’ mecca of games, activities, and worksheets in seven languages (including Latin and Korean) is perfect for building an awesome curriculum of the nuts and bolts—verbs, grammar, and vocab. Free during the outbreak.
iCulture. Don’t miss Carnegie Learning’s immersion package of videos, articles, and songs in French, Spanish, or German, which are free through June.
Mango. The company provides high-speed learning in 70 languages for companies and schools. Its online language portal is freely accessible.
Since the beginning of time, humans have thrived through social interaction. While bonding with friends still consists of getting together to talk, laugh and share with one another, the physical aspect of social interaction is no longer necessary. TikTok’s content and ability to connect people mimics what we love about interacting with each other.
The most popular videos on the app usually fall into two categories: comedy and dance. To this day, some of our most important social gatherings, such as birthday parties and weddings, still revolve around laughing and dancing with one another. While done in a more virtual setting, TikTok’s algorithm has allowed for the same enjoyment to take place within the app. Comedy skits or joke setups are mimicked, built upon and applauded by other members of the community. Dancing on the app is easy to do and can be filmed with multiple people from around the world, with a “duet” feature that allows creators to film their own content to coincide with an original video they have found.
So, while TikTok may not be the traditional form of bonding that we are used to, it is still the type of bonding that we seek. Plus, given the climate of today’s world, perhaps social bonding on TikTok is even the best form of socializing, as we are doing our part to self-isolate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.