Boy, 13, Earns Fourth Associate’s Degree
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fullerton college in california campus

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.”

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Selena Gomez Gives Heartfelt Message to Graduating Students from Immigrant Families: ‘You Matter’
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Selena Gomez gives heartfelt speech to mexican immigrants for graduation 2020

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.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Mellon Foundation Announces $4 Million Emergency Relief Grant to the American Indian College Fund in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
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American Indian College Fund students talking with each other

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.

Photo: American Indian College Fund Photo

6 ways to learn a foreign language for free while you’re sheltering in place for COVID-19
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woman sitting at table using laptop

Your always-home lifestyle presents an unparalleled opportunity to expand your language skills. Why not go immersive? French radio! German podcasts! Italian recipes for dinner!

Or, you know, just brush up. Much of the world is stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now, the best intensive language programs in the world are free:

  • Rosetta Stone. The grandfather of language companies is offering free three-month subscriptions to learn any of 22 languages.
  • Babbel. The course hub just opened up three months of free classes in a dozen languages.
  • 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.

Bonne chance!

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Seize Your Online Education During Isolation
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virtual classroom with chairs covering a keyboard

As almost every university has closed its doors due to the repercussions of COVID-19, professors and students alike have taken to online schooling to finish their semesters.

Despite the stereotype of online schooling versus an in-classroom experience, so many tools have been implemented that allow students to still receive a quality education. Tools, such as Zoom Video Communications Inc, is one of the most popular tools in classroom communication. Students can log in to this webcam-based program and interact with their professors and peers in this lecture-based setting. Uploaded online lectures, unlike in-person lectures, allow for rewinding and pausing, should the student need more time to take notes or understand the topic.

Professors can also experience a variety of benefits from the online classroom. Programs like Cisco’s Webex have features that allow professors and students to have a more trusted form of education. Students can message questions to their professors on the app, and the professor can choose to answer the question to the entire class or answer the question privately. Professors can also use resources like Cisco to save their lecture notes and make them available to students who couldn’t keep up with the notes.

At this time, the materials needed for a quality online education are being offered in the form of free trials, discounted prices and even free resources. Google, for instance, recently announced it would be offering free hangout sessions equipped for a large number of people wanting to use Google for educational purposes.

The ease of online education accompanied with the current low prices invite students and those who having been contemplating going back to school to continue their education in an easy-to-use, low-stress environment.

Natalie Rodgers
Diversity in STEAM Magazine contributing writer

Here’s Everything That’s Happened With Your Student Loans In 2 Weeks
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Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education loans

In case you missed it, there have been major changes regarding your student loans. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, which includes a $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the Coronavirus health emergency.

Among other benefits, the CARES Act has major implications for the way you pay your student loans, think about student loan forgiveness, and manage your money during Coronavirus.

Fortunately, let’s make it easy for you and put all the updates in one place so you’re up to speed. Here are the major changes:

Student Loans

President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, which is a $2 trillion stimulus package that provides economic relief as a result of COVID-19. The CARES Act includes several benefits for your student loans, which are intended to help you manage your money due to the coronavirus emergency. Among other benefits, the CARES Act provides:

1. Stop paying your federal student loans through September 30, 2020.

That’s not a typo. You can stop paying your federal student loans through September 30, 2020.

What This Means: This means that you have the option to stop paying your federal student loans. If you choose this option (and you don’t have to), you will not face any penalties or late fees.

What This Doesn’t Mean: This doesn’t mean you can stop paying all your student loans. Remember, this is only for federal student loans that are owned by government agencies such as Direct Loans. However, this does not include private student loans or FFEL Loans.

2. Pay no interest on federal student loans.

What This Means: This is not a typo either. Through September 30, 2020, no interest will accrue on your federal student loans. This means that for this period, the interest rate will be set to 0% and no new interest will accrue on your federal student loan balance.

What This Does Not Mean: This only applies to federal student loans only, not private student loans or FFEL Loans.

3. Student loan debt collection has been halted.

What This Means: This means that wages, tax refunds and Social Security benefits will not be garnished during this period to pay for federal student loans. Trump previously stopped student loan debt collection for 60 days.

What This Doesn’t Mean: This does not mean the federal government is forgetting about student loan debt that is in default. Rather, the federal government has suspended student loan debt collection during this period.

4. Pausing student loan payments won’t negatively impact your payments for student loan forgiveness.

What This Means: If you choose to pause federal student loan payments during this period, the federal government will still count these “payments” (even if you don’t make any) as part of any required federal student loan forgiveness program, including public service loan forgiveness.

What This Doesn’t Mean: This doesn’t mean that you will hurt your chances to qualify for public service loan forgiveness because the 120 payments do not need to be consecutive.

Important Questions

1. If I don’t have to make federal student loan payments, is the federal government paying my student loans for me?

No. Your federal student loan balance will not change. Consider this a break from student loan payment. However, no one is paying your federal student loans during this period.

2. Is all my federal student loan interest being waived?

No, your existing federal student loan interest will remain. The only portion that is being waived is new student loan interest that would have accrued on your federal student loans through September 30, 2020.

3. Can I still make federal student loan payments if I want to?

Yes, you can still make federal student loan payments. Even though your interest rate is 0%, your monthly student loan payment unfortunately will not be lower. Rather, your student loan payment can help pay off your existing student loan balance (since there is no new interest accrual).

4. So, how much student loan forgiveness will I get?

Many borrowers ask, “What should I know about student loan forgiveness and Coronavirus?” Senate Democrats proposed a student loan forgiveness plan that would forgive at least $10,000 of federal student loans for all borrowers. House Democrats proposed that every borrower receive $30,000 of student loan forgiveness. Former Vice President Joe Biden supports $10,000 of student loan forgiveness, although this new plan differs from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s original student loan forgiveness plan to cancel student loan debt. Despite these proposals, the CARES Act does not include any student loan forgiveness.

5. I checked my student loan servicer’s website and it says that if I stop making payments on my federal student loans, I won’t qualify for public service loan forgiveness. This must be wrong.

Since this legislation is new, many student loan servicers have not yet updated their website to reflect these updates. (Also, make sure you know how not to get disqualified for student loan forgiveness).

Remember, this announcement applies only to federal student loans (not private student loans).

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

New Article Shows Tribal Colleges and Universities’ Unique Role in Building American Indian Nations
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american indian college fund logo

Denver, Colo., February 2, 2020—Tribal colleges and universities are unlike any other higher education institution. Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, wanted to tell the story of how these remarkable institutions serving Indian reservation communities provide an education to the nation’s most underserved student population—while also supporting the process of rebuilding tribal identity and tribal nations. Crazy Bull gathered four tribal college presidents and experts in Native higher education to share how they do this work in their diverse tribal communities. The result of their work, titled “Tribal Colleges and Universities: Building Nations, Revitalizing Identity,” has been published in Change: The Magazine of Higher Education, Volume 52, 2020.

The article is co-authored by Crazy Bull, who also served as a tribal college president for 10 years at Northwest Indian College in Washington state, with veteran tribal college educators and presidents Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, North Dakota; Raymond Burns, Leech Lake Tribal College, Minnesota; Dr. Laurel Vermillion, Sitting Bull College, serving the Standing Rock Nation in North Dakota and South Dakota; and Dr. Leander “Russ” McDonald, United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota.

The article takes an in-depth look at the distinctive but overlapping approaches four tribal colleges use that support tribal nation-building. The narratives focus on how the presidents’ institutions work impacts their communities, such as culturally competent health and wellness programming, economic revitalization, workforce development, language restoration, community capacity building, and tribal governance.

Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are tribally controlled institutions with unique characteristics – a majority American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) student enrollment, predominately or entirely Native governing boards, culturally rooted curriculum, community-driven programming, and a commitment to tribal self-determination.

Copies of the article are available online at Taylor and Francis at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00091383.2020.1693819.

About Cheryl Crazy Bull

Cheryl Crazy Bull is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian College Fund, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Her experience and research are primarily with and about tribally controlled education and leadership.

About Cynthia Lindquist

Cynthia Lindquist is the President of Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Spirit Lake, North Dakota. In addition to her higher education administration expertise, she shares her knowledge about community-based research, health and wellness, and equity through presentations and publications.

About Raymond Burns

Raymond Burns is President of Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota. His primary focus has always been on finding ways for Native students to achieve their academic best and help rebuild Indigenous communities to the status and importance that they once had.

About Laurel Vermillion

Laurel Vermillion is President of Sitting Bull College, located on the Standing Rock Nation straddling south central North Dakota and north central South Dakota. A former elementary teacher, Laurel is particularly focused on language revitalization and building community-wide initiatives that restore cultural practices and knowledge.

About Leander McDonald

Leander “Russ” McDonald is President of United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota. Russ has served as Chairman of the Spirit Lake Dakota and as a regional representative to the National Congress of American Indians. He is an experienced researcher and promotes tribal self-determination through education and outreach.

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, and over $221 million in scholarships and community support 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.

American Indian College Fund Publishes Free Career Planning Guide
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Free career guide cover for American Indian College Fund with Native American woman in traditional dress on the cover

Native American college students have unique needs and challenges in higher education. Navigating their developing career paths while honoring their indigenous identities and communities is no different. To help Native students plan for and accomplish their career goals in college and at any stage of life, the American Indian College Fund has published a new “Career Pathways” guidebook.

While many career planning resources exist to help students prepare for work, the new “Career Pathways” guidebook was created by the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) to provide tailored resources and advice to meet the unique needs of indigenous students. The guide is filled with culturally relevant career preparation resources, including the advice of Native professionals and teachers shared from their own valuable experience. Tom Brooks (Mohawk), Vice President of External Affairs at AT&T and a member of the College Fund’s Board of Trustees, introduces the publication with his own inspirational journey through education, career possibilities, and the fulfillment of his current path.

The “Career Pathways” guidebook includes articles on identifying career goals, finding internships, applying to graduate school, studying for a skilled trade certification, interviewing skills, the advantages of joining a professional association, planning a career in Indian Country, and more. All articles are written with insight into Native culture, such as incorporating indigenous style into professional wardrobes and finding careers that reflect Native graduates’ cultural, tribal, and personal values.

Career Pathways is available free of charge at www.collegefund.org/careerpathways. The new publication is a key to career readiness programs implemented at select tribal colleges and universities nationwide and will be distributed at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., February 3-7, 2020, and AIHEC’s Student Conference in March 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. High school and college educators, career counselors, and Native student centers are encouraged to share the publication with their students.

About AT&T: AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. It executes in the market under four operating units. WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands including HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across TV, mobile and broadband services. Plus, it serves nearly 3 million business customers with high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 11 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the fastest growing wireless provider in Mexico, serving consumers and businesses. Xandr provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its AppNexus platform.

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 collegefund.org.

Finding a Place to Belong at Yale and Beyond
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Alanna Pyke headshot

By Susan Gonzalez/Yale News

“Community” is the word graduating senior Alanna Pyke utters most often when reflecting on her time at Yale College.

“What I really came to value here is a sense of community and being a part of something that is bigger than myself,” says Pyke of her Yale experience.

For Pyke, one of the most valuable communities was the one she found at the Native American Cultural Center (NACC), the place that inspired her to choose Yale out of the more than 15 colleges that accepted her, and where she experienced a deep sense of belonging. She was impressed by the fact that an entire building was dedicated for the NACC.

“The Native community and also Dean [Kelly] Fayard [assistant dean of Yale College and director of the NACC] were such a huge part of my Yale experience,” says Pyke. “The NACC at 26 High St. is a welcoming place, where you can go to relax or study or see friends. I spent a lot of time there.”

Pyke — the first Native student to be valedictorian of Massena Central High School in New York — says that no one in recent memory from her high school or her reservation had gone to Yale. Feeling supported on campus, while maintaining a connection to her indigenous roots, was important to her.

A member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Pyke grew up in upstate New York on the Akwesasne Reservation, which straddles the New York and Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River. Prior to seventh grade, she went to an elementary school on the reservation where she was taught the Mohawk language.

At her next school, which was predominantly white, Mohawk was not taught; Pyke was told that she could study French or Spanish instead.

“I remember crying when I found that out,” the Yale senior recalls. “I didn’t know why I was crying at the time but I know I thought it was a big deal that I couldn’t continue learning Mohawk. I eventually realized why it was a big deal: At school, I was no longer connected to my culture.”

As a first-year student at Yale, Pyke had a job as a first-year liaison at the NACC, helping new students feel welcome at the center. She soon found herself spending time there after her shift, and was encouraged by other Native students to attend special events or meetings or to take on leadership roles.

While she says she was initially “a little too shy” to hold an official post, she quickly found herself a member of the NACC-affiliated Association for Native American Students at Yale (ANAAY), the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Yale Sisters of All Nations, and the Yale Native American Arts Council.

Pyke, who is majoring in molecular, cellular, and development biology (MCDB), acknowledges that it was sometimes challenging to balance her studies, research commitments, and leadership duties in the Native community. She says she is grateful for having the opportunity to study Mohawk at Yale (via the Native American Language Program) and was active in a student campaign to lobby the Yale administration to offer for-credit courses in indigenous languages.

As a woman of color in STEM, the Yale senior says the mentors she had in the sciences were vital to her success, and she is particularly thankful for the Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) Program, which supports women, minority, economically underprivileged, and other historically underrepresented students in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

In addition to mentoring, the program provides research opportunities, networking, courses and workshops, and career planning to undergraduates in STEM disciplines.

While participating in a STARS Summer Research Program, she took a science course co-taught by a group of faculty members including Marina Moreno, associate research scientist and instructor in MCDB, who became Pyke’s faculty adviser. Moreno is also one of the STARS coordinators.

“She helped me through this entire endeavor of getting an education,” says Pyke. “Without the STARS program, there’s a big chance I wouldn’t have stayed in STEM. I don’t think I would have made it without Dr. Moreno and STARS mentor Rob Fernandez.”

This summer, Pyke will begin Harvard University’s Research Scholar Initiative, a post-baccalaureate program to enhance scholars’ competitiveness for Ph.D. programs. She is interested in continuing genetics or genomics research in the future.

“Many Native communities have a distrust of science generally and of genetic science in particular,” says Pyke. “It’s been used wrongly in the past, or used without consent.”

Pyke hopes to give back to her own community through scholarship. “Representation is important because it will inspire future generations of Native scholarship and scientists, and add diverse perspectives to different fields,” she says.

Source: news.yale.edu

I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.
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Vanessa Martir novelist pictured The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.

I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture. There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment. The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef. I spent most of my time then in our backyard, climbing the plum tree and telling myself stories.

My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.

Millie’s brother drove me to school in a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van. I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace. It felt like I was living in an episode of The Facts of Life.

But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was “too loud” and “too much.” My classmates would chant “Tawk, Rosie, tawk!” as I’d walk down the hallways, my eyes glued to the ground. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989 film “Do The Right Thing” was the only exposure to a Latina many of my classmates had ever had.

Growing up, I’d read the “Sweet Valley High” series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. “You should read this,” he said and handed me “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.” My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. “That’s a Spanish name,” I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros. What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

Photo: The author (in blue shorts) and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983.

Photo Credit…New York Times/Meryl Meisler

Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation Announces the Julio Iglesias Scholarship
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Julio Iglesias in tuxedo smiling clapping hands with joy

A Music Student with Financial Hardship Will Receive a Four-Year Scholarship, Worth up to $200,000 USD Toward a Bachelor’s Degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston

Deadline to Apply is April 10, 2020 

MIAMI (DEC. 16, 2019)— The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation® announced today that it is accepting applications for the Julio Iglesias Scholarship from music students admitted to Berklee College of Music who are interested in Latin music. The four-year Prodigy Scholarship, which holds a maximum value of $200,000 USD, was created five years ago in an effort to support music education and Latin music genres, and will be awarded to a student who is exceptionally gifted and needs financial assistance to complete a bachelor’s degree in music starting in the Fall 2020 semester.

Julio Iglesias is considered an enduring star on the world stage and the best-selling Latin artist of all time. Recipient of a GRAMMY®, 2001 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year™ honor, and the Recording Academy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, the singer/songwriter has recorded in multiple languages and sold more than 300 million records worldwide.

“I’m proud to offer a promising student the opportunity of a formal music education at one of the best schools in the world through the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation,” said Iglesias. “Through this scholarship, I hope to expand my legacy helping to build the next generation of Latin music ambassadors.”

“We are pleased to announce our sixth annual Prodigy Scholarship in association with music legend Julio Iglesias,” said Manolo Díaz, Senior Vice President, Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. “We are grateful for Julio’s support and commitment to inspire future generations of Latin artists to achieve greatness.”

Every year, the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee carefully evaluates applications from a highly competitive pool of aspiring musicians on a variety of skills and under rigorous policies. As of today, the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation has allocated a remarkable $5 million USD in scholarships, grants, musical instrument donations, and educational events worldwide. Previous artists who have co-sponsored Prodigy Scholarships include Enrique Iglesias (2015), Juan Luis Guerra (2016), Miguel Bosé (2017), Carlos Vives (2018), and Emilio and Gloria Estefan (2019).

For application, guidelines, and for the latest news, please visit the official website of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation at www.latingrammyculturalfoundation.com.  As part of the process, students must complete two audition videos, submit two letters of recommendation and answer two essay questions. The materials can be submitted in English, Spanish or Portuguese.  The deadline to apply is April 10, 2020, by 11:59 p.m. EDT. After reviewing the guidelines that can be found on our website, submit any questions to LGCF@grammy.com.

ABOUT THE LATIN GRAMMY CULTURAL FOUNDATION:
The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation was established by The Latin Recording Academy® to promote international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture, and to protect its rich musical legacy and heritage. The Foundation’s primary charitable focus is to provide scholarships to students interested in Latin music, as well as grants to scholars and organizations worldwide for research and preservation of diverse Latin music genres. Take action in supporting our mission by donating today via our Facebook page. For additional information, please visit us at www.latingrammyculturalfoundation.com. For the latest news and exclusive content, follow us at @latingrammyfdn on Twitter and Instagram, and Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation on Facebook.

ABOUT BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC:
Berklee was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music. For 70 years, the college has evolved to reflect the current state of the music industry, leading the way with baccalaureate studies in performance, music business/management, songwriting, music therapy, film scoring, and more. In June 2016, the Boston Conservatory merged with Berklee, creating the world’s most comprehensive and dynamic training ground for music, dance, theater, and related professions. With a focus on global learning, the Berklee campus in Valencia, Spain, offers graduate programs and study abroad opportunity, while Berklee Online serves distance learners worldwide with extension classes and degree-granting programs. The Berklee City Music Network provides after-school programming for underserved teens in more than 40 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. With a student body representing more than 100 countries, abundant international undergraduate and graduate student populations (33 and 53 percent respectively), and alumni and faculty who have won more than 360 GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Awards, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow. Learn more at berklee.edu.

ABOUT JULIO IGLESIAS: 
Julio Iglesias is the most celebrated artist in Spanish and Latin music history. Recipient of a GRAMMY, The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year in 2001, and the Recording Academy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, Iglesias is the best-selling Latin artist of all time with more than 300 million records sold in 14 languages. Photo Credit: Jesús Carrero

HNM BLM

 
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    July 25, 2020 - July 27, 2020
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