As members of the National Native Scholarships Providers (NNSP), we believe school should be a place where young people feel free to learn, grow, and excel—while being true to their identities. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and many young Indigenous people approach graduation with apprehension. Many graduates across the country decorate their graduation gowns and mortarboards to celebrate the occasion, yet some school boards, policymakers, and elected officials discriminate when Indigenous students choose to wear Native regalia, which is a spiritual and cultural tradition relating to their tribal identities.
Pictured: Graduates at a tribal college graduation ceremony wearing regalia. Regalia has spiritual and traditional significance in Native cultures.
Just this week in Oklahoma Governor Stitt vetoed Senate Bill 429, which passed the Oklahoma legislature April 24 with a vote of 90 to 1. Its passage would have ensured Native students in all Oklahoma public schools would be permitted to wear tribal regalia at high school graduations and other ceremonies throughout the state.
The governor stated in his veto message, “Should this bill become law, the proverbial Pandora’s box will be opened for other groups to go over the heads of local superintendents and demand special favor to wear whatever they please at a formal ceremony.” He added the decision to allow students to wear traditional items such as eagle feathers or regalia rests with local school districts and not the state government.
Oklahoma lawmakers intended the bill would clarify Indigenous students’ rights for public school administrators, helping officials to avoid violating students’ rights and thereby inflicting traumatic discrimination during what should be a joyous occasion in Native students’ lives that is shared by their families and communities.
At public institutions, the right of an individual to wear regalia is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Federal constitutional law requires that any law attempting to limit the guarantees of a fundamental right—in this case a First Amendment right—must be necessary to promote a compelling self-interest and must be as narrowly tailored as possible to meet that interest.
When the governor vetoed a bill that is specific to regalia because “other groups” might wear clothing that pleases them, the governor was diverting attention from the real issue at hand—Native students’ fundamental right to wear clothing and items specific to their spiritual beliefs and practices. Tribal regalia is no mere decoration or “fashion.” When an Indigenous person wears regalia, the practice is tied to sincerely held spiritual beliefs and traditions of their tribes, and the practice is arguably protected by the First Amendment. Not incidentally, government officials not long ago tried to eradicate the practice and these beliefs and traditions through assimilation and legal prohibition.
In a news report, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton issued the following statement regarding Stitt’s veto of SB 429. “This bill, which would have allowed all Native American students in Oklahoma to wear tribal regalia at school ceremonies, is not controversial. It allows the students to honor their native culture and traditions. In fact, only one member of the Legislature voted against it…This is a popular, common-sense measure with no costs for the state or schools. We hope the House and the Senate will quickly override the veto to provide more freedom for Oklahoma students who want to honor their heritage.”
“With this legislation, Governor Stitt had an opportunity to support religious freedom and families honoring their kids’ high school accomplishments,” Chuck Hoskin Jr., Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, told Native News Online. “Instead, he’s chosen more division and insults to his Native American constituents.”
States like Colorado are also considering guaranteeing students the right to wear and display their regalia at graduation. In Denver, Senate Bill 202 is headed to Governor Jared Polis for consideration and signing.
As founding organizational members of the NNSP, every year we see incidents in which school administrators deny Indigenous students the opportunity to wear their regalia at graduation ceremonies and to celebrate their achievement in a culturally meaningful way. These acts retraumatize students (and their families) who have had to deal with marginalization and erasure in education institutions for years—students who have worked hard to get to a place that is worth celebrating.
We believe narrow, discriminatory, and arbitrary regulations concerning protocol and dress codes when it comes to Native regalia at graduations demean Indigenous people and rob them of the opportunity to celebrate their identities. We urge students, their families, and Native allies nationwide to contact their elected officials, including their school boards, state legislatures, and governors, to ensure Native graduates can exercise their right to wear their tribal regalia proudly as they walk across the stage to receive the diploma that they worked so hard to achieve.
Earning a diploma or a degree is a huge accomplishment. We call upon our schools and institutions such as our legislatures to celebrate the beauty, hard work, and worth of every individual that has earned a diploma or degree—by allowing Indigenous graduates to celebrate in a way that is meaningful and respectful to them and their cultures.
Four national Native scholarship providers comprise the NNSP: the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund), the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Cobell Scholarship Program administered by Indigenous Education, Inc., and Native Forward Scholars Fund.
To help students achieve favorable outcomes with requests to wear regalia at graduation, the American Indian College Fund created and updates annually a guide for students to request wearing tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies.
Sesame Street has debuted TJ, its first Filipino muppet. TJ joins Ji-Young, the show’s first Asian American character, who was introduced in a special Thanksgiving episode in 2021.
In a recent segment of the children’s TV show, TJ spends time with fellow muppets Ji-Young and Grover, and actor Kal Penn, who discusses the word of the day: confidence. “Confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities, or in the abilities of others,” Penn explains.
TJ then talks about his growing confidence while learning Tagalog, one of the main languages spoken in the Philippines. “I’m confident because I can always ask my lola for help when I don’t know a word,” he says, using the Tagalog term for grandmother.
Filipino American animator Bobby Pontillas collaborated with puppeteer Louis Mitchell to create the muppet. On Instagram, Pontillas shared concept artwork for the character, who he said was inspired by Max and Mateo, the children of lifelong friends. TJ is played by voice actor and puppeteer Yinan Shentu.
Rosemary Espina Palacios, Sesame Workshop’s director of talent outreach, inclusion and content development, also posted on Instagram about TJ’s debut, saying that his arrival came “just in time for API Heritage Month to show the range in our diaspora.”
The Land: Meaning, Perception and Worldviews on Earth Day, by Kai Teague
Language is a means of communication and can take many forms, shapes, colors, and sounds. Language is essentially a code embedded with meaning. Meaning is derived from our experiences in life. In order to learn a different language, it is likely you 1) have to be exposed to the language consistently and over time and it is likely you are 2) being exposed to the ways of life, the environment, the culture, the values, beliefs, and perspectives that informed the meaning that shaped that language.
Perspectives, morals, and values are all based on the experience of someone, or a story someone was told. We have to ask who told that story, what their intention was, and what experiences shaped how they make sense of the world.
These perceptions inform how someone understands the occupancy of space or what is and isn’t right or acceptable. Those worldviews become a system of beliefs, which someone relies on to determine laws, policies, and systems of governance that can reshape by force, the languages, cultures, beliefs, and values of others.
If there is an experience that Indigenous, black, disabled, intersex, and transgender people can share, it is that to exist in this world you have to know the languages and experiences of your own existence, and the language of the cisgendered, white, heteronormative, able-bodied person.
Indigenous languages are verb or action-based languages. Indigenous languages are alive, describing something in process, something one experiences with the senses and in a specific place and at a specific time.
“Culture is coded wisdom, wisdom that has been accumulated for thousands of years and generations. Some of that wisdom is coded in our ceremonies, it is coded in our values, it is coded in our songs, our dances.” -Wangari Maathai, Taking Root
When we engage with our relatives (seasons, energies, wind, rain, heat, seeds, plants, and animals) using our Indigenous languages, we can ask them who they are, how they exist, what their names are. We can also ask them if they can help us, and if we can help them, if they can feed us, and if they need to be fed. We can communicate with one another, and we can get to know what other relationships they might have. With our Indigenous languages, and in our Indigenous minds and hearts, everything changes, and our needs might not always take precedence.
There are and have been simultaneous political acts through legislation and resource determination that work to disempower and displace Indigenous Peoples all over the world. Ultimately, what continues to affect us is how this influences how we think of ourselves and how we perceive our own cultures and relationships to the world around us. And now, our Indigenous knowledge and values have been supplemented with many other things that distance us from what we knew—our original understandings.
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself, that values itself, and that understands itself.” Wangari Maathai,Taking Root
Blog 2 in the series: The Land: Thoughts Into Action, by Kai Teague
What does water do?
What does any seed, shoot, or root do?
What does any other animal do? Buffalo, and birds
What about moss or matts that grow on rocks?
They disrupt, stir, break…ground, soil, rocks, and seeds.
Water and wind move over, and through, eroding and shaping this entire planet.
What happens if no animal or bird, or insect, or wind or rain moved through a place, relocated pollen, and knocked seeds out of the pods?
Our world, our homeplace was formed, from collisions, and chaos that created everything we know.
This is my family’s land. This was my grandma Vivian’s home. In 2019, we started a large-scale garden (almost an acre in size). Aside from an initial pass with a tiller to break up what had been very tall grass, most everything since has been done by hand. We built the rows, planted the seeds, pulled weeds, watered the first year by hand, harvested, cleaned, and shucked each carrot, beet, potato, and ear of corn. We saved seeds from our corn, beans, and squash, which we planted the next year.
During 2020, we provided over 80% of all of our food grown to the tribal elder’s center, to families, and to anyone who reached out to us. We took roughly 40 vases worth of sunflowers and sent them with our sister to share with the elementary teachers coming back to school during a global pandemic.
It has been about four years since my grandma’s land was last contracted to a local wheat grower. In the last couple years, I have started to identify the various birds, plants, and animals that move through here.
I have counted at least 30 different bird types. This land has hosted foxes and their cubs, deer, pheasants, ground nesting hawks, voles, ground squirrels, rabbits, badgers and at least four species of hawks. There are at least four native grass varieties here: yarrow, wild rose, chokecherries, prickly pear cactus, prairie sage, sage brush, women’s sage, red dock, cat tails, moss, lichen, an abundance of pennycress, and many more medicines that I am just getting to know.
We can never go back to what was, and the nature of existence is change…. time, gravity, pressure, wind, rain, heat, life, and death, is all some form of change. But I wonder what it would mean for us to get land back. Are we prepared to do that work and nurture that relationship?
Relatives, we can at any moment go out and get to know our homelands, or the lands wherever we call home. We might not all be ready, and healing is a process and it’s a process we all deserve to enact when we are ready for it.
The growing U.S. Latino population needs a larger pool of educators and advocates who represent their unique cultural and linguistic identities while sensitizing others in the school system and beyond. In honor of Women’s History Month, ProgressReport is uplifting the voices of some of the Latina educational leaders who are currently making history by paving the way for the next generation of changemakers. UnidosUS celebrates the accomplishments of three Latinas representing excellence at all levels of the education system – Miriam Calderon, Maria Armstrong, and Melody Gonzales – they share their journeys and insights with Progress Report.
Early Childhood Education
Miriam Calderon, pictured above, chief policy officer for ZERO TO THREE, the nation’s largest early childhood advocacy organization, has spent two decades advocating for young children, especially Latinos and dual language learners, to have a better early start in their education. She served as UnidosUS’s associate director of education policy, early childhood education director of DC Public Schools, senior director of early learning at the Bainum Family Foundation, and as an appointee of the Obama and the Biden Administrations, as well as former Oregon Governor Kate Brown, all leading efforts to reinforce and grow early education programs. Today, her career is fully aligned with trending education policy conversations.
At the onset of the pandemic, she was tasked with helping to provide emergency grants to early childhood centers across the state of Oregon, which boasts the fastest-growing Latino population in the country. That work reinforced what she already knew: this country’s early childhood education system had always lacked an appropriate infrastructure and the pandemic simply revealed and exacerbated that reality.
“Our systems for communicating with providers in real-time were threadbare – to know if providers were open, if they had spaces where we could refer families. It was challenging to get providers and programs PPE; to give grants to providers to offset their higher costs of operating during the pandemic,” she says, noting that this marked the first time many providers had the opportunity to receive public funding. “It took literally seeing the sector come close to collapse for there to be a shift in understanding that ECE is an essential service.”
The pandemic also helped to reveal historic bias and discrimination against those who provide ECE services.
“We’ve understood for decades that babies are born learning, ” she says. “If it was just about educating policymakers and the public about this – we have done that repeatedly as a field. The lack of progress is about who does this work – women of color, immigrant women, low-income women.”
That means acknowledging their fundamental human rights while recognizing their role in raising an increasingly diverse generation headed for a competitive global workforce.
“It’s about valuing our youngest citizens,” she adds. “We spend more public funds on children as they get older and the least during the first 1000 days.”
As the general public gains greater awareness of these concerns, advocates like herself feel more emboldened in their approach to policymakers.
“We are finally asking for what it will truly take to build a sector that eliminates race, income, and zip code as a predictor of the ECE experience for a child and families that is fair to the workforce, that will capitalize on the importance of this developmental period, and that can deliver the ECE experiences that families want and need for their young children, especially families that have historically lacked access.”
That boldness is getting advocates closer to the goal. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan proposed investing a historic $390 billion in federal funds for childcare and pre-K, and only one dissenting vote from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) within the Democratic Caucus kept it from passing. Childcare and education were not included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the compromise bill that followed and ultimately got signed into law.
The near victory only fuels Calderon to keep pushing through her work at ZERO TO THREE, which, in partnership with organizations like UnidosUS, has successfully advocated for increases in Migrant Head Start and getting language access provisions for families in the major federal ECE programs.
“We still have a long way to go,” she says, noting that a lack of support for linguistically and culturally relevant ECE programs is rooted in anti-immigrant, pro-English policies. But today, she explains it’s impossible to ignore that one out of every three children is growing up in homes where languages other than English are spoken.
Then comes the question of better support and compensation for ECE teachers.
“If we aren’t compensating (ECE teachers) well and investing in their access to professional learning, credentials, and degrees, we won’t maintain a workforce that reflects the diversity of our children and families,” she explains.
ZERO TO THREE and UnidosUS are keen to keep this discussion centered on the knowledge and experience ECE workers have always brought to the table. For example, they caution against mandating bachelor’s degrees without first investing in the incumbent workforce.
“It’s not about being for or against the requirement. It’s about the barriers that have historically existed for women of color, immigrant women, low-income women to higher education and professional preparation opportunities,” she says. “It’s about not having degrees without the compensation that must go along with it. It’s about honoring the contributions of the workforce that has been doing this work and having options available for them in terms of how they want to advance in their careers.”
She is also a strong advocate for reminding the public that care and education go hand in hand.
“During COVID, I noticed that a lot of the talk about school-age children was about ‘learning loss’ – what children were missing in terms of academics,” she says. “The discussion around childcare was that adults couldn’t work – not that children missed out on important developmental and learning experiences.”
Her advice to Latina ECE workers?
“Continue to demand what you need— we won’t realize bold changes in ECE without your advocacy, without your voice to shape the policy.”
Maria Armstrong, executive director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), knows K-12 students need all the support they can get in catching up since the pandemic. She’s spent decades trying to help underserved communities. It began at the age of seven when she gathered kids in the neighborhood to teach them reading and math, or at least that was the role she imagined for herself. It paid off. She went on to serve as an assistant superintendent and superintendent in school districts around California; an adjunct professor at that state’s Azusa Pacific University and National University; and a consultant for the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
“Pandemic-era legislation leaders are in the thick of grappling with the aftermath and exposure of having the education curtain pulled open for all to see,” she says, adding that it is “moving us as a country toward acknowledgment of the past and present conditions to address our future.”
Because the United States is such a young country whose overall educational system once stood at the forefront of modernity, it’s easy for the country to get caught up in that narrative, she explains.
“For too long we have considered ourselves as better than anyone else on the planet, a very monolithic view from a country who prides itself as a melting pot of sorts,” she says.
That view of American exceptionalism probably comes from the fact that overall the country has rallied through many times of war and disaster. So how can it tap into its trait of resiliency and rally today with all students falling behind in their schooling and a greater number of those students coming from communities that were historically underserved in the first place?
“Our challenge is that we are not so young anymore, and it shouldn’t take an act of war or disaster to unite us on the conditions and issues of humanity, particularly that of education,” she says.
Not so young and not so naive. The current U.S. administration is aware that the country’s youthful confidence could pose a direct risk to the nation’s economy and security. For example, during his “Raise the Bar. Lead the World” tour, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona remarked that the quality and innovation of the U.S. education system is falling behind many countries and that it must do more in areas such as multilingual support if it wants to remain competitive.
“We need to raise the bar,” Cardona said in a January 24th speech to kick off his tour. “As much as it is about recovery, it’s also about setting higher standards for academic success in reading and mathematics. It’s unacceptable that in the most recent PISA test, an assessment which is done internationally, our students scored 36th place out of 79 countries in math.”
That’s a goal Armstrong is helping ALAS to lead on behalf of the country’s Latino students and educators. It starts with paying close attention to the issues ALAS’s affiliates are bringing to the discussion table.
“Our strength is only as great as the people we serve and that not only considers how we operate but provides direction in services and programs,” she says, noting that the ALAS’s board of directors boasts educational professionals who have either worked in K-12 leadership or are currently in the higher education space and know what students need to get there. Meanwhile, at the affiliate level, many of the leaders are full-time educators showing their commitment to underserved students by serving ALAS long after their workdays are done.
And their dedication fuels Armstrong’s leadership long after she retired from leading schools herself.
“People often ask me how I manage to attend every state event. My response is simple. Whenever invited, the least I can do is show support because it is through them that I gain my juice, my stamina, and the reason why I came out of the superintendency retirement,” she says.
But improving math and reading scores across all socio-economic groups needs to happen in a culturally relevant way, and it’s intimately tied to understanding the most uncomfortable parts of American history. Those are the parts where students identified as Black, Brown, immigrant, LGBTQ, female, and/or having disabilities were born into a system that historically sought to hold them back, and in many places still does.
To address this, ALAS is joining a long list of organizations working to protect and promote the teaching of truthful history and ethnic studies with the addition of an AP Latino American Course. And in 2020, ALAS partnered with the legacy youth-focused publishing company Scholastic Books to create the Rising Voices: Elevating Latino Stories Collection so that all students see themselves represented in children’s stories.
When asked about advice she has for other K-12 educators and advocates, she said: “I would rather provide encouragement than advice.”
She described that encouragement can come in the form of a reminder or an acknowledgment that advocates of educational equity aren’t in this battle alone. That networking can help to provide the brainstorming, support, and sense of connectedness they need to keep going.
“Our youth, our children, are counting on the adults in and out of the boardroom and classroom to do right by them,” she says. “Find your sister circle, and don’t give up.”
By day, higher education advocate Melody Gonzales serves as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. By night, she helps other professionals work on advancing their own careers by providing services as an executive leadership coach. On both fronts, she is actively encouraging Latinas to study hard and dream big.
“We need your voices and lived experiences in the education sector and in the federal government as a career staffer, presidential appointees, and policymakers,” she tells her fellow Latinas. “Start with a strong, growth mindset. Identify what negative thoughts or imposter syndrome tendencies might come into play that could hold you back and identify those positive thoughts/mantras and facts that ground you in the fact that you are capable and worthy.”
She also encourages Latinas interested in pursuing careers in education and education policy to always engage in social networking, as she rarely got her many career opportunities through online job applications alone.
In her own career, the early networking came organically as a news reporter in her native San Diego and as the manager of the neighboring Chula Vista Convention and Visitors Bureau. After attending Georgetown University for a master’s degree in public policy and a certificate of executive leadership coaching, as well as several other leadership certificates through Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Center for Creative Leadership, she found herself in a series of high-powered policy and advocacy roles.
Those included Latino engagement efforts for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and the founding of her own National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 39 national Latino nonprofits focused on encouraging Latinas to run for office and advising on campaigns related to economic empowerment, immigration, health, education, and voting rights.
Read the complete article originally posted on UnidosUs here.
Just about every career in the STEM field requires some form of university-level education. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you own and then some to pursue your dream job.
Whether it’s through federal funding, non-profit organizations or individual donations, there are tons of scholarship and grant opportunities for students wanting to pursue the world of STEM.
Here are just a few of the scholarships that you can apply for:
The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship
Since World War II, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been doing all they can to support the needs of women engineers across the country. One of the ways they do this is through the SWE Scholarship Program, which provides varying fund amounts to those identifying as women and studying in undergraduate or graduate programs in the STEM field. While the specific amount you can receive varies, the program gave away over $1,220,000 in scholarships in 2021 alone. All students, from incoming freshman to graduate students, may apply but freshman must fill out a separate application form.
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Applications usually often in December for upperclassman and the following March for freshman
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts Scholarships
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AAIA) is an organization dedicated to supporting the future generation of people interested in the aerospace field. One of the ways they do this is through their scholarship program, where undergraduates and graduates alike can fill out a single application and be eligible for consideration for up to three scholarships from their program. To apply, you must be at least a sophomore in college and a member of AAIA.
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. The program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board each year for up to four years for selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. The scholarship may be renewed each year, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Scholars accepted into the program will be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.
Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)
In a collaboration with American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defense, the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program is for students wanting to go into engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, chemistry and cognitive, neural and behavioral sciences. In addition to full tuition coverage, SMART students will receive health insurance, mentoring, internship opportunities and a guaranteed job offer from the Department of Defense. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, be available for summer internships and are expected to accept the job position offered to them upon completing their education.
NOAA Office of Education’s student scholarship programs provide opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience while pursuing research and educational training in NOAA-mission sciences. The Hollings and EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship share a common application and students who are eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both. To be eligible, you must be a sophomore at a four-year university program, a junior at a five-year university program or a community college student transferring to a university.
Amount: $9,500 per academic year plus paid summer internship opportunities
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Opens October 2022/Closes January 2023
Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded the S-STEM Program, a fund that provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be effective in supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways and graduation in STEM. While most of the students who receive this award are studying an area of the STEM field, proposals can be made for funds to be given to students who meet the same qualifications, but are studying a high-demand industry. The amounts distributed depend on the institution.
It’s all about talent, education, and the willingness to take risks. Music is meant to inspire, and a new wave of fresh, exciting, ridiculously talented Latino artists understands this fact.
Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler are up-and-coming singer-songwriters with the talent and desire to achieve greatness. This next class of stars succeeded by tapping into education to make their dreams come true—and they’ve inspired their fans and followers in the process.
The three artists embody the spirit of the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, established in 1985. The goal of the scholarship is to help Latino students break barriers and make their parents and those around them proud. Over the years, McDonald’s has helped more than 17,000 Latino students—and given out more than $32 million—through the HACER program. The initiative is especially important in tough times like we’re facing now. Given the state of the world, it’s crucial for young people to keep moving forward and do more.
Isabel, Rogers, and Wheeler are certainly moving in the right direction. But they come from different places and represent the breadth of the Latino diaspora. Isabel grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of parents from the Dominican Republic, while Wheeler was born and raised in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Rogers, who is half Mexican on her mother’s side, held down the West Coast, growing up in Lodi, California. They all knew early on that creating music was in their future.
Dreams of rocking stages don’t always line up with the plans of parents who want more practical, and safer, careers for their children. Isabel, who dropped her debut EP, Stuck In The Sky, in October 2020, seamlessly blends her Dominican ancestry’s bachata and merengue with R&B and hip-hop and her lush vocals. She is particularly thankful that her parents had no issue supporting her aspirations.
“My parents took four-year-old me seriously when I said I was going to become a singer,” says Isabel, who attended NYU. “They never argued with that dream or told me I had to be anything different. Obviously, I had to go to school, get good grades, and all that stuff, but it was never a matter of like, pick something. I think with any first-generation kid watching your parents make sacrifices or work extra hours or whatever it may be to make it possible for you to do what you want to do, I think that was the biggest motivating force to be successful.”
While Isabel’s parents had faith in her talents, Wheeler’s classmates in school were less kind. The reggaeton crooner has spoken candidly about the bullying he faced, but he was still able to persevere and become a certified star. By posting his music on the Internet, Wheeler jump started his career. Fans dubbed him “La Voz Favorita,” and he earned praise and hands-on guidance from reggaeton legend DJ Nelson, who executive produced his two critically acclaimed albums: 2019’s Platónico and 2020’s Platónicos.
Those school bullies couldn’t knock Wheeler off his path. “I always loved music [but] I knew that it was going to be hard,” he says. “Living for something that you love is harder. I learned English in school and watching TV and movies. I knew at some point in my life I wanted to do something in the English world because [I have] a lot of respect for American music. A lot of kids [take education] for granted—I don’t know need to learn this, I don’t need to learn that—but when you get older, you realize that all the things that they gave you, you do need to educate yourself in everything, because life puts you in a different position everyday.”
Five California four-year colleges and universities are among ten higher education institutions that have been recognized for implementing programs and strategies that are helping more Hispanic students attain college degrees.
The nonprofit group Excelencia in Education, aimed at the acceleration of Latino students in higher education, singled out the institutions through its 2021 Seal of Excelencia.
In California, the institutions are: California State University, Fresno; California State University, Fullerton; San Diego State University; University of California, Merced; and the University of California, Riverside.
Fresno State, located in the agricultural region of the San Joaquin Valley, was recognized for its paid internship program with engineering, construction management and industrial technology companies. It has resulted in substantially higher graduation rates — 72 percent compared to 48 percent of all students in the school’s College of Engineering.
Fresno State’s student body is 55 percent Latino, and 67 percent are first-generation college students.
Cal State Fullerton, the second in the state to award the most bachelor’s degrees to Latino students and the third in the country, was recognized for its Center for Scholars program, giving wraparound services to students, along with scholarship aid.
At the University of California, Riverside, Chicano/Latino graduates have tripled in numbers from 2009-10 to 2019-20, with the 6-year graduation rate at 73 percent for Latino students, compared to the national average of 54 percent. Excelencia touted its community college transfer program and a Mentoring Summer Research Internship Program.
The LGBTQ community is diverse and broad, bringing unique value to the workforce through its fabric of differentiated experiences. This often includes heightened levels of empathy and grit as well as a deeper understanding of social dynamics and cohesion building. However, Bain’s recent study found that more than 70 percent of LGBTQ employees do not feel fully included at work. This puts employers at risk of missing out on the full value of these diverse skills and perspectives.
“Many companies are awakening to the business benefits of welcoming LGBTQ employees, including an ability to attract and retain talent,” said Brenen Blair, expert associate partner in Bain & Company’s Houston office and a leader in its Organization and DEI practices. “But inclusion is about much more than ‘welcoming everyone.’ Being LGBTQ brings a distinct feeling of ‘otherness’ and comes with a life backdrop that often translates into differentiated perspectives and abilities in the workplace. Our research identified some of the most important steps employers can take to build more inclusive work environments for their LGBTQ employees and truly reap the benefits of this diversity.”
Because the category “LGBTQ” is so broad — and many organizations lack accurate data about the specific contours of their LGBTQ populations — it may seem daunting for employers to understand how to create greater inclusion for members of this group. For example, Bain’s research shows that while the top enablers for inclusion among the LGBTQ community consistently fall into areas of growth and career development — coaching, talent development programs and growth mindsets — notable differences exist between LGBTQ employees in North America and Europe as well as by gender.
LGBTQ men in North America place greater importance on the overall diversity, equity and inclusion mission and goals of an organization than LGBTQ men in Europe, who put a greater focus on open and honest communication. Bain’s research showed similar differences between LGBTQ women in North America, who place greater importance on the perceived empathy of others than women in Europe, who value growth opportunities and transparent feedback more strongly.
Leaders looking to ensure all queer talent feels included should focus on the following areas:
· Get the basics right. Create an environment where “coming out” is safe and easy. Revisit benefits packages, particularly healthcare and family leave, and ensure they meet the needs of all identities, genders, orientations and family setups. Build allyship programs that both educate and “lighten the load.”
· Embrace individuality in talent management. Examine role expectations, performance reviews and accepted language for describing success. Ask whether the organization is set up to encourage and cultivate diversity of thought in its most critical roles.
· Enable tailored career pathways. LGBTQ employees are continually coming out, and identities and passions may change significantly over the course of peoples’ careers. Inclusive organizations create clear pathways for lateral career moves that keep strong talent engaged. For example, part-time, hybrid and remote roles and sabbaticals benefit everyone, but are particularly important for creating equity for queer employees.
· Cultivate true sponsorship. Mentor programs for underrepresented groups are common, but true sponsorship opens doors, creates advocates and helps employees navigate their organization.
“To be truly inclusive, we must recognize the diversity of our people and celebrate their unique qualities,” said Andrea Arroyo, a senior manager in Bain & Company’s London office. “For example, my sponsor at work pointed out that my sensitivity — a trait I originally thought of as a flaw in the workplace — helped to make me highly attuned to both clients and teammates who were uncomfortable or even struggling. It turns out, being fully myself has helped me to be more effective in serving my clients and made me a better team member.”
A cover letter is a one-page document that supplements your resume. Though they may not be required for every job you apply to, including a short letter to accompany your resume is an excellent way to help you stand out in the application process. Your application materials should look like they belong together visually.
If you take the time to write a cover letter, be sure the style matches your resume. Remember, a generic cover letter is not worth your time. Make it personal, or don’t do it at all.
Why Should I Write a Cover Letter?
A cover letter lets you tell your employment story with some freedom to express yourself. You can explain your qualifications more fully. Clearly state why you are a good fit for the position and the company. You want to demonstrate an understanding of the specific challenges this company is facing and how you are prepared to add value. Keep this document to one page in length, max. If you can make your point in fewer words or paragraphs, do it.
The Cover Letter Structure
A cover letter, like your resume, should be developed individually for the position and company where you are applying. Remember, a great paragraph needs to have at least three complete sentences — a topic sentence and two supporting statements. The best structure for a cover letter can be described as the following:
· Heading and greeting. Include the date, your name and your contact information. Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible. If you can’t find an individual’s name, use the job title of the recipient (Maintenance Supervisor, Office Manager) or perhaps “Human Resources” or “Search Committee.” Do not address your letter to a business, a department or “To Whom It May Concern.”
· Opening and introduction. Explain who you are and your reason for writing, including how you found out about the position. Use the first paragraph to express your energy, enthusiasm, skills, education and work experience that could contribute to the employer’s success.
· Body. Sell yourself. Reveal why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. Briefly summarize your talents, experience and achievements. Give a story about a time you went above and beyond in a similar role or share a specific problem you solved in a previous job. Don’t just repeat the information found in your resume. Go one layer deeper about what makes you the best candidate.
· Assertive closing. Thank the person for taking the time to read your letter. Use an appropriate closing, such as “Sincerely.” Tell the employer how you plan to follow-up.
Types of Cover Letters
While a generic cover letter is effective much of the time, you may want to consider one of the following types of cover letters depending on the nature of your application:
· Invited cover letter. Use this format when responding to an ad or other listing. Describe how your qualifications meet the needs of the position.
· Cold-contact cover letter. Use this format to contact employers who have not advertised or published job openings. Research careers to find the requirements for the job you’re applying for matching your qualifications with that research.
· Referral cover letter. Use this format if you were referred to a job opening through networking, informational interviews or contact with employers. A referral may be to a specific job opening (advertised or unadvertised) or to an employer who may or may not be hiring now. Make sure you mention the person who referred you.
· Job match or “T” cover letter. Use this format to match the specific requirements of the job one-to-one with your qualifications, for example “You need 10 years’ experience.” and “I bring 12 years’ experience.” You can learn about the requirements from the job ad, position descriptions, phone conversations, career research and informational interviews.
Remember, cover letters, much like a resume, are supposed to be brief and informative. Use the cover letter to show off your ability, talent and capabilities, but don’t worry about including every tiny detail in your letter. Give it a try and best of luck!
Sal Perez got his start in “Sesame Street” as a production coordinator in 2006, while he was still a senior in college.
Sixteen years later, Perez, 38, is making history as the beloved children’s show’s first Latino executive producer, ushering in a new season — the show’s 53rd — on Thursday.
“I did film school, and I never thought that I would be doing TV that was positive for kids,” Perez, a first-generation Mexican American who grew up in California’s Bay Area, told NBC News. “It’s such a big responsibility that I sometimes try not to think about it.”
National Scholarship Month, sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), is a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the vital role scholarships play in reducing student loan debt and expanding access to higher education.
To celebrate, the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) has announced the launch of the NSPA Exchange – the first and only scholarship metric database.
Thanks to a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the NSPA Exchange was created to serve as a central access point for scholarship provider data. Currently, the database is home to metrics from over 1,300 organizations, allowing members to search details about peer providers by location, compare scholarship award amounts, eligibility criteria, program staff size, and more. All information is kept in a secure, cloud-based, centralized database maintained through a custom administration system.
“Our goal for the NSPA Exchange is to ultimately define best practices and industry standards for scholarship providers.” says Nicolette del Muro, Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at NSPA.
“With this database, members now have the data they need to make strategic decisions. For example, of the over 15,000 scholarships in the Exchange database, the average application is open for 90 days. And 75% of these scholarships open in the months of November, December, and January. This offers applicants a relatively short window of time to apply for all scholarships. Insight like this could help a provider determine to open their application outside of the busy season or encourage them to make their scholarship criteria and requirements available online in advance of the application open date.”
“The NSPA Exchange is a great resource for IOScholarships as the information is constantly updated and enables members to review and update their own organization’s scholarship data”, said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships and Individual Affiliate Member at NSPA. “IOScholarships also uses scholarships from the Exchange in our own Scholarship Search, and we trust these scholarships are safe for students, vetted, and current offerings.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (NSPA)
The mission of the National Scholarship Providers Association is to advance the collective impact of scholarship providers and the scholarships they award. Currently serving over 2,000 individuals, they are dedicated to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profit, foundations and businesses. Membership in the NSPA provides access to networking opportunities, professional development, and scholarship program resources.
By conducting a free scholarship search at IOScholarships.com, STEM minority and underrepresented students gain access to a database of thousands of STEM scholarships worth over $48 million. We then narrow this vast array of financial aid opportunities down to a manageable list of scholarships for which students actually qualify, based on the information they provide in their IOScholarships.com profile. They can then review their search results, mark their favorites, and sort their list by deadline, dollar amount and other criteria. We also offer a scholarship organizer which is completely free to use, just like our scholarship search. There are scholarships out there for diverse students in STEM. So take advantage of National Scholarship Month and search for available scholarships today!