Meet Danielle Olson: A ‘Gique’ Advancing the Case for STEAM Education

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Danielle Olson

What is a “Gique”? It’s a cross between “geek” and “chic,” a maker and creative problem-solver whose interdisciplinary interests turn STEM into STEAM. Meet Danielle Olson, researcher and PhD student at MIT and proud founder of Gique, a nonprofit that provides transformational, culturally situated STEAM learning for underserved youth.

Olson says being a Gique is about using your passion to embrace change and create your dream job. Olson offered STEMconnector her insights and experience as an engineer, a dancer, a dreamer, and pioneer in STEAM education, as well as research on how the arts are leveling the educational playing field in STEM.

Interview below courtesy of Stemconnector

STEMconnector: How does using the arts impact the STEM talent gap?

Danielle Olson: Fortunately, a new and exciting field of education is emerging where curricula are designed to expose youth to the applications of science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics (STEAM) in the real world. STEAM, rather than just STEM, education focuses on student cultivation of the critical, creative, and participatory dispositions key to empowered, authentic engagement in both science and art, along with preparing students to think of ways that they can contribute to society as individuals.

The arts have been treated as a “cherry on top” in recent years. But research demonstrates that an arts education offers critical development opportunities for children, which include cognitive and social growth, long-term memory improvement, stress reduction, and promotion of creativity. In fact, research findings show that if arts were included in science classes, STEM would be more appealing to students, and exposure to experts in these fields could affect career decisions. Gique believes that STEAM education affords students opportunities to envision themselves pursuing their “dream careers,” which they may invent for themselves.

There are three categories that aid in representing various perspectives of art integration: (1) learning “through” and “with” the arts, (2) making connections across knowledge domains, and (3) collaborative engagement across disciplines.

Gique piloted a 9-month-long, out-of-school STEAM Program with students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, an inner-city in Boston, Massachusetts, in the areas of science, the arts, and entrepreneurship by putting the theoretical framework, which underpins the necessity for STEAM education, into action.

SC: What kinds of lessons do you offer students?

DO: Gique designs and provides free, hands-on educational programs and mentorship to talented youth from diverse circumstances in the Boston area and in California. We create a safe, positive learning community for our students and cultivate their curiosity and self-esteem through two arms of programming:

  • Gique’s Science Can DANCE! Community Programs—provides youth with a way to explore STEAM through creative movement and dance choreography. By taking an integrated approach to breaking down technical concepts, we provide a unique mentorship opportunity for students interested in both arts and science topics.
  • Gique’s Out-of-School Time (OST) STEAM Program—a 9-month-long, weekly after-school program for middle school students to explore their personal interests in STEAM. This program enables students to receive long-term mentorship from innovators from around the world and participate in hands-on workshops and field trips. By the end of the semester, students gain a better understanding of how they can take an idea from concept to reality through innovation with art + design, science, and technology.

In addition to these two programs, Gique has provided a wide variety of educational opportunities to people of all ages in the Boston area for the past four years. We have collaborated with numerous organizations to provide educational programming, including MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Science & Culture, Artisan’s Asylum, and General Assembly Boston.

SC: How can corporations that support a vibrant STEM workforce get involved in advancing STEAM education?

DO: First, corporations should stand with teachers and parents to fight back against policies that discourage interdisciplinary education. This may include, but is not limited to, policies that result in art, drama, history, and science class time reduction and policies, which discourage teachers from being innovative due to too much focus on standardized testing.

Second, people in power must use their influence to help give underrepresented groups more access to resources that can level the playing field in education. I had access to programs like FIRST Robotics Competition and MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program, which changed my life, thanks to the generosity of donors investing directly in people of color by sponsoring these programs. However, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in these programs if I had to pay for them. That’s why Gique leverages the support of its sponsors to deliver life-changing experiences to students that help them pursue career dreams that they may have deemed impossible.

SC: How is Gique measuring its impact?

DO: We have a structured process in place to design, administer, and analyze quantitative and qualitative measurements, including pre- and post- assessments, audio/video interviews, and external feedback (from program staff/volunteers and parents/guardians).

Specifically, for Gique’s OST STEAM Program, a schema was developed to identify, both broadly and specifically, what students learned and in what context it applies to their lives. Prior to each term, the program leadership developed several goals for student impact, with measurable indicators to assess each goal. Assessment questions were adapted from the Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering is Elementary program assessment model. At the end of the semester, students completed the same assessment for the program leadership to understand what deltas occurred and what the development areas were for program improvement.

While the quantitative data collected often helped to inform strategic decisions and content choices, the qualitative data showed how the program impacted students, parents, volunteers and teachers. Gique wholeheartedly believes that learning experiences should be fun, so asking these qualitative questions were critical to the development and success of the pilot OST STEAM program.

Gaining parent/guardian feedback served to be an excellent indicator of how excited students were about the program.

Visit Gique’s community of leaders and makers at gique.me

Source: stemconnector.com

 

 

How Deja Baker overcame long odds and finally landed her dream job

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Her title may be unremarkable—software engineer at a Chicago trading firm—but the journey she took to land it is a triumph that doesn’t fit neatly on a resume.

The phone call that ended the military career of Midshipman Deja Baker came on a rainy morning in Hawaii in late May 2017. Having recently completed her third year at the U.S. Naval Academy, Baker was on leave, one week into a month of R&R—hiking, beachcombing, and Netflix-bingeing at her fiancé’s apartment in Oahu. The voice on the phone was her company officer’s. He told her she was to return to Annapolis immediately and pack up her things. Her time at the academy was over.

“It put me in panic mode,” she says.

That spring, a mysterious bruise on her leg had prompted Baker to visit the doctor, a decision that tipped one unlucky domino after the next: The doctor ordered blood tests; the results were alarming, and he hospitalized her; after a five-day stay, she received a diagnosis of a rare blood condition she chooses not to reveal. Simply put, her blood didn’t clot right. The U.S. Navy insists that its officers bleed properly. So, even though she had already served a tour in Japan as an enlisted sailor, had completed advanced training in cryptologic intelligence, was one year from completing a computer science degree, and was aiming to work in the information warfare command far removed from battle, she was out. She had no job prospects, no cash, and as soon as she packed up her things back on the mainland, no home.

“For the next 24 hours, I just bawled,” she says.

By the next morning, however, Baker had regrouped. Having persuaded her company officer to let her finish the remaining three weeks of her leave, she spent that time researching coding boot camps she could apply to.

Recruiters and industrial psychologists stress the importance of attributes such as resilience and determination (a recent survey by LinkedIn identified four soft skills most coveted by companies—leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management), and employers are devising new methods to assess these kinds of intangible qualities, but the relentless drive Baker possesses can be hard to spot on a résumé. She doesn’t present as tough. She’s soft-spoken and doesn’t like talking about herself. She dresses in startup-employee casual—cropped jeans, Toms shoes, and hoodie. At 27, she still gets carded whenever she orders a beer. Baker’s most valuable talents, the formidable inner strength and insatiable curiosity she’s exhibited since she was a child, are traits that might only emerge over the course of the kind of probing face-to-face interview with a perceptive manager that seems to happen less and less often in this era of job application portals and chatbots. Does an algorithm yet exist that will discern the extent of Deja Baker’s tenacity?

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Former NBA Player Derek Anderson Creates School That Teaches Acts of Kindness, Life Skills and Crisis Management

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Derek Anderson

By Curtis Bunn, Urban News Service

Derek Anderson, the former San Antonio Spurs star, wants to teach black kids how to talk to the police. Growing up virtually homeless in Louisville, Kentucky, Anderson made the unlikely journey from inner-city high school to college basketball star at the University of Kentucky and then an 11-year career in the NBA, crowned by a championship with the San Antonio Spurs.

None of that would have happened, he said, had he not treated people with kindness from his earliest memory. Kindness is transformative.

That insight inspired him to create the Stamina Academy, an after-school and weekend program in his hometown. While free of charge, the school demands a lot from its students, who are boys ranging from fifth grade through twelveth.

The lessons taught are what sets Stamina Academy apart. Instructors present scenarios that students may encounter in everyday life and teach them how to manage potentially explosive encounters—including ones with law enforcement. The scenarios are filmed to be watched and studied.

In one film, a student plays a police officer who has just pulled over another student in a random traffic stop, as often happens in the real world. The pretend-officer challenges the student with increasingly uncomfortable questions. The student-driver learns how to keep calm and avoid feeling provoked.

“They see first hand how something can get out of hand and how something can be avoided,” Anderson said. “They figure that if they respond with respect there could be no escalation to the situation.”

The real-world lessons may be just as valuable as learning to diagram a sentence or remember what happened on July 2, 1776. “It’s just as important that kids have strong life skills as it is they achieve in the classroom,” Anderson said. “We want to produce well-rounded kids who can avoid challenging situations through knowledge and being kind and positive, and who understand it all starts simply with being nice.”

Anderson insists his calm demeanor has carried him through, around and above various situations.Derek Anderson SchoolStaying calm wasn’t easy. His father was not in his life and his mother, who battled drugs, often was not there. “When I wanted a job at the candy store and grocery store, I was kind and polite and it helped me get hired,” Anderson said. “When I needed to sleep at someone’s home, I was kind and grateful. Always. That’s what got me through.”

Anderson uses basketball to lure his 76 students. The former star player takes a hands-on approach to coaching, and his players benefit from his vast experience and know-how.

“And who Derek is as a person is important,” said Rontisha Toney, whose son, Austin, plays basketball and attends Stamina Academy after school and on weekends. “He focuses on the kids as people. He’s positive. He’s patient, always smiling. After practice, the player who performs the best in character and in play gets a belt that he gets to take home for the night. That kind of stuff helps build character and let’s them know it is more than just about the game.”

Anderson is among the most respected citizens in Louisville, largely due to the class and grace he displayed during his basketball career. Now he wants more young players to follow his lead.

He told the story of one of his 13-year-old students approaching an older woman at a Louisville Dairy Queen and paying for her order. “The woman cried,” Anderson said.

“If they perform acts of kindness everyday,” he said, “it becomes a lifestyle. That’s how you make change.”

Stephen Franklin, whose 14-year-old son Miles, attends Stamina and plays for its team, said a gesture by Anderson stood out to him—and validated what he teaches the kids.

“My wife is busy, I’m busy. My daughter is in dance,” Franklin recalled. “And I called D.A [Anderson] to tell him I would be late getting Miles to practice. He shocked me when he said, ‘Want me to go get him?’

“You never hear that from a coach. He’s a great example of what he wants the kids to become. We’re a family about community service and D.A. reinforces the spirit of gratitude.”

Students can spend the night in the Stamina gym, where tents are set up on the basketball court. There is a shower, a sauna and a barber. Anderson provides food and clothes for those who need them.

He guesses he has spent about $60,000 to make phase one of Stamina Academy a reality. He is seeking funds and property to build out a full-scale campus to teach more young men.

“The plan is to make it everything I wish I had growing up,” he said.

“We have to be the example, be positive, to change the way people act, the way people deal with each other,” Anderson said. “I say it all the time: Being kind is the greatest gift in the world.”

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7 Things to Know if You’re Applying to a ‘Reach’ Position

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Professional Black Man Standing Outside the Office

You spot your dream job, but it’s a reach — a reach beyond the next step in your career. It’s two steps or three steps or 10 steps removed from what your next job should be — and so, you stop just short of applying. But you should apply anyway. Why?

As career coach Hallie Crawford says, “Reaching is a way to grow as a professional and achieve new career goals”. Before you submit your and cover letter, however, there are at least seven things you should know about applying to a “reach” position. These insider tips and tricks will help you stand out from the crowd and score your dream job.

1. You’ll have to battle hiring managers’ assumptions.

It’s all but a fact: “Hiring managers will make assumptions based on your resume and cover letter,” warns millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. So, “It is your job to connect the dots for them before they place your resume in the no pile.” How can you do that? It’s easy, Jacinto promises. “Give them a clear understanding of not only why you are applying for this role but how your current skill set is a complement to the work that you will be doing,” she says.

2. Transferable skills will help you stand out in the right way.

You may not meet all the requirements of your dream job. But rather than focusing on what you’re missing, highlight the skills you have that will help you succeed in any position — and you’ll catch a recruiter’s attention in the best way, says Crawford. “Maybe you don’t have a specific qualification, but you’ve already been using the skills the qualification demands in another way,” she says. “Make those your star stories to show you’re up for the challenge.”

3. Hiring managers want people open to learning new skills.

You may believe it or not, but a willingness to learn what you don’t already know can be just as valuable as already having the knowledge when it comes to applying to a reach position. “Employers know that it will be almost impossible to find someone who can tick off all the boxes on their checklist,” Jacinto explains. “Instead, hiring managers are looking for people who are open to learning new skills.” In your application, “…highlighting the fact that you have been trained in other roles, have used new technology, or gone back to school to excel in a certain area helps show that you would be a good fit,” Jacinto says.

4. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Before you apply to a position that’s a couple of steps above your current pay grade, consider setting up an informational interview with someone who already has your dream job. “Find out what else is needed to be successful at that position besides the qualifications you are lacking, such as soft skills,” instructs Crawford, who adds that, “This will help you feel more confident in an interview [as well as help you] to showcase what you do bring to the table.”

5. You can’t avoid the fact this is a reach for you.

As much as you might like to do so, it’s not prudent to sweep the fact you’re “reaching” for this position under the rug. So, “Don’t hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice that you don’t meet all of the qualifications, especially if they were listed in the job description,” says Crawford. Instead, be proactive and “bring up the fact you are aware that you don’t meet all of the qualifications on paper, but also that you are ready and able to take on the position.”

6. Some hiring managers don’t know what they want — until they meet you.

Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t meet all of the qualifications a job requires, encourages Jacinto. “Hiring managers often do not necessarily know 100% what they want in a candidate until the right one walks into the door,” she points out. So, “Use this as an opportunity to sell your background, skills, connections, enthusiasm, and references during your interview and within your cover letter.” And speaking of having references…

7. References really matter.

What you may lack in experience or previous job titles you can make up for with glowing references. “References are always important, but they’re especially important in this case,” says Crawford. “If a hiring manager is considering you despite your being underqualified, you want to make sure that your references will sing your praises.” Be sure to prepare a list in advance of your application, and don’t forget to reach out to each potential reference to make sure he or she is willing to provide a very positive review of your performance.

This article originally appeared on the Glassdoor.com

How Shavone Charles Created Her Dream Job In Tech

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Shavone Charles holds many titles. From being a musician and artist to her role as Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications at Instagram and recent founder of a passion project, Magic in Her Melanin, Charles is undoubtedly known to her peers and the surrounding tech and entertainment industries as being a renaissance woman and connoisseur of culture.

The term, “Do It For The Culture”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is a statement requesting that someone carry out a specific action for benefit of their shared culture. Charles is doing just that with not only her work in Silicon Valley but for black creatives globally. With her deep Trinidadian roots, Charles is passionate about maintaining her self-identity while creating an environment of inclusivity for women of color in tech.

Before she was trailblazing a new path for future generations, millennials and black women in tech, or creating her own job title at multi-billion dollar companies like Twitter and Instagram, she was a San Diego native and first-generation college graduate from UC Merced, just trying to figure it out. Upon graduating in 2012, Charles snagged several high-profile entertainment and communications based internships at Google, BET Networks, Capitol Hill and The Department of Justice. Her big break happened when she was the presented with the opportunity to create her own role and title at Twitter.

At Twitter, Shavone established her niche career focus on culture-focused communications and social marketing, business partnerships and data analysis with a close lens on music, online communities and youth culture. Upon joining the Twitter team, Shavone created her own role, as the first person to join her team and head up the company’s global music and culture communications, with a focus on data, often working on efforts tied music partnerships and high-priority product launches and acquisitions (including Vine and Periscope). During her time at Twitter, Shavone also remotely oversaw all of the company’s communications efforts for Brazil and Canada out of San Francisco and employed a number of successful global culture-driven communications programs tied to major entertainment and consumer moments in market (including Rock In Rio, Brazil’s Fashion Week, Juno Awards and more). She led content management and curation for the official @TwitterMusic account and helped grow it by over 5 million followers, as result of social campaigns with talent and highlighting the best uses of Twitter and Vine in music.

In addition to launching PR and social campaigns, Charles had the unique opportunity to create the first-ever employee resource group for African-American employees, aptly named Twitter BlackBirds. Her role at Twitter, catapulted her into a new realm of visibility and influence, leading her to head up communications and culture at Instagram. Charles has always been intrigued by the notion of connecting diverse groups of people through social media and cultivating an accepting community for people to have the choice to share commonalities.

Technology has allowed the culture to be seen on a global scale, with creatives now at the forefront of the movement and art form. It’s not a “niche” community anymore and people are using the internet to build a community around their interests,” which she said at Forbes I.D.E.A Summit.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

30-year-old Mareena Robinson Snowden is the first black woman to earn a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT

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When Mareena Robinson Snowden walked across the commencement stage at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) on June 8th, she became the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the storied university.

For her, there was one particular word that the experience brought to mind: grateful.

“Grateful for every part of this experience — highs and lows,” she wrote on Instagram. “Every person who supported me and those who didn’t. Grateful for a praying family, a husband who took on this challenge as his own, sisters who reminded me at every stage how powerful I am, friends who inspired me to fight harder. Grateful for the professors who fought for and against me. Every experience on this journey was necessary, and I’m better for it.”

Snowden’s Ph.D. was the culmination of 11 years of post-secondary study. But the 30-year-old tells CNBC Make It that a career in STEM wasn’t something she dreamed of as a child.

“Engineering definitely was not something I had a passion for at a young age,” she says. “I was quite the opposite. I think my earliest memories of math and science were definitely one of like nervousness and anxiety and just kind of an overall fear of the subject.”

She credits her high school math and physics teachers with helping to expand her interests beyond English and history, subjects she loved.

“I had this idea that I wasn’t good at math and they kind of helped to peel away that mindset,” she explains. “They showed me that it’s more of a growth situation, that you can develop an aptitude for this and you can develop a skill. It’s just like a muscle, and you have to work for it.”

When Snowden, who grew up in Miami, was in the 12th grade and studying physics, she and her dad were introduced to a friend of a friend who worked in the physics department at Florida A&M University. At the time, she says, she was considering colleges and decided to make a visit to the campus.

“We drove up there and it was amazing,” says Snowden. “They treated me like a football player who was getting recruited. They took me to the scholarship office, and they didn’t know anything about me at the time. All they knew was that I was a student who was open to the possibility of majoring in physics.”

Continue onto CNBC News to read the complete article.

The University Of Illinois Launches Program To Create More Black And Latino Male Teachers

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Jawaun Williams always felt a void growing up on the South Side, going to schools with a predominantly black student population.

When he graduated from high school, he was one of the top 15 students in his class and in the honors society.

Still, something was missing.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to be taught by someone who looked like me. I never had any male black teachers,” Williams pointed out.

“I’ve only had one black teacher in my life. It was something I was used to, but as I’ve grown older, I realized that it is pretty weird that black men weren’t in my field.”

Though he wasn’t taught by many black men, Williams saw how influential educators could be in a young person’s life.

“Teachers taught me how to navigate, not only high school, but life. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to become a teacher.” the 19-year-old said.

Williams, a college sophomore, is one of six participants at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s “Call Me MISTER” program that aims to introduce more black and Latino male teachers into the Chicago Public School system.

This is the first year UIC is participating in the program, which stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.”

“Call Me MISTER” started at Clemson University in 2000 and is operating in 31 schools. UIC is the first large urban school participating.

At CPS, 84 percent of the student body population are black or Latino, but 42.7 percent of the system’s teachers are black or Latino.

“As soon as I graduate I want to go back to the South Side of Chicago, and teach in the same neighborhood I came out of,” Williams said.

Williams and others in the “Call Me MISTER” program were recruited at schools with a majority black or Latino student population. They will receive full tuition and room and board.

Continue onto The Chicago Sun-Times to read the complete article.

Education Enthusiast Creates College Opportunities

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Brannon Jones

By Mel Childs

Brannon Jones has a passion for education. After graduating from Albany State University in 2007, he took his first job at Adamson Middle School in Clayton County as a substitute technology teacher. This is where Brannon discovered that education is his calling.

He has since turned this calling into a business that helps high school youth start planning for college. Next Step Education Foundation, located in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in November 2011 to help youth develop a college readiness mindset at an early age to tackle the challenges associated with attending college.

“I don’t want lack of finances, resources, or information to hinder a student from getting a college education. Our mission is to give students what they need to help them be prepared to make one of the biggest decisions of their life,” Jones says.

Jones discussed his organization.

Did you feel that you were prepared for college when you attended?
I actually feel that I was unprepared. My parents instilled in me that I was going to college, but we didn’t have the logistical information on what I needed to do to be successful in the process. By happenstance, my mother met an ASU alumnus who nominated me for a summer bridge program that offered college credits and a stipend to students who attended the summer after graduation. Opportunities like this aligned for me to become successful; however, that’s not always the case for students. One thing I always tell students is, ‘If you don’t do the things necessary to help your parents pay for college, you will attend a college your parents can afford.’

What made you switch gears from teaching to helping youth with college readiness?
I took a position in college recruitment after leaving K–12. While working in recruitment, I noticed how ill-prepared many students were. Many students didn’t have a proper support system during the transition to college. I began to expose my applicants and enrollees to opportunities and resources beyond what my institution had to offer, and this is when I realized that I was filling an informational void.

What is the biggest obstacle you have witnessed in the college readiness process?
Student access and awareness by far are the largest obstacles in the college readiness process. Students are coming from all walks of life, family backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses. Unfortunately, pertinent information and opportunities are not disseminated to all areas equally. In my opinion, there’s about a third of high school students who are going to college no matter what obstacles are in their way; there’s about a third of high school students that aren’t going to college no matter how many resources you provide for them; and then there’s a third that may or may not seek a higher education based on environmental factors including access and awareness. I focus on the latter group.

What types of ways does your organization help students with the process of preparing for college?College Readiness 101 Workbook
We truly focus on access and awareness for students. We want to prepare them for the high school to college transition, then directly connect them to all types of institutions of higher education. We do this through a few programmatic platforms:

Virtual College Experience Program – As long as students have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, they can log into our Student Center and watch short research-based videos, complete activities, and download helpful documents to assist them through their college readiness process.

Community Workshops – We have partnered with local agencies, student groups, civic organizations, and community organizers to conduct workshops covering a wide range of college preparation topics including college selection, admissions, financial aid, scholarships, test preparation, money mistakes, and decisions making for college-bound students.

Annual College, Career & Services Fair – Every fall, we host a large fair to expose students to well-known and lesser-known colleges, career professionals and local service providers. Our third Annual Fair in 2016 created 41 on-the-spot college acceptances and 1.7 million in scholarship offers.

College Readiness 101 Workbook – I have recently released my first published resource for students. The College Readiness 101 Workbook is a student research-based book that assists students in strategically choosing their college and major, understanding financial aid and other financing options, as well as provide tips, tools, and resources for them use on their journey. Additionally, the workbook includes a portfolio for students to compare their top five colleges. Through their research, they will be able to articulate the best college for them and the reasons why.

For anyone seeking more detailed information about our organization, I encourage them to visit our website at nextstepeducation.org. We are more than ready to help students get on an organized path in pursuit of higher education.

 

We’re Loving It: Meet The Youngest Black Woman To Own A McDonald’s Franchise

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Jade Colin is making waves in the restaurant franchise business as McDonald’s youngest black woman to own one of the popular fast food eateries.

No doubt an impressive feat, the New Orleans native has been preparing to run her own business for years. In 2010, her parents purchased their first McDonald’s. She began working in her family’s restaurants in 2012, after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelors in Business Management.

The next step in her journey towards owning her own was joining the Next Generation program. The program helps train children of McDonald’s franchise owners in hopes of one day running their parents’ investments, or franchising a new store themselves. Uniquely, a parent can’t simply pass their franchise down to their kids; they have to go through a process where they’re accepted to take it over, or, like Colin, start their own.

Colin excelled in the program, receiving the Outstanding Restaurant Manager of the Year Award for her region, as well as the Ray Kroc Award, which recognizes the top one percent of restaurant managers in the country.

In 2016, Colin opened her first McDonald’s location, marking her as McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, at 26 years old.

Now 28, and still McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, Colin is thinking long term when talking about being black and running your own business. Speaking to The Black Professional, the millennial franchisee said, “As an African American community, we need more men and women to know it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

RuPaul Charles: Creating Opportunities for the LGBTQ+ Community

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RuPaul speaks at the LA Pride Resist March

by Mackenna Cummings

You may recognize RuPaul Charles from his global phenomenon hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, or as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

RuPaul has been paving the runway and the world for tolerance and education of the LGBTQ+ community. He is a prominent figure and has supported LGBTQ+ rights and has fought for equality throughout his career.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community credit RuPaul with bringing drag into the spotlight. In 2018, he was the first drag queen to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. RuPaul paved the way as the first openly gay national television host on The RuPaul Show on VH1 in 1996. Currently, as the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he has helped launch the careers of more than 120 drag queens. He was also the first face of M.A.C. Cosmetics and, as its spokesperson, helped raise money for AIDs epidemic awareness. The fund has raised more than $400 million to date. While changing the world through tolerance and representation is one thing, it is all done while looking flawless and being true to himself, which makes RuPaul stand out even more.

RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

RuPaul’s mantra for his entire career spanning more than 35 years has been to “love yourself.” During his sendoff at the end of each of episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he addresses fans and contestants alike with the advice, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” He is an avid promoter of self-love. His fans are of all ages, races, genders, and sexualities, and these lessons and this encouragement to embrace and accept oneself are critical for the LGBTQ+ community that is often misunderstood and criticized.

Not only does RuPaul continue to empower the LGBTQ+ community through championing for rights on each of his platforms, but he has also created an environment of support and growth for those on his show. He recognizes the need for finding “your tribe”—as he calls it—a support group of others who share your passions and interests, which is why he has created other outlets for people to connect outside of his shows and podcast, RuPaul: What’s the Tee with Michelle Visage. Another outlet is RuPaul’s DragCon bringing people together in both Los Angeles and New York, where RuPaul says that many of his younger fans are able to attend, represent themselves, and find their community. At the Los Angeles 2018 event, RuPaul said, “All the queens here represent the American spirit of being an entrepreneur and following your dream—no matter what anyone else has to say about it.”

RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)
RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is helping both the contestants and the viewers understand how to love themselves more, which is why the show has become such a celebrated part of television. RuPaul coined the phrase, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag,” advocating that for all of us, our clothing is a means of expression, and everything else we put on our bodies is drag.

RuPaul’s Drag Race brings forward authenticity by showcasing what contestants create, and because of that, how drag is a part of themselves. “Drag can help you understand what you are, how amazing it is to have a human body, and what you can do with it,” he said in an interview with Oprah for the February 2018 issue of O Magazine. RuPaul highlights the beauty and art behind drag culture in his show, airing on VH1, which has drawn in millions of viewers.

Ru Paul attends the signing of his book 'Workin' It'. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Ru Paul attends the signing of his book ‘Workin’ It’. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

RuPaul also says that drag is helping fight the patriarchy and the dangers of strict definitions of masculinity. Through drag, no one else has to adhere to one identity, which allows people of multiple races and orientations to fit in by standing out. By not being afraid to embrace who he is and share that with the world, RuPaul has given so many others a platform to also represent their non-conforming and beautiful selves. In addition to RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s DragCon, he will be starring in the new Netflix scripted comedy series AJ and the Queen, his book GuRu will be released in the fall on Dey Street Books, and he will be releasing a cosmetic line with Mally Beauty in 2019. An ever-positive figure, RuPaul shows no signs of slowing down his success and support for self-expression and love.

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

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The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

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

Black-Owned Alkaline Water Brand Becomes the First To Be Sold At Walmart

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Dr. Shayla Creer and Robert McCray are the founders behind Live Alkaline Water, which is now the first Black-owned water brand to be sold in Walmart. 

With its headquarters based in Jacksonville, Florida, the company uses water that comes from a natural alkaline water spring that McCray’s family has owned in North Carolina for more than 100 years. McCray told First Coast News that his aunt once took him out to the spring and said “you’re the blood of your ancestors crying out for you and you’re responsible for this.”

According to Black Enterprise, “the water is sourced from a natural underground spring, an aquifer, and a mineral rock bed that lies 800 feet below the ground making it extremely pure and fresh to the taste.”

McCray went on to team up with Dr. Creer to develop the water brand. “I called … many Walmarts, and finally we got a hold of one who allowed us to do a presentation,” Dr. Creer said.

After a successful presentation, the water went on to sell out within a month of hitting shelves, and is now sold in a total of three Walmart locations in northern Florida. The retail giant intends to continue to sell the water and hopes to add the products to even more of its stores.

“Healthy people make a healthy community,” McCray said. “Eat right, drink right and you begin to think right, as a people.”

Continue onto Because Of Them We Can to read the complete article.

8 In-Demand Skills That Will Complement Any Resume

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black woman at desk

By Megan Ruesink

You know it’s time for a change—a pay bump and a position where you feel more like an actual professional—but you’re not quite ready to commit to pursuing one career over another. That’s okay.

There are still some things you can be doing to invest in your future right now.There are plenty of skills to learn and implement into your life that may help you when you’re finally ready to apply for that new job or join that program. Take a look at what these employers, business leaders, resume professionals and more are saying about skills to learn that will help you grow and complement your future resume.

4 in-demand ‘soft’ skills

“Future professionals—no matter the field they are entering—need to focus on soft skills that are easily transferable to any position,” says Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications.

Take a look at these four “soft” skills that can help you grow as a person and bolster your resume for nearly any career.

  1. Relationship-building

“Recruiters and hiring managers consistently seek those employees who can relate well to a variety of co-workers, partner with customers, establish ongoing relationships and demonstrate exceptional communication skills,” says Rothbauer-Wanish.

No matter the career you pursue, it’s a safe bet that you’ll end up working with others. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone you interact with, but the ability to understand and relate with others is an important foundational skill.

  1. Communication

Communication skills—both written and oral—are also desirable traits among potential employees. Every career requires communication. Whether it’s responding to client emails, collaborating with teammates or presenting in front of team leads, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is an important skill to possess and refine. If you’re looking to improve your communication ability, organizations like Toastmasters are a great way to get yourself into form.

  1. Critical thinking

Critical-thinking ability is a universally useful skill—practically every job requires you to evaluate situations and make decisions that might not always have a clear right answer. The ability to weigh evidence and project potential outcomes will play a key role in your ability to perform well in nearly any role—whether it’s as a nurse or financial advisor. While this ability isn’t something that can be honed with the snap of your fingers, there are strategies you can employ to refine your critical-thinking skills over time.

  1. Adaptability

Adaptability is important to both small and large companies, says James Kemper, president of W.H. Meanor & Associates.

“Due in part to greatly improved communication and data collection capabilities, events that would take months or even years to develop are reduced to weeks and days,” he says. “So it is important in your resume that you can demonstrate how you’ve encountered or were tasked to resolve challenging situations that may not have been in your scope of understanding, and how you dealt with them.”

4 in-demand ‘hard’ skills

Obviously, when it comes to your future resume, you’ll need industry-specific skills to jump out at those reading it. But in the for now, as you figure out what you really want to do, why not work on some “hard skills” that will look good on a nearly every resume and likely play some part in your future career.

  1. Coding

“In a technology-driven world, having technological skills are highly sought after. The basics of Microsoft Office are a necessity,” says Ajay Prasad, founder and president of GMR Web Team. “But other skills, such as coding, can be very attractive. Even in positions where you don’t expect to need to know coding, it can still come in handy.”

Prasad uses the example of an HTML newsletter or email in need of edits or a website that could use a little tweaking. Knowing some codes in these areas can easily be put to good use. Additionally, coding skills can be used to automate simple repetitive tasks—which can be a huge time saver.

  1. Data analysis

“A lot of today’s jobs revolve more and more around data,” says Bradley Shaw, president and CEO of SEO Consulting Inc. “And even in jobs like content marketing or customer support, you’ll be dealing with some data on a regular basis. Showing a future employer that you’ve used data to make decisions at work in another industry, or even to do something like grow your social media can go a long way.”

While not every job in the world will require a deep statistical analysis of data, being able to identify trends and interpret changes in data can help you make informed decisions.

  1. Software skills

Gaining software skills within your area of study or industry can be helpful skills for your future career and a great way to pad your resume.

“If you want to obtain a job in accounting, get training in accounting software packages; if you want to get into HR learn as many Human Resources Information System (HRIS) software packages as possible,” says Dawn Boyer, PhD, author and consultant.

  1. Budgeting

The ability to set and adhere to a budget is a versatile and valuable skill. While the benefits of being able to manage a budget are much more obvious for business-related careers, there’s still good reason to develop budgeting skills. For one, budgeting is a great skill for your personal life. But beyond that, even careers that have very little to do with business or money management have the potential for you to reach a management position that may require careful management of finances.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: Rasmussen.edu

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