What’s your “YES”? By Madison Langrin

Zaniya Lewis, the Founder, CEO, and Executive Director of the #YesSheCanCampaign.  Born in Newark, New Jersey, raised in Edgewater Park, the Founder shares her story of how her challenges and adversity has helped her flourish in the amazing woman she is today, and why she made the #YesSheCanCampaign. “My successes, adversities, and failures inspired me to create the  #YesSheCanCampaign, that is now a national 501 (c)(3) non-profit.” – Zaniya Lewis

I was born premature and had about a 75% chance of dying.  Growing up, My mom was unemployed for some part of my life and I was also a military kid.  As I entered middle school, I was bullied and during my senior year while applying for colleges, it was hard for me to attend the colleges that I wanted to go to.  On top of that, I have experienced racial discrimination a countless amount of times. Going through these different experiences made me feel lonely, made me think I wasn’t good enough.  In 2016, I decided to create a space where young girls and young women can share their stories about their experiences and obstacles while they were striving to complete their education. I have also been given so many incredible opportunities and I wanted to keep the door open give others the same opportunities I was granted. My story is all about the climb!

How has the campaign grown with you over the past few years?

The #YesSheCanCampaign started as an instagram that shared the stories of women who were overcoming adversity while striving to complete their education. Since then, we have expanded to 11 programs, we have two college chapters that started this fall and we have reached over 1,000 + students through our programming and social media content. We have 14 national team members from across the country working on different aspects of the organization in their homes and college dorms! All of the national team members are in high school and college.

What does your role in the campaign entail?

I am the Founder and Executive Director of the #YesSheCanCampaign. I am in charge of everything at the #YesSheCanCampaign. I ensure that each department is uplifting our mission! I do everything from social media, to recruitment, showcasing opportunities, I basically do it all!  I bleed the #YESSHECANCAMPAIGN!

What is one of your current or biggest goals?

As of now, I want to continue recruiting as many members for the #YesSheCanCampaign. While doing this, I attend the George Washington University studying Political Science. I hope to attend law school in the future. My goal is just to keep inspiring and empowering youth to change the world and to keep climbing!

Why is education, especially for women, so important to you?

Education is important to because education is a tool that cannot be taken away from you after you get that diploma. Education is the key to opportunity in this world. It is important that every girl and young women in this world receive a quality education so that they can achieve their goals and dreams.

How do you believe your experience with education (elementary, high school, college, etc.) has shaped the person you are now?

Education has given me the confidence to follow my dreams. I had so many incredible teachers who I still keep a relationship with to this day because they empowered me to keep following my dreams.

What role has your family/support system played in you achieving your goals?

My family is the reason I am here today! They have been an incredible support system. My mom and dad taught me to not be average and do something that is bigger than myself. They instilled in me that volunteering is your duty in life. My dad created the saying “KEEP CLIMBING!” for me when I was in high school, I decided to use that saying as the motto at the #YesSheCanCampaign because despite the obstacles that we may face, the climb is what we focus on! I truly thank my family for shaping me as a person!

How would you spend your time if you had a weekend free of any responsibility?

Definitely sleep!

The Importance of Speaking Another Language by Alina de Zoysa

How important is speaking another language if everyone else in the world is learning English? Really important! Some people may argue that the rest of the world is learning English, so learning another language is not as important as other priorities in life. Although people around the world are being taught to speak English on top of their native language, there is a significant importance in learning another language. Learning another language can open various doors in a person’s life. For instance a person who can speak another language will most likely get a better job because they are multilingual.  Most colleges already require their students to have at least a two year study of a foreign language, and learning a different language can expose people to more information on the web.

Wouldn’t you agree that learning another language should be required of all U.S. students because there is a higher possibility that an adult who can speak another language will get a job before an adult of the same age who has little to no experience with a foreign language. If you belong to a company, most likely there will be at least one instance when a customer will not be able to speak English. What will the company do when they could potentially lose one of their clients because they don’t have someone to speak their same language?  An easy solution is to hire an employee that can speak a popular foreign language.

Most colleges already require students to have at least a “two year study” in a foreign language. Most high schools already require their students to take a language during their high school years as well, and as a result the two year requirement has already been met. But if the students only take a two year study of their language, they may not have enough experience with their foreign language to absolutely learn the language fully. Requiring students to speak another language would mean that the students would have to start learning in kindergarten or an early age and continue to study the language throughout their school career. When the language is introduced early, there is a higher possibility that the students will retain the language better than just starting their classes in high school and only having two to four years of the language

Another advantage to learning a foreign language would be that students will be able to read other articles online that are in different languages around the world.  “With advancements in technology, the world is becoming better connected. More and more, information on the internet is available in multiple languages, and information isn’t confined to being shared only from English publications.” On the internet there is so much information being shared in various different languages. Say a student has a project in Spanish class about the geography of Spain. Articles could be provided in English, but there could also be certain articles that could be in Spanish as well. These articles in different languages could be written by the people who actually live in that area of the world.

Interestingly enough, some people might argue that the rest of “the world is striving to learn English, Americans wonder why they should bother to learn other languages” . If the rest of the world is learning English, why should English speakers have to worry about learning to communicate in another language? Although this claim does prove a valid point, there are many ways that this statement is completely wrong. When this claim is said, it makes America seem like we do not want to learn another language and embrace other countries and their cultures. Saying that it is not necessary to learn another language because everyone else can speak our language makes us seem egotistical and arrogant. Learning another language will broaden our horizons to new cultures and belief around the world.  

The importance of learning another language is very important and it should be a requirement that students should be able to speak another language. Requiring students to speak another language might seem like a hassle when you are younger, but will become an advantage once you get older.

STUDENT LOANS BY: Alina de Zoysa

Student loans are recognized as a financial resource that young adults rely on in order to get a higher education, even if they can’t entirely afford their payments during a particular time in their life. Although student loans are a resource, the accumulation of debt that is collected from students hampers their adult experiences throughout their entire life.  The money that students owe will only grow bigger as their motivation for an average life sinks. Student debt is affecting adult’s lives after graduation because of the limited independent careers that students can choose from, increasing tuition fees, and the limited number of people recovering from their debt.

To begin, adults are less likely to create their own businesses if they still have student loans to pay off. Student loans can affect the decision that adults have to make when it is time for them to choose a career path. If a student chooses to create a business, they have to take the responsibility of the company and be able to support it. The risk of creating a new company might be too high for a former student to handle. Being responsible for student loans and a business that would need financial support would be too much of a risk that adults might not be able to handle. “When students use up their debt capacity on student loans, they can’t commit  elsewhere,” . Student debt is keeping students from having the career they have worked so hard to attain through the knowledge they needed to gain.

To continue, the increasing tuition fees of college education seem unattainable for students. College is portrayed as a source of mandatory education in order to have a decent life. Although college helps to ensure a job, the increasing tuition and yearly fees are making the “needed” education limited to certain people and classes who can afford the increasing prices. Many people try to gain help through grants, local and university scholarships, campus employment, and many more sources. But even the resources that are given to students can’t fully give them full closure to all of their financial obligations. Tuition isn’t the only costs, there are also books, rooms, travel, miscellaneous expenses, etc. All these expenses add up and make a student overwhelmed by the money they owe. “Published tuition and fees rose about 3% from last year even though the government reports there has been basically no inflation”.  Is making the price higher producing more knowledgeable people into the work field?

Finally, the limited number of adults recovering from debt is not enough. The number of adults paying off all of their debt is sinking as former students struggle to keep up with their payments. It’s not surprising that a percentage of students are not paying or on track with their debt when in just the last decade that the “total student loan debt tripled… to a whopping $1.232 trillion”. Student loans have taken over common households far exceeding other debt such as “credit cards, auto loan, and all other forms of debt, except for mortgages”. Is it too hard for adults to pay off their debt in the short amount of time they are given.

In conclusion, student loans are changing the lives of graduating students. Student loans are keeping back students from creating the life they are trying so hard to attain through a proper education, then, hopefully, get a proper job. The limited number of students who have chosen to create their own business that have had student debt is not what it should be, student debt is holding back students from the opportunities that should be accessible to them. Should the lives of our future have to worry about paying back the government, or changing the world with their knowledge.

 

FOR THE LOVE OF…. Pitbutlls! By: Alina de Zoysa

When you think about a pit bull, some people may think of danger, but a pit bull owner thinks of their dog as loyal, loving, and playful. Imagine a pit bull owner pried away from their dog, just because of a single law. This law has affected many lives when families were forced to watch their precious dog leave their homes and heart. How could you argue with a pit bull owner when they say their pit bulls are apart of their family, attacks are too focused on pit bulls, and their pit bull’s appearance doesn’t say anything about their personality.

To begin, when you think of family pets, Golden Retrievers, or maybe beagles come to thought, but how about pit bulls? They are a dog breed and they are generous and giving. There are pit bull owners who could state various pieces of evidence say that their pit bulls are vividly apart of their family. For example in the newspaper article ”Miami-Dade County Votes To Keep Pit Bulls Out” Mark Buehrle, a famous advocate for pit bulls, relocates his family’s location to Broward County in order to keep his beloved family’s pit bull. This shows that Buehrle would rather keep his pit bull than lose his pet due to Miami-Dade County’s law against pit bulls. Clearly this shows that Buehrle cares for his pit bull and is one of many pit bull owners that could say that his pet is vividly apart of his family and life in a positive way.

To continue, when you hear about dog attacks they are usually focused on pit bulls. Have you ever heard of a golden retriever or a poodle attack? You might rarely or might have never heard of a dog attack that has a good reputation. But if a pit bull does attack, even once, they are framed for being a vicious or dangerous dog. For instance, James Cross states that the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) specifically tells animal control officers that they will not cover a dog attack unless the attack is being situated by a pit bull. This goes to show that even associations that try to prevent cruelty to animals even try to focus attacks on pit bulls by trying to “eliminate” the presence of other dog attacks, “… the media intentionally over-reports incidents involving pit bulls, while keeping silent on attacks committed by dogs with better reputations, such as labradors”. This goes on to show that attacks are too focused on pit bulls when other dogs with better reputations also are involved in attacks.

Would you judge a dog by their appearance, or will you see a dog for who they are, and what their soul really holds with their love for human beings and other creatures? Pit bulls consist the same heart and love as much as and other dog has. But even the name this dog breed is given, pitbull, seems scary when you hear it, but their title or appearance doesn’t mean anything until you really get to know the dogs, then you really know that pit bulls aren’t harsh.

Pit bulls lives should not be affected by people’s thoughts against them, you should always remember that pit bulls are apart of people’s family, attacks are too focused on pit bulls, and the pit bull’s appearance doesn’t say anything about their personality.

How the game is more than a passion by: Malicka Barro

Coming from a background where soccer is a tradition, I fell in love with this sport at a early age. I remember the first soccer game I experienced, my country, the Ivory Coast was facing Cameroon. That game started my passion and love for soccer because I saw all of the supporters from both teams becoming one. One big mass that showed the magic of soccer, which is bringing people together and making joy out of a sport. My ambition for soccer grew more and more every day, but I was from a country where we were not really exposed to sports.  In contrast, that didn’t reduce my love for the sport because I lived for soccer and even played with the boys from my neighborhood.

On June 16th 2011, I received news from my father that we were moving to the United States of America for his new job that he had found. I told myself  “Hey let’s try this…America is the land where anything is possible. Right?” And just like that I was coming to an unknown country, but with a strong faith and high hopes. When I came to the United States, I was amazed by the fact that girls were just into soccer just as much as the boys! The transition to the U.S at was hard for me because I wasn’t able to speak the English as well as the others around me, so overall, it was difficult to make friends, especially with the girls who played soccer that I wanted to be friends with.  During gym class, I’d would play footsies with the other kids and show my talents, and somehow felt free and felt understood by them even though I could not speak English that well.

Months past by, and  I decide to try out for the soccer travel team in my town. It was a great travel team and was known to have amazing female players. I have to say that I that time my ego was probably a big handicap for me. I was so ambitious, ready to fight to join the team.  I convinced myself that I was going to make the team. The day finally comes for tryouts, and the expectations and qualifications were high, I felt it in my heart. There were butterflies in my stomach, I felt scared for the first time about trying something new.   The coaches were looking for skills such as trapping the ball, controlling, dribbling, and taking good shots. The one that scared me the most was conditioning. In order to stand out I had to at least be able not to gasp for air in the first fifteen minutes of the tryouts. There were about 50 girls trying out for the team, so my characteristics for this team have to fulfill their expectations. We started to run lapses and I quickly felt my lungs not working, my heart  started to beat really fast, and my legs were getting heavy which made it hard for me to pick them and run.

I quickly realized that I was getting behind the other girls. Then, came the second part which was going on the field and showing our skills. I was doing well at dribbling, passing, and controlling the ball until I had to take a shot and then came the worst nightmare of my life. I hit the ball but it barely left the ground. My eye was twitching, my heart stopped for a minute, and I felt tears coming in my eyes. I tried again, but this time it went over the goal. I just experienced failure for the first time in my life. It was not just a regular failure to me, it was a failure at something that I had a passion for. I did not make the team, and I felt hatred for letting myself down. During that period of time, I realized that I had to slow down my ego, and that it did not align with my qualities. I then decided to ameliorate my skills and my physical shape in terms of conditioning. The conditioning was pushing me to improved and better, I was happy, and that’s all that mattered to me at that point. I started to run every day after I was done with homework. I would spend hours and hours practicing my shots and technical skills. Day after day I kept on pushing myself because I wanted to prove that I could get better if I put in the right amount of work into whatever I decide to do. Three months later my family moved and I decided to try out for my new town’s girls soccer travel team. The day of,  my feelings of butterflies came to my stomach, feeling nervous and anxious. My hands started to sweat, I felt my stomach tying little knots in itself, and my feet were numb. I started running harder and faster than I ever did during the conditioning step.

On the field, my first touches were on point and my shots were not perfect but were good enough. I miss the first one but luckily it left the ground, then I made the second shot. I might have only made one but those two shots were enough to make me feel like I accomplished and made a progress in my way of shooting after what happened with the previous tryouts. I finally made the team and felt the joy that I experienced during the Ivory Coast vs Cameroon. What I learned from this experience is sometimes failure can be a good thing because it makes you stronger. The solution to failure is not to blame yourself but to get up, work on your flaws and most importantly never give up on what you love because that love is forever yours. My love for soccer was worth the fight because it was making me happy and because of that I experienced failure and that same love helped me go through it and learn my lesson. I guess the saying, “What doesn’t not kill you makes you stronger” really relates to me and I take it personal.

SUPERFLY! BY: Sana-Doctor Bentley

Superfly is a remake of an old classic gangster/drug kingpin movie where a young man by the name of Priest realizes it is time to find another way of life. Though he struggles with this fact of his existing life needs to end, he is forced to make some tough decisions that will leaded him down a path he never truly wanted. At a young age, Priest was always intelligent and a smart young man. With a mentor, he becomes a successful cocaine drug kingpin. Using his charm, wit, and ability to stay undetected. He builds an empire that is more powerful than many expect. With getting out on his mind, he plans to pull off one last job before retirement. However, with big plans, there is always a situation or two that will not allow him to walk away from this current life. Priest’s glass house around him begins to crumble. Priest is left to develop the last resort plan that will for the last time to remove him from this life. As expected critics would not disappoint by providing their opinions of how the new actor Trevor Jackson (“Grown-ish,” “American Crime”) would not be able to fill the shoes of previous Actor Ron O’Neal. I have not seen the original, which I am sure, is a great movie; however, this new age Superfly was not disappointing. I’m always pleased when remakes bring in modern day attributes as they aid in keeping it more relevant to the audience. Priest cleverly uses in one screen cell phone and messaging to lure a trap for someone who was doing business with his soon to be mentor. There are some powerful scenes in the movie that touches on topics of police brutality, crooked detectives, friendships, and family relationships.

 

Jackson’s co-stars also did not disappoint. Each of them holding theirs as each screen wrapped to the climatic ending. From the dynamic between Priest and his closest friend Eddie (Jason Mitchell) which displays the struggles of caring for someone who doesn’t see the bigger picture. Priest and Eddie do not see eye to eye on getting out of the business. The fact that they are not on the same agenda leads them both down a path that will cause problems in their friendship. Let us also take Priest mentor Scatter (Michael K. Williams), and their relationship is also compromised when Priest wants to pull off this last big deal. Scatter’s trust in Priest is destroyed due to this lie, and soon they are at blows, which ultimately leaves them both ruined. These two relationships for Priest helped to define who he was and still is.

 

SuperFly’s music was so perfectly matched to each scene as they unfolded. Given the movie the flare, it needed. I was so impressed by the music that I wanted to get up in the theater to start dancing. Lol, oh well! Kudos, to the music director on the choice of music. I believe that music is like the topping to a pizza it brings out the flavor. As it should not be a surprise, Superfly did not disappoint when it came to humor and style of dress. To the beautifully designed suits, fur coats, fly shoes, and full of life dresses. This made you want to go out and get an entirely new wardrobe. Very gaga over the fast cars, I was so elated to see the Lamborghini in this movie. It is indeed a remarkable piece of hardware designed to make anyone shout out WOOHOO. I am not sure of why at this time they decided to make a remake movie such as this. However, I’m supportive of the fact of bringing into this movie some of the harder topics of seeing misfortune of others, the disappointment of relationships, and lastly concerns on areas of police relationships with people in urban areas. Though I do not think, glorifying this cocaine lifestyle is needed for the people it was great how they tied in current events. I look forward to seeing the remakes of more black films from the seventies.

A movement in fashion by: Sana-Doctor Bentley

A trend that we are seeing more and more often, Taking the world by storm is “Flaw Accepting Fashion Campaigns” we are seeing it more often that the fashion and beauty industry are accepting what society has named as flawed. A hashtag was started by a fashion brand in the UK called Missguided the hashtag is called “ In Your Own Skin” their goal of this campaign is too embrace attributes that would be considered flaws or imperfections in mainstream beauty. They wanted to celebrate differences by showing scars,burns,birthmarks,freckles, ableism as something that people should be proud of and not hide. This campaign gets across this message by show models like Mariana Mendes, Joanne Dion, Beth Brice, Isabella Fernandes, Polly Ellens, and Maya Spencer-Berkeley.  This isn’t Missguided’s first attempt in challenging societal norms last year they had another hashtag by the name of “ make your mark” where they would post unedited photos of their models.I could relate so much to this campaign, and seeing the empowerment hits home for me.

 

This is important to me as a African American female it isn’t everyday that i see a model who looks like me and is accepted and praised for her beautiful dark skin and her curly hair, it’s just not something you see but as a female this is something I’ve been waiting for something like this. So I don’t fear hatred over the fact that my body and looks don’t match society’s values. A campaign like this challenges those standards and make me as a female feel more accepted, it hits home for others because we all know people who have been shamed because we were taught how society will value us. We’ve been shamed or know someone who has been shamed because they were not perfect and didn’t fit in one way or another. This campaign shows us even with mainstream trying to tell us that something is perfect what truly is perfect is a human accepting themselves even if they have not conformed to society’s norm. Now of course a movement is going to receive backlash.  
There are people who do not support positive movements such as this,but something that was pointed out is they speak towards body positivity but they only go up to a UK size 16 having customers and critics pointing out there slight downfall in not making there sizes match there all inclusive messages. This is a very important campaign in general because from a young age we are teaching kids that they need to grow up and look a certain way from hair, body shape, skin color and more of these ways are forced on us by models that are deemed to be “perfect”,having models that are shown with there imperfections is what everyone needs young and old showing us that even these people that we say are perfect they have there imperfections and they are just as beautiful its is a wake up call to society that noone is perfect were all different and we all still need to be loved and accepted.