Intro Video

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Weekly calls keep students connected to the Institute during a pandemic

When the MIT campus is alive, it nearly sings with innovation and excitement. Students sustain one another with activities ranging from building in makerspaces to psetting in residence halls to pick-up soccer games on the fields. But how can they remain connected during a pandemic, where physical distancing is the new normal? What can replace the informal chats with faculty members after class? Throw in remote learning — and the Infinite Corridor seems infinitely far away.

Enter the MIT Student Success Coaching program, a new initiative for keeping students “connected to the Infinite.” The program, launched by the Division of Student Life (DSL) and the Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC), matches students with volunteer “coaches,” or staff or faculty members from several areas of the Institute. In many cases, the coaches may be already known to students through their “day jobs” as athletic coaches, support professionals, or faculty members.

Coaches are assigned anywhere from one to 20 undergraduate students who they will connect with once a week through the end of the semester to see how they are transitioning to online learning and more generally, how they are doing during the Covid-19 crisis. Participating students receive weekly check-ins conducted over Zoom, FaceTime, or even via phone or email.

The program emerged in response to a request from Suzy Nelson, vice president and dean for student life; Ian Waitz, vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education; and Krishna Rajagopal, dean for digital learning. The program’s co-chairs are Lauren Pouchak, director of special projects in the OVC; Gustavo Burkett, senior associate dean for diversity and community Involvement in DSL; and Elizabeth Cogliano Young, associate dean and director of first year advising programs in OVC.

Cogliano Young says there are now more than 500 volunteer coaches matched with approximately 4,400 undergraduate students. The program is also open to MIT’s graduate students but it serves a smaller number “since many graduate students may already have regular meetings with advisors,” Pouchak says. The team worked to identify programs where graduate students could benefit from an opt-in coaches program.

Listening is number one

One of the co-chairs’ first tasks was developing a training for the volunteers. They turned to colleagues across the Institute, including Rajagopal, who spoke at the first hour-long virtual training session. In it, he emphasized that the coaches are not meant to replace academic advisors or the student support professionals who work for Student Support Services and GradSupport.

“The number one thing to do is to listen, listen, and listen,” Rajagopal said.

Susanna Barry, senior program manager at MIT Medical, also spoke at the training, and encouraged coaches to empower students to solve their own problems. To that end, a Slack group was formed where coaches can interact with one another and the program co-chairs can share what they are hearing from students, brainstorm approaches to addressing challenges, and develop new ideas for strengthening student connections to the Institute during this period of remote learning.

Pouchak said the Slack channel feedback has meant that issues that have “bubbled up” can be addressed in real-time. For instance, many students reported having trouble sleeping and managing their time while they are off campus. Working with Barry, the co-chairs and a group of “super coaches”  (staff who have particular expertise and experience and work to support students on a daily basis) introduced several new Zoom workshops on topics such as sleep and time management, which include tips such as don’t hit the snooze button and try to get some sunlight before noon every day.

Rachel Shulman, undergraduate academic coordinator for the MIT Energy Initiative, who has been matched with 18 undergraduate students, was eager to share insights with her fellow coaches. She says after initial conversations with several students, she noticed that many have found it hard to stay focused.

“Everyone is distracted, and everyone is having trouble focusing on their lectures, and some are putting pressure on themselves to do as well as they were doing before,” Shulman says. And while some of Shulman’s students have reported they are doing well with the transition to virtual learning, they still appreciate hearing from someone at MIT.

Shulman tells students that the weekly coaching sessions can be whatever students want them to be.

“I’ve told them that if they have specific goals, I can try to help them figure out how to achieve them, or I can connect them with resources. I had one student ask me about the career fair, and it was so great because there’s a Slack channel for the MIT coaches … and I was able to Slack one of them while I was on a Zoom call with the student [so I could answer the student’s question],” Shulman says.

Having a human node in the network

Luke Hartnett, a senior in mechanical engineering, was skeptical of the coaching initiative at first. But, after his first conversation with his coach, he realized that he appreciated the extra support — especially after his 90-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with Covid-19.

“[My coach] was very helpful in talking me through how to deal with school … and planning out for the rest of the semester. Everyone is dealing with something, so I think it’s nice that MIT thought of this unique way to support students,” Hartnett says.

Junior Alex Encinas, another mechanical engineering major, says time management at his home in Houston has been a struggle. He’s committed to following the same schedule that he would have had if he were still on campus, even though he has the option of watching his lecture recordings any time. He says he’s adjusted well to the new routine, but while speaking with his coach, “things started flowing out that I didn’t even know were bothering me … and we just talked through them. It was calming for me,” he says.

Devan Monroe, assistant dean for professional development programs in the Office of Minority Education, says that students are using the program in the way that suits their needs.

“I’ve heard back from five students so far. Most have felt they were in a good place and don’t need the weekly check-ins. I’ve had others who have opted in and requested biweekly meetings rather than weekly,” he says.

Schools are also implementing coaching programs for their cohorts of students. The MIT Sloan School of Management has called for staff members to voluntarily conduct weekly MBA student check-ins, says Jenifer Marshall, associate director of the MBA and MSMS program office.

Marshall says about 90 MIT Sloan staff members volunteered to be matched with MBA students. The students can opt out if they feel they don’t need the extra support. Although every MBA student is already matched with an MBA program advisor, Marshall says that the closure of physical MIT offices prompted the MBA program office to keep the lines of communication open with weekly check-ins because everyone is now remote.

“Students often meet with their advisors because they have an academic or policy question. Once we start talking about that topic, they may feel more comfortable moving into a more personal conversation, whereas they wouldn’t have necessarily led with that. Since we don’t have that nuanced ability to interact with students during this time, we thought that creating a calling plan was important,” Marshall says.

Marshall also encouraged MIT Sloan volunteers to participate in the Institute-wide Student Success Coaching program and has directed them toward the training and support information that the program provided.

MIT Sloan students are particularly concerned about upcoming summer internships and job offers.

“We can’t always resolve students’ concerns in the moment. But … even if there’s not a concrete solution to a problem, connecting with someone, talking through options, and learning about resources can really help. We are all here to support our students,” Marshall says.


One unexpected benefit from the weekly check-ins: Coaches are also reporting that the communication is inspiring them and forging new connections with colleagues. Shulman formed a virtual knitting group on the Student Success Team Slack channel and about a dozen people attended the first two sessions.

“In addition to the advantages to the students, the coaches have found community with one another which has become a tremendous resource,” says program co-chair Burkett. “In my opinion, the program has become a real-life example of the idea of ‘One MIT.’”

The MIT Student Success Coaching program is open to any volunteers from MIT, and there are still some graduate students without coaches. To volunteer, email the co-chairs at

from MIT News

Armed protestors storm Michigan Capitol over stay-at-home-orders

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Lansing to protest Michigan’s statewide stay-at-home order, with several armed demonstrators storming the Michigan State Capitol building on Thursday.

In a video posted to activist Rob Gill‘s Twitter account, the protestors can be heard yelling “Let us in!” and “This is the people’s house, you cannot lock us out!” as they brandish firearms and hold signs in the statehouse. Many members of the crowd are pictured in “Make American Great Again” campaign hats and American flags.

Michigan United for Liberty organized the event in an effort to get legislators to open up businesses that have been shut down due to the virus.

At the time, the Michigan legislature had gathered to vote on Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s request to extend the state of emergency, which grants her certain powers during a time of crisis, for 28 more days.

READ MORE: Trump administration official likens MAGA protesters to Rosa Parks

The House ultimately decided not to approve Whitmer’s request, and instead passed a resolution authorizing the Speaker of the House to commence legal action on behalf of the House, according to local news outlet WILX 10.

Thursday’s protest, dubbed the “American Patriot Rally,” is the latest in a string of demonstrations that have occurred in Michigan since the COVID-19 crisis has emerged.

Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Demonstrators took to the streets in April to speak out against Whitmer’s stay-at-home mandate, which was extended earlier this month until May 15. The demonstration, known as “Operation Gridlock,” was met with both adulation and criticism from the public.

READ MORE: Kentucky sees highest spike in coronavirus cases after protests

Whitmer, meanwhile, has faced backlash from Republicans, including President Donald Trump, for her no nonsense approach to the pandemic. Michigan currently has more than 41,000 cases of coronavirus, with 3,789 lives lost.

Detroit, the state’s largest city, has been especially impacted by the virus, with more than 8,500 infections reported. Of those cases, Black people account for more than 64 percent of them, according to AP. Almost 77 percent of the Detroit residents who have died from coronavirus complications have been Black.

The post Armed protestors storm Michigan Capitol over stay-at-home-orders appeared first on TheGrio.

from TheGrio

Nigerian filmmaker uses animated monster to teach kids about coronavirus

A Nollywood filmmaker came up with a creative idea to explain the coronavirus to children in his native Nigeria.

READ MORE: Travel entrepreneur chooses African over American in pandemic 

CNN reports that director Niyi Akinmolayan wanted to find a way to engage children while making sure they took the coronavirus seriously. That turned into creating a 30-second animated video complete with siblings Habeeb and Funke who were on opposite ends of coronavirus safety. Akinmolayan added an animated version of the virus to drive home the fact that it needs to be taken seriously.

“You want to tell your child not to go outside, but you need to explain why he needs to stay inside. Beyond that, you need to explain why he constantly has to wash his hands with soap and water. … It was really hard until I came up with the idea of the coronavirus monster,” he told CNN.


Akinmolayan helmed popular Nollywood features Chief Daddy, The Set Up and The Wedding Party 2 made the animated short completely online with the help of his Anthill Productions staff who worked remotely.



“I figured out that one of the best ways to explain it (coronavirus) was with graphics and animations so that we wouldn’t have real people gather in one place to film,” he said.

Nigeria, a country of 200 million, has had some of its more populous states, including Lagos, where Anthill is based, shut down to stop the spread of the virus. 1700 people in Nigeria have tested positive for the virus with 51 deaths so far, says CNN.

Akinmolayan created the film, then provided it for free via Google Drive download so that other countries could use it to educate their own children. (We’re not sure if jollof rice translates but maybe other countries just added their own favorite food.)

The 90-second video was made in English and three Nigerian languages – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa, have been translated into French, Portuguese, and broadcast in Turkey and China.

READ MORE: ‘Africans are not lab rats’ trends after outcry over testing vaccine

The Nigerian film industry is a $600M plus industry but there have not been a lot of animated films out of the market.

“What we need to be thinking about is the power of children and producing family content,” Akinmolyan said. “We need to pass a lot of messages that hit at the level of kids.”

You can download the video assets via Google Drive HERE.

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(Photo: Video screenshot)

The post Nigerian filmmaker uses animated monster to teach kids about coronavirus appeared first on TheGrio.

from TheGrio

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How an Incurable Brain Condition Gave This Black Woman New Life as an Entrepreneur

entrepreneur Ashlyn Sanders

Today Ashlyn Sanders is an entrepreneur, the founder of a medtech company called NeuroVice, which is in the final stages of clinical development of a medical device to help people who suffer from seizures.

But just a few years ago she was a grad student planning to go to medical school—when a medical crisis of her own sent her down a new path.

“I started graduate school back in 2014, and a few weeks into the program, I was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation. I was rushed into emergency brain surgery that night, and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and then at home recovering,” she says.

Not only did Sanders spend weeks in the ICU, and have to walk with a walker for the rest of the year, but she also started to have seizures after her brain surgery.

“I was having multiple seizures, multiple seizures every week, sometimes multiple seizures a day. I’ve lived with them now for about six years. Having to live with those residual effects definitely impairs my quality of life.”

An Accidental Entrepreneur

The experience also left her with an idea: a device that could be placed in the mouth to prevent people from biting their tongues while they were having a seizure.

“When I came up with the idea, it just never left me. I’m a very spiritual person and I prayed about it. I felt like if I didn’t do it, nobody would do it,” she says.

So after getting her graduate degree, she put her original plan on hold to develop the device—named PATI (protector against tongue injury)—that could help the 3.4 million Americans living with epilepsy plus the many others who may experience seizures related to traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, strokes, and other conditions.

“I didn’t think that I would ever become an entrepreneur,” she says, “and then a life experience happened that motivated me to solve a problem for other people.”

Sanders’ experience makes her uniquely qualified to design the product: “PATI is by a patient and for a patient. It’s something I believe a patient would have to start. My patient experience has really been critical in terms of understanding the diagnosis and how it impacts people’s lives.”

“Typically, physicians are concerned with how do we minimize your future episodes or how do we minimize your risk of falling,” she says. “But oral health is important if you live with these episodes day after day, and every time you seize there’s a possibility of potentially lacerating your tongue or injuring yourself orally.”

The device is currently in Phase 2 (of 3) of commercial development. By the end of this year, Sanders is expecting to have an initial patent issuance and to file FDA clearance paperwork. The product should be on the market by the end of next year or the beginning of 2022.


No Money, Mo’ Problems for Black Founders

Despite the product’s potential, Sanders has had a tough time when it comes to fundraising.

“When I first started the company I was a little naive to the path of resistance that occurs being an entrepreneur, especially one of color,” she says. “It’s horrifying that we are the group that has the fastest-growing number of startups but yet we’re the least funded.”

Sanders initially tried to raise money through grants and pitch competitions. She always got positive feedback, but never got any actual money.

“I remember being told that I would never raise a seed round because my startup wasn’t as competitive as others and that it had nothing to do with the fact that I was a woman or I was an African American,” she says.

“But the more I faced that resistance, the more I started to understand the landscape and how difficult it is for us.”

So Sanders began pursuing funding that was designated for minority entrepreneurs, becoming a finalist in the New Voices competition and raising an angel investment through Pipeline Angels.

It was retired NBA legend Charles Barkley, however, that gave the company the financial assist it needed.

“I saw him on Shark Tank. He was a guest shark and I remember him saying something to the effect of he’s interested in investing in entrepreneurs of color, or people who are in the life science or tech space. So, kind of on a whim, I wrote him a letter. I told him about my background, I told him about the traction we’ve gained, and I told him what I needed—which was a pretty significant investment to get this product to market,” Sanders says.

“It took I would say 6 months or so to hear back. I got an email from one of his representatives, inviting me down to pitch to not only him but his financial adviser, two physicians that were in the neurology space, and a trusted adviser of his,” she continues. “A few months later I got the call that he would invest, and I was completely ecstatic but also emotional. I’m so grateful for him to believe in me and the product’s potential.”

Black Girl Unicorn

Unlike many entrepreneurs, Sanders has an exit strategy already planned—before her product has even come to market.

“It just wouldn’t be a wise business decision to go and scale a one-product company that would require millions of dollars in the manufacturing infrastructure and the marketing infrastructure. It just doesn’t make sense,” she says.

So she has a list of about 30 potential companies she will be approaching about acquiring NeuroVice or licensing the product.

“A lot of companies, at least in the medtech space, are looking for unique innovations that have been de-risked through development, through FDA clearance. All of those things, in addition to a human factors study with real patients, will position us to say, ‘We’ve done all the initial legwork, all you have to do is commercialize this product at scale and put it on the market.'”

The device would represent a literal disruption of the industry: current seizure safety guidelines advise not to put anything in a patient’s mouth while seizing.

That is a risk Sanders is confident the company will overcome: “Changing the way we think about symptom management and empowering consumers to take control of their own healthcare is a really hard task, but it can be done with the right person at the helm and the right product.”

Her projections are also based on the unmet need in the market—there are around 12 million seizure-related 911 calls a year in the U.S. and 1.4 million emergency room visits—and other factors such as the lack of direct competition.

“I’m really excited about the multiple revenue stream indications,” Sanders says. “It’s going to be a consumer technology, an intervention for first responders, and an inpatient clinical intervention. The revenue potential is immense, not only in the domestic market but worldwide.”

And Sanders predicts that that revenue potential will translate to a huge valuation when she sells the company.

“I believe that I will be one of the first African American females to exit the company at a billion dollars or more. And I want to be that unicorn.”

from Black Enterprise

Forget the Techlash. The Lawlash Is Long Overdue

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I’m a McDonald’s Restaurant Owner. Here’s How My Team is Navigating This Unprecedented Crisis


I have been part of the McDonald’s community for over 30 years, beginning when my mom became an operator in the 1980s. Today, my sister and I operate 18 restaurants across Los Angeles and are proud to be a familiar and reliable presence in our hometown. Over the decades, my family, restaurant teams, and our communities have experienced a lot together, but COVID-19 is truly unprecedented. We are all navigating this together, and I have never been more proud, grateful, and inspired by the character and generosity of spirit shown by my crew members.

Nothing matters more than making sure our crew is safe, informed, and supported as we continue to serve meals to the customers and community who rely on us. As we look to government leaders and medical experts for continued guidance on the most effective safety measures, our restaurant managers and I are making changes as rapidly as possible. To date, we have implemented:

  • Wellness checks at the start of each shift
  • Gloves and masks provided for all employees
  • Plexiglass barriers in the restaurants and Drive-Thrus
  • Guides on the floor to ensure proper social distancing

Throughout these uncertain times, as an owner and community leader, I am committed to being a resource for my crew, alongside our team of managers. No one has all the answers when it comes to dealing with a public health situation that is rapidly evolving, but we will continue to communicate and provide access to information and resources to help everyone make the best choices for themselves and their families. If any of our crew members are not comfortable coming to work, they know that their job will be here for them when they are ready to return.

For those who choose to continue to work, we are recognizing their dedication by providing additional pay, a free meal during their shift, as well as an extra free meal coupon for each shift they work to share with their families. In the event that any of our crew is exposed to or comes down with COVID-19, they are eligible for two weeks of paid sick leave to rest and recover before returning to work. At a time when unemployment rates are skyrocketing, I am proud that we continue to provide our crew members a steady job and a reliable income.

The men and women I work with inspire me every day. Seeing their commitment to supporting their families, colleagues, and local communities motivates me. Recently, on behalf of our McDonald’s team, my sister and I delivered McDonald’s to several local hospitals as a small token of appreciation for our first responders and healthcare workers. Together with our crew, we are making sure that essential workers know they have a place to go for a sense of normalcy and a bite to eat served by a familiar face. All our restaurants are honored to provide for first responders and want them to know they can get a free Egg McMuffin® and coffee at our local restaurants or Drive-Thrus. And, if their shifts mean they’re going to miss breakfast, they’re welcome to pick up a free lunch or dinner later in the day. We’re here to serve them, while they serve our communities and save lives.

My leadership philosophy in one word has always been collaboration. This has never felt more true. Our teams and our communities are at our best when we listen to each other, problem-solve together, and support one another, particularly in the face of this historic crisis. We truly are all in this together, and I have never been more proud to serve our communities.

from Black Enterprise

Clint and DeAnna Lewis Balance Faith, Family, and Franchise

Clint and DeAnna Lewis, Franchise, wingstop, fatburger
Managing and building a successful business is no easy task. Building a successful marriage while building a successful business is even harder.
Clint and DeAnna Lewis are owners of five Wingstop and four Fatburger franchises and have made a commitment to growing their relationship as they do their joint business ventures. The recipients of the Million Dollar Store Club and Top Sales Increase awards, Clint, a certified personal financial analyst, has over 25 years of experience in financial planning and wealth management industry. DeAnna received a bachelor’s in Business Management and a master’s in Educational Counseling and has over 25 years of experience as a social worker. The Lewis’s have taken their learning and put it into a book entitled Faith, Family, and Franchise to help couples and singles navigate the path to business success and family wealth building.
Black Enterprise had the opportunity to discuss their new book, balancing business and relationships, and lessons to take away from COVID-19.

Why faith, family, and franchise?

We have a faith-based walk that we try to live every day. Our plan was always to build together as a family. I was already doing real estate investing so during the early 2000s before the bubble burst; real estate is very good to us. Once we found out that in my wife’s hometown of Bakersfield there weren’t a lot of eateries. We started to research and see what it would take to own a franchise. 

There was such a myth out there that if you own a franchise you’re not a real business owner. The part of saying franchise is about educating people on what that means. From the day-to-day responsibilities including operations, payroll, etc. 

How do you successfully balance the business of building a business and building your relationship?

It’s not easy but we work together well. One of the most important things is that we like each other. In the early stages of our relationship and then our marriage we made a pact that we will go ahead and get away every 90 days. This didn’t have to be an expensive getaway but something within the budget at the time. We would use this time to talk about our future, goals, and dreams that we share together. We were just really committed to building a solid foundation for each other, which in turn helps develop and grow our franchise business and most importantly our family.

What are two lessons from your book that you think are most important as we are going through the COVID-19 pandemic?  

As a business owner, it is extremely important to know your numbers. Basically, this boils down to understanding your budget. Your overhead, payroll, materials, and other expenses have to be accounted for accurately. 

If you are thinking about a new business startup or franchise, do your research. Also, talk to people within the industry you plan to start your business in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You would be surprised how many business owners will give you advice.  

What three pieces of advice would you share with couples starting a business together?

Get to know each other. Have a real conversation. Don’t pretend with whomever you want to build your life with. Be vulnerable enough to share those areas of possible insecurities including finances, family, divorce, and career. This will create a solid footing for all the other things that come along.

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Moxie Is the Robot Pal You Dreamed of as a Kid

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2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Winner, Addlia Edwards, Uses Positivity & Resilience to Empower Her Community

Finding Ashley Stewart

The Finding Ashley Stewart finale on Sept. 14, 2019, was the day that changed Addlia Edwards’ life forever. As a loving mother and hairstylist from Rex, Georgia, Edwards had always dreamed of sharing her story to help others in her community and empower fellow women.

After being crowned as the 2019 brand ambassador for Ashley Stewart, Edwards has been doing just that — spending her year-long reign by giving back to the community and meeting young girls and women all around the nation (both in-person, and now virtually) to inspire them to follow their dreams, stay true to who they are, and strive for success just as she did.

From the life struggles that shaped her can-do attitude to receiving her crown, Edwards’ inspiring journey is representative of all that Ashley Stewart stands for — confidence, female empowerment, body positivity, and so much more. Black Enterprise connected with Edwards to discuss how her boundless resilience and positive mindset led her to win the crown at the Finding Ashley Stewart finale last September and what she plans to do next.

What prompted you to enter the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart search?

Each year, Ashley Stewart, the leading inclusive lifestyle, fashion, and social commerce brand, hosts its annual nationwide Finding Ashley Stewart tour in search of the brand’s next ambassador—a woman who effortlessly embodies what Ashley Stewart stands for: kindness, resilience, confidence, leadership and, of course, fashion.

I’ve always supported the empowering movement, but never imagined that things would turn out as they did. After trying to get some of my other friends to enter, I joked with a friend and told her that I might enter. She said, ‘You really should.’ I told her, ‘There’s no way I would be chosen out of all those thousands of beautiful women.’ And she asked a great question, ‘What do you have to lose?’ I had absolutely nothing to lose! I had already lost it all! I had been praying for something new and exciting to happen in my life and I decided to take a leap of faith to see if this was the answer to my prayer.

How has your background influenced how you carried out your role as Ashley Stewart’s brand ambassador?

I’m no stranger to struggle and hardships. Throughout my life, I had no one to rely on other than myself. My strength and my self-confidence are what I fell back on time and time again to overcome my fair share of adversities, including homelessness and chronic illness. I am a fighter, but through it all, it has always been my passion to lift others up that continues to drive me to seize the next day ahead, and ultimately help and encourage others to fight and to embrace each and every day.

I think my positive outlook and effervescent personality always persevered and gave me the unwavering strength to keep moving forward. I am naturally hospitable. It was embedded in me to treat people kindly, the way I would want people to treat me, and to always be a positive influence no matter the circumstance.

How do you give back to your community? How has your platform helped you empower women across the country?

I’ve always been passionate about helping others and giving back to women who come from similar backgrounds. As a hairstylist, I provide hair services in women’s shelters and to underprivileged young girls.
I try to use the skills and life lessons I’ve learned through the years to spread positivity and confidence to fellow women and spread the message that they, too, can accomplish anything.

I speak to women in homeless shelters. I feed the homeless. I volunteer at my high school alma mater. I speak at different conferences and events, whether it be a mental health conference or women’s empowerment conference. I share my story with other single moms and future hairstylists!

As a part of my winnings, I get an allowance every month to shop at Ashley Stewart. I just recently started taking a portion of that allowance to randomly be a blessing to someone else. While in the Ashley Stewart Stonecrest location one day, there was a customer who was shopping for her birthday and another who had come in[to] the store for the very first time. I secretly took care of both of their purchases. It wasn’t what I did for them that was memorable, but it was their reaction that will forever stay with me.

I have big plans for the future and what I would like to accomplish as Ashley Stewart’s brand ambassador and beyond. I am working on a book and a women’s empowerment brunch. COVID-19 has made its entrance, but I will continue to be a light during this uncertain time. And I will continue to empower others, speak life into others, serve others, and do it fashionably while leaving a little sparkle wherever I go!

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South African anti-apartheid veteran Denis Goldberg dies

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

'Crazy beast' fossil found in Madagascar

The discovery that the badger-like animal lived alongside dinosaurs challenges ideas about mammals.

from BBC News - Africa

During the Covid-19 crisis, student EMTs keep the campus ambulance service running

For senior Alice Lin, joining MIT Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was a calculated risk. “When I started college I was a very shy, insecure freshman. I was scared, I was unsure of myself, and I wanted to be capable in times of emergency.” Lin was interested in medicine, and training to be an emergency medical technician (EMT) seemed like a good way to satisfy both her intellectual curiosity and her desire for a sense of mastery in dealing with tough challenges.

Now a senior, double majoring in bioengineering and neuroscience, Lin is not only an EMT but the current chief of MIT EMS, the student-run, volunteer ambulance service that reports to MIT Emergency Management. She is one of eight MIT students and alumni — out of a group of 40-50 total members — who made the decision, together with their supervisors, to stay on campus during the Covid-19 crisis and keep the service running.

“We volunteered because we thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to the MIT community in a time of necessity,” says junior Nathan Han, a computer science and biology major. He joined MIT EMS after a recruiting poster on campus caught his eye, and he thought EMS would be both meaningful and fun.

Han appreciates the culture of MIT EMS, which he describes as combining the best aspects of professional and student organizations. In normal times, the group enjoys getting together when they’re not on duty. The service has not one, but two social officers, who organize frequent gatherings and events.

Now, of course, the small group of EMTs on campus follows social distancing rules, seeing each other only at shift changes. First and foremost, the mission of EMS is health, safety, and service to the community. From their headquarters in the basement of the Stata Center, the students work in rotating shifts to be able to respond rapidly whenever they’re called. Beds are available for students when they work 24-hour shifts or overnight, and rooms are available in Simmons for any first responders who need housing on campus, including MIT EMS members who do not live in residence halls.

The MIT ambulance waits in a bay on the Stata Center loading dock, to rush the EMTs to medical emergencies ranging from minor injuries and ailments to severe trauma and cardiac arrests — and now, possible cases of Covid-19. EMS crews have been fully trained in the proper protocols for Covid-19 and are taking all the necessary precautions for keeping their patients and the public safe.

Cullen Clairmont ’19, who is continuing regular shifts with MIT EMS while working remotely as a clinical researcher for Massachusetts General Hospital, hopes that in this uncertain time, people will not hesitate to call EMS if they need help. “I hope that people aren’t too scared or too worried to reach out,” he says. “Call MIT Police and we’ll come over right away.”

Stepping up in times of crisis is what the MIT EMS team is trained to do, and their dedication and professionalism are evident in their decision to serve the community during a pandemic that complicates every personal interaction. Lin acknowledges that she and her crew members are taking a risk each time they respond to a call. But, she says, “It’s important to accept the risk, and move forward.”

The real deal

For junior Dillon Powell, an electrical engineering major and the incoming chief of MIT EMS, joining EMS was a natural choice. The son of a retired police officer, he grew up admiring his father’s attitude of running toward danger to help others. And he has been interested in medicine from a young age. “I’ve always wanted to do as much good as I can, but medical school is far off and it’s a long path to get there,” he says. “This is something tangible — I can help people in my community right now.”

Members of the MIT community can call 100 from a campus phone, or 617-253-1212 from any phone, to access the ambulance service. While its primary role is to serve MIT, the service often works in cooperation with local police, fire, and emergency departments. Anyone who wonders if the student EMTs are the “real deal” should be convinced by the fact that the professional ambulance services in Boston and Cambridge trust their expertise. As Powell notes, “Sometimes we’ll get a call into Boston, where somebody has called 911, and we’re the only ones who are able to respond.”

Supporting their local partners is one of the reasons Lin felt compelled to stay on campus. “Knowing that the public health infrastructure might not fully be able to support the sudden rise in the number of cases, we want to help make sure our external partners have an extra ambulance to call on if there are no other ambulances left,” she explains. “We’re really trying to make sure that we all come through in this moment.”

Suzanne Blake, director of MIT Emergency Management, is grateful for the contribution they’re making to the community. “Early on, we had discussions with Pro Ambulance, Cambridge Fire Department, and John DiFava, chief of MIT Police, and we decided it didn’t make sense to take a good ambulance out of service during this time,” she says. “This small group of students wanted to stay on campus, and they are helping out a lot.” Emergency Management aims to provide them with whatever they may need to respond safely, including extensive training in PPE, the personal protective equipment that has become so crucial during the Covid-19 crisis.

The students can also rely on Emergency Management for support in managing the stress and responsibility of EMS work. “No matter what we have going on, the members of MIT EMS are always our first priority,” Blake emphasizes. “We care about their mission to serve the community, but more than that, we care about them as individuals.” To give just one example, on a recent Monday, EMS responded to a call to help a patient in cardiac arrest. The next day, an email message went out to the MIT community: Classes were canceled due to Covid-19, and students had to leave campus. Even in the midst of managing the impacts of the pandemic on the MIT community, Emergency Management was able to hold the customary check-in meeting with the EMTs that follows any particularly difficult or stressful call. Powell is impressed with their dedication to keeping the EMTs healthy and safe. “They were dealing with hundreds of things,” he says, “but they still made time to have that meeting.” 

Communication under pressure

For students who want to join EMS, the journey begins with the free EMT-B class offered during Independent Activities Period, which provides intensive training in Basic Life Support (BLS) and qualifies students for National Registry EMT certification and Massachusetts EMT-B licensure. Pro Ambulance provides licensed instructors for the class, and students learn about physiology, pharmacology, acute medical conditions, and the effects of trauma and shock. They practice patient assessment, bleeding control, how to splint a broken bone, and how to stabilize a patient to a backboard — and of course, driving the ambulance.

But delivering medical care in a classroom setting is one thing; helping people experiencing real-life emergencies is another. To start out, less experienced EMTs spend one or two semesters supporting more senior members, taking on more responsibility as they build confidence and skill. Mentorship is key, and crew members quickly learn to rely on each other, as well as their training.

Lin notes that only about half of the EMTs are pre-med, and the service attracts interest from students with a range of backgrounds and interests. Potential recruits are interviewed by current members, and securing a spot can be competitive. An interest in medicine is considered but not required. Instead, recruits are evaluated for their enthusiasm and genuine interest in MIT EMS.

“A lot of the things you learn in EMS are in the field, and ‘softer’ skills end up being very important,” says Clairmont. He emphasizes the importance of connecting with patients, taking an interest in them as individuals. “When you’re not genuinely interested, you often are not as effective,” he notes. “You miss things.”

Of course, a key skill is remaining calm in stressful situations — although, as Powell points out, “it’s very hard to simulate stress. It’s hard to prepare for it.” He emphasizes the importance of good communication, with patients, crew members, and other partners. He says communication under pressure is the biggest skill he has learned from EMS.

Lin remarks on the confidence and decision-making skills she has developed since taking the initial leap to become an EMT. “When I first joined, I was very cautious and very quiet. I couldn’t really make decisions because I was scared of the possible repercussions. Through EMS I’ve become a much more decisive person. I’m very comfortable making decisions. I know that I’m capable of handling whatever may come at me.”

from MIT News

Tesla Posts Another Profit as Musk Slams Virus Restrictions

The CEO has criticized shelter-in-place orders, which have forced the closure of the company's California assembly plant.

from Wired

The Game releases animated tribute to Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles native The Game is mourning two of the city’s lost sons in a new animated video.

Born Jayceon Taylor, The Game openly mourned Nipsey Hussle with multiple posts on his Instagram when the rapper was gunned down last March. A year later, he posted how much he still misses his friend.

View this post on Instagram

Hu$$le man….. can’t believe it’s been one year since you departed from this krazy world. “Time flies” has an entire different meaning these days. I know you’re proud of what your life’s mission has accomplished in the past 12 months. You have truly touched the hearts of people all around the world. Your face is everywhere… your music is timeless & your words are heard loud & clear. There are newborns named “Ermias” & I can’t get on anything and not see someone quoting you. A true KING to his people with a heart of gold. A pure soul who knew exactly what the world needed for motivation. My only wish is that you could’ve been here to see it all unfold yourself. Here for times like now when people need to be uplifted the most. The ultimate sacrifice: surrendering your life to God so that others would learn that there is much more to life than to care only for ones self. The world is about to hard reset & I’d like to think that you were one of the reasons for what’s to come in the future. A world where we have to think before we act. Care for those around us. Remember the importance of the everyday essentials, clean food, water, herbs & taking care of the most important thing on earth…. HUMANITY. Being forced to stay inside & with those closest to you is not a bad thing in my eyes. Yes, the pandemic is claiming lives & my loves goes out to the families of those lost…. But, I see this as a peaceful time that we will never see again in our lifetime. A time to reflect, empower, strategize & focus on how to make a true impact to what will soon be the new world. Things will never be the same after this & it is on all of us to adapt efficiently & contribute positively for all of us so that we can live in a world as ONE. The earth as we know it is sick… We are all home waiting for what’s next. While we’re waiting, let’s not add to the problem but prepare to be apart of the solution. We all need US. Especially now…. my love is with every single person on this earth during these times. This is the mark of a NEW BEGINNING. I’m ready enough for all of us. #TheMarathonContinues #LongLiveNipseyHussle 🏁 [@madsteez thank you for this piece, can’t wait to hang it]

A post shared by The Game (@losangelesconfidential) on

“Time flies” has an entire different meaning these days. I know you’re proud of what your life’s mission has accomplished in the past 12 months. You have truly touched the hearts of people all around the world. Your face is everywhere… your music is timeless & your words are heard loud & clear,’” he posted in tribute to Hussle.

“There are newborns named “Ermias” & I can’t get on anything and not see someone quoting you. A true KING to his people with a heart of gold.”

The rapper also made mention of the COVID-19 global pandemic. He said it was a time to come together in spite of all the death and circumstances.

“Yes, the pandemic is claiming lives & my loves goes out to the families of those lost…. But, I see this as a peaceful time that we will never see again in our lifetime. A time to reflect, empower, strategize & focus on how to make a true impact to what will soon be the new world,” he wrote.

“Things will never be the same after this & it is on all of us to adapt efficiently & contribute positively for all of us so that we can live in a world as ONE. The earth as we know it is sick… We are all home waiting for what’s next. While we’re waiting, let’s not add to the problem but prepare to be apart of the solution. We all need US.”

Kobe and Gianna Bryant
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference warms up with daughter Gianna Bryant during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

This January brought another tragic blow to the city of Los Angeles when former Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash with 8 others including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

The song that inspired the video is “Welcome Home” is from The Game’s 2019 Born 2 Rap album, which Game has said will be his last. Hussle has a posthumous guest feature on the track.

Stefano Bertelli directed the video featuring the animated likenesses of The Game, Hussle, and Bryant.

Watch below: (NSFW, explicit lyrics)


Hussle, who had just released his debut major-label album Victory Lap, was gunned down in front of his Marathon Clothing store on March 31, 2019. He won a posthumous Grammy for the song “Higher” with DJ Khaled and John Legend this year.

The Game was on the Born 2 Rap tour overseas before it was called off by the coronavirus epidemic.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!


The post The Game releases animated tribute to Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant appeared first on TheGrio.

from TheGrio

Ad Dollars Keep Flowing Into Google and Facebook—for Now

The two online ad giants say business fell sharply amid the Covid-19 lockdowns in March but has stabilized in April. 

from Wired

Top collegiate inventors awarded 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

Following a nationwide search for the most inventive undergraduate and graduate college students, the Lemelson-MIT Program has announced the winners of the 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The program awarded a total of $75,000 in prizes to three undergraduate teams and three individual graduate student inventors. This year’s inventions range from a compostable, biodegradable single-use plastic bag to a new fuel gauging device that accurately detects fuel levels in spacecraft and airplane tanks.

“We are thrilled by this year’s group of winners. The pandemic has not slowed the progress of these students on their inventions. They all know their work has the ability to improve the world, which is why they are still engaged in testing even with social distancing,” says Lemelson-MIT Program Faculty Director and School of Engineering Associate Dean of Innovation Michael J. Cima.

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation. The prize recognizes young inventors who have dedicated themselves to solving global problems in the fields of health care, transportation and mobility, food/water and agriculture, and consumer devices and products. Recipients were selected from a diverse and highly competitive pool of applicants from colleges and universities across the United States. 

“Congratulations to this year’s prize winners, who clearly demonstrate their collective passion for solving big challenges,” notes Carol Dahl, executive director at The Lemelson Foundation. “Their creativity and accomplishments are an inspiration for all students and show us that the capacity to tackle critical problems can be found across our country.”

2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winners

The “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize rewards technology-based inventions that involve consumer devices and products. Winners are:

Nylon is the underlying material for clothing, car parts, parachutes, fire-fighting gear, and many other products, yet the production process results in the release of significant amounts of greenhouse gas. Blanco’s invention allows for more sustainable nylon production that uses 30 percent less energy and 30 percent less raw material, and produces 30 percent less emissions, which leads to a 20 percent reduction in manufacturing costs. This versatile technology combines machine learning and chemical engineering and can be implemented to improve the production of a multitude of chemical products. 

The Neptune team invented a biodegradable and compostable plastic film that is made into single-use bags intended for shipping and packaging purposes. Their plastic bags are safe for wildlife to eat, can be used as a fertilizer for soil after decomposition, and leave behind no microplastics.

The “Move it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize rewards technology-based inventions that involve transportation and mobility. This year's winners are:

Fuel gauges on spacecraft and aircraft are notoriously ineffective against things like temperature change, fuel chemistry, or sloshing of fuel due to turbulence. Frequent movement of the fuel makes it difficult for the current technology to accurately read fuel levels, putting pilots and astronauts at risk of unknowingly traveling without enough fuel. The modal propellant gauging, or MPG technology, is a way of gauging the amount of fuel left in a tank by using vibrations and frequencies. MPG uses sensors and software to “listen” to the sounds coming from the tank in order to accurately gauge the remaining amount of fuel.

The “Eat it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize rewards technology-based inventions that involve food/water and agriculture. The winner is:

The field of engineered living materials (ELM) is helping to solve water supply problems, yet it presents challenges for widespread real-world deployment due to scalability, cost, and safety. Tang’s invention, Syn-SCOBY, is a new ELM that is a robust synthetic symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This invention allows for the sustainable production of engineered bacterial cellulose-based functional materials without the need for lab equipment, and can be used by anyone at home in their kitchen to safely and inexpensively detect and remove pollutants in water. Tang is a graduate student in the Department of Biological Engineering.

The “Cure it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize rewards technology-based inventions that involve health care. The winners are:

Amputee patients cannot feel their environment through their prosthetic devices, making it difficult for them to interact with objects around them. Srinivasan’s invention, the Cutaneous Mechanoneural Interface (CMI), is a type of surgical process that would create a new organ-like structure for amputees that would allow them to sense what their prosthesis feels, therefore leading to greater mobility and sensation so that the patient’s independence and productivity are not inhibited. Srinivasan, now a postdoc at the Koch Institute, did her graduate work within the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology and the Biomechatronics group at the MIT Media Lab.

Internal bleeding affects millions of people worldwide, and the only current solution is expensive, difficult to use, and does not universally fit every size of blood vessel. Augeo’s innovative, new material can quickly expand to many times its size by filling with blood, resulting in a low-cost, simple solution that permanently stops bleeding in the many blood vessel sizes throughout the body.

Winners were selected based on the overall inventiveness of their work, the invention’s potential for commercialization or adoption, and youth mentorship experience.

Collegiate inventors interested in applying for the 2021 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize can find more information here. The 2021 Student Prize application will open in May 2020.

MIT K-12 invention resources for parents and teachers

Parents and teachers interested in learning more about the 2020 Student Prize winners and how they can introduce a K-12 audience to invention can visit the new MIT Full STEAM Ahead website for free invention education resources and project-based learning activities based on the prize categories in the Week 6 Package: Inventing Matters! More weekly themed educational packages that center around invention can also be found in the Week 2 Package: Stepping into Invention Education.

from MIT News

Georgia men drink disinfectant to guard against coronavirus

Two men in Georgia were treated by emergency physicians after allegedly ingesting disinfectants to guard themselves against the coronavirus.

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both men have a history of psychiatric problems.

READ MORE: New York City poison control sees spike in Lysol, bleach exposures in wake of Trump comments

The state has seen a spike in poisonings primarily from people mixing household disinfectants, trying to keep surfaces clean, then inhaling the dangerous fumes. Georgia’s poison control center has seen a doubling of their average monthly calls.

One of the men, in his 50s, told doctors that he drank several ounces of bleach “to prevent COVID,” he was treated, moved to a psychiatric ward, and later released.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The other man, in his 30s, told doctors that he drank a combination of Pine-Sol, mouthwash, beer, as well as pain medication. He too was treated and released.

Gaylord Lopez, the head of Georgia’s poison control center stated that the pandemic can be particularly hard on the mentally ill.

Last week, President Donald J. Trump questioned whether disinfectants could be used inside the human body, musing if “we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

The comments sparked immediate disbelief and outrage. The president later tried to walk back the comments stating that he was being “sarcastic,” before again blaming the media for misinterpreting his remarks.

The remarks prompted Reckitt Benckiser, the UK-based manufacturer of Lysol, a commonly used disinfectant, to issue a warning about the misuse of its products.

“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route).”

Ingestion of household cleaners and disinfectants can be fatal.

READ MORE: Trump suggests injecting disinfectant to treat coronavirus

The president said on Monday that he takes no responsibility for the increase of calls to poison control centers due to people trying to ingest disinfectants. When asked about the increase during a White House news conference, Trump said, “I can’t imagine why.”

Of course, he can’t.

The post Georgia men drink disinfectant to guard against coronavirus appeared first on TheGrio.

from TheGrio

Malawi - where courts have blocked a coronavirus lockdown

Malawi announces cash handouts for the poorest, after the courts blocked the proposed lockdown.

from BBC News - Africa

AT&T To Continue to Waive Late Fees and Keep Public WiFi HotSpots Open Through June

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic for millions of Americans around the country. With over 700,00 jobs lost and over 26 million people filing unemployment, the ramifications from this public health crisis will be felt for years to come.
One of the results of the economic downturn is leniency on reoccurring charges and other household bills. Many major corporations have come out with relief initiatives and new policies that allow more flexibility to assist customers through this difficult time. AT&T was one of the many companies that pledged to help keep its customers connected to their wireless service even if they fell behind as a result of being impacted by the viral outbreak.
This week, the telecommunications giant announced it would be extending its initiative through June 30 amid the COVID-19 crisis. This includes keeping public Wi-Fi hotspots open for anyone who needs them and waiving any late payments fees for postpaid wireless, home phone, or broadband residential or small business customers.
The company will also be delivering 60 days of free and unlimited use of Caribu, an app that enables families to connect through a video-call.
The initiative is in conjunction with the FCC’s Keep America Connected Pledge with numerous technology and telecommunication companies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative as a measure to ensure Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of these exceptional circumstances caused by the virus outbreak.
“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and — importantly — take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus,” Pai said in a statement last month about the pledge.
Over 700 companies have joined the pledge including CenturyLink, Comcast, and Verizon.


from Black Enterprise