Best Apps For Your Education

latina girl on computerDid you know that thirty-eight percent of college students cannot go more than 10 minutes without technology, according to a study conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research. Seventy-three percent said they would not be able to study without any form of technology.

Education has transformed drastically. More students take online courses and a lot of assignments and tasks are now expected to be completed and turned in electronically. Paper and pen have gone out the window, even textbooks are dwindling with the rise of eBooks.

It is a New Year and a new semester of school, so time to shrug off the holiday spirit and put on something a little more… studious. It is time for you to get started on your New Year’s resolution of attaining that golden 4.0 this semester. We are here to help with the best apps for your education. So dust off your iPads, iPhones, and tablets – who are we kidding, they weren’t collecting dust – and start downloading these free tools for success.

Evernote:
Spirals? Folders? Binders? Who needs then now-a-days with Evernote’s app-ly existence. For all those students who use their iPads and tablets for quick note taking in lecture, this app has all you need to stay organized and informed. Along with having the ability to create your own “notebook” for each class, this app contains a text feature for notes and a camera/photos feature that allows you to snap a quick pick – maybe a graph or a table – to put in your notebook. A cool part is that you can share your notebook with someone else to collect ideas and to do some research for the upcoming group project! Evernote, also, doubles as a planner. You can set reminders and create a to-do list to keep you on task. There is a lot going on with this app and it can get a little tricky to figure out, but with some exploration you’ll become an Evernote pro in no time. It is one of the few apps that is multifaceted.
“This app is great for note taking on my tablet,” University of Texas at Austin student, Maria Morales said. “I like how it syncs up with my stuff and has everything at your finger tips.”
Evernote deserves a gold star for its adaptation to the modern-student. Plus, you can sync the app with your phone and tablet — both Android and Apple!

Wunderlist:
If you find yourself jotting down quick to-do lists on Sticky notes, corners of papers, or yourself, this app is for you. It’s a planner in the disguise of multiple to-do lists. This app allows you to create as many lists as possible, whether it is a grocery list, to-do list, or a bucket list. For each item on your list, you can set a due date or a reminder – which is really helpful for when you’re adding a homework assignment or an assigned reading! It allows you to see what you have due during the week as a whole, so no need to flip through all your lists to see what you having going on. It can sync up with your email and allows you to even share your list with someone in your contacts or publish it.
“I find this app to be so much fun. It’s so easy and it makes me feel so organized,” said Georgie Jasso, University of Texas at San Antonio student. “I find myself making lists for everything just so I can use this app to check it off. I like how it says completed when you do.”
Wunderlist excels in its simplicity and its ability to make yourself feel so accomplished when you check off a completed task – especially with the little ‘ding’ it makes.

Grades+:
We all know that grades mean everything – they do when you’re trying to pass a class and get credit for it – so it is frustrating when you have that one professor who waits until the last minute to average out your grade. The professor will pass back your paper or test, let you see what you earned, and then pick it back up. Of course it won’t be posted and averaged out until a week before grades are due. It’s all on you to keep track and to know if you’re getting that A you need to keep your pristine GPA. So to make your life simpler and a little less stressful, the app Grades+ will be your savior. This app enables you to input your grades for homework, quizzes, tests, papers, and more for each class you take. Its handiest feature is that you can set a “target grade” and it will let you know what you need to make on your assignments to reach your goal. The number of hours is taken into consideration making its GPA calculation – for overall or just that single class – is spot-on. There is even a reminder feature for due dates.
“I was always keeping track of my grades. I like to know how I’m doing at all times,” said Daniella Aguirre, student at Texas A&M. “I like Grades+ because it does all the work for you – a plus for a lazy college student with a lot on their schedule. I like that it even lets me know what I need to score to get the grade I want in class.”
Grades+ is a useful and successful personal grade book.

Recordium:
Are you an auditory learner? Notes help, but what actually gets you to understand is re-listening to a lecture and making sure you got every key point and definition thrown your way.  Recordium is a recording app – and yes, that’s its only feature. But what makes it so effective  is that it allows you to add notes, tags, highlight, and pictures as you record. This makes it simpler to go back and listen to the audio with additional snippets of information. You just set record and tap the whichever button you want to include an additional memo. There is also a search feature that makes sifting through the masses of audio files more user friendly. Also, you can upload your recording to Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, or email it.
“I got this app because I was testing out if recording a lecture would help me study better. I ended up really liking it! It’s a recording that is tailored to how you want to study. I’ll add some notes or even highlight to make sure I’m getting all that I can from it,” said Gabriela Gonzales, student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Recordium is another simple and basic app that deserves an applause for meeting the needs of a student.

Canvas:

Canvas is a platform that more than 800 colleges, universities, and school districts are using now. It’s how you get your grades, syllabus, assignments, readings, contact your professor and classmates, and much much more. But did you know that there is an app for that? Well there is! And if you find yourself living, breathing, and eating (well not exactly) Canvas, then download it and always have it at your fingertips.

SuperNotes:
SuperNotes is a lot like Evernote just without all the bells and whistles. It is a simple note taking app that is divided by notes, lectures, and memos. It has a recording feature that allows you to record lectures, a camera feature, and even a reminder feature! It’s worth a look, if you want to try other note-taking options.

Censorgram:
Cyber bullying is real. And with the growth of technology and social media, it has grown too. But here’s a great new app that’ll help you put a stop to that. Censogram links with your Instagram and allows you to scan your account for any negativity that doesn’t belong amongst your glorious pictures of beautiful scenery, candid moments with your friends, and your cat Fluffy. You can set up keywords for it to detect and it can even help you block those associated with those comments. It’s a breath of comment control. This app is new and growing and unquestionably worth the $3.

Technology is on the rise and taking over educational institutions, so keep a look out for more apps that can help you down your path of success.

Leading Latina: Rosa Rios Valdez

Written by Prakriti Bhardwa

rosa_rios_valdezThe passion that Rosa Rios Valdez has for economic development is astounding. For the last 24 years, Rosa has worked tirelessly to build BCL of Texas, a statewide nonprofit, from the ground up, helping establish BCL as one of Texas’s most prominent lenders and non-profit organizations.

She was there from the beginning, when there were only two employees in a former bank building, to today when that huge office now seems a little too small for the fast growing staff. By the time Rosa Rios Valdez was asked to lead BCL of Texas and become CEO, she had already had many years of experience in economic development.

By closely shadowing her managers and mentors, Rosa was able to gain the real life experience that many young adults lack and ultimately hope for. “I realized that I liked learning about entrepreneurs, learning about their business and their stories, and about their expansions,” said Rosa. “I was very lucky that all my bosses pushed me to take every opportunity that came my way. They also provided me with many ways to show and build my leadership skills in the economic development field.”

It wasn’t Rosa’s idea to start BCL of Texas, it was just something that came her way. She had been working in the economic development branch of a Central Texas utilities company, Rosa noticed that there wasn’t much of an SBA loan presence in these small rural towns she was visiting. After making note of this, Rosa mentioned this to the administration. They listened to her observation and followed up with her.

“They called me in a meeting in the office and pushed an envelope towards me,” said Rosa. “Inside the envelope was an application to start a small CDC. They told me that I was right, they didn’t have a presence in these small towns and they wanted me to lead this new venture. I gave the envelope back; it wasn’t something I had envisioned myself doing. I thanked them for the opportunity. However, I thought about it, and well, that was 24 years ago. It’s been very good.”

Throughout the years, the job hasn’t gotten any easier, but Rosa doesn’t mind. Being available to families, communities, businesses, small towns and civic leaders are all in a day’s work. “With BCL of Texas, we were regional and now we are state-wide,” said Rosa.

“So I would say that my job is harder now. We have hundreds of communities that we are responsible for assisting and huge regions of Texas that we serve. So the job is extremely demanding and you need to know and correctly represent the priorities of each of these small towns that BCL serves.” Rosa gets her inspiration from not only the people she surrounds herself with, but mainly through her passion for helping others and her commitment to helping local businesses and families. “I want to be a leader to the people around me and I want them to see the dedication that I put into the projects and people that come to us,” said Rosa. “I want to inspire and help them see how important it is to be dedicated to a cause and to push through any difficulties they may have.”

Being CEO isn’t a job that just anyone can do. The leader and face of the company has to have many different skill sets and has to be very adaptable to their surroundings and the people that they interact with. This tractability is something Rosa feels is important for a successful company. “You have to be extremely organized and you never know what a customer will need, what kind of call is going to come in,” said Rosa. “You always have to make sure that you know everything about what’s going on with the company. You have to be very focused on deadlines. You also have to be a great listener.” Another thing that Rosa appreciates is her staff. While her job continues to become more work-load heavy, she knows that she can rely on the people around her to pick up projects and things that she may not be able to. “What makes it work and the factor that pulls everything together is having skilled staff that can perform in all lines of business,” said Rosa. “A great staff can provide quality customer service and skills to help all BCL customers. That’s what makes the job a little easier.”

Being accustomed to such a fast paced and busy lifestyle, it seems that Rosa never has time to slow down. She never envisioned being CEO would mean having a job that carried over the 8-5 time frame. Working longer hours gets tough, but it’s something that Rosa is passionate about so she doesn’t necessarily mind. “I left a big organization with wonderful benefits to join a much smaller nonprofit,” said Rosa. “But the mission and the cause fit me. I have no regrets. It’s been wonderful.”

Taking the First Step

Stresses of StudyingWritten by Vanessa Aguirre

Everyone has some experience with procrastination. You may have found yourself putting aside homework—or any other projects—to do things like update your Facebook page, chat with friends, or watch Netflix. As high school sophomore Hannah Young said, “I’d rather do things that I like, like watch TV, sleep, or read a book.” Basically, pretty much anything but what you should have been spending your time on. To some, procrastination may be a minor problem, but to others it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. It is common for anyone to be furiously working on a project late into the night, wondering why in the world they started working on the project at the last minute — because a powering through homework fueled only by caffeine all night is not fun.

Why do we procrastinate?
At some point in life, everyone has put off something important in order to do other trivial activities, but procrastination is most common in students. According to the World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, an estimated 25 to 75 percent of college students procrastinate on academic work . In 2007, a study published in Psychological Bulletin by psychologist Piers Steel found that a grand total of 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinated on a regular basis, especially regarding school assignments. Despite stress, lack of sleep, and inefficiency, students regularly procrastinate. Why?

One reason is that people, especially students, tend to overestimate how much time they have to perform a task. “I think that I have a lot of time to do something so I can relax for an hour,” Lisa Alvarez, 15, said, “But it ends up becoming longer than that.”

Remember that time it felt like you had a week to do a project when it was really due the next day?

Another factor that leads to procrastination is the mentality that you will be more motivated in the future instead of at the present moment, which means that at moment you don’t have the motivation or the right motivation or mindset to work on anything. People mistakenly believe that in order to work on something they need to be in the right mood.

“I procrastinate because I have no motivation to get [work] done then and there,” Mackenzie Henson, 16, said. Sadly, the truth is that if you wait to get the right frame of mind to work on something, especially something you dread, the task will most likely never get completed. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go to sleep and wake up to find the task completed– if only!

The negative effects of procrastination
Working on something you don’t want to do can be tiring and annoying, so it can be considered natural to want to delay that as much as possible. In the long-term, procrastination is harmful. Researchers, Dianne M. Tice and Roy F. Baumeister, found in a 2007 study that by the end of a school term, students who procrastinated had higher levels of stress and illness than at the beginning of the school term. Psychologists also reported that the students who procrastinated had lower grades than those who didn’t procrastinate. For example, Lisa Alvarez, 16, said that “my worst experience with procrastination was probably when I did everything I could to not do my homework. So I didn’t do any homework that day, and the next day I was completely lost in school with my classes.”

Procrastination also puts a strain on one’s social life. If you procrastinate regularly, if you constantly turn in projects late or scramble to get them done until the last minute, then friends, family, and coworkers may stop depending on you. Not only does procrastination place a burden on yourself, it places a burden on others!

How to stop procrastinating
While there’s nothing wrong with procrastinating every once in a while, procrastinating often leads to more harm than good. And the key to stop procrastinating is self-control and managing your time well. Evaluate your priorities—make a list if it helps—and focus on the more important tasks no matter how motivated you are. “I beat procrastination by prioritizing” should be your mantra! Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on things like aimlessly surfing the internet or watching too much tv. Psychology expert Kendra Cherry writes, “A couple hours sifting through junk email, several hours watching television shows that you don’t even like, a few more hours playing games on Facebook—it all adds up quite quickly.”

Remove yourself from any distractions, like electronics, books, people, etc., and work on the task step-by-step. Establishing a schedule also helps. As Hannah Young says, “Try studying in little pieces during the days leading up to the big exam.” Spreading out time dedicated to a project throughout the week will lead to being more relaxed and less stressed.  Knowing that you have most of the work done (if not all of the work) by the time the deadline comes is a huge stress reliever. Plus, the more you manage your time, the more likely you are to find time for your hobbies and much needed rest. Mackenzie Henson adds, “I basically scared myself into doing it. We shouldn’t procrastinate or else we will not be successful in life later.”

This upcoming school year turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and concentrate on finishing any projects that have deadlines quickly approaching. You’ll feel a sense of relief, and feel much better!

Healthy Twist to Classic Dishes

dsc049361024x9331379667129290Does your mouth water every time you think of your mamá’s home cooked meals? Let me give you a second to reminisce on all the glorious meals and food comas you’ve survived thus far. Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that a lot of those delicious home cooked meals are filled with sodium and fats that are harmful to your growing body. Don’t fret just yet, chica! This doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to all your favorite meals. It just means that now is the perfect time to add a healthy twist to classic dishes that will transform them and your taste buds for the better.

Let’s start with the appetizer!

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1/2 Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Roma Tomato, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt

Directions:

1.     Peel the avocados and lightly mash and mix them with a fork. (It’s okay if there are small chunks, they taste great!)

2.     Add and mix the onion, garlic, lime juice and salt.

3.     Lastly, add the diced tomatoes and stir a few times. (Adding these ensures that your guacamole doesn’t come out mushy.)

Ready for the main course? This burrito bowl has everything you crave in a burrito.

Burrito Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. Black Beans
  • 15.25 oz. Corn, whole kernel
  • Lime Juice
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 3 Cups Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 Cup of Rice
  • Low Fat Sour Cream

Directions:

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions, and set aside until cool.
  2. Add rice to serving bowl.
  3. Top with lettuce, corn, black beans, tomatoes.
  4. Add sour cream and lime juice for extra taste. (optional)

Compliment this bowl with the delicious guacamole you just made!

Chalupas

 Ingredients:

  • 2 Corn Tostadas
  • Low Fat Refried Beans
  • Shredded Cheese (The Weight Watchers brand is really good)
  • 1 Roma Tomato
  • Shredded Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Heat refried beans according to the directions on the can.
  2. Spread the beans on the tostadas.
  3. Add the diced tomato and shredded lettuce.
  4. Sprinkle shredded cheese.

 Now for some yummy dessert!

Grapefruit Paletas

Ingredients:

  • Popsicle mold tray (found at your local Wal-Mart or Target!)
  • Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice

Directions:

1.     Pour your juice into the tray.

2.     Place the tray in the freezer and let it freeze for at least 3 hours.

*This recipe can easily be substituted with any flavor of juice, just make sure to read the nutritional facts. Some juices are packed with too much sugar!

All these recipes are simple and healthy alternatives to your traditional Mexican recipes. Feel free to substitute any ingredients to your preference. Now, dig in!

Review: East Los High

EastLosHighKey

Hulu released its first and only original series in 2013, East Los High. This short series is one of a kind, an English-language show with an all Latino cast. With only two seasons under its belt, it is making an impression. East Los High is produced and directed by Carlos Portugal, who’s worked on other Latino projects such as East Side Story and Pop Star. Portugal called for help from Advocates of Youth, Voto Latino, and the California Healthy Family Council to create a series that is informative, educational, and realistic to its audience.

East Los High is a teen drama based in East Los Angeles, an area with a reputation of being tough and dangerous – a stereotype the show wants to discourage. The show follows a group of students at the local high school and focuses on many common situations that occur in a high school setting: friendships, love, sexual encounters, and peer pressure. However, even though many of these matters can be found in other teen drama series, the difference with East Los High is their focus on Latinos and their way of addressing the issue in an honest and upfront manner.

In Season 1, a student finds that she is pregnant and viewers get to see her discuss her options with a counselor. The information provided to the character is not limited to her and can be information useful to any adolescent outside the TV screen. This situation repeats in season 2 when a student is discussing her encounter with an abusive relationship to a counselor. These scenarios, which are rather serious in nature, are seen in today’s society and are able to be addressed to a young audience watching the series.

“The wholesome kid show, the polished teen drama isn’t real life,” said Danielle Vega, East Los High’s Ceci, in an interview with LA Times. “‘East Los High is gritty, it’s in your face because the world out there is in your face. But it’s also teaching something, which is incredibly important because you look at kids these days and they don’t look up from their screens. So at least this show gives them something to think about when their eyes are glued to their devices.”

Telanovelas are known for its popularity in Latin American cultures and East Los High reflects this in their Latino-focused show. With a telanovela-esque plot and character dynamics, the series does not have a shortage of entertainment and drama. There are love triangles, revenge, mean girls, and the classic, good girl losing her way in the face of popularity. Each of these situations touches on a realistic aspect found in a teenager’s journey through high school – and there is no sugar coating.

The team of writers reflects the demographics in cast: predominately Latina. Only two men grace the writers’ desk and one African American woman. Portugal, Director and Producer, has stated that he wanted to write what he knew and encourages his writing staff to do the same. The storyline is to reflect daily lives and connect to its audience through authenticity. Admittedly, some characters and the vernacular do seem to embody a stereotype found in Latinos. However, it is fleeting and is cancelled out by the wide range of perspectives, personalities, and conduct presented by the characters.

“Since we are the culture, it never feels like, ‘Oh, we’re creating stereotypes,’” Portugal said in an interview with LA Times. “Stereotypes exist. I think one of the reasons why we are doing this is we present them, and then we start exploring them. My hope is that the people from East L.A. see themselves being portrayed as diverse individuals.”

East Los High succeeds in its uniqueness in teen dramas that are dominated by Caucasian actors and actresses. Hulu’s original series brings in a handful of new faces to the screen – freshness amongst the overdone big names. And it excels in bringing real life situations and addressing them in an educational way that takes the viewer outside the classroom. This show can be seen as a teaching method, which is a goal achieved through the help of the numerous organizations that have played a role in its creation. However, some incidents and character portrayals do seem exaggerated and it can distract from the purpose of the show. Even though the series’ main characters are the youthful faces, it has been overlooked that the counselors, doctors, teachers, and other professional in the series are Latino.

This teen drama does illustrate genuineness to American-Latino culture, a nice change to shows like George Lopez and Cristella that relies on comedic scripts. It is serious, honest, and mysterious.

East Los High has been renewed for a third season; bringing in a new set of characters as each season focuses on a new group of students. The series airs weekdays on Hulu and entire seasons are available for Hulu Plus members.

Being Involved

picture for volunteer pageWritten by Priscilla Moctezuma

High school is a time for college applications and making the best of your teen years. The best college applications are those that are filled with extracurricular and volunteer experiences, but what should you do if being shy has stopped you you from being involved and, now, you don’t know where to start?

What it Means to Be Involved
To be involved means to join the athletics team, choir ensemble, marching band, and/or even being a volunteer at your school. The first step in getting involved is to know where to sign-up. The easiest way is to speak to your grade counselor and ask him/her what the school offers.  Whether you are trying to see if the school has something you love or are trying to figure out what the school offers, find it in yourself to BELIEVE that everything will work out for the best. Some extracurricular activities mean signing-up and showing up (super easy!), but others ask participants to try out in order to join the team. Most schools offer debate, dance, art, choir, band, and sports as their main after school clubs, but you might find a hidden gem, like a book, robotics, or even math club, that will spark something within you and make you come of your shell.

If joining a club does not fit your schedule or you want to participate in an event with fewer people, try volunteering. Volunteering at school or within your community can be just as rewarding as joining an after school club. Helping your community will lead to learning more about yourself and how you can impact another person’s life.

Volunteering is also a great way to boost your college application because it shows that you have learned and applied several skills that will prepare you for college. The college application says more than just your first and last name. It will show that you are team player, caring, self determined.  These skills are developed over time, and being involved gives you the experience you need to boost your social skills and college applications. Volunteering in a place that you know best, like a church, is a good place to start!

Being Involved Boosts Your Social Skills
Whether you are in an after school club or you are volunteering at the local homeless shelter, being involved will help you figure out your weaknesses and strengths. Most importantly, it can boost your social skills – like how to be a leader, working well with others, public speaking, networking, etc. Social skills can be tough if you’re shy, but working with likeminded people helps create a positive, safe environment where you can practice your social skills.  Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but breaking out of your shell can happen with baby steps. First, be active and join a club or find a volunteer opportunity! Then, listen and get to know your peers. Opening up can be difficult, but you can start small by asking questions about school and their interests. Once you surround yourself with a group of people who share the same interest(s), you tend to develop strong bonds/friendships– being shy turns into a thing of the past.

To be involved in school is a good thing! Plus, it will help develop your social skills, looks great on college applications, and it’s rewarding. Once you figure out what you are good at, go with it and stay involved. I was once a shy little girl, but everything changed once I took a choir class in middle school. Whatever you are passionate about, stay involved, get to know your peers, and build on that long term friendship. Don’t be shy and say hi.

Women in Social Media

20-social-media-icons

While there are girls who abuse use social media by posting inappropriate pictures and/or content of themselves just to receive “likes,” there are women who use this powerful tool to build their professional online presence.  With modern college courses like “social media journalism,” social networks like Twitter and Instagram are being used in positive ways to help women create a professional network. While these  fun platforms can  have a bad side, the following  women have used social media in a way that has positively influenced  those around them.

Angela Littlefield
Littlefield is a junior journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. While just a student, Littlefield does many things for her strengthens her journalism career now like by managing a fashion blog and being one of the first reporters for an online magazine called The Horn, where she contributes video content. She has attended red carpet events in Houston and has also covered various news-related events around Austin, as well. However, Littlefield uses social media to get the word out about her projects. Littlefield has her own Facebook page (Angela “S.” Littlefield) that keeps her followers updated on her current projects.

“Social media is powerful for men and women, you just have to be very careful how you use it,” Littlefield said. “I see some women who will post statuses or pictures just for male attention and get hundreds of likes but, deep down, how is that impacting the world or themselves?”

LaLa Castro

Castro is a mother, entrepreneur, technology enthusiast and an avid user of social media in a professional manner. She is the founder of #LatinaGeeks and her website, eLaLa.com. #LatinaGeeks is a “first-of-its-kind community to empower and inspire Latin women by spreading the knowledge of entrepreneurship, social media and technology.”

Her main goal is to break the stereotype that women are intimidated by technology. Her website and foundation’s main goal is to empower Latina women by informing them about entrepreneurship and the use of social media in a positive and professional way. Before founding these projects,  she owned and operated her custom-jewelry boutique that gained so much popularity,it received the attention of celebrities, which led to a partnership with Warner Bros. in the the film, Red Riding Hood.

Castro is very proud of her Latina heritage and embraces it. She says that it was because of her cultural background that she became a successful entrepreneur and social media expert. As a child, Castro had to go out and sell fruit door-to-door with her grandfather to make end’s meet. At a young age, she was already being exposed to entrepreneurship.

Sara Inés Calderón
Since 2009, Sara Inés Calderón has worked on several projects within the start up world and digital space. Founder of NewsTaco.com, Sara is an active blogger and creates a variety of content for “a variety of outlets, including TechCrunchPolitic365Pocho.comYouTube, and Latinopia, among others,” she shares on her website Sarainescalderon.com.

“What’s truly surprised me with regard to News Taco is that my favorite part of the entire enterprise has been to promote other Latino writers and artists across the country. I thought I would enjoy writing and generating my own content, but what I’ve truly appreciated was being able to meet and work with Latina and Latino writers from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas and everywhere in between.

There’s so much talent out there, and as I’ve begun working with all of these talented Latinos, I’ve realized that this is truly one of News Taco’s core values: to be a platform to promote Latinos across the country. Thus, the most rewarding part of generating my own media has been giving a voice to other Latinos who needed a platform and watching them grow as writers and in popularity,” shared Calderón in a 2011 interview with Latinitas.

Angela, LaLa, and Sara are only two of hundres, even thousands, of women using social media to not only inform their audience about their project, but to also inspire other women to use technology to further advance their careers. Users can check out different hashtags, like #LATISM, to enter a conversation about Hispanic issues.The #LATISM hashtag on Twitter links thousands of Latino/as together to trending topics in the Hispanic community. If you’re a blogger, then check out the blogs by Latinitas! Blogs by Latinas shares an online directory of Latina bloggers.

 

TV Review: The Fosters

the-fosters-290x400I remember sitting in the small theater in my neighborhood, large drink in one hand, while shoving handfuls of popcorn in my mouth with the other, the ad for “The Fosters.” ABC Family was presenting a new series, “The Fosters,” and among the many teenage faces on screen, I saw the familiar faces of Cierra Ramirez (“Girl In Progress”) and Jake T. Austin (“Wizards of Waverly Place”). I was a former Wizards fan, so, yes, my interest was sparked.

That was the exact memory from the summer of 2013 that played in my head when I was scrolling for something to watch on Netflix. “The Fosters” appeared before me. I clicked. And boy, I do not regret it.

“The Fosters” is a show that entangles drama, addresses social issues, and gives life lessons through background stories and character development – just like the classic ABC Family TV-show should. However, the story follows a multi-ethnic family composed of biological, adoptive and foster children. A lesbian couple heads the home full of teenagers. The show, whose executive producer is Jennifer Lopez, is rich with love, trust, and family. Think of ‘The Fosters’ as a more modern ‘7thHeaven’.

The show follows 16-year-old Callie, as she enters the new foster home. Her and her 12-year-old brother, Jude, have had multiple fosters homes during their six years in the system – all terrible and full of problems. But this foster home is different. Vice Principal Lena Adams (Sherri Saum) and police officer Stef Foster (Teri Polo) are in a domestic partnership and built a home through honesty and compassion. Brandon Foster (David Lambert) is the 16-year-old son of Stef, from her previous marriage, and is the “golden boy” with his good looks and musical talent. The adoptive 15-year-old twins are Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), who embodies the classic teenage girl just wanting to fit in, and Jesus Foster (Jake T. Austin), the more rebellious out of the teens with ADHD.

The ethnic diversity in the cast makes the show much more unique than most. From the multi-racial Lena to the Latin descendent twins, the diversity is acknowledged and embraced. Most shows with minorities in the cast always resort to having an incident with racism and bigotry to produce a discussion. However, this has not been seen. Instead, the show introduces situations that subtly express their diversity, such as a quinceañera episode, the twins carrying conversations in Spanish, and Lena sharing how she was called an ‘Oreo’ in high school. The variety of races in the family is not something that is blatantly said – which by now, it really doesn’t need to be – but is displayed on screen beautifully to the audience.

Another hit for this tv-screen family is Lena and Stef’s relationship. The two mothers face some obstacles in a world still adjusting to the LGBT community. But despite a father failing to accept a daughter’s lifestyle, the couple is seen immersed with the love from friends and family members. The success of the couple parallels the success of ‘Modern Family’s’ Mitchell and Cameron – just minus the constant comedic quips. The couple demonstrates kindness and selflessness as the raise their children.

This television series thrives with its breaking of boundaries with the “non-traditional” family.  The show relies on realistic problems that can occur rather focusing heavily on the apparent uniqueness of the family. The classic ‘let me show you rather than tell you’ applies greatly to the storyline.

It’s a show for all ages – adults and children alike can watch and learn from the Foster family. It powerfully confronts serious issues such as child abuse, drug abuse/dealing, and teenage sexuality. While most can criticize these instances, in this day-and-age, the realities of the events have proven to occur. ‘The Fosters’ deal with these issue that is suitable for any age – no need to cover a child’s eyes. Even though you may not be able to relate to every occurrence in the show, the character’s actions and emotions allow an understanding of the dilemmas they face and the morals they abide by.

“The Fosters” is an excellent TV show that leaves you hooked. Its ingenuity and one-of-a-kind storyline brings a freshness to the television realm, full of bad reality TV shows and the over-played teenage love triangles.

Seasons 1 and 2 are currently on Netflix.

Career Spotlight: Chief Communications Officer

Photo Credit:  http://www.congreso.net/

Photo Credit:
http://www.congreso.net/

Name:
Yvette A. Nuñez
Position & Title:
Chief Communications Officer
Employer:
Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.
City & State:
Philadelphia, PA
What are some of your job responsibilities?
I lead our $24M multi service non-profit organization’s fundraising, communications, special events, corporate relations, community relations, civic engagement and volunteer management efforts; serve as member of executive leadership team overseeing a staff of 4. I manage the agency’s Corporate Advisory Council, featuring Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies as well as manage external vendors including PR agency, photographers, design firms, and promotional products companies. I develop strategic leadership communications, including speeches, press releases, Op-Eds, and content for brochures, annual reports, and electronic media. I also serve as the agency’s social media manager and design agency collateral as needed. Congreso is one of the nation’s Top Hispanic Non-profits in the Nation, and I serve as liaison to national and corporate partnerships.
What is your educational background? Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I have an undergraduate degree in journalism. In college, I was the first Latina to serve as Editor in Chief of the school newspaper, where I managed a team of 50+ freelance writers, photographers, designers, etc. This experience gave me a good understanding for the deadline-driven pace of a newsroom, and later as I became a non-profit communications professional, I benefited from the skills in management, deadlines, and multitasking that it helped enhance. I also worked as a clerical supervisor and a legal assistant…AT THE SAME TIME!
How did you find your current job?
I built a strong network and great reputation for the work I was doing in the non-profit and government sectors. I had previously worked with the agency as a partner, and when it came under new leadership, a position became available requiring my exact combination of skills.
What did you do to prepare for this career?
You can do PR anywhere. You should merge it with something you’re passionate about. I love being Latina and working in the Latino community. I am blessed to have the opportunity to use my skills for the benefit of a great organization that helps 16,000 people a year. I am not a social worker, but I love promoting what our staff and clients are doing together for the betterment of Latino Philadelphia.To prepare for this career, I had a natural talent for writing, and an upbringing that predisposed me to prioritizing the voices of poor people of color.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love any day that I get to spend with our clients, especially the older adults who come by to visit. It’s an immediate fill my bucket with love kind of day. I also just LOVE bringing an event/fundraiser to fruition. It takes a lot of planning, hustling, visioning, and negotiating. But when it all comes together (and it always does) is the best part.
What is the most challenging part of your job
I think the most challenging is not being able to be all things to all people. When you wear a lot of different hats, sometimes they tip over and you just can’t manage it. Learning to manage my time, expectations, and diverse interests are tricky, but doable.
What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
I would say that you have to love to write, understand the story and/or event from the end user’s perspective before the story is written and before the event is planned, and find something your passionate about.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Go on dates with my kids, travel and read.

Holidays in Latin America

As Latinos, we don’t just have one way to celebrate it. Latin America covers a big part of the globe and Latinas come from various countries, from Chile to Venezuela, Colombia to Guatemala and Mexico to Puerto Rico. Below you’’ll find some popular festivities from around the world.

Christmas Eve in Argentina
The day before Christmas, people participate in the lighting of paper balloons. These balloons are lit on the inside and released into the air. Firework displays are also a common activity. As in the USA, families place their gifts under the Christmas tree. They attend a midnight service at church and then they go sing Christmas carols from one house to another.

Christmas on Mexico
In Mexico, the Christmas season starts on December 16th. People adorn their houses with “Noche Buena” flowers (poinsettas), evergreen pine trees and colored lights. Sometimes families put on a nativity set (Pesebre) which can be as big as the family wants from just Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the entire city of Bethlehem. During December “Posadas” are celebrated where groups of families and friends gather together and eat, sing a break the “Piñata.” A posada commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem in search of shelter.

Consoada in Portugal
Consoada is a holiday dinner a day before Christmas where families honor their dead relatives and friends. Once the dinner is set up they add an extra seat and place setting that is left empty for the souls of the dead. Once the dinner is over they leave leftovers on the table to feed the hungry ghosts.

La Quema del Diablo, Guatemala
It translates as the Burning of the Devil and it is a prelude for Christmas. The purpose of this event is to ensure a devil-free holiday season. People sweep all the dirty corners of their houses, collect and gather the dirt and garbage in a huge pile outside, put a sculpture of the devil over the pile and light it on fire.

Christmas in Colombia
Holiday celebrations in Colombia begin in early December. Because most of the population is Catholic, the ceremonies start with the honoring of Virgin Mary. On December 7, families light candles and outline the streets with them until the whole city is illuminated. Later on December 16, Christmas trees are decorated with the start of the Novena which is a nine-day prayer ritual with a rosary in anticipation of Christmas day.

Although we are one big community, we have different customs and traditions in celebrating the holidays, but enjoying time with loved ones is a common focus.

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