Finding Comfort in Family

Hispanic girk looking sad

Living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be hard, there’s no doubt about it. And that goes for any mental illness – whether it be depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and so on. For one, it’s almost always hard to understand what they’re going through and, naturally, you want to help but might not exactly know how to. There also might be the problem of being a little jealous of the attention your brother/sister has been getting. It’s okay, you can admit it. We all go through it, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t.

A lot of mental illnesses come from a person’s DNA and all of the science stuff that makes them a person. Some are genetic, which means that someone in your family might have it and it was inherited by your sibling. Some are just chemical imbalances in the brain. Whatever the reason, scientific or not, no one chooses to be mentally ill, and that’s important to remember.

Mental illnesses affect 30 percent of young girls and teens in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And 7.4 percent of the world have a mental illness. The most common mental illness is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and some symptoms of that are: constantly being worried about things, not being able to relax, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, sweating and nausea.

These are not all of the symptoms listed by the NIMH, and someone may not have all of the symptoms of GAD, but if they have a handful of them, it would be best to check on them and possibly take them to see a doctor.

GAD can also lead to having depression, the two tend to go hand in hand in some cases. As far as depression is concerned, about 13 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 have major depression. Although there are different kinds of depression, some of the symptoms of the most basic kind of depression are: being sad for long periods of time, feeling guilty for many things, loss of interest in hobbies, getting tired often or easily, trouble sleeping or constantly waking up, change in weight and irritability.

It is important to remember that not everyone with the symptoms of a mental illness will have a mental illness, but if a sibling seems to have several of the symptoms, it would be wise to get them help or to talk to them. That goes for any mental illness. Keep an eye on them to see how they act over a period of time so you can see if they fit the list of symptoms you have looked up. And there are many other mental illnesses that are not the most common in the world that your sibling could possibly have as well. Mental illnesses are not just confined to General Anxiety Disorder and Depression.

It’s also important to remember that living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be life changing for the both of you. Things in the household can change completely and that’ll have an effect on you.

Everyone reacts to things differently, but Andrea Lugo, 19, was very certain in how she’d feel if her older sister, Yazmin, had a mental illness. “I believe it would be a lot more stress put on me with everything I have going on,” she said. “But she’s my big sister and whatever I could do to help get her through what she’s going through, I’ll put everything aside to be that little sister to do whatever needs to be done for her.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the best way to deal with a sibling who has a mental illness is to learn what their mental illness is and get a better understanding of it. That’ll definitely make it seem less scary to you because you’ll actually know what’s going on. You can ask a family member to explain it to you and if you’re both still pretty confused about it, using the internet can be a huge help too.

Yazmin Lugo, 21, said she’s not completely sure how she’d handle her younger sister having a mental illness. “As her big sister, I would definitely try to talk to her and then to figure what the root of the problem is.” She also said that if she needed assistance with getting her sister help, she would make sure to go to her mother.

Once you know what the mental illness is, don’t try and fix everything on your own. Mental illnesses cannot be cured, but they can be treated. So if you’re sibling is already getting help, that’s great! Now make sure you take care of yourself as well. While it is totally understandable to want to help out your brother or sister, you have to make sure you’re doing okay too. Sometimes being a little selfish can be a good thing when it comes to your own health and emotional stability.

According to Psychology Today, there are a few self-care tips that several psychologists follow and you can follow too:

  1. Pets! If playing with a pet is something you love to do, and just being around a pet tends to make you happy, doing this whenever you aren’t feeling well emotionally can actually help you feel better and it gives you a reason to play with your animal.
  2. Love: this may not be for everyone, but if you’re a huge hugger, asking friends or family for a hug can easily help you out. It’s a great reminder that these people are there for you can help you out, even if you don’t want to talk about what’s wrong at the moment. Hugs can make you happier.
  3. Laughter is huge for self-care. Whether it’s a funny joke or a funny picture or just a funny face, if it makes you laugh, take advantage of it! Laughter = smiling = happiness, and it just naturally makes a person feel good.
  4. Breathing exercises are good for calming yourself down. If you’re feeling stressed out, just take a moment — a minute or two, if you have the time — and focus on your breathing. This can also help you get to sleep, if you’re having trouble with that. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. If these amounts of time don’t work for you, don’t worry. Adjust it to whatever you feel comfortable with.
  5. Yoga/Stretching/Exercise: If Yoga isn’t something that interests you, stretching and exercise can be great for self-care too. It helps you release chemicals from your brain that are scientifically proven to put you in a better mood. Plus, it can just be fun. Yoga is good for meditating and focusing on your body, rather than the things going on around you. This too can be really great for relaxing and caring for yourself.

Lastly, remember you’re not alone in all of this. Find comfort in your own family – parents, brothers and sisters without a mental illness, cousins – if they know about the mental illness. You’re all in this together. If not, you can always try talking to your friends or school counselor about the situation as well. Talking about it can always help.

Super Food Diet from Peru

Here’s to saying goodbye to unhealthy diets, and hello to the Peruvian Super Foods diet.

According to the Boston Medical Center, about 45 million Americans of all ages diet each year. Dieting should only be done when completely necessary – generally when there is a medical issue that is forcing the diet. Dieting when not necessary can be dangerous for anyone, especially teens whose bodies are constantly changing and in all sorts of ways.Remember, a few changes in a girl’s body shape almost never means a diet is necessary. If a teen or parent is curious about going on a diet, it is best to speak with a doctor about it before trying one out to make sure it is safe for her body.

If a diet is needed, this one may be the way to go. All of the meals in the Peruvian Super Foods diet are healthy and natural, which is the ideal way to diet. With Manuel Villacorta’s new super foods diet, people all around the world can lead can throw out their old diets (that probably aren’t allowing them to eat enough each day), and start leading healthier lives. Manuel Villacorta is an award-winning registered dietitian, author, spokesperson, and educator who just came out with his newest book, “Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Super Foods Diet To Detoxify, Energize, And Supercharge Fat Loss.”

What exactly is a super food though? Super foods are types of food that do not have many calories but still have high amounts of nutrients. These are the dream diet foods the world has been hoping for, and they’ve always existed, but now is when more and more people are becoming aware of them.

“The benefits of consuming Peruvian super foods are astonishing: from fighting cancer and reducing inflammation to boosting energy and enhancing memory,” said director of communications for HCI Books, Kim Weiss.

And if eating low-cal nutritious foods aren’t enough, Villacorta’s book doesn’t give meals for just anyone. He offers meals geared toward women and men, as well as specific meals that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, as well as for omnivores.

Instead of telling the people trying out his diet how it works, he explains everything from why he chose certain foods to make a meal to how it can help cure certain diseases and promote healthier lives.

Don’t worry about these meals lacking flavor, either. Villacorta’s meals have their own Latin twist on it. For example, he took his mother’s dish called Pallares and changed some things here and there to make it healthier.

Villacorta said in his book, “(my mother) tasted my version, said I did her justice, and gave me her blessing to share this dish with you. Buen provecho!”

Here is the recipe for his version of Pallares:

2 Cups Butter Beans

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced

4 Cloves Garlic, sliced

1 Tablespoon Oregano

8 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Cup Dry Sherry

Salt and Pepper

½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Put the beans in a stockpot and cover them with 3 inches of water. Let them soak for 4 hours. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water.

2. Transfer the beans back to the stockpot and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring them to a boil over medium heat. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water (this process helps remove the oxalates in beans that are responsible for gastrointestinal discomfort).

3. Using the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and oregano. Sauté until the onions begin to soften.

4. Add the beans, stock, and sherry to the pot and bring to a boil. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, reduce heat, and cook at a simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Per Serving: Kcal 188g, Protein 9g, Carb 16g, Fat 6g, Sodium 874.5mg, Dietary Fiber 3.5g

Daily Values: Fiber 14%, Vit C 3%, Vit A 2%, Vit D 5 1%, Calcium 22%, Iron 10%

He even offers all of the nutrition facts at the end of every recipe so dieters can know what they are actually putting into their bodies.

Cooking this may seem a little hard, especially shopping for the right ingredients. So why not make it a family dinner? It never hurt to try something new, especially if it’s yummy and healthy. Getting together with the entire family to try this meal, or any meal in his book, could be a lot of fun – especially if you get tired of eating the same types of meals all the time.

Villacorta said it himself, “I don’t kill flavor for health. You can have both; a flavorful and healthy meal. I can teach you how in Whole Body Reboot!”

Latinas Leading the Way in Tech

It’s hard to believe that only three percent of professionals working in the tech industry are Hispanic. That’s counting men and women. There are even less Latinas in tech. Luckily, that is changing as more and more women are diving into the tech world. Here are some talented Latinas leading the way n the industry.

Maria Burns Ortiz

This digital journalist and entrepreneur wrote for and Fox News Latino and she started two startups. She is the co-founder of 7 Generation Games which is a video game company that makes engaging educational video games. She also created Evrybit—a storytelling app that allows the world to share all of the big and small stories from their lives.

Laura Sanchez LindaSanchez

Laura is the CEO of SWATware— an information technology company that helps other countries with their web and software development needs. She has taught Spanish-language workshops on tech and web development topics. In 2013, she was an honorable mention recipient for the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards by the Enterprising Women Magazine.

Laura Gomez

Laura worked for tech giants like Google, Twitter and Jawbone. She was the first Latina to work for Twitter and led the way in creating Twitter en Español and expanding Twitter to 50 other languages. She co-founded VYV that is hoping to make news information more accurate and diverse. She is an outspoken advocate for bringing more women into tech and leading the way for diversity in the industry.

Xeni Jardin

If there is someone who knows a lot about the tech industry, it is Xeni. She is often featured in magazines and broadcast television as a tech expert. Of course that knowledge doesn’t come from out of nowhere. She has spent years writing for Wired, the New York Times, and Boing Boing—a blog of which she is the co-editor.

Raquel Romano

This Ivy League graduate is a senior software engineer at Google that works on a crisis response team. After natural disasters, she steps in using different Google technologies to deliver resource and shelter information to emergency workers and victims. She’s like a superhero with a computer! Before she worked at Google she used her skills to do research about hurricanes and climate.

Daniela Perdomo

Daniela is the co-founder of goTenna—a really cool product that lets cellphones communicate even when there is no service. If that’s not cool enough, the company is using the technology to help people during disasters. They recently won a NYC grant that will give ten thousand small businesses that are in flood-prone zones goTennas for free so they can stay connected and keep us all updated during an emergency.

Liz Salcedo:

Liz started her career in social work and then had an idea for a tech product. Her phone was always dying and she saw a business opportunity in the solution. She created the Everpurse. It is a handbag that has a pocket that will charge your iPhone. Liz managed to mix fashion and technology into one idea. That just goes to show that a good idea can start anywhere.

No matter what interests you, you can find a tech job that will take your love to the next level. Whether you are into social media, inventing crazy gadgets, or helping the world around you, there is a job waiting for you to take it. These Latinas are leading the way into a more diverse tech world, and you can join them.

DIY Graduation Gifts

How did the year pass by so quickly? It seems like it was just time for homecoming, and now the school year is almost over. If you have a best friend that is graduating, you might be looking for a good way to show her that you will always be there for her no matter how far away her future takes her. Try one of these DIY gift ideas that will remind your BFF of your friendship and support for years to come.

The Dorm Survival Kit CollegeSurvivalKit

How did your BFF ever survive without you anyway?

Materials: A medium sized plastic bin, all of her favorite things and travel sized toiletries.

1. Fill the bin with her favorite snacks, drink mixes, and a picture of the two of you. Make sure to also include trial sizes of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, band aids, and laundry detergent.

2. Wait for her to thank you when the drug store is closed and she’s out of shampoo.

Graduation is an exciting time for a graduate and her friends. Make her a gift that shows her how much you support her. Even if your BFF moves across the state for college, you have an unbreakable bond that will last throughout the years.

The Sharpie Mug

Nothing is quite as comforting as a mug of tea or hot cocoa after a long day.

Materials: Plain ceramic mug, an oven, and oil-based Sharpie markers (Note: They are different from regular markers but will make your design last longer.)

1. Using the oil-based Sharpie markers create your design. It can be her favorite saying, a cool drawing, or a fancy monogram of her initials.

2. After finishing the design, let the mug sit for at least 10 minutes so the paint can dry. If thicker parts of the paint are still wet, let it dry longer or it will chip off when you bake it.

3. Put the mug in the oven while it is still cold and preheat it to 425 degrees. This will prevent the mug from cracking.

4. Once the oven has reached 425 degrees, start a timer for 30 minutes.

5. Once the 30 minutes are up, turn off the oven but leave the mug in there. Let it cool down all the way with the oven.

6. Take it out and look at your masterpiece! The mug can be hand washed, but dishwashing is not recommended.

The  “Open When…” Letters

Write letters your BFF can open throughout the year.

Materials: Envelopes and stationary, markers, a pen, and anything else you want to decorate the envelopes with.

1. Write “Open When…” at the top corner of each envelope.

2. Think of letters that you want to write. Some ideas are “Open when… you need to smile,” “Open when you’re feeling homesick,” and “Open when… you ace your first exam.” The possibilities are endless. Don’t forget an “Open when… you get this,” so you can explain the letters.

3. Write each topic on front of the envelopes in marker.

4. Write a letter to go in each envelope.

5. Decorate the letters anyway you want to. You can tie them all together with a piece of ribbon to keep them all together.

The Personalized Journal

Your BFF can write down all of the exciting things she needs to remember to tell you about.

Materials: A hardcover journal, stamps with her initials, an ink pad in a color that will show on the pages, a large binder clip, and a pencil and ruler (optional)

1. Use the binder clip to secure all of the pages together minus the cover. The notebook pages will create a sturdy surface you can stamp.

2. Using the stamps and ink, stamp the initials around the edge of the notebook over and over in the correct order. You can use a large rubber band around the three stamps to create one giant stamp.

3. Open to the inside cover and stamp the initials over and over in straight lines across and down the page. You can use the ruler and pencil to create a guide if you like.

4. Make sure to write a note to your BFF on the first page of the journal.

The Mail Box

Texting is great, but there is something special about sending and receiving a letter through the mail.

Materials: Envelopes, stationary, a page of stamps, a gift box to fit everything, and a small address book (optional)

1. Put the stamps, envelopes, and stamps in the box.

2. You can get your other friends to write their addresses in the address book so your BFF can write to you.

3. Decorate the box anyway you like. Maps of places you went together and pictures of your adventures there can be glued on.


Cyber Code Twins

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cal State L.A.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cal State L.A.

The Latinitas team got the chance to interview América Lopez of Cyber Code Twins. Latinitas Co-Founder Laura Donnelly sat down with this computer programmer and rising technology maven at the Hispanicize Conference in Miami where America was being recognized for using her technological genius to empower her community. Read on for her inspiring conversation with Laura Donnelly.


America: Hello, my name is América and my twin [Penelope] and I are co-founders of Cyber Code Twins, which is a tech company that focuses on making communities safer through mobile apps and mobile technology. We are very engaged community activists and we are trying to help our communities become more involved in tech, so we are holding high-school workshops. Also, we are hosting hackathons, especially in East L.A. because that’s where we were born and raised. [Editors note: Hackathons are events in which programmers and designers collaborate on software projects.]


Latinitas: How old are you?
A: We’re both 24. But I’m five minutes older.


L: What did you have to do to get here? What kind of training? What kind of education?
A: I did not learn programming in high school, but I am trying to make a stand that you can start at any age. I’m a community college student, so a lot of community colleges want me to speak at their classes because I’m a good role model for their students. I’m also asked to speak at high schools because they’re like “Hey, you beat the system. We know how difficult that is. How did you get started?” I actually learned programming going to different hackathons. And then we started winning.


L: What were some of the goals that you had to achieve at these hackatons? Was it inventing an app?
: Yes, when we won it was for an app making vehicles safer. We made a jacket that uses proximity sensors that lets drivers know if they’re within three feet from motorcyclist wearing jacket. This ensures they obey the ‘three feet rule’ [California’s distance laws for cars passing motorcycles]. They really loved that. We won $9,000 for that one. Now in a January hackathon, we won $10,000. We made a smart body camera. So it’s a wearable camera that can be used not just by police, but by gas station attendants, because I really think it’s awful that CCTV [gas station surveillance camera] can not get a good angle of who committed the crime.


L: Why safety? Did someone introduce that concept to you?
A: No, it’s because in my neighborhood there have been a lot of shootings. Every couple of weeks there are shootings. It’s very active right now. And we’re very concerned, so that’s why we are trying to make community safer by making all these different types of technology, especially for vehicles sharing the road. We are motorcyclists and other vehicles really do not share the road! Our jackets will be flashing and they’re like why are your jackets flashing? And we’re like because you’re in our three feet zone! And we’ll yell at them.


L: That’s fantastic. So how do you guys split the workload? Is someone better at one thing? Is someone more visual…?
A: My twin is more spacial. I’m more linear. So I’m very super technical and she pulls me out of that when she needs to.


L: What about your parents? What do they think of all this?
A: It’s very funny because our parents thought we were going to nightclubs all the time, but we were just going to hackathons. So we would send them pictures of us programming with all the guys. And they were like “Oh there aren’t any other Latinas, but there a lot of guys. You sure you programming?”

But recently, after the big win at January’s hackathon, we got accepted to a Women in Tech start-up program in Silicone Valley and we realized there weren’t a lot of women in tech. It was a 2-week program and they helped me network, grow my skills, and think much, much bigger. And it made such a profound impact. We just finished the program a few weeks ago. And now our current company, Cyber Code Twins, we want to keep focusing on finishing our prototype and take it to the next level. Because usually at hackathons your prototype dies and nothing comes out of it. But at the workshop they told us: Finish it, get it out there!


L: So what do you guys do to relax?
A: Motorcycle riding, and we build drones and take them out with us when we ride and they follow us. Also 3D printing. And we are trying to get more into fashion tech because really for wearable tech in LA it has to be stylish.


L: So what does that look like when you envision it? What is wearable tech for you?
A: For me, it could be like a hat that has a UV sensor. If you’re going over your time it will send you a text or ring you your favorite song to remind you to put on your sunscreen.

Review: Child of Light

Child of Light is a video game following the journey of Aurora, a princesses trapped between fairy tale worlds because of a magic spell. Against the backdrop of a beautiful watercolor world and storybook rhyming dialogue, players guide the young but fierce warrior through the dark world she awakens in one day. This isn’t the story of a helpless damsel in distress.  Aurora fights the evil in Lemuria on her way back to her own home. Any fears she keeps at first disappear as she realizes that she is capable of more than she ever knew. Child of Light is a beautiful coming-of-age story that provides hours of fun and magic.

Basically, Child of Light is the story of Sleeping Beauty if the princess was actually fighting evil in her sleep. Aurora is the daughter of a king who marries an evil woman. One night Aurora falls ill and everyone believes that she has died. What no one knows is that she was actually transported to another world, Lemuria, by magic spell. Now she must bring peace to the new world in order to save the one she left behind. With nothing but her own bravery and the help of friends she makes along the way, she must become the hero that everyone needs. That includes super cool sword fights and learning how to fly. Surely that didn’t happen in Sleeping Beauty.

What makes this game even better, is that it is available for multiple devices including PC, Xbox, Playstation, and WiiU. It isn’t limited to owners of one gaming system, and each system is a slightly different experience. The main difference lies in the controls. The Wii U uses the gamepad. The computer version requires the use of the keyboard and the mouse or trackpad. There are two players to control—Aurora and her firefly friend. It takes a little getting used to the arrow keys and the mouse at the same time, but it becomes useful when you need to use the firefly to reach high places. Both characters jump and fly around Lemuria and battle foes they come across. The characters gain magic skills along the way that can be used to battle the bigger and badder monsters that come along.

Yes, monsters mean the game can be a little dark and scary at times. Some jump out of nowhere. Others fly at you when you least expect it. If you don’t want to engage in a battle with the monster, that’s were firefly comes in. Make him shine his light and blind the monster while you sneak past. Light defeats darkness. That is the central theme of the game. Light defeats monsters, restoring the stars saves the world, and Aurora’s pure heart guides her to destroy the hatred in the world she landed in. It is an age old story told once again in a beautiful and empowering new way.

Of course, the best part of this game is Aurora’s own personal journey as she discovers this power that good can hold. She begins her time in Lemuria alone and scared. She doesn’t know where she is going. Her main goal is figuring out how to get home. Except, when she is faced with a challenge she doesn’t run. She looks brave. She carries her sword with determination and faces the enemy head on. As the game progresses, she discover new skills with in herself that help her on her journey along the way. By the game’s end, she is saving not one world, but two. She has become a hero worthy of her royal title. The story of this young girl finding the strength and bravery to save her world makes this game unforgettable.

Spice Up Your Life with Hair Color

There are many different ways of expressing yourself. It’s the inside that matters the most, but it’s okay to try to express yourself physically as well. That’s why so many girls have tried experimenting  with hair color. With so many hair colors and different techniques, there’s a hair color out there for you! Whether you want just a strand colored or the whole head, hair color is a good way for girls to have fun. Coloring your hair might not be for everybody, but if you’re looking for some spice in your life, then a trip to the hair salon might be just what you need!

Remember to Ask for Family Approval

If you decided that you want to change your hair color, then family approval is truly advised! Coloring your hair might sound fun but it is important that your family is okay with this decision. Whether it’s a minor change or big change, it’s still best to ask before having to commit to something you are not used to. Also, you can also go to family members for fun suggestions! You might not be aware that something doesn’t suit you until you get an opinion. When changing your hair color, it is a good idea to talk to people. You never know, your best suggestion might come from your madre!

Semi-Permanent or Permanent Hair Color

There are many reasons why you would want either options, so think carefully when choosing what type of color you want. Semi-permanent hair color will stay on your head between 1 – 4 weeks. If you’re a chica who  is just looking for some temporary spice, then semi-permanent hair color could be ideal for you. If you want want your hair color to last for a long time, then permanent hair color is a good option! Remember, if you decide to do yourself or go a hair salon, you need double-check that you’re purchasing the correct option!

Highlights and Low-lights

You might have decided that one day you like your hair color but you just want to add in something a little different, like highlights. Highlights are hair strands that are colored to be lighter than your overall hair color. You can have one or you can have many! It just depends on your mood and personality. If you have really light hair but want a subtle look, then low-lights can be good for you! Low-lights are basically the complete opposite of high-lights, so they are dark strands instead of light strands of hair. There are several options for highlights and low-lights, so talk to your stylist or check out different looks online.



Wacky Colors

If you have decided that natural colors aren’t for you, then you might want to consider artificial hair colors! Pink and red are examples of artificial hair coloring. Margoth, who is 20, and a Health major shares that,”It’s fun to incorporate wacky hair colors because there are so many colors that I can play with!”Word of caution: non-natural hair colors are a great form of expression, but you need to think about how it might affect your school (if there is a rule against it). Artificial colors stand out a lot, so remember that you’ll be catching eyes with your awesome colors! All artificial colors are semi-permanent, so they won’t last that long. Whether you DIY or go to the salon, coloring your hair is a messy process.



Maintaining Your Look 

Coloring your hair isn’t all fun and games, chicas! If you want to keep your hair beautiful and healthy, you need to maintain it. If you want your color to last longer, you’ll need hair color treating shampoos because regular shampoo might take out the color more. Also, your hair is at risk every time you color it because of the chemicals. That’s why it’s best to wait at least a month or more when it comes to coloring your hair. If you are not careful, you could be able to damage your hair and you do not want to go to a hair salon because of this. So, remember to research your look carefully and buy the supplies that you need to make your hair color last!  ”Hair coloring is something that I never get tired of, but messing with all those chemicals also come with the responsibility of using a lot of conditioner,” adds Rosa, 21.

Whether you decide to color it or not, remember that your hair is beautiful no matter what! Remember to have fun and get advice from multiple people because with colored hair comes great responsibility!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

Women in Social Media


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, #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, 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

“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.


Choosing the Right College


College Chica 2013

With so many different colleges out there to choose from, it can be a big task trying to determine which one is the best pick. Many times,the  popularity of a college or its placement on the annual U.S. News & Ranking can make a college seem like a great choice, but there are a lot of different factors about a college that, based on your own interests and personal preferences, can make it a great or bad choice for you. Finding out what you want in a college can help you decide on one that best suits YOU!

Academic Programs that Spark Your Interest

Taking time to think about what you want to study can help guide you in the college selection process.  Gladys, 16, shared that “the one important thing for me is that they have my major, that’s the deal breaker,” and is looking specifically for programs in political communications or broadcast journalism.  Cristina, 16, says she looks for “Programs with something having to do with medicine, because there are a lot of colleges that don’t have that.” Finding a college that has programs for what interests you is a great way to start finding stand-out colleges to apply to. It is normal to change majors or interests during college, too, so looking for colleges that fit a range of your interests is also a smart move.



We hear so many stories about how expensive college is, but this doesn’t have to discourage you. When looking at cost, Joella, 14, says she looks at “price, and if I can get scholarships there.” Many times, colleges themselves have a wide range of scholarships to offer their students. Financial aid from the school themselves, in addition to aid given by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can also make a college more affordable. Looking into the specific financial aid programs at each school can be helpful, since some colleges even have no-loan policies in their financial aid and offer work-study and grants to cover the cost of attending.


Location and Setting

Looking at the environment of the college is important; this is the place you will be spending 4+ years of your time, so finding an environment that suits you will make being there a happier experience.  This can include location, like what part of the country it is in, and setting, like urban, rural or suburban areas. Cristina, 16, says she “would like the college to be in a small area,” and is currently looking at a school in Colorado, while Justine, 15, has her eye on a more urban setting of California for the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing. Based on personal preference, you might find yourself comfortable at a school in a quiet or small area, or might be more attracted to one in a busier, city setting.

School Size and Student Population

Schools can range from having a few thousand to tens of thousands of students, depending on the school’s size. The size of the school can affect things like student diversity and student-teacher ratio. Cristina,16, says she “would like a big one, because usually when at a big one there’s a lot more things offered to you,” saying she is interested in the wider range of people and clubs she will find at a big school. On the other hand, a smaller school can offer smaller class sizes, more personalized professor attention, and a more inclusive campus setting.


Preparation for the Future

Many colleges offer help to get you started on your career or find a job after you graduate. Justine, 15, is interested in studying fashion design, and says the most important thing she looks for in a college is “how it will help you in the future, after you graduate”. If this is something you look for, finding colleges with strong career service programs may be something to look into. Some colleges even offer special Co-op or internship opportunities available to students with different companies or alumni.

According to the Questbridge program’s website, other things to consider when choosing a college are, “your learning style, non-academic opportunities, social life considerations, distance from home, and opportunities to engage in things you personally enjoy,” and note that beyond just academics, “there are also considerations of personality and lifestyle.” Doing your research and outlining the things you are looking for in a college will help you to decide on a good fit for you. Finding a place that will help you achieve your academic and career goals, while also providing a happy and healthy environment for you can make your college experience much more enjoyable, and help you achieve the success you’re aiming for!

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