Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Saving for College Is Possible with the MA U.Fund & ‘Grace for President’ Book #Giveaway #DreamsTour2014

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With the end of another school year upon us (we’re counting down the final TWO days of school) it’s been fun to look through the projects, pictures and poems my daughter created over the year in 2nd grade. Along with a special book of poetry and projects learning about her Jamaican and Colombian heritage was a packet asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up. I’ve asked her over the years what she wanted to be when she grows up and she hasn’t been shy about her varying desires.

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“Mommy, I want to be a Police Officer like Daddy and help people. I also want to be a Teacher. Oh and I love music, and Michael Jackson is my favorite artist, and I want to be on the Disney channel and be a singer and dancer. Mommy – why aren’t there any female Presidents? I think I could do that too.”

Do I want my baby girl to grow up? Sometimes…but not really. Am I looking forward to seeing the woman and advocate she will be when she grows up? Absolutely. Listening to her speak of her future gives me butterflies. I’ve always encouraged her to be creative and engage in diverse activities so she has a well-rounded childhood. Did I tell you she’s running a triathlon at MIT next month? I don’t want any opportunity to be out of her reach – and if I’m able I want to provide her with varying experiences to show her all that the world has to offer.

Growing up as the youngest of four children I don’t remember having conversations with my Mother about my future or career. I wasn’t encouraged to think about the future or college, I knew I had greatness within me, but didn’t know how to tap into it. I completed college applications on my own, didn’t receive any monetary support for college, and actually didn’t participate in sports my senior year of high school so I could save for college. I still remember moving into my dorm room 11 years ago with less than $20 in my bank account. My future didn’t seem very bright at that time, and I wish with the support of my Mother we could have planned for my college journey.

My College Graduation

My College Graduation

As I think about my daughter entering 3rd grade in the Fall (yikes!) and eventually graduating high school and moving onto college – it makes me quite nervous! As a single Mom who isn’t yet 30 I’m still building my life, and figuring out where the road will take me – but my daughter’s education is a priority because I don’t want her to have any barriers accessing higher education as I did. But I can’t plan for her future alone, which is why I’m thrilled that the U.Funds Dream Tour and their Dream Tents will be engaging with families around Massachusetts this summer and fall and getting them excited about seeing their dreams come to life and saving for college.

I had the opportunity to stop by the Dreams Tent this past weekend and was so impressed at the valuable information for both kids and families and the interactive displays for kids. The most exciting part for my daughter was being in front of a green screen decked out in rockstar attire. Given that she has big dreams of being a singer and dancer she was able to pose and see her picture printed on top of a concert background. She was able to see her dreams come to life which was great and also brought up how she can pursue her dreams – and we both know that education is key.

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The U.Fund Dreams Tour is just the beginning and a great way to get your kids involved with their future. MEFA’s Ufund is a Massachusetts 529 college-investing plan, tax-advantaged savings plan managed by Fidelity. MEFA is a dynamic local non-profit state authority working to make higher education more accessible and affordable.

My daughter’s education is an investment in herself and her future. I never want her to stop learning or stop growing and I hope through saving for her college education at an early age will truly provide her with the support she needs to dream BIG.

Speaking of dreaming big, one of our favorite books to read is a great book called “Grace for President” by Kelly S. DiPucchio which talks about one determined young girl who is upset there haven’t been any female Presidents and runs a Presidential campaign in her school – and wins! It’s a powerful educational book to read with my daughter that reinforces my desire for her to think and dream BIG and I want to offer this book to one lucky reader – enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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How Do I Support My Daughter’s Bilingual Education?

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Even though I check off African American and Hispanic when I complete paperwork, I’ve never fully felt Spanish…even if I’m half Colombian.

My father and his family emigrated from Colombia and settled here in the great U-S-of-A. They all speak Spanish fluently and for them English is their second language. I grew up without my dad being in the picture and unfortunately that meant I didn’t learn at all about my Colombian heritage nor did I learn to speak Spanish. I remember being so irritated in high school when Spanish didn’t come naturally, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I embraced being half Colombian, but couldn’t pass my final Spanish exam. And now, my full name is quite Latin, as is my daughters, and once I open my mouth and tell people I’m Colombian, the immediately ask: Do you speak Spanish? And I always feel like a fraud.

I felt I missed out growing up without learning another language and when I was choosing schools for my daughter one thing was for sure – learning Spanish would be part of the curriculum, and she’d grow up bilingual.

My daughter has been enrolled in a dual-language immersion school since she was in Junior Kindergarten and is now in the 2nd grade. All of the teachers are fully bilingual, with many of them from Spanish speaking countries. Now that she’s in 2nd grade she has a full week of Spanish, where all students and staff speak in Spanish, and then a full week of English. The school strives to make the classrooms as diverse as possible and try their best to mix classrooms with half Spanish speaking students and half who speak English as a first language at home. Even though it’s a public school it’s quite competitive, and how Spanish is integrated within the curriculum is unlike any school around.

Read the rest of “How Do I Support My Daughter’s Bilingual Education?” and over on The Young Mommy Life.



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[Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family

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For years before I graduated from college in 2011 I imagined my graduation day.

I’d wrap myself in a long gown, and attempt to fight back tears, tears of years of sacrifice and struggle. Trying to steady myself on the seemingly long walk to the stage to accept my diploma I’d search in the crowd for my loved ones and my daughter waving frantically wanting to ensure her Mommy saw her. I’d close my eyes, hear my name and slowly walk on the stage, praying I wouldn’t fall. With a frantically beating heart I’d smile wide all while thinking I did it. I did it. I finally did it.

My graduation day was a dream I had ever since I re-enrolled in college two years after my daughter was born.

Every student dreams about their Graduation day, a day of celebration and excitement. It can seem out of your reach when you’re in the midst of studying for exams and burning the midnight oil. And for those who juggle parenthood and employment alongside being a student the journey to securing a degree can at times seem daunting. That image of walking across the stage to accept my college diploma was, at times, the only thing that kept me from walking away from pursuing a higher education.

As I look back at the five total years I spent being a student, I’m in complete awe that I was able to prioritize my education. Though I had two older siblings that were in college, it wasn’t something that was ever pushed on me or encouraged. I figured I should go because I didn’t want to be stuck in my small town forever, but I didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I realized having a degree would open more doors and could help me provide a brighter future for us.

 

Read the rest of [Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family over on The Young Mommy Life.



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Recap: Blogging While Brown in NYC #BWBNYC

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After feeling like I just unpacked from our trip to Disney, my daughter and I spent the weekend in NYC this past weekend and I attended the Blogging While Brown (BWB) conference in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Blogging While Brown’s mission is based on education, collaboration, and innovation among bloggers of color. After my negative experience at my 1st blogging conference last year at BlogHer, I was pretty nervous for Saturday. I invited fellow blogger & friend, Eileen of Mommy Teaches to experience the conference with me. And we both walked away from the keynote on Saturday feeling empowered, connected, and part of the BWB family.

The opening statements of Gina McCauley, BWB founder, and Markus Robinson of Interactive One really set the mood for the entire conference. To be in a room full of bloggers of color, supporting one another…it was a powerful moment that continued throughout all the panels during the day.

In “Blogging for the Love of the Blog” I got to see my friend, mentor, and co-parenting guru Deesha Philyaw of Co-Parenting 101, alongside Michelle Grant of Black ‘n Bougie, and Carolyn Edgar, fellow single mom, as they discussed remembering why you started blogging in the first place because it’ll provide you motivation and inspiration. Another message they shared was to always be true to yourself. It’s so easy for me to compare myself and blog to more successful ones, but I never want to jeopardize my content and site just to get ahead. And I’m beyond excited for my autographed copy of Deesha’s newly released book Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce.

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Karla Trotman reminded that even though I’m not selling a product, I’m running a business. She’s a mom of two and owner of Belly Button Boutique and I learned alot in her panel “Starting a Business While Working Full-Time ”. It was eye-opening realizing I’m a business owner and investing time into me and my brand. With everyone I meet, every connection I make, I’m marketing myself, I’m giving someone a first look at what they are going to get on my blog. And I realized I haven’t been making the kind of impression I want…I blame it on my nerves!!

I appreciated that the focus of BWB was about the content and quality of information shared in the panels and networking. We all have so much to share with each other, and it was great to have a judgment free forum to discuss our blogs and learn new tools to help us maximize our efforts. I was able to see old friends like Eileen and Deesha, and also meet my virtual blogger friends like Stacia of Beyond Baby Mamas and Y0l0nda of Notorious Spinks. The energy was electric and the after-party at the Aflot Harlem was a nice way to close out the conference.

Happy that BWB will be back in NYC next year and if I am able I will be attending again next year. The conference had a great vibe, was a great size, and I hopefully found the motivation to continuing building up my blog. Be on the lookout for my top five highlights from the event!



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O, The Oprah Magazine and Zappos.com embark on a Kindness Mission w/ ‘Random Acts of O”

When my daughter met Oprah a few months ago while she was visiting Harvard University with Lady Gaga (who she met as well) my love for Oprah skyrocketed – which I didn’t think was possible! As an African-American woman who came from poverty and worked her way to the top I have nothing but admiration for her. My daughter was truly in the presence of greatness the day she met Oprah. Being the only person to meet Oprah during her visit to town, I feel very lucky for my daughter to have had that opportunity, and I just know she’ll meet Oprah again :)

 

 

 

So you can imagine how excited I was to hear about the recent collaboration with O, The Oprah Magazine, Zappos.com, and DailyFeats and their new initiative ‘Random Acts of O’ to spread kindness and make the friendlier place. Of course I had to get involved! Over the course of six months readers can participate in monthly challenge based on issue themes via a FB app, and O Magazine and Zappos.com will also bring kindness experiences to life via real-world stunts, surprises, and rewards for doing good! Good deeds now don’t go unnoticed! Via this FB app you can track your good deeds, share them with friends, and win prizes!

First challenge: Pledge to Read! Using their FB app you can pledge to read one of the 20 books featured on O Magazine’s Books of Summer list. Of those that pledge 50 will be randomly selected to win a sweet tote bag filled with all 20 books on the summer list!! But wait…it gets better! Once 50,000 pledges have been collected, $5,000 will be donated to Teach for America, a program that works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunities for children facing poverty. Amazing! Looking for a book to read this summer? Want to enter to win 20 books? Want to help kids facing poverty? Head over and pledge your commitment today! Couldn’t be any easier!!

This is a truly special initiative, and something that means a lot to me, not only because I love Oprah and love to read, but because a few years ago I collected 500 books to send to an impoverished school in Zimbabwe. On June 27th, O and Zappos.com will also thank the new Teach for America recruits at St. John’s University in Queens,NY.

I’ve already pledged to read Wild & Tell The Wolves I’m Home – Will you pledge?



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