Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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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Pursuing an Education while Parenting Young

Walking across the stage last September to accept my diploma was the 2nd happiest day in my life. The first being the day my daughter was born J Few people truly understand the struggle it was to complete my education, work full-time, and be the best parent I could be – alone. Prior to having my daughter at 19 I had completed a year of college, but was convinced it wasn’t for me and waited until my daughter was around a 1½ before returning back to school. Sacrifice doesn’t even begin to explain it. When I first re-enrolled my life was a mess, I was living in an illegal apartment, and then I moved over two hours away. I woke up at 5am with my young daughter and commuted over two hours each morning and afternoon with her to fulfill my responsibilities at work and school. Many mornings she cried the whole train ride. Many mornings I cried along with her. But, I was not meant to break, I was meant to succeed. So I stuck with it, often with no support, and never once did I think I would actually make it to graduation day.

So when I was approached by my friend Natasha from STEPPS Boston about hosting one of their weekly Twitter chats on pursuing an education while parenting young, I was nervous! STEPPS (Summit for Teen Empowerment, Progress, and Parenting Success) is a phenomenal organization in Boston working with teen parents with the goal of increasing the communication between young parents and the organizations and agencies that serve them. Reflecting back on my challenging education road, I didn’t think there was much I could share with young parents, why would they listen to me? Then I thought about myself during the six years I struggled being a student. I thought of the countless nights and weekends spent studying, shutting down from the world, wishing I had someone to talk with, someone who understood. I thought of going to bed late after an all-night cram session and seeing my daughter sleeping so peacefully, reminding me of my purpose, of my mission. I thought of my daughter’s face as I nervously walked past her on the way to the stage to get my diploma, saw her million dollar smile. I remembered her telling me how proud she was of me. I then realized I had something to share with other young parents.

There is no motivation but you when considering higher education being a young parent. You can want it, can dream about it, but if you are unwilling to put in the work you won’t ever get what you want. What was really important to me during the chat was to be REAL, it ain’t all roses, it’s hard and you are going to want to give up, just like I did. I felt extremely guilty not being with my daughter the days and nights I was at school, thought I was a terrible mother. But, you’ve got to stay focused on the bigger picture. What do you want for you and your family in the future?

I was so thrilled to hear so many people taking in what I was saying in the chat, they asked questions, they shared, and I think hope they felt inspired. The same frustrations that were shared about juggling and financial aid felt so familiar to me, because I felt the same, but by even having the opportunity to come together over twitter and talk and build community is crucial, and something I wish I had while in college.

Thank you to all of the wonderful young parents who joined the chat and were so open about sharing their experiences. Click HERE to learn more about STEPPS Boston. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. And if you are in the Boston area be sure to check out their Summit on June 27th!



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