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How My Teacher’s Discouragement Didn’t Stop Me From Getting to UCLA

I never imagined myself avoiding science classrooms…I loved science. But nowadays, unless I’m giving a campus tour, you won’t see me at UCLA’s Court of Sciences. My dreams changed. Today, I want to make sure students aren’t shunned away from their dreams by their teachers like I was.

My first year in high school was tough. I found myself struggling to grasp math and science as easily as I did in middle school. I never left a classroom understanding the lesson I had listened to for the past hour. I didn’t give up. Instead, I pushed out of my comfort zone to work even harder. I studied hard and asked friends to tutor me. My efforts paid off, I managed to keep my grades at an A each semester.

Credit: Bernardette Pinetta

My struggle didn’t go unnoticed by teachers. When I mentioned how I wanted to do something in science and math because I really liked both subjects one of them responded, “It’s one thing to like math and another thing to be good at it.” My heart sank.

For the first time, I stopped trying. I stopped looking to my teachers for help. I waited until the last minute to study. It didn’t make sense to me to give something my full effort if I wasn’t being supported. My math grade dropped a D…and my parents blamed it on having a boyfriend.

Credit: Bernardette Pinetta

The disappointment in their eyes and voice reminded me of why I had worked so hard before. I remember the sacrifices they made and the physical and mental suffering they endured to give my sister and me a better chance. I had to do something.

I retook tests and started studying again. By the end of the year, I got A+ both semesters. This made me look forward to college and the opportunity to study math and science there…but I could still hear that teachers words in my mind.

College wasn’t better.

Credit: Bernardette Pinetta

Professors would begin their introductions by saying two-thirds of us would fail. Each time I struggled I thought, “Maybe he was right; maybe I’m just not good enough. Maybe I’m part of those two-thirds.”

I changed my major to political science after barely passing a chemistry class. I also focused on mentoring high school students. That, along with my love for increasing access to higher education for marginalized students and improving the quality of education received in low-income areas, drove me to pick up an Education Minor.

Credit: Bernardette Pinetta

When I learned about the systematic oppression that keeps students from going into STEM fields, my experience finally made sense. I saw myself in the students I worked with through UCLA’s Early Academic Outreach Program, students with such high potential being told that they wouldn’t amount to much because of the stigma attached to their background.

It ends with me. I’m here. I will provide motivation…and the biggest surprise, is it’s a two-way street. These high school students give me inspiration to not give up, regardless of the obstacles placed in my way.

Credit: Bernardette Pinetta

The need for education advocates in communities like mine keeps me focused on my studies. For the students I work with who wish to go to STEM fields, I tell them that it will be difficult, but if they are passionate and have that desire to be in those careers, there’s no way they won’t make it.

I never went back to my science major, not because of the discouragement I received, but because I have a newfound passion in education. I’m also happy to say that the last science class I took at UCLA I earned an A, because this time I didn’t give up.

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From COVID To Elections, Here’s Why Misinformation Targets Latinos

Things That Matter

From COVID To Elections, Here’s Why Misinformation Targets Latinos

One of the big surprises of the 2020 election was how even though most Latino voters across the U.S. voted for Joe Biden, in some counties of competitive states like Florida and Texas, a higher-than-expected percentage of Latinos supported Donald Trump. One factor that many believe played a role: online misinformation about the Democratic candidate.

Another important subject that’s been victim of a massive misinformation campaign is the Coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing vaccination program. But why does #fakenews so heavily target the Latino community?

Since the 2020 campaign, a large misinformation campaign has target Latinos.

Although fake news is nothing new, in the campaign leading up to the 2020 elections it morphed into something more sinister – a campaign to influence Latino voters with false information. The largely undetected movement helped depress turnout and spread disinformation about Democrat Joe Biden.

The effort showed how social media and other technology can be leveraged to spread misinformation so quickly that those trying to stop it cannot keep up. There were signs that it worked as Donald Trump swung large numbers of Latino votes in the 2020 presidential race in some areas that had been Democratic strongholds.

Videos and pictures were doctored. Quotes were taken out of context. Conspiracy theories were fanned, including that voting by mail was rigged, that the Black Lives Matter movement had ties to witchcraft and that Biden was beholden to a cabal of socialists.

That flow of misinformation has only intensified since Election Day, researchers and political analysts say, stoking Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen and false narratives around the mob that overran the Capitol. More recently, it has morphed into efforts to undermine vaccination efforts against the coronavirus.

The misinformation campaign could have major impacts on our politics.

Several misinformation researchers say there is an alarming amount of misinformation about voter fraud and Democratic leaders being shared in Latino social media communities. Biden is a popular target, with misinformation ranging from exaggerated claims that he embraces Fidel Castro-style socialism to more patently false and outlandish ones, for instance that the president-elect supports abortion minutes before a child’s birth or that he orchestrated a caravan of Cuban immigrants to infiltrate the US Southern border and disrupt the election process.

Democratic strategists looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections are concerned about how this might sway Latino voters in the future. They acknowledge that conservatives in traditional media and the political establishment have pushed false narratives as well, but say that social media misinformation deserves special attention: It appears to be a growing problem, and it can be hard to track and understand.

Some believe that Latinos may be more likely to believe a message shared by friends, family members, or people from their cultural community in a WhatsApp or Telegram group rather than an arbitrary mainstream US news outlet; research has found that people believe news articles more when they’re shared by people they trust.

Fake news is also impacting our community’s response to the pandemic.

Vaccination programs work best when as many people as possible get vaccinated, but Latinos in the United States are getting inoculated at lower rates.

In Florida, for example, Latinos are 27% of the population but they’ve made up only about 17% of COVID-19 vaccinations so far, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And Latinos are relying on social media and word-of-mouth for information on vaccines — even when it’s wrong. There’s myths circulating around the vaccine, whether you can trust it and the possible the long-term effects.

And it’s not just obstacles to getting information in Spanish, but also in many of the native Mayan indigenous languages that farmworkers speak in South Florida.

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A Black Teen Earned Over $1 Million In Scholarships From 18 Colleges That Accepted Her

Fierce

A Black Teen Earned Over $1 Million In Scholarships From 18 Colleges That Accepted Her

Shanya Robinson-Owens applied to over 20 colleges and has been accepted into 18 of them.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the high school senior has also been offered more than $1 million in scholarship money. The 17-year-old Philadelphia teen currently attends George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science but is headed towards a pretty bright and educated future.

According to a recent interview with “Good Morning America” the star student earned $1,074,260 in scholarships.

“We are overjoyed,” Robinson-Owens aunt told the show in a recent interview. “I knew she wouldn’t have a problem getting into colleges, but we didn’t know they would award her this much money in scholarship funds.”

Shanya, who was accepted to Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; La Salle University in Philadelphia; Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri; Temple University in Philadelphia and Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania, told GMA that she “wasn’t really expecting it” so many offers let alone so much money.

The senior currently holds a 3.2-grade point average and is a member of the school’s yearbook committee. She also works as an intern alongside her Chinese language teacher.

When it comes to the advice she’d give other students, Shayna says it’s important to “take your time” with your work and the application process.

“You really have to be patient,” Shanya explained. “Stay focused. If you need to have some time away, it’s OK. You can tell your teachers that because they know you’re stressed.”

“We’ve always been extremely proud of her,” Shanya’s aunt, Christine Owens, explained to GMA. “My mother has helped raise Shanya since she was a baby. We’ve just been working as a team making sure Shanya keeps God first in anything she does and she is succeeding.”

Speaking about Shanya, her school principal Ted Domers told GMA that Shanya is a “well-respected student at her school.”

“In addition to being a part of a movement to bring more social action to our school, she’s involved in a number of extracurricular activities that show the breadth of her skills, from robotics to journalism,” Domers explained. “It is a privilege for us to count Shanya as one of our own and we are excited to see her create opportunities for her future.”

Shanya has yet to make a college pick.

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