Saturday, March 12, 2011

Educated majors

    Yesterday I was able to see my cousin who was home from college for the week.  While talking to her about college, life, and just in general catching up we stumbled upon the discussion of a major.  At the university my cousin attends she will have to declare a major by her second semester sophomore year of college, a deadline that for her falls in January of next year.  In about a year she will have to in essence decide what she wants to do with her life.  She has no idea. 
        As we continued to talk about it and discuss possible options she mentioned how next year she is planning on taking a class that gives students information about different career jobs and helps them choose what they want to be.  She also mentioned how in some other countries the process of choosing your career begins in high school.  My question is why not here? 
    For many careers students apply to college right into the track for that career.  For my cousin, it is already too late to go into engineering, nursing, and teaching; and depending on the university other career options are no longer options either.  It is true that you can always go back to school, or change your major if you end up in a career you hate.  However, that requires time, money, and a lot of extra effort. 
    It seems ridiculous to me that the first time students are being exposed to career options is a semester before they are supposed to choose their career, and for many an entire year and a half after the deadline for the career option they do choose.  Other countries, and likely a few other schools in America, have already realized this dilemma and addressed it, but they shouldn’t be the only ones.  Not everyone has the money to go back t school because they entered a career path they don’t like.  However, how exactly are they supposed to know they don’t like it until they try it?  My high school has a ridiculous amount of great classes however not one of them prepares students to choose a career.  That needs to change. Schools constantly stress making educated choices.  The choice of career shouldn’t be treated any differently.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Egyptian Stance

    In the midst of the revolution in Egypt I feel compelled to extend a statement to the Egyptian people.  I realize that none of them are likely to see this but in the off chance they do I want them to understand that believe in their cause. 
    In the past the USA has withheld or given our approval often based, not on the ideals with which our country stands, but on the false premise of “support.”  The Shah of Iran “supported” the USA so despite his suppression of democracy we supported him rather than the people who in effect may have only wanted to emulate the very ideas we hold so dear.
    I can not speak for my whole country, and I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of politics is minimal.  However, I can speak for many of those I know when I extend my support in belief that the people of Egypt have every right to a democracy.  I wish for them every blessing I have ever received in this country in which the people have the ability to govern themselves.  They, like all people who inhabit our world have the right to a voice.  A society in which even one voice can not be heard is a society in which change is in the winds.  So, I wish for the people of Egypt a democracy in which all people have the opportunity to work towards a future, a democracy in which the natural law governs all people, and most importantly of all, a democracy in which all have a voice that they can let ring loud and clear.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Anything is Possible

     Today, I saw a news clip about an eleven year old girl named Lola Walters who is legally blind, and a competitive artistic gymnast.  Walters has a condition that causes very hazy vision, a quivering of the eyes, and lack of depth perception, yet despite it all she tumbles across the floor, jumps from bar to bar, does back walkovers on the beam, and runs head first at the vault.  She says she can do anything anyone else can do, and that nobody needs to know she’s blind. 
    I did gymnastics when when I was around 9 years old, I think everyone would agree with me when I say that it is a very challenging sport for those with perfect vision.  Gymnastics requires that you be able to flip through the air either off of a floor, beam, bars, or a vault.  To flip on a beam is very challenging, because for part of your flip you can’t see.  But, as soon as you start to come down you have to quickly look for the beam so you know where to land.  It is often that last second vision that keeps you from falling.  Without that a flip is, as the news clip stated, a “leap of faith.”
    To have to preform skills blind on something four inches wide, requires a kind of courage I can’t even comprehend.  Gymnastics has always been considered a sport for the fearless, but what Walters is doing takes more than just fearlessness, it takes a determination and belief in one’s self that most people likely don’t have.  I found Walter’s story truly inspirational.  She truly is an example of what we all can achieve in life if we have determination and a belief in self. 

To see her story visit this web address:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hary Potter Frenzy

    The latest Harry Potter movie has arrived and with it has come an onslaught of excited teens.  It was hard to miss all the students dressed as if they were attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and anyone who has checked Facebook in the past week has undoubtedly noticed that they can’t scroll down their news feed without noticing a Harry Potter related post.  Walking through the halls on Thursday and Friday, one was likely to encounter at least one discussion concerning Potter.  I know over a dozen teens who attended the midnight showing, and I would guess, due to the amount of tickets already sold out, that by Monday a significant percentage of GBN will have attended the phenomenon.  Even kids who never read the books plan to go see the movie.
    I find myself amazed by the world that J.K. Rowling has created. Her book has brought in more money and attention than any other novel I can remember.  But, what is most impressive is the uniqueness and depth of the world she has created.  Books can very easily over take me and I am often caught up in the worlds they describe to me.  However, Harry Potter was unlike any other book before.  The world had never seen such an in-depth and plausible, world of wizardry.  J,K Rowling took great care to make sure that every aspect of the world in her books could be in our world.  For a while I even thought that there was a wizarding world that muggle me just didn’t know about because it was so well hidden.  Granted I was about 7 or 8 at the time, but I doubt I was the only one.  The books are that realistic, and the puzzle of how they fit into our world is not missing a single piece.
    In the creation of such revolutionary works, Rowling has reached heights that will likely not be reached again for a long period of time.  However, I would bet that the generations that follow hours will know Harry just as well as we do.

To view the trailer for the new movie go to this site:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pass on the Legacy

    “The sun will come out tomorrow,” sings 11 year old Shannon Tavarez in a YouTube video posted July 9, 2010.  If only those words had held truth for her.  The sun is now rising for Shannon in heaven while her friends, family, and the thousands she touched mourn in the wake of her passing.
    Shannon, who played Nala in the Broadway musical “The Lion King,” died Monday November 1, after a heroic battle with acute myeloid leukemia (aml).  Throughout her life Shannon’s dream had been to be on Broadway, a dream that was replaced by the goal of simply surviving.  Shannon will never get to rise to her full potential. 
    Though her life was short her legacy will truly live on through those who will now get to live because of her.  Shannon’s campaign to find a bone marrow donor inspired thousands of people to register as donors.  Unfortunately, due to Shannon’s ethnicity, Dominican and African American, her bone marrow match was never found. 
    This is the tragic reality for 83% of African Americans searching for a bone marrow match and for 6 out of any 10 people who are in need of a transplant.  Sadly the registry is nowhere near as large as is needed and ethnic minorities are significantly underrepresented with only 3% being multiple race donors, 8% African American donors, 9% Hispanic donors, and 7% Asian donors. 
    I realize that most people who may read this post are not yet 18, and cannot yet register to be a donor.  However,  I urge anyone who reads this to please talk to everyone you know who is old enough to register.  Registering is quick and painless.  A simple cheek swab and its over.  If more people were registered Shannon and many others may still be here today. Somebody’s life may depend on you.

 "If you save one life it's as if you have saved the world”
To find out how to register visit these sites:

To find out more about Shannon and others like her visit these websites:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peace Lies Outside the Box

    Yesterday I had the great honor to be able to attend a presentation by Carl Wilkens.  Wilkens was one of 10 non Rwandans to remain in Rwanda throughout the genocide that occurred there.  His story is one of incredible inspiration.  To risk ones life when the threat is literally in your face goes completely against human instincts.  The courage and service he showed truly are remarkable.  However, what amazed me most about his story was the way in which he was able to help save Rwandans.  Wilkens  literally worked with the killers in order to save the victims.  He asked the Hutu mayor of Kigali who has been found guilty of the murder of thousands of people, to allow him to move the kids in an orphanage he had been aiding; and it worked.  He was allowed to move them and in doing so likely saved their lives. 
    I bring this up, not just because it is inspirational, but also because his method of working with the “enemy”  is a method whose use is being debated over today in regards to groups like Hamas.  Hamas is an organization that has committed terrorists acts and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.  However, they are also a political party in the Gaza Strip.  Currently most countries refuse to talk to Hamas regarding peace in Israel, because they are a terrorist organization.  However, Wilkens’ talks have made me question whether discussion with them may in fact save lives.  I am not necessarily suggesting that the US or Israeli government due so, as I completely understand how doing so would undermine the loss of life of thousands, and I can not honestly say that I believe an organization who has committed such acts will be true to its word.  Having said this, the Hutu mayor of Kigali, did stay true to his word and in taking a chance and asking him Wilkins was able to save many lives.  I do believe there can be peace for Israel, and though I am hesitant to even suggest a discussion with a terrorist group I have realized due to Mr. Wilkens presentation that a discussion with them does have the possibility of saving lives.  Wilkens also made the point that people tend to be more trustworthy when people instill their trust in them.  Maybe, if the Israeli government were to engage in a discussion with them and an agreement was made, Hamas would follow through.  I understand that I am being very optimistic here, but fighting and suspicion are not a solution, and current talks without Hamas are likely to never culminate in a permanent peace.  So, if Wilkens’ tactic worked once whose to say it won’t work again.  The world is running out of options to deal with situations like this, maybe it’s time we think outside the box.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Cost of a Right

    The Dictionary defines a right as “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”  But, to must of the people I know a right is an excuse.  They’ll say when talking to a teacher “I get to say that because I have a right to free speech,” or when talking to a parent they will imply that their parents “can’t control them,” because they have rights.  The use of the term to those whose basic rights are all fulfilled is unimportant.  However,  unfortunately in our world many people do not have basic rights, and how we define those rights determines their access to them.
    Yesterday was Blog Action Day, the topic was water.  The human body is about 70% water.  We need it to lubricate the digestive system, to make up our blood, to remove wastes, to regulate body temperature, and more; yet not everyone considers it a right.  Water, isn’t a substance that we can consume optionally.  It is a necessity, without it we perish.  To say not everyone has a right to it is to say that it is up to us to decide who deserves to live and who deserves to die.  That simply isn’t something human beings should be able to decide.  The ability to have clean water is definitely a basic right, unfortunately clean fresh water is not located in all parts of the world.  Eight hundred and eighty four billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.  So the question is how to get it to them.
    There was an article in Newsweek this week discussing the new market for water.  The article questioned the right of private businesses to control the access of the public to water, but also discussed how the creation of a water market has the ability to aid in solving the water crisis.  I am a person without much faith in the morality of many businesses.  The goal of most businesses is to make money, which is understandable.  However,  to an unfortunately large number of businesses making money has become more than a goal, it has turned into an all encompassing profession of its own.  This has occurred even in some of the most important and supposedly public serving businesses, like the food industry.  Water, however, is not an asset that the world can afford to have handled in a “how much can I make selling this” kind of way, nor can the public afford to have it’s quality compromised in an effort to sell more of it.
    We need clean, safe, easily accessible water and we need it every day.  What scares me even more than the idea of a water business, is what will happen if we don’t find some way to solve this water crisis.  We have seen in the past the violence that occurs when there are food shortages.  People are willing to kill for a bag of rice, and a human can go for much longer without food than they can without water.
    I wish I had some perfect cure all answer to this situation.  But truth be told I don’t believe anyone does.  The one thing I do know is that whatever solutions there might be, they will come at a cost.  I guess the question is really not what can we do to get everyone clean safe water, but what are we willing to pay to ensure everyone’s basic rights?

To find out more about the water crisis visit: