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Empowering Girls to Embrace Technology

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By Lea Michelle Cash

Over 20 years ago, African American Latasha Gary, 37, became interested in computers. Today, she is the Director of World Wide Sales Operation Systems for Compaq Computer Company. She manages 25 employees working on various projects around the country and overseas. She became interested in computers in high school, and the school only had one computer. Gary says, “Hanging around that computer was my natural interest. My high school math teacher noticed my computer talents and encouraged me to look into colleges with strong computer science programs. I did and was accepted in my senior year at Texas A & M.”

She continues, “I found myself one of only a handful of females. Texas A & M at that time was exclusively male and populated by mostly white males, many of whom had been exposed to high-level math and computer programs at their school. So, I had to show some initiative to my professors and ask them for help, letting them know that I was going to stick to it and go all the way.” Gary graduated and stuck it out. Then she moved on to Howard University where she earned a Master degree in Computer Science. The year was 1987.

Today, 25 year later the technology field (at large) is desperately looking for architects of change. Females who put an end to the long living myth that girls and women cannot perform as well as men in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Environments and afterschool programs promoting “girl power” are popping up all over America, supporting leadership development and career exploration for girls, transferring knowledge of technology, while introducing concepts such as logical relationships, graphing, and algebra. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and National Science Foundation the STEM fields are expected to add 2.7 million new jobs by 2018, yet women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in those fields. Women make up 46% of the total workforce but hold only 24% of jobs in technical or STEM fields. African-Americans and Latinos each comprise 13% of the total workforce and only 3% of the technical workforce.

In the Inland Empire, starting a technology program for girls has been a dream for the founder, President & CEO of Tech Divas, Cynthia Renee Frazier. Its title is “Girls Got Geek”. Girls who enter this program will learn about creation, innovation, problem solving, teamwork and career development. Recently in June, Frazier held an open house at the Henderson Auditorium located at Community Hospital of San Bernardino. Girls were introduced to many of the latest e-devices that they could explore. The Greek sorority sisters from Sigma Gamma Rho volunteered to assist with the event. The turnout was exceptional and Frazier was very happy. She says, “Girls like solving problems as much as boys. Girls can develop games and mobile apps even better than boys. So, we have got to get girls more excited about today’s technology.” Therefore, Frazier has taken on this project passionately in the efforts to engage, enrich, and empower girls in STEM. She has been active in technology for years. The application creation is growing into a $55 billion dollar industry. Frazier states, “More girls in this career field can really change their lives.”

Latasha Gary would agree. Gary said, “My career field has provided more opportunity beyond anything that I could imagine. I would definitely encourage women to consider a career in technology.” Her greatest achievement was spending 13 months in Singapore, rolling out and implementing a Software Application Program (SAP) for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and India.

This Fall, “Girls Got Geek” is having a Hackathon. They are looking for girls ages 13–25 who would like to put together a “webisode” as a challenge. A webisode is a short episode, which can be downloaded or streamed on YouTube or Cable television. It could be a commercial or collection of short stories. The girls who participate will be grouped into teams. Each team will come up with a theme for their webisode. As a challenge, the webisodes will be played and judged for fun and prizes. The dates are November 16, 17, and 18. The technology used for creating, making and editing the webisodes will be provided.

For more information or to register for this event visit the Girls Got Geek website at www.girlsgotgeek.com.

Obama, Ali Help London Welcome The World

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By Leland Stein III

LONDON — It was a no-win situation for London’s 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, simply because there was no way they could quite outdo what the world’s largest country (China) did during the 2008 Games in Beijing. I sat in the Olympic Birdcage Stadium in Beijing in complete amazement and wonderment at the Chinese’s’ innovative aerial and mystical presentation, sitting in the London Olympic Stadium I was not sure what to expect.

I asked myself, “How could London match Beijing 2008? They could not. But, as I sat in the Olympic Stadium with over 80,000 fans and over one billion television viewers world-wide, the London Opening Ceremony surprised me with its fun presentation. It was enjoyable and took us through its rich cinema, comedy, and music history and, a surprising salute to the digital age – although the industrial salute age was a bit boring.

Smartly, the British did not try to outdo Beijing. They produced a uniquely British production that was who they are and what they have been about. Sure the visual musical presentation of every Opening Ceremony reflects the city hosting this mega sports festival; however, the appearance of the competing nations is my favorite part of the Opening Ceremony. Each team’s selection of the flag bearer, the wearing of their native garb, and the different size of each nation’s teams from very large to very small . . . I dig it because it is about the athletes.

Then there was our beautiful First-Lady (Michelle Obama) in the Stadium as our representative welcoming in the USA athletes. Then, there was also former Olympic Gold medalist Muhammad Ali on the field to touch and bless the Olympic flag before it was hung high . . . oh yeah!!! London is city in the United Kingdom that has over 7,500,000 million people and has given us Shakespeare, James Bond, Mary Poppins and Harry Potter, the Tower Bridge, the Thames River, BBC News, English and the beginnings of Democracy. As well as Wimbley Stadium and the Wimbledon Tennis Center, and, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Amy Winehouse, Rolling Stones and the Spice Girls are recognized as the crossroads of world trade and world culture.

Being that defined as a world power gives it the hustle and bustle greater than New York, a rail system and bus system unparallel in America, a diverse population that all live in the same areas, and, a mixture of the old history and the new today. Still in all its glory London has many of the same problems urban America has - the poverty, classism, congestion and old infrastructure.

In fact, talking to a few Londoners they told me that there had been a Rodney King-type riot. In August 2011, a police officer shot and killed a black man during an attempt to arrest him. From there several London boroughs, districts of cities and towns across England suffered widespread rioting, looting and arson where thousands took to the streets. Place in Tottenham, Hackney, Brixton, Chingford, Peckham, Enfield, Croydon, Ealing and East Ham all experienced rampant looting and arson attacks of unprecedented levels.

In spite of it misgivings, London’s greatest strength remains the diversity of its people. Londoners come from all corners of the world. Reports note that London is witnessing an expansion of cultural and artistic life not seen for decades. Getting back to the Opening Ceremony, seeing all the world’s nations come together in a celebration of peace through athletic competition always brings me back to the words of the late Rodney King: “Why can’t we all get along?”

Seeing Iran and Israel and North and South Korea all on the same field together proves that it is possible for u to all get along. At least for a few weeks the Olympic moto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – which translate to “faster, higher, stronger,” will be in the forefront of the international discourse.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Tw

One-On-One With Swimming Pioneer

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By Leland Stein III

 

LONDON - When 17-year-old African American swimmer Lia Neal climbed out of the pool in the Aquatics Centre at Olympic Park following the United States women’s bronze medal finish in the 4x100m freestyle relay, she had the obvious look of disappointment on her face, because all want that gold medal. If only she had known that First-Lady Michelle Obama had made her way over to the Aquatics Center to see her and her teammates swim. When I told her she flashed a 100kilowatt smile saying, “That was so amazing. I wish I could have seen her. I did not know she was here. Wow!” Amazing was Neal and her swim mates Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy and Allison Schmitt as they traversed the pool in an American record time of 3:34.24, which was just off the Olympic record pace set by Australia and second place Netherlands. Upon reflection the young Neal will sit back in wonderment, with a big smile and realize where and how she started and how far she has come. “Sure there were some huge expectations for this team to win a medal,” Neal told me right after her historic swim, “but I was not that nervous once I got to the Aquatic Center. I did not know what to expect because this was my first Olympic Games, but I knew that I generally swim better in finals, so I was ready.

“Sure this bronze medal is special, but we have been performing well throughout the rounds as a team. We knew we have a chance to get that gold medal, so from that stand point it is a little disappointing.” There is absolutely nothing that Neal should be disappointed about. She had after all made history becoming only the second African-American woman to make a USA Olympic swim team. “I realize that there have not been many people in the African-American community that have been at this level in swimming,” New Yorker Neal told me. “I’ve heard so many stories from different people, even in my own family, about urban kids having bad experiences being in the water and swimming that I can really relate.

“The fact of the matter is my mother got me started in swimming at age six just so I could learn water safety. She and I never even dreamed I would be an Olympian. Up until last year I never even thought I had a shot at making the USA team.”

Neal said that she is “flattered that people might look at her as a role model.” She also noted that she is not even in college yet and that she has a lot to learn herself. However, she said when she gets home and people think she has something to offer as far as swimming safety and exposing African-American youth to the water, she would gladly do it.

Neal made the Olympic swim team by finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle finals at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. Her fourth place finish earned her a spot on the 4x100 relay team. It did not take long before people started saying who is that girl and quickly went to the record books to see if any other African-American female had made an US Olympic team. As soon as she got out the water she was asked if she knew about her precursor Maritza Correia, who won a silver medalist in the 4x100 freestyle relay in 2004. Neal acknowledged that she never thought she'd be the second black female swimmer to make an Olympic team.

Now after her first Olympic experience Neal told me, “I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I’m done at these Olympics, but in four year I hope to drop my times even further and qualify for an individual event. Right now I’m just going to cheer for my other teammates.”

Leland Stein can be heard on WGPR Radio (107.5) every Sunday from 11 p.m. to midnight. He can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com.

No More Back to School Jitters

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By Jordan Brown

Every year it happens. When kids go to a new school or even the same school, they get very nervous. This happens to me too. I get butterflies in my stomach and just plain scared when I walk on the campus. This year, I’m entering high school at Pacific High School in San Bernardino. I’d like to avoid the “back to school jitters” this year. Here are some helpful tips to avoid the butterflies and calm down.

Confidence is Key: Confidence is my trick to look like I’m not nervous. Stand up straight, put a smile on, and don’t look at the ground. If you do this, people will see you as inviting and you can make friends quicker and easier. Also, if you have friends going to your school, walk with them in school so you won’t have to be alone. When you look like you’re open to talk, people will talk to you and when you have friends, you won’t be nervous anymore because you’re not “a loner.” Be Prepared: Get yourself back into school habits. Get up early in the morning and make breakfast it helps keep your mind fresh for a stress free day. Get your clothes out the night before and anything else you need. Continue doing this routinely or to get used to your new schedule.

Don’t be Late: I know you want to take those last days and get as much rest as you can, but it doesn’t help if your late the first day of school. Teachers will appreciate you being there on time so class can flow easily. To be on time, schedule your mornings. If you take the bus set it by the time you need to be at the bus stop. If you walk, walk to school a few times before school starts and time yourself so you know how long it takes you. If you take a car, find out what time school starts and how long it takes you to get there.

So now that you have some tips to ease those butterflies, you can start to pay attention to your learning. I’m going to use these tips to help me on my first day and you should too!

Make Sure Your Business Is Prepared for the Summer Heat

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As a business owner, I know that, with the high energy demand of summer, finding ways to manage my business’ energy use and costs is more important than ever. I’m hoping for a mild summer, but preparing now for heat waves that could come our way, especially since state officials are saying that we may have limited power supplies in Southern California. It's important that we all do our part to maintain service reliability and stay informed, and I’m doing that by taking a few key steps with my business:

I’m going to make a few simple modifications to my operations, such as reducing lighting levels, turning off unneeded equipment not in use and shutting down unused rooms and facilities. I’ll also raise cooling thermostat settings to 78oF and pre-cool work areas or cycle air conditioning and ventilation.

I’m going to pay attention to when the state issues Flex Alerts, which are urgent calls to save energy. When that happens, I know it’s critical that I conserve immediately.

I’m also checking out www.SCE.com/energytips to learn more about how to make smart energy choices, such as Business Energy Advisor, a free and easy-to-use online energy assessment tool that provides an in-depth analysis of my facility’s energy use and shows where my energy dollars are going, and since my Edison SmartConnect meter was enabled, My Account, which helps me make smarter energy choices by monitoring and managing my business’ electricity usage online. This summer, I’m committed to making smarter energy-saving choices that can help my community and my bottom line.

Sponsored by Southern California Edison.

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