At 17, Drexel Student Pushes Ahead

At 17, Drexel Student Pushes Ahead

When Zakiya James attended Woodrow Wilson High School in her native city of Washington D.C., she quickly exhausted the curriculum that was being offered to her there. Zakiya, 14 at the time, was not being challenged and her mother, Shawna Malone, could see that. Malone attempted to enroll her daughter into higher-level courses at Woodrow, but the administration was not open to the idea. Malone was told by counselors that she should be glad that Zakiya was making A's and didn't need to be in more challenging classes. Their thought, Malone said, was that more challenging classes could result in lower grades. Having attended Wilson herself, Malone knew that Zakiya was becoming bored and if she was not pushed more, she would become lazy and disinterested in school. "It made me realize that if I was really going to be concerned about my daughter's education, that I would have to take matters into my own hands," Malone said. "So when the school wasn't...
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Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Visiting a barber shop or a hair salon may seem like a luxury, but an artist who visits shelters for homeless Americans sees it as a matter of identity. "Hair care is kind of seen as a non-essential need for people that are homeless," says Jody Wood, creator of mobile hair salon Beauty in Transition. "It's an extra maybe even some people think is superfluous, but I'm interested in trying to resist in this process of losing one's identity." To some degree, we all struggle to find and keep our identity. But imagine the devastation of losing it slowly over time, separated from the people around you, labeled as "the homeless," ignored throughout the streets of Philadelphia by passers-by. A traveling salon catering to homeless clients may seem unorthodox, but a simple hairstyle can help an invisible person feel visible. I never thought about it that way until I spoke to Wood about her project. Perhaps it is because I am accustomed to...
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Philly Grad Aims For New Chapter In Life

Philly Grad Aims For New Chapter In Life

It happened earlier this month when Shawn Jorden, 25, was handed his degrees in Psychology and Liberal Arts from the Community College of Philadelphia, a goal that he had initially thought was out of reach. Jorden attended Indiana University before attending CCP but because of the university's tuition and cost of living, he was forced to return to Philadelphia. At times he found himself homeless while working to complete his degree, relying on the kindness of friends and family for a place to live and work. "I really wasn't feeling it because I was at a four-year university and coming to a two-year institution, I was a little depressed about that," Jorden said. "So I did some research and decided that I needed some help but I wasn't sure what kind of help I needed." Jorden connected with The Center for Male Engagement at CCP and met Kevin Convington, who would later become his mentor as well as Derrick Perkins, the director of the...
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Reflections Of A Temple Grad II

Reflections Of A Temple Grad II

I remember when walking across the stage on graduation day, just last May, and how uncertain I was about entering the “real world” with a bachelors in journalism. Would I be accepted in the field? Would I be able to obtain a job? What challenges would I be facing next? I never expected to obtain a job right out of college. It had already been explained to me and other graduates in my class over and over that obtaining a career in journalism would be somewhat slim and difficult. Most do not know that I am a barista at a café at the Free Library of Philadelphia, so I was never too worried about being unemployed out of college. People like their coffee, and I make a pretty mean cappuccino when given the chance. Still, there are times when I just want to leave the café and the smell of coffee behind for a career in my chosen field. Click here to read...
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A New Place To Call Home

A New Place To Call Home

It was twelve years ago when D.W. Wilkins first moved from New York City to Philadelphia. Upon his arrival, he had been living without medical insurance or other safeguards until learning about the services being offered at St. Elizabeth, a healthcare and recovery initiative of the Philadelphia nonprofit Project HOME. “I was taking a few computer classes in the community where I live and work,” Wilson said. “It was there that I met a young lady who told me about St. Elizabeth and that I could go there and get the care that I needed.” According to Project HOME, roughly 70 percent of households have incomes of less than $35,000 per year in the St. Elizabeth community and nearly half of adults and children live at or below the federal poverty level. The idea of having a wellness center placed in the heart of Philadelphia had first come to Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project HOME, when civic leader Stephen Klein had approached...
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Reflections Of A Temple Grad

Reflections Of A Temple Grad

  Even though it happened just a few months ago, graduation for me was almost a complete blur. I do not remember much of what was said to me on that day except the word "congratulations." That word was repeated a lot, especially by those who saw me walking to school wearing my cap and gown. I remember arriving somewhat early to the ceremony, so early that there were not too many graduates in attendance yet. The final touches were still being taken care of and I was told to simply wait. Later, as the ceremony began and I sat amongst my graduating peers and scrolled through my phone, I could not help but think of how far I had come. It had been a rough couple of years. There was still one class that I needed to complete for my major. The class was statistics, and it would start the following week and continue for five more additional weeks. Click here to read the...
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Q & A With Janice Gable Bashman, Author of Predator

Q & A With Janice Gable Bashman, Author of Predator

Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Predator, her first novel and solo book project for young adults. Bashman is also the editor of The Big Thrill, an International Thriller Writers' magazine, and has had her short fiction published in various anthologies and magazines. Bashman is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President of Technology. Who are some of your favorite YA authors? I enjoy reading Jandy Nelson, John Green, Jonathan Maberry, Nancy Holder, Veronica Roth, Marie Lu, Jay Asher, J.K. Rowling, Allen Zadoff, Markus Zusak, and many other young adult authors. When did you decide that you wanted to get involved in the YA genre? It wasn't a conscious decision. I had the plot and the characters for Predator. The main character, Bree Sunderland, is a teenager and the point of view character,...
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The Transformation Of AJ Young

The Transformation Of AJ Young

There was never a particular moment when AJ Young felt that he was supposed to be a guy, but it was more of a continual questioning why it was he felt uncomfortable around friends and family. Not just generally, but socially. Young was born Catherine Rebecca Young. He grew up in Elgin, Illinois where he realized early that people didn't really recognize his gender identity the way that he wanted. AJ stands for Andrew James, a name Young would have been given had he been born a male.   "There was never one moment when I was like, of course I'm suppose to be a guy. It was more of figuring out why I had felt uncomfortable and off a little bit, not just in my body." It was around the time that Young was a sophomore in college at American University in Washington, D.C. and taking women's studies courses that he had become aware that trans people existed. Young started to realize that he...
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A Journey Like No Other

A Journey Like No Other

The idea of writing a memoir about their journey as adoptive parents raising 22 kids came to Hector and Susan Badeau when their adoptive son, 24-year-old Wayne, died from Sanfilippo Syndrome in April of last year. The loss left a hole in the Badeaus lives as they tried to decide what they wanted to do next and what direction they wanted their lives to go. Finally, they decided it was time, they felt, to get their story in words and out to those who could possibly benefit from them. Are We There Yet? The Ultimate Road Trip: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids! chronicles the Badeaus' trials and tribulations as their small family of only two grew into a large one of 22. "We started as foster parents and started adopting soon after we married," Susan Badeau said. "We felt that the story of our family and what we learned along the way would speak to people, help people understand why kids in foster...
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Stepping Away From Homelessness

Stepping Away From Homelessness

Carrying a stack of newspapers and wearing the trademark lime neon-green vest, Brian Belcher, a vendor of One Step Away, makes his way to the corner of 18th and Market in Center City Philadelphia. Throughout the day there are hit-and-miss chances as Belcher attempts to sell the paper, which only costs a dollar and written by those who are homeless in the city. "One Step Away, Philadelphia's first newspaper by the homeless. One dollar donation," Belcher chanted early one morning as Philadelphians busily and knowingly pass him by. Belcher, 35, who once was homeless, understands the struggles that his peers are going through. And even though only a few Philadelphians may stop at first, Belcher is optimistic, adding that it's "still early." When donating a dollar for a One Step Away newspaper, 75 cents goes directly into the pockets of the paper's vendors. The remaining 25 cents goes toward the cost of printing the paper. Belcher has been a part of One Step Away for...
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