/page/2

Reddit Makes Cancer Patient Very Happy (Blog post)

There are the things that tug at our heart strings… and then there are the things that tug at our heart strings AND remind us that people are truly wonderful!

Tear-jerking awesome story shared amongst the Big or Bigger team this week?

This amazing true story about how Reddit user, kevakid, managed to obtain a pre-released copy of Harry Turtledove’s The War That Came Early for his dear friend Nachu Bhatnagar. Bhatnager, a terminally ill cancer patient, was afraid that he might not make it to July when the next book of his favorite series is set to release. Hoping to fulfill his friend’s last wishes, Bhatnager’s friend posted on Reddit asking if anyone could possibly obtain a copy of the book for him… a few hours later, a gallery copy was being sent over. 

Check out this truly heartwarming video as Bhatnager is given the copy. I dare you to try and hold your sob as Bhatnager gives his friend a tight hug during their “dude moment”— I know I couldn’t. (Confession: I cried like a baby.)

Hope this inspires you all to do something BIGGER today, tomorrow, and every day after that!

Always go bigger,

Denise

(Guest blog entry posted on BigorBigger.com on March 1, 2012)

Sample 3-slide Powerpoint presentation created on Housing Works Coffee/Bookstore. Created for a job application.

JOIN THE ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT! (Blog Post)

It’s a week of huge advancements for Alzheimer’s Disease! In light of our #AVoid Book Project, to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease research, we are excited to share these awesome new developments with you! 

Awesome news #1: According to Scientific American, 3 recent studies have revealed a clearer picture of Alzheimer’s than ever before. The new technology lead to the discovery of a protein that builds up plaque on a patient’s brain. Of course, there’s still a long way to go, but a small step is a step nonetheless!

Awesome news #2: President Obama has joined the fight and is bringing the rest of the country with him. HuffPost NYT reported that the Obama Administration is about to increase spending on Alzheimer’s research by $80 million. Alzheimer’s Disease is no joke; We’re glad President Obama is recognizing it and doing something about it.

Awesome news #3: After hearing all these cool advancements, don’t you want to advance the Alzheimer’s Disease research yourself? YOU CAN! Only 3 days left to submit a photo of a treasured memory along with a donation to be featured in our book, AVoid. More info here! 

Always go bigger,

Denise
 

Published on February 8, 2012 for Big or Bigger.

Program for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition 2011, November 19, 2011.

Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Inside panel for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition program, November 19, 2011.
Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Inside panel for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition program, November 19, 2011.

Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Cal’s Pay-by-Race Bake Sale Gets Yawn from Asian Students (News Report)

New America Media, News Report, Denise Chan, Posted: Oct 01, 2011

BERKELEY, Calif. — The debate over colorblind admissions policies in California’s four-year public colleges is heating up again.

The passage of Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative passed by state voters in 1996, prohibited public institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity.

SB 185, one of hundreds of bills currently before Gov. Jerry Brown awaiting his signature, would once again allow public universities to consider race and other factors in admitting students.

Tensions heated up on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley this week as the Berkeley College Republicans held a controversial bake sale to protest SB 185. The so-called “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” priced baked goods by race with white makes charged the highest price ($2 per item) and Native Americans charged the least (a quarter per item). The pay-by-race bake sale drew criticism from many campus groups.

Asian Americans, asked to pay the second highest price for baked goods ($1.50 per item), were mostly quiet during Tuesday’s event.

David Ding, a third-year student, commented on the lack of Asian Americans taking sides on the issue. 

"Well, I mean, where they at? [You don’t see them around]… but they’re a majority race on campus,” he said.

Henry Der, former deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education and former executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, believed the current crop of Asian American students at UC Berkeley did not have a strong voice on the bake sale or on SB-185 because they did not grow up at a time when affirmative action was being considered or implemented. 

He said Hispanic and African American students are passionate about this issue because they do not see themselves as well represented on the campus as their Asian peers are.

Behind the Theater Rice (UC Berkeley’s Modern Asian American Theatre) table,
Tiffany Chiao, a senior, continued surfing the web and ignoring the loud protests as Ashley Gau, a second-year student, returned to their table munching on a cookie that she said she “got for free” by telling the sellers “I was Native American.”

While Asian American students arguably have the most at stake with the measure, their voices have largely been absent from the debate on it. 

Here, at the University of California’s most elite campus, admissions policies in the era after Prop. 209 have been a big boon to Asian Americans.

The group, which accounted for about a third of UC Berkeley’s student body in 1995, grew to slightly more than 40 percent of the student population last year. 

In 1995, blacks made up about 7 percent of the campus’ student body, whites made up about a third, Asian Americans (including Filipinos and South Asians) also made up a third, and Latinos/Chicanos made up roughly 18 percent. 

In 2010, the racial/ethnic breakdown of the student body is roughly 3.7 percent for blacks, 32 percent for whites, 41 percent for Asians and 14.8 percent for Latinos/Chicanos.

But admissions data show that, university-wide, the percentage of Asian Americans admitted to the university stayed nearly the same – about 33 percent — from 1995 to 2010.

Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) executive vice president Christopher Alabastro speculates that the lack of Asian American voice reflects their mixed views on this issue.

“We are all students of color,” he said, in a phone interview. “But because of our [large] numbers, some feel that affirmative action would reverse the number of Asian Americans [admitted to UC].” 

Alabastro said his views on affirmative action changed when he examined his own privileged background. 

“Prior to Berkeley, I was against affirmative action,” he said. “I thought everything should be based on merit… but I realize that was because I came from a background of privilege… I wanted to have that pride of working hard and making it into college on my own. But [I realize now], I have to put aside that pride because a lot of students have had different struggles.”

Sydney Fang, ASUC senator and co-author of the ASUC bill in support of SB 185, emphasized that AB 185 is not proposing affirmative action; there is no quota or extra point due to racial preferencing mentioned in the bill. Rather, the difference is its rhetoric. During a phone interview, Fang said that the bill calls for factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic factors to be taken into consideration during the admissions process. This, she claims, in contrast to racial preferencing, allows for a broadening of criteria and an increased sensitivity towards understanding how different factors affect one another.

Fang says that the category “Asian Amercian” doesn’t offer a fine grain look at how subgroups are faring under current admission policies.

“On paper, [it states that there are] 46 percent Asian and Pacific Islanders… but if you look further, Pacific Islanders are very underrepresented,” Fang said. 

Klein Lieu, a 4th year tech director of the California College Democrats, asserts: “This policy will not directly benefit [Asian Americans]. You are supporting this policy to stand in solidarity with your fellow students of color.”

But, not all students voiced support for SB 185.

Jay Reddy and Gina Youn, two freshmen from Pleasanton, sat by the bake sale eating lunch. Both said they disagreed with the principles behind affirmative action. 

Reddy compared affirmative action to the forced caste diversity demanded within the Indian government. 

"It’s kind of the same thing… [because it’s forced], the standards are lowered; it’s not fair." 

"I don’t support this either,” Gina said. “Affirmative action sets races against each other."

Published here on October 1, 2011

Prelude Norcal 2011 Official Trailer

Creative Team: Denise Chan, Jimmy Nguyen, Alexis Yumol, JP Quiocho

Prelude Norcal 2011 teaser featuring Julian Daniels

Concept: Denise Chan, Alexis Yumol, Jimmy Nguyen, JP Quiocho

Forget About a Dream Job, College Grads Just Taking Whatever They Can (News Report)

New America Media, News Report, Denise Chan, Posted: Nov 03, 2011


As the economy continues to flounder, a growing number of college grads are shifting their priorities away from forging a career path in their desired field to more immediate demands, such as paying the bills.  As a result, many are taking jobs out of college that they never imagined themselves doing and are finding that once they’ve taken that turn, it isn’t so easy to find their way back. 

“From late June until now, I’ve probably applied for about 90 positions,” Ramsey Magana, a 22-year-old Chemical Biology graduate from the University of California Berkeley explains. “The call back rate is about 5-10 percent, and that includes yes’s and no’s… Most positions, I never hear back.” 

Living with two friends in a small, one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, Magana says he’s grateful that they were willing to house him until he gets on his feet. “If I didn’t have this offer from my friend, I don’t think I would be able to look for the jobs I’m looking for now… because if you’re not in the immediate area, some jobs won’t even call or consider you,” he explains. 

As a tech and pharmaceutical hub, San Francisco is an attractive place for job seekers looking to enter the industry, despite the high rent and cost of living.

For Magana, the pressure to find work increased after his job as a research assistant at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety ended last September. It was his only source of income, leaving Magana little choice but to expand his job search beyond the confines of his chosen career.

“I’ve talked to some people who own a restaurant… and the manager at Whole Foods. It’s kind of disheartening to realize that I went to school all this time… but after four years, I still have to consider jobs I was qualified for in high school.”

The latest report from the US Department of Labor shows that unemployment rates among youth have in fact hit an all time low. The August 2011 summary indicates that 48.8 percent of young people were unemployed during the month of July, normally a peak period for youth entering summer jobs.

Noelle Stearns is a 21-year-old graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a major in psychology. Since graduation she’s worked the same job as a hostess for a local restaurant that she says recently went through a downsizing because of the current economic climate. Her own hours were cut from full to part time, meaning she no longer receives the benefits she once did as a full time employee. She’s now looking for a second job to see her through. 

“I’m holding back on my next step career-wise… I’m waiting for things to settle down… waiting for equilibrium [in the economy],” she says.

But the wait can be excruciating, especially with student loans hanging over your head. That’s the case for Jennifer Chen, 21, who graduated recently with a B.A. in anthropology from UC Riverside. Since then, she’s had to move back in with her family despite wanting to push forward with a career in public health. 

“I’m about $25,000 in debt. With interest, it will go up to $32,000,” she says ruefully. 

According to a recent Pew study, average tuition and fees for public universities have tripled from $2199 in 1980-81 to $7605 in 2010-11. As a result, the number of students taking out loans has risen from 52 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2008. The average student in 2008 that left school with a bachelor’s degree owed around $23,000.

Student loans nationwide amount to roughly $1 trillion, according to the non-profit College Board. The amount owed on student loans now exceeds the nation’s total credit card debt, a fact that prompted President Obama to announce a debt relief program that would lower monthly payments and forgive remaining debts after 20 years. 

But for Chen, that may not be enough. Towering debts drove her to take a managerial position in her hometown of Temple City, something she says she’s ashamed to admit. “I haven’t told anyone because I’m not proud… it’s like a step backwards,” she says. 

Falling off the career path after college is becoming an increasingly common trend today. In fact, for some “stepping back” may be the only way to get ahead. 

“Until I find a job, grad school is not an option because I have no way of paying the application fees or the fees for the GRE,” Magana explains. 

But for Magana and others like him, the danger is that these temporary decisions could carry long-term ramifications. As more and more young people enter into low-skilled and low-paying jobs, their resumes quickly become outdated.

“Internships are key,” says Suzanne Helbig, Assistant Director at UC Berkeley’s Career Center, adding that networking with employers is key to staying on a career path.

Unfortunately, most internships don’t pay, leaving the question of how to attend to bills and other costs unresolved. 

With Wednesdays and Sundays off from her managerial job, Chen has decided to apply for a volunteer position at Arcadia Methodist Hospital, which only requires 4 hours a week. Juggling her paid job and an unpaid internship will be a struggle, she says, but it could be her only way back to a career in public health. “I’m willing to squeeze that in,” she said.

Published here on November 3, 2011

Culture as Costume (Blog Post)

By Denise Chan, Oct 31, 2011 4:00 PM 

Once a year, on Halloween, people seize the opportunity to dress as something “they’re not.” Everywhere you turn, there seems to be a sudden increase in the number of enlarged animals and sexy nurses on the street, usually drunk, stumbling in the darkness. But without fail, you can pretty much bet on the fact that there will be a few individuals who cross the line into cultural offensiveness.


For the past few weeks, images from the “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign, led by student organization Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University, have been circulating across all social media platforms. The 10 students of STAR have dominated Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter with campaign posters featuring people of color holding up a picture of a culturally stereotypical costume claiming, “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.” 

The message is simple. Garnering reblogs and retweets from supporters all across the country, STAR has managed to launch an online campaign aimed at protesting the repeated commodification of culture that’s usually hyper-exaggerated on Halloween. 

As with most of these ad campaigns, while it has gained much support, mock ad posters have also emerged in response to STARS’s images, using their same template. One poster shows a young white man holding a picture of a leprechaun while another mock poster shows a young, scantily dressed woman holding a photo of a heavier set woman apparently pole dancing. Both images are stamped with the headline, “We’re a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

And what about the mock photo of this white man carrying the picture of an Asian man who has stolen his cowboy culture and reproduced it as costume? Where do we draw the line between what’s offensive and what’s not? Better yet, when should one be offended, no matter what color your skin is, if someone is dressed up as your culture? 

While STARS’s objective is honorable and understandable, its campaign begs for retaliation with its tagline, “We’re a culture, not a costume.” Essentially, anything can be a culture: cowboy culture, dancer culture, school culture and the images seem to suggest that imitating any culture is wrong because it is offensive to transform a culture into a costume. If that’s the case, the cowboy should be offended that his culture has been made into a costume.

However, what STARS’s campaign does do is force individuals to think twice about their costumes, especially with widely circulating images stating that certain costumes are “not okay.” Truth of the matter is there is an entire racial history of oppression tied to many of the costumes representing people of color that is obviously not present in a leprechaun or cowboy costume. Because of that, perhaps Halloween should be approached with a bit of cultural sensitivity.

 

Ethnoblog entry published by New America Media here: http://ethnoblog.newamericamedia.org/2011/10/culture-as-costume.php

Reddit Makes Cancer Patient Very Happy (Blog post)

There are the things that tug at our heart strings… and then there are the things that tug at our heart strings AND remind us that people are truly wonderful!

Tear-jerking awesome story shared amongst the Big or Bigger team this week?

This amazing true story about how Reddit user, kevakid, managed to obtain a pre-released copy of Harry Turtledove’s The War That Came Early for his dear friend Nachu Bhatnagar. Bhatnager, a terminally ill cancer patient, was afraid that he might not make it to July when the next book of his favorite series is set to release. Hoping to fulfill his friend’s last wishes, Bhatnager’s friend posted on Reddit asking if anyone could possibly obtain a copy of the book for him… a few hours later, a gallery copy was being sent over. 

Check out this truly heartwarming video as Bhatnager is given the copy. I dare you to try and hold your sob as Bhatnager gives his friend a tight hug during their “dude moment”— I know I couldn’t. (Confession: I cried like a baby.)

Hope this inspires you all to do something BIGGER today, tomorrow, and every day after that!

Always go bigger,

Denise

(Guest blog entry posted on BigorBigger.com on March 1, 2012)

Sample 3-slide Powerpoint presentation created on Housing Works Coffee/Bookstore. Created for a job application.

JOIN THE ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT! (Blog Post)

It’s a week of huge advancements for Alzheimer’s Disease! In light of our #AVoid Book Project, to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease research, we are excited to share these awesome new developments with you! 

Awesome news #1: According to Scientific American, 3 recent studies have revealed a clearer picture of Alzheimer’s than ever before. The new technology lead to the discovery of a protein that builds up plaque on a patient’s brain. Of course, there’s still a long way to go, but a small step is a step nonetheless!

Awesome news #2: President Obama has joined the fight and is bringing the rest of the country with him. HuffPost NYT reported that the Obama Administration is about to increase spending on Alzheimer’s research by $80 million. Alzheimer’s Disease is no joke; We’re glad President Obama is recognizing it and doing something about it.

Awesome news #3: After hearing all these cool advancements, don’t you want to advance the Alzheimer’s Disease research yourself? YOU CAN! Only 3 days left to submit a photo of a treasured memory along with a donation to be featured in our book, AVoid. More info here! 

Always go bigger,

Denise
 

Published on February 8, 2012 for Big or Bigger.

Program for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition 2011, November 19, 2011.

Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Inside panel for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition program, November 19, 2011.
Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Inside panel for Prelude Norcal Hip Hop Dance Competition program, November 19, 2011.

Concept and design by: Denise Chan & Jonjon Umbao

Cal’s Pay-by-Race Bake Sale Gets Yawn from Asian Students (News Report)

New America Media, News Report, Denise Chan, Posted: Oct 01, 2011

BERKELEY, Calif. — The debate over colorblind admissions policies in California’s four-year public colleges is heating up again.

The passage of Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative passed by state voters in 1996, prohibited public institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity.

SB 185, one of hundreds of bills currently before Gov. Jerry Brown awaiting his signature, would once again allow public universities to consider race and other factors in admitting students.

Tensions heated up on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley this week as the Berkeley College Republicans held a controversial bake sale to protest SB 185. The so-called “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” priced baked goods by race with white makes charged the highest price ($2 per item) and Native Americans charged the least (a quarter per item). The pay-by-race bake sale drew criticism from many campus groups.

Asian Americans, asked to pay the second highest price for baked goods ($1.50 per item), were mostly quiet during Tuesday’s event.

David Ding, a third-year student, commented on the lack of Asian Americans taking sides on the issue. 

"Well, I mean, where they at? [You don’t see them around]… but they’re a majority race on campus,” he said.

Henry Der, former deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education and former executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, believed the current crop of Asian American students at UC Berkeley did not have a strong voice on the bake sale or on SB-185 because they did not grow up at a time when affirmative action was being considered or implemented. 

He said Hispanic and African American students are passionate about this issue because they do not see themselves as well represented on the campus as their Asian peers are.

Behind the Theater Rice (UC Berkeley’s Modern Asian American Theatre) table,
Tiffany Chiao, a senior, continued surfing the web and ignoring the loud protests as Ashley Gau, a second-year student, returned to their table munching on a cookie that she said she “got for free” by telling the sellers “I was Native American.”

While Asian American students arguably have the most at stake with the measure, their voices have largely been absent from the debate on it. 

Here, at the University of California’s most elite campus, admissions policies in the era after Prop. 209 have been a big boon to Asian Americans.

The group, which accounted for about a third of UC Berkeley’s student body in 1995, grew to slightly more than 40 percent of the student population last year. 

In 1995, blacks made up about 7 percent of the campus’ student body, whites made up about a third, Asian Americans (including Filipinos and South Asians) also made up a third, and Latinos/Chicanos made up roughly 18 percent. 

In 2010, the racial/ethnic breakdown of the student body is roughly 3.7 percent for blacks, 32 percent for whites, 41 percent for Asians and 14.8 percent for Latinos/Chicanos.

But admissions data show that, university-wide, the percentage of Asian Americans admitted to the university stayed nearly the same – about 33 percent — from 1995 to 2010.

Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) executive vice president Christopher Alabastro speculates that the lack of Asian American voice reflects their mixed views on this issue.

“We are all students of color,” he said, in a phone interview. “But because of our [large] numbers, some feel that affirmative action would reverse the number of Asian Americans [admitted to UC].” 

Alabastro said his views on affirmative action changed when he examined his own privileged background. 

“Prior to Berkeley, I was against affirmative action,” he said. “I thought everything should be based on merit… but I realize that was because I came from a background of privilege… I wanted to have that pride of working hard and making it into college on my own. But [I realize now], I have to put aside that pride because a lot of students have had different struggles.”

Sydney Fang, ASUC senator and co-author of the ASUC bill in support of SB 185, emphasized that AB 185 is not proposing affirmative action; there is no quota or extra point due to racial preferencing mentioned in the bill. Rather, the difference is its rhetoric. During a phone interview, Fang said that the bill calls for factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic factors to be taken into consideration during the admissions process. This, she claims, in contrast to racial preferencing, allows for a broadening of criteria and an increased sensitivity towards understanding how different factors affect one another.

Fang says that the category “Asian Amercian” doesn’t offer a fine grain look at how subgroups are faring under current admission policies.

“On paper, [it states that there are] 46 percent Asian and Pacific Islanders… but if you look further, Pacific Islanders are very underrepresented,” Fang said. 

Klein Lieu, a 4th year tech director of the California College Democrats, asserts: “This policy will not directly benefit [Asian Americans]. You are supporting this policy to stand in solidarity with your fellow students of color.”

But, not all students voiced support for SB 185.

Jay Reddy and Gina Youn, two freshmen from Pleasanton, sat by the bake sale eating lunch. Both said they disagreed with the principles behind affirmative action. 

Reddy compared affirmative action to the forced caste diversity demanded within the Indian government. 

"It’s kind of the same thing… [because it’s forced], the standards are lowered; it’s not fair." 

"I don’t support this either,” Gina said. “Affirmative action sets races against each other."

Published here on October 1, 2011

Prelude Norcal 2011 Official Trailer

Creative Team: Denise Chan, Jimmy Nguyen, Alexis Yumol, JP Quiocho

Prelude Norcal 2011 teaser featuring Julian Daniels

Concept: Denise Chan, Alexis Yumol, Jimmy Nguyen, JP Quiocho

Forget About a Dream Job, College Grads Just Taking Whatever They Can (News Report)

New America Media, News Report, Denise Chan, Posted: Nov 03, 2011


As the economy continues to flounder, a growing number of college grads are shifting their priorities away from forging a career path in their desired field to more immediate demands, such as paying the bills.  As a result, many are taking jobs out of college that they never imagined themselves doing and are finding that once they’ve taken that turn, it isn’t so easy to find their way back. 

“From late June until now, I’ve probably applied for about 90 positions,” Ramsey Magana, a 22-year-old Chemical Biology graduate from the University of California Berkeley explains. “The call back rate is about 5-10 percent, and that includes yes’s and no’s… Most positions, I never hear back.” 

Living with two friends in a small, one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, Magana says he’s grateful that they were willing to house him until he gets on his feet. “If I didn’t have this offer from my friend, I don’t think I would be able to look for the jobs I’m looking for now… because if you’re not in the immediate area, some jobs won’t even call or consider you,” he explains. 

As a tech and pharmaceutical hub, San Francisco is an attractive place for job seekers looking to enter the industry, despite the high rent and cost of living.

For Magana, the pressure to find work increased after his job as a research assistant at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety ended last September. It was his only source of income, leaving Magana little choice but to expand his job search beyond the confines of his chosen career.

“I’ve talked to some people who own a restaurant… and the manager at Whole Foods. It’s kind of disheartening to realize that I went to school all this time… but after four years, I still have to consider jobs I was qualified for in high school.”

The latest report from the US Department of Labor shows that unemployment rates among youth have in fact hit an all time low. The August 2011 summary indicates that 48.8 percent of young people were unemployed during the month of July, normally a peak period for youth entering summer jobs.

Noelle Stearns is a 21-year-old graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a major in psychology. Since graduation she’s worked the same job as a hostess for a local restaurant that she says recently went through a downsizing because of the current economic climate. Her own hours were cut from full to part time, meaning she no longer receives the benefits she once did as a full time employee. She’s now looking for a second job to see her through. 

“I’m holding back on my next step career-wise… I’m waiting for things to settle down… waiting for equilibrium [in the economy],” she says.

But the wait can be excruciating, especially with student loans hanging over your head. That’s the case for Jennifer Chen, 21, who graduated recently with a B.A. in anthropology from UC Riverside. Since then, she’s had to move back in with her family despite wanting to push forward with a career in public health. 

“I’m about $25,000 in debt. With interest, it will go up to $32,000,” she says ruefully. 

According to a recent Pew study, average tuition and fees for public universities have tripled from $2199 in 1980-81 to $7605 in 2010-11. As a result, the number of students taking out loans has risen from 52 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2008. The average student in 2008 that left school with a bachelor’s degree owed around $23,000.

Student loans nationwide amount to roughly $1 trillion, according to the non-profit College Board. The amount owed on student loans now exceeds the nation’s total credit card debt, a fact that prompted President Obama to announce a debt relief program that would lower monthly payments and forgive remaining debts after 20 years. 

But for Chen, that may not be enough. Towering debts drove her to take a managerial position in her hometown of Temple City, something she says she’s ashamed to admit. “I haven’t told anyone because I’m not proud… it’s like a step backwards,” she says. 

Falling off the career path after college is becoming an increasingly common trend today. In fact, for some “stepping back” may be the only way to get ahead. 

“Until I find a job, grad school is not an option because I have no way of paying the application fees or the fees for the GRE,” Magana explains. 

But for Magana and others like him, the danger is that these temporary decisions could carry long-term ramifications. As more and more young people enter into low-skilled and low-paying jobs, their resumes quickly become outdated.

“Internships are key,” says Suzanne Helbig, Assistant Director at UC Berkeley’s Career Center, adding that networking with employers is key to staying on a career path.

Unfortunately, most internships don’t pay, leaving the question of how to attend to bills and other costs unresolved. 

With Wednesdays and Sundays off from her managerial job, Chen has decided to apply for a volunteer position at Arcadia Methodist Hospital, which only requires 4 hours a week. Juggling her paid job and an unpaid internship will be a struggle, she says, but it could be her only way back to a career in public health. “I’m willing to squeeze that in,” she said.

Published here on November 3, 2011

Culture as Costume (Blog Post)

By Denise Chan, Oct 31, 2011 4:00 PM 

Once a year, on Halloween, people seize the opportunity to dress as something “they’re not.” Everywhere you turn, there seems to be a sudden increase in the number of enlarged animals and sexy nurses on the street, usually drunk, stumbling in the darkness. But without fail, you can pretty much bet on the fact that there will be a few individuals who cross the line into cultural offensiveness.


For the past few weeks, images from the “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign, led by student organization Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University, have been circulating across all social media platforms. The 10 students of STAR have dominated Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter with campaign posters featuring people of color holding up a picture of a culturally stereotypical costume claiming, “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.” 

The message is simple. Garnering reblogs and retweets from supporters all across the country, STAR has managed to launch an online campaign aimed at protesting the repeated commodification of culture that’s usually hyper-exaggerated on Halloween. 

As with most of these ad campaigns, while it has gained much support, mock ad posters have also emerged in response to STARS’s images, using their same template. One poster shows a young white man holding a picture of a leprechaun while another mock poster shows a young, scantily dressed woman holding a photo of a heavier set woman apparently pole dancing. Both images are stamped with the headline, “We’re a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

And what about the mock photo of this white man carrying the picture of an Asian man who has stolen his cowboy culture and reproduced it as costume? Where do we draw the line between what’s offensive and what’s not? Better yet, when should one be offended, no matter what color your skin is, if someone is dressed up as your culture? 

While STARS’s objective is honorable and understandable, its campaign begs for retaliation with its tagline, “We’re a culture, not a costume.” Essentially, anything can be a culture: cowboy culture, dancer culture, school culture and the images seem to suggest that imitating any culture is wrong because it is offensive to transform a culture into a costume. If that’s the case, the cowboy should be offended that his culture has been made into a costume.

However, what STARS’s campaign does do is force individuals to think twice about their costumes, especially with widely circulating images stating that certain costumes are “not okay.” Truth of the matter is there is an entire racial history of oppression tied to many of the costumes representing people of color that is obviously not present in a leprechaun or cowboy costume. Because of that, perhaps Halloween should be approached with a bit of cultural sensitivity.

 

Ethnoblog entry published by New America Media here: http://ethnoblog.newamericamedia.org/2011/10/culture-as-costume.php

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About:

Milford Sound in New Zealand

Denise: 23, hip hop dancer, social media enthusiast, activist, creative thinker, dreamer, & a brand new fresh-faced New Yorker!

This is a portfolio of all of my past work/creative endeavors. Feel free to navigate through my:

- Sample blog entries
- Design Samples
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