A group of four San Antonio girls, called “Little Figures,” have recently garnered media attention for their winning math video that won a national competition this past May.
The four-person team, Breanna Hutchison, Londyn Hall, Iman Zakaria, and Lindsey Simmons, competed against hundreds of other students across the United States in The Math Video Challenge, which empowers students to take their math and problem-solving skills to the next level with a creative video project. The San Antonio team got to travel to Washington, D.C. for the MATHCOUNTS banquet to get their winning trophies and scholarships.
For the project, students have to work together to create a video that explains the solution to a problem and demonstrates a real-world application of the math concept. Combining art, writing, math, acting and technology, this program makes learning math interactive and fun for students.
The “Little Figures” team created their five-minute video based off of the “Hidden Figures” movie, the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. Recently, the “Little Figures” team got the privilege to meet Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of the “Hidden Figures” book at St. Philip’s College for its September President’s Lecture. The “Little Figures” team is also a part of the San Antonio chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers Jr.
The “Little Figures” team isn’t taking a break. They are working on the sequel to hopefully win the competition again for 2019.
Scholarships for Black Students
10 Black Scholarship Programs in 2020 That Are Still Open Despite COVID-19
Every year, there are many programs that give away scholarships to thousands of African American and other minority students. In 2020, though, many of these programs have been cancelled and/or postponed because of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. However, we were able to find at least 10 Black scholarship programs that are still open. Here they are:
#1 – Jack and Jill of America Foundation Need-Based Scholarships: Offered to high school seniors who will attend and maintain a full-time status at an accredited, four-year post-secondary institution, starting in the fall of the year and working toward a bachelor’s degree. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jack-and-jill-of-america-foundation-providing-need-based-scholarships.html
#2 – Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship For HBCU Students: Offered through Walmart’s foundation, the program specifically helps students who are enrolled at any HBCU or PBI (Primarily Black Institution) across the country. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/walmart-foundation-first-generation-scholarship-hbcu-students.html
#3 – Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund: Founded by Jay-Z and his philanthropist mother, Gloria, this program helps low income students advance their education by giving them the resources they need to enroll in college, pay the tuition, and successfully finish college on time. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/jay-z-shawn-carter-scholarship-fund.html
#4 – Jesse Jackson’s PUSH Excel Scholarship Program: This program encourages servant leadership potential in scholars, and pushes students to develop a passion for social justice and social change. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jessie-jackson-push-excel-scholarship-program-three-awards.html
#5 – McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden Scholarships: This partnership between McDonald’s and the Thurgood Marshall Fund gives scholarship awards to deserving students that are attending HBCUs and PBIs across the United States. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/03/tmcf-mcdonalds-black-positively-golden-scholarship-program.html
#6 – Apple’s HBCU Scholarship Program: Program for exceptional students currently attending an HBCU with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must be working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or a Ph.D. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/09/apple-40-million-hbcu-scholarship-program-summer-internship.html
#7 – Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship: A program for graduating high school seniors who can demonstrate their ability to lead and serve their communities. Students are also expected to be able to demonstrate a level of commitment to making a significant impact at their school and society in general. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/20k-scholarships-from-coca-cola-program-foundation.html
#8 – Gucci Changemakers Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program: A global program that promotes unity, diversity and inclusion through it’s Gucci Changemakers program. The program offers more than $1 million in scholarships that will be allocated to financing the education of at least 70 fashion students. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/gucci-changemakers-diversity-inclusion-scholarship.html
#9 – Foot Locker/ United Negro College Fund Scholarship Program: A partnership between the Foot Locker Foundation, Inc. and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to fund a scholarship program for students attending a UNCF member college or university during the fall of the current year. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/foot-locker-united-negro-college-fund-scholarship-program.html
#10 – Davis Scholarship For Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): Willma H. Davis has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish a scholarship to encourage minority female students to pursue a future career in the STEM fields. Candidates must be classified as sophomore, junior, or senior in the Fall and attend a UNCF-member institution. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/willma-h-davis-scholarship-for-women-in-stem.html
For more 2020-2021 scholarships, visit BlackScholarships.org
Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian
Nicholas Johnson, an operations research and financial engineering concentrator from Montreal, has been named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020.
Johnson is the first black valedictorian in Princeton’s history.
He said he appreciates the encouragement he has received at Princeton in developing his academic interests. The University’s support through opportunities including international internships and cultural immersion trips to Peru, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom were especially significant, Johnson said. But most of all, he treasures his relationships with his classmates.
“My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time spent with close friends and classmates engaging in stimulating discussions — often late at night — about our beliefs, the cultures and environments in which we were raised, the state of the world, and how we plan on contributing positively to it in our own unique way,” Johnson said.
Johnson plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before beginning Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2020.
Along with his concentration in operations research and financial engineering, he is pursuing certificates in statistics and machine learning, applied and computational mathematics, and applications of computing.
His research has focused primarily on sequential decision-making under uncertainty, optimization, and the ethical considerations that must be made given the increasing role of algorithmic decision-making systems.
His senior thesis, “Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization with Applications to Addressing Canada’s Obesity Epidemic,” focuses on developing high-performance, efficient algorithms to solve a network-based optimization problem that models a community-based preventative health intervention designed to curb the prevalence of obesity in Canada.
This work, supervised by Miklos Racz, assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering, also has applications to public health interventions designed to increase adherence to strict social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Johnson has another ongoing research project supervised by Yacine Ait-Sahalia, the Otto A. Hack ’03 Professor of Finance and professor of economics, in which he is developing a reinforcement learning agent to execute large financial trade orders with minimal market distortion.
During his junior year, Johnson conducted an independent research project, “Generating Privacy Preserving Synthetic Datasets,” supervised by Prateek Mittal, associate professor of electrical engineering, in which he developed a machine learning system to more robustly anonymize datasets than existing alternatives. He presented this work at the spring 2019 Electrical Engineering Symposium and the 2019 Center for Statistics and Machine Learning Symposium.
Among his other professors, William Massey, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and Dannelle Gutarra Cordero, a lecturer in African American studies, were also influential.
“Professor Massey inspired me by sharing his ever-present love for operations research and through his advocacy for black and African American students in STEM fields,” Johnson said. “He encouraged me to pursue increasingly ambitious research projects and to share my work at academic conferences. Professor Gutarra introduced me to academic writing during my first-year Writing Seminar. She was instrumental in helping me develop my skills as an effective academic writer and communicator, and she motivated me to become a writing fellow.”
In addition to serving as a writing fellow at Princeton’s Writing Center, Johnson is editor of Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy. He is a member of Whitman College, where he has served as a residential college adviser. He is also a member of the Princeton chapter of Engineers Without Borders and served as its co-president in 2018.
As a rising senior, Johnson worked as a software engineer in machine learning at Google’s California headquarters.
He previously interned at Oxford University’s Integrative Computational Biology and Machine Learning Group, developing and implementing a novel optimization technique under the supervision of Aleksandr Sahakyan, principal investigator and group head. He presented the project at Princeton’s inaugural Day of Optimization in October 2018 and at the 25th Conference of African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences in June 2019, where his project was recognized with the Angela E. Grant Poster Award for Best Modeling.
Johnson has interned at Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and he participated in Whitman’s exchange program with Morningside College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in March 2017.
Among his academic honors, Johnson is a recipient of the Class of 1883 English Prize for Freshmen in the School of Engineering, a two-time recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, and co-recipient with Sommers of the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in fall 2019 and to Tau Beta Pi in 2018, where he served as president of the Princeton Chapter in 2019.
Johnson is a graduate of Selwyn House School and attended Marianopolis College, both in Westmount, Quebec.
By Denise Valente, Princeton University, Office of Communications
Photo by Lisa Festa, Center for Career Development
African American Studies Curriculum across Texas High Schools
April 17, 2020 will literally be in the history books because it was a historic day in Texas. After years of meetings, organizing, and advocating, The African American Studies course which is only the second ethnic studies course for Texas students received a unanimous final board approval last Friday to approve an elective African Studies Course to be taught across high schools throughout Texas.
Dallas ISD was the first to pilot the course after the Mexican American studies gained statewide approval back in 2018. Under the leadership of Texas State Board of Education Member, Marisa Perez, one of our very own San Antonio natives Dr. Lawrence Scott, Texas A&M University- San Antonio professor led the San Antonio advisory team of 40 experts around Texas and the nation to make this once advocated proposal a reality. There were other advisory teams in Houston, Dallas, and Austin as well. Texas State Board of Education Trustee Aicha Davis (Dallas) who proposed and formulated the course brought representatives from all the advisory teams together in Austin to prioritize content and curriculum standards prior to the 1st and 2nd readings at the TX State Board of Education.
Proponents of the course stressed that a course such as the African America Studies would give students an opportunity to “see themselves” when they study. The course is said to be available as early as this fall.
Congratulations to The Texas African American Studies Course Curriculum Advisory Team (San Antonio) on your efforts and success.
Dr. Donna Donna Y Ford, Distinguished Professor, Ohio State University
Dr. Cary Carey Latimore, History Department Chair, Trinity University
Professor Mario Marcel Salas, African American Studies Professor/Author/Historian, University of Texas at San Antonio / President KROV
Dr. Karla Broadus, Director of African American Studies Dept., University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Dorinda Rolle, Professor of African American Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Claudia García-Louis, Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio
Ms. La Juana Chambers Tacit Grower LJ, President, San Antonio African American Community Archive Museum
Dr. Daina Berry, Associate Dean/Professor, University of Texas, Austin
Dr. Keffrelyn D. Brown, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Anthony Brown, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Nicole Carr, Assistant Professor English, Texas A&M University San Antonio
Dr. Ramona Pittman, Professor, Texas A&M University of San Antonio
Dr. Dwonna Goldstone, Associate Professor of History/ Director of the African American Studies Program, Texas State University
Mr. Cary Clack, Senior Columnist, San Antonio Express News
Ms. Morgan Jones, Learning & Development Specialist, Spurs Sports and Entertainment
Dr. Paula Johnson, Director / IDRA EAC-South, Intercultural Development Research Association
Ms. Laura Thompson, CEO TAAN TV/Who’s Who SA/Former TX State Representative District 120, The African American Network (TAAN)
Dr. Aaron J Griffen, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Author/Consultant, DSST Public Schools/Prosperity Educators, LLC Denver, CO
Dr. Marcus Croom, Research Scholar, Durham Public Schools
Dr. Stuart Rhoden, Professor/Author, Arizona State University
Ms. Brandi Pace, Teacher/Racial Equity Committee, Ft. Worth Independent School District
D.L. Grant Carver, Executive Historic Carver Library/Antoinette Franklin Entrepreneur/Founder, Talented Tenth Scholars/Author Library Association/Deltas
Ms. Quincy Boyd, Regional Director Leadership ISD, Houston, TX
Dr. Milton Fields, Associate Superintendent, Judson Independent School District
Ms. La Quita Dalton, Secondary Teacher, Judson Independent School District
Ms. Amy Carter, Dual Credit Teacher/Adjunct Professor Floresville Independent School District/Coastal Bend College
Ms. Graciela Escobedo-Bell, Leadership Coordinator, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Tiffany Grant, Chief of Staff, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Edwina L. Salas, Reading Specialist, San Antonio Independent School District
Mr. Jason Rochon, Secondary Teacher, San Antonio Independent School District
Mr. Ronald Tipton, CTE Educator, South San Independent School District
Trustee José A. Macias, Jr., Board Trustee, District 2, Alamo Community College District
Trustee Alicia Perry, School Board Trustee District 2, San Antonio Independent School District
Dr. Langston Williams Jr, Pastor/Retired School Principal Magnolia Church / San Antonio Independent School District
Dr. Mateen A. Diop, Principal/Executive Director, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Jennifer McCall, J Renee Love, International Baccalaureate Curriculum Specialist, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Antoinette Franklin, Founder, Talented Tenth Scholars/Author, San Antonio Library Association
Dr. D. Anthony Miles, Entrepreneur/Researcher/Statistician, Miles Development Industries Corporation
Lawrence Scott, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development Department of Educator and Leadership Preparation,
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Man Calls Police on Young Black Men Using a Gym in His Building in Minneapolis
Black People & PTSD
Video Surfaces in Ahmaud Arbery Case
Mel Waiters Gets Street Named After Him
The Hate U Give Movie Screening & Tips on How to Interact with Police
Education2 weeks ago
Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian
Entertainment3 weeks ago
R&B lost three legends this weekend in Little Richard, Andre Harrell and Betty Wright
Crime3 weeks ago
Black Men Awarded for Wrongful Conviction
Education2 weeks ago
Scholarships for Black Students
Entertainment2 weeks ago
THE PREMIERE OF GO-GO MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Community1 week ago
Celebrating 107 Years
Community6 days ago
Black People & PTSD
Community5 days ago