Earth is a planet composed of roughly 197 million square miles. It is partly inhabited by 7 billion humans. With that said, I have to admit that I really have a hard time wrapping my head around the purpose of human life and our presence on Earth.
Such a huge planet filled with billions of people can only mean an endless amount of ideas, dreams, and experiences that are meant to be shared, or maybe they are not? We have such a lack of awareness of how we got here and why. It really blows my mind, but even more so is the fact that we probably will never know the real truth.
My brain is buzzes with thoughts all day long. Like a normal teenager, I stay up late every night. Around midnight or so, when all of the stress from the day doesn’t matter anymore and I find myself with nothing to do, I think. A lot.
Sometimes it’s about the little things like what I’m going to wear the next day or what new album comes out next week, but sometimes it’s the big stuff. The stuff that seems too big to even begin to digest often leaves me staring up at the ceiling and wondering, what in the world (literally) is going on?
With so many people to meet, things to see, and do, I often find myself almost worrying about if I am spending my time here productively. By productively, I’m not meaning making sure I’m studying for that math test. Actually, more so of the opposite. Doubts such as, “Why would I be concerned about a silly test when we are on a huge rock in the middle of space?” fill my mind. Sometimes this leads me to some serious soul searching.
It’s really hard for me to fully accept the fact that this, right here, is exactly what I am supposed to be doing at this exact moment in time. Equally, it proves to be just as hard to remind myself to be here in the now, especially when I’m really not sure what that “now” even is.
From the beginning of time, whenever that may be, Earth has been full of life. From plants to animals this planet is thriving with lifeforms. Looking at our current presence on Earth and imagining what it used to be, could be, and will be fascinates me regardless of the actual meaning of life or whatever big answer it is that we are all looking for. I think it’s important to stop, look around, and think about how significant (or not so significant) we actually are.
I know that we will never have all of the answers about humanity's role on Earth, however, I can make sure I appreciate the unknown and try to live life to what I believe and see as my fullest potential. With the time that I’m given here, I want to make sure to connect with as many people as possible, considering we all have no idea what is going on, we might as well make the best of it.
To earn badges, we organized a mother-daughter tea party, roughed the outdoors to go camping, and went fishing with our dads! Cookies sales taught me a lot about customer service, being kind, and staying organized.
A lot of these skills I have brought into my teenage life without even realizing it. Without those four years of me being a Girl Scout, I wouldn't have been able to soak up so much knowledge as just a little kid, most of the time I didn't even realize I was learning. I would recommend Girl Scouts to any girl looking for adventure and good memories!
Recently, the United States of America can be best described as a divided nation. A number of civil rights protests have put Americans into a frenzy. People are questioning each other. Disagreements are splitting our nation, which was once built on a foundation of unity. One example of our current division is DACA.
On June 15th, 2012 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan was signed under the Obama administration. Under a number of guidelines, DACA recipients were promised two years deferred action.
According to Department of Homeland Security, to qualify for DACA there were specific guidelines.
This opportunity for children who were raised as Americans, but have not been granted legal immigrant status, all changed when the Trump administration took a different stance on DACA. In fact, the DACA page on the Homeland Security website now states this: This page contains information that is no longer current but remains on our site for reference purposes.
As I looked over the official DACA information page, I began to put myself in the position of some of these people who are now faced with the fear of being deported and forced to live in a country that some of them have never even visited. How would I feel? What if my parents had brought me here illegally, raised me as an American, and then suddenly I was told to "go home" to a nation that I've never even stepped foot in?
As a 17-year-old high school student, I am currently enrolled in my first college of choice and will be attending that school next fall. However, right now there are children in the same exact position as me who are now unsure of their residence in the U.S. for the next two years of their life.
As a U.S. Citizen, I can’t imagine the idea of being forced to move to a country where I may not even speak the native language, understand the culture, or know their education guidelines. What would my career path even look like?
People strongly impacted by DACA were brought here when they were not old enough to take action for themselves and their future. Yet, the powers that be are going to make them pay for the choices their parents made?
While I know I am very far from being a politician or an activist, I can’t help but see the flaws in the immigration system in America. I cannot imagine living in limbo, being given an opportunity like DACA, and then suddenly lose it. That must be an emotional roller coaster.
I’m not sure what the future will hold for those receiving DACA benefits, but I will be the first one to say I can’t imagine being faced with such an issue.
We all should consider having empathy. We should try to walk a mile in their shoes to see if suddenly a political decision makes sense.
Here are two links to help you learn more about DACA:
Over the summer I'm usually busy working, hanging out with friends, and cheering. However, this summer I decided I wanted to make some time to attend MUJW. Let me tell you, I'm so glad I did! At first, I was incredibly nervous during those weeks leading up to the workshop, but it quickly changed.
For those of you who don't know, MUJW stands for the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop. I went through an application process and ended up being selected along with 40 other applicants. One being Molly Eckelkamp. We have been in BJJTV together for three years now!
MUJW participants were from all over the country. We even had one girl from Costa Rica! I would be spending one week with all of these people who share a love for journalism. I didn't know what to expect, would everyone be friendly? Super competitive? More experienced than me? I wasn't sure of how it was all going to pan out. When my mom and dad dropped me off that morning, I was teary eyed and nervous as can be.
Once I met my roommate and got to know a few of the kids a little better, I was feeling so much more positive about the week. Speaking of my roommate, she was the best, I'm so lucky to have been randomly matched with someone who clicked with my personality! I also ended up finding a few other people that I loved being around. We had so much fun getting to know each other and hanging out during our free time!
After my nerves were out of the way, I was ready to learn and soak up all of the information I possibly could. We listened to speakers who all had helpful advice about journalism and life. I don't think there was one lecture I walked out of without a notebook page or two filled with tips.
MUJW decided to do things a little differently this year. We were split into teams of 4 to work on a project that we would present at the end of the week. My team was great and we were able to finish our project with ease and very little stress. Some of that was due to our ability to work out problems as a team successfully. We also had the help of a great mentor to guide us along. We created a package about technological advancements in the classroom and the effects of such. Our package has both print and video compenents.
Before I knew it, those six days were over. We were all dreading saying goodbye. We sat together through the end ceremony. As parents started to show up, eager to see us and eager to have us home. I definitely let out a few tears. As I walked to my mom's car, I understood that there is a chance I won't get to see some of the people I had grown close to that week again. I was in a weird mood and felt conflicting emotions. I was sad to go, but also excited to be home.
I think back to those six days at Mizzou often and I cannot thank those enough who helped me along the way. I am thankful for friends, family, and teachers who helped me proof my application for mistakes. I am thankful for people who take the time to read blogs like this one. I'm so happy I am able to work on my future doing something I love while still attending high school!
Too often we don't realize that we can find amazing opportunitues like MUJW when we are still in high school. Too often we complain about our situations instead of really understanding NOW is the time to take advantage of what is offered to us. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Don't skip out on the countless chances and experiences we are granted with. Trust me when I say that they make you a better person.
Over the last few years of my high school experience I have gotten familiar with quite a few charities and organizations that work to make our community a better place. From working as a volunteer face painter to participating in simple food drives, I've seen a lot of charities do a lot of good for the people around us!
One particular organization that stands out to me is Grace's Place. The crisis nursery serves kids and parents by offering a safe place for children to stay when misfortune or tragedy strikes. By opening their doors to anyone who needs help, they provide children with comfort, food, water, and toys to keep them occupied.
Grace's Place meets the needs of all types of families. Whether it be a small or a huge life transition, they are there to support the children that end up at their door.
Running as a non-profit charity, Grace's Place always appreciates volunteers and donations to their facility. Through them, you can also chose to donate to a specific child and grant things such as school supplies. With their Washington location, it has never been easier to find a way to give back to the community that we live in. There is always a hand to lend and a heart to help, you just have to look!
Until next time,
This lesson will follow you for the rest of your life. While my parents raised me to be respectful at all times, BJJTV made me realize that there is always a side to someone that you may not know about. When people trust me to tell their stories, I am constantly learning new things about them and seeing them in a different light. Being in Blue Jay Journal TV truly has increased my level of respect for so many people after meeting them and hearing about a little piece of their life. I have learned the true value of being unbiased and hearing all sides of a story, and respecting others.
#2. Stepping Up
BJJTV staff averages about 16 kids yearly. We are in a school of about 1,500 students, so there are a lot of events to film and many teens to reach out to by telling their stories or giving them an opportunity to view a piece of our work that might really move them. It's not easy covering it all when you are on such a small staff, that's why stepping up is important to our staff and our audience.
Being in BJJTV has brought me countless opportunities to step up. I have so much more confidence in the fact that I know those opportunities aren’t ending yet. I still have a whole year!
While junior year has easily been my most difficult year in high school, stepping up in BJJTV has made all the difference in my life. A few examples include filming Relay for Life and the Al Matzes Memorial Color Run. I learned so much and had the chance to meet some great families with incredibly inspiring stories to tell! If I wouldn’t have decided to film these events, I would’ve missed out on some great events in our community.
This year, I chose to participate in an on-site write-off contest at Mizzou. I was nervous because I’ve never really done anything like creating a script based on a few background details and quotes from a live speaker. To my surprise, my hard work payed off and I won first place!
I also chose to write an essay for a scholarship as a part of my BJJTV quarterly assessment. Ms. Turner and I worked incredibly hard to proof and revise the essay before submission. I ended up not placing in the essay contest, but I was able to submit it as a part of my application to the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop. This is something I have had my eye on since my freshman year of high school. I was always scared to apply in fear that I would have to face rejection. This year I faced my fears and applied. I am happy to say that I will be attending the workshop this July!
Without this class, my adviser, and my classmates, I honestly have no clue what would get me through high school. I will always be forever thankful for the opportunities and knowledge I have gained from this class. I can’t wait to see what my senior year will bring!
Change is inevitable. Software automatically updates. Trends come and go. Governmental power ebbs and flows. New laws are created. However, one thing that seems rather stagnant is the prominence of women in the media. Despite the revival of feminism by millennials, statistics show little growth in the number of women successfully entering this profession in comparison to men.
Women across the globe marched for their rights, or lack of, on January 21, 2017. Marches, protests, and strikes to ensure that we will live in a world where gender equality is no longer a debate, but a promise and an obligation have sparked debates, discussions, and hope.
That hope flows into many areas including journalism. While there is a notable presence of women in the media, we haven’t seen much change in the past few years. “Female representation in newsrooms has budged very little since 1999. Back then, women made up 36.9% of the newsroom staff. Now, it’s 36.3%,” according to a 2016 article from TIME Magazine.
Women obtain two-thirds of the journalism degrees acquired through four-year universities, according to Mark Shrayber ofJEZEBEL. It isn’t that less women are going through schooling in order to work in the media, they are backing down when it comes to taking jobs. The pressure women go through in the job selection process in comparison to men is enough to make them stray away from the newsroom altogether.
In Suzanne Franks’ book, Women and Journalism, she notes, “Women substantially outnumber men in journalism training and enter the profession in (slightly) greater numbers, but still today relatively few are rising to senior jobs and the pay gap between male and female journalists remains a stubbornly wide one.” While women are taking jobs in the journalism field, they aren’t moving up the career ladder compared to their male counterparts. This could explain why so few remain in the profession.
In a world where many women yearn for equality, why is it that women hold less than half of newsroom jobs? What can be done to ensure that we are getting our news from equal and accurate sources and not just information reported by men for men? Can a male-dominated media fairly and accurately report on topics such as defunding Planned Parenthood, Roe v.Wade, and the Women’s March?
The time for change is now. Journalism is here to give all people a voice. The public needs to hear all sides of the story. It is a journalist’s job to give a voice to the voiceless, not just to one gender, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic class. To promote change in our society and in the media, we must heighten the awareness of the lack of the female voice and work to improve such.
A current debate is whether you should vaccinate your children or not. Some parents look at it as a precaution to something that may cause trouble down the road, while others see it as a problem in itself.
Advanced medical treatments offer thousands of different vaccines to children and adults every year. Some of the most popular are the MMR vaccine, the DTaP vaccine, the Hepatitis A and B vaccines, and the Influenza vaccine which is commonly referred to as “the flu shot”.
Most vaccines we will receive in our lifetime are given to us before we start elementary school or as babies to prevent disease such as chicken pox. As we get older, we choose whether we receive or do not receive vaccines such as the annual flu shot.
I have never received a flu shot or any form of a influenza vaccine. Personally, the idea of being injected with several chemicals that I can’t even be able to pronounce kind of freaks me out, especially if it isn’t necessary to my health and well being.
Let’s take a look at two of the ingredients in the 2016 version of the Influenza shot:
Thimerosal, a preservative. Thimerosal is highly controversial because of its acclaimed link to autism. No scientific evidence relates this ingredient to cause autism in children, but it contains 49% mercury and can cause severe reactions in those who are allergic.
Formaldehyde, used to kill bacteria in the manufacturing process of vaccinations. Aluminum salts, to stimulate our immune systems to respond to the vaccination. While it can be concluded that most of the ingredients in the influenza shot aren’t harmful in small dosage, there is no 100% guarantee that you or your child won’t be the victims of fatal side effects.
Some also question the effectiveness of vaccines. In 2016 studies, the flu shot was about 50-60% effective. In my eyes, spending money on something that doesn’t only have so/so effective rates but also puts me at a health risk just doesn’t justify getting a shot.
After I chose to explore this topic, I had no idea how many twists and turns it would take me down. Not only did it open my eyes to how many different strains of vaccines there were to prevent disease, I also learned about hoaxes and potential dangers of what some would consider a preventive measure.
I think the smartest thing to do when temperatures begin to drop and those around you begin to fall ill is to stop and research before you run to Walgreens for a vaccine. Sometimes what seems to be “the right thing” might not be a good idea for you or your family.
Let’s be honest, at one point we all have stopped scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, etc. to stop and take a second to read a headline that sounds totally crazy, only to be followed by clicking the following link for further investigation. Click bait, online material designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, and fake news is beginning to take over and discredit social media, and it’s getting a little ridiculous.
Often on our news feeds we will see a title including celebrities and some sort of made up scandal. For example, last night, “Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to be Divorced Within the Next 6 Months” absolutely flooded my Twitter timeline at the same time “Kanye” was trending. Later on and after inquiry, like most fake news, a source clears up the rumor and it is no longer spread throughout the interweb.
While something such as celebrity divorce may not be so serious, fake news reporting rose to an all-time high in the months leading up to the 2016 election. Not only were there articles harmful to the reputations of the nominees, they were also harmful to America as a whole.
Facebook was filled with viral articles with headlines such as: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide". While most would take one look at this and roll their eyes at its far-stretched manor, millions on Facebook and Twitter fall victim to fake news everyday.
In our day and age, technology basically makes the world go around. I’m familiar and close to many people who rely on the internet as a main source of news every single day. This is harmful to those on social media because they are filling their heads with junk that is no-where near true.
Finding a credible source to get your daily dose of news from is one of the things that all Americans should make a priority, especially when fake articles are questioned, even blamed, for swaying huge event outcomes, such as our election.
Remember, it’s not just your great-grandma who views fake news, takes it for what it is, and then shares it for others to see. President-elect and the 73rd most-followed person in the world, Donald Trump, even took to Twitter and mistakenly re-tweeted false statistics provided by a fake news site. Be careful and pay close attention to the origin of your information. Don’t be fooled by click bait and internet hoaxes!