The Excelsior Scholarship: Pluses and Minuses


By Danielle Joseph and Nathalie Ligonde

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled last month the Excelsior Scholarship program, proudly stating, “There is no child who will go to sleep tonight and Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.47.42 AMsay, I have great dreams, but I don’t believe I’ll be able to get a college education because parents can’t afford it. With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides.” The program was touted by the Governor as the first of its kind in the nation. Who will benefit? Who won’t?

If you are a New York State (NYS) resident whose family household adjusted gross income (as filed on your federal tax returns) does not exceed $100,000 for the 2017-18 academic years, and you complete 30 credits per year, you will be able to attend SUNY or CUNY college tuition for free.

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The first-in-the-nation plan will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorker’s making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, $110,000 in 2018, and $125,000 in 2019.  Students must be enrolled in college full-time and average 30 credits per year (including Summer and January semesters) to receive the funding. However, the program has built-in flexibility so that any student facing hardship is able to pause and restart the program or take fewer credits one semester than another, This requirement on students will encourage on-time degree completion.

Students are required to maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework, and students will be required to live and work in-state for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship while in school. Godson Enwere, a junior at SUNY OW said, “I think that’s fair. If you’re going to school in New York for free, the least you can do is put your work and money in it.” NYS, unemployment rates, average “4.2% in the boroughs and upwards of 10% in some surrounding counties,” as posted on the NYS Department of Labor website. This in addition to the high cost of living, staying in New York may not be a viable option.

Residency requirements are the same as requirements for other NYS financial aid programs according to a comprehensive website of SUNY Plattsburgh.

When asked if the acceptance rates will change due to the Excelsior Scholarship Program, SUNY Old Westbury President Calvin O. Butts, III, said, “We don’t know whether or not we will be enrolling more students as result of the program being announced. What we know is that, at this year’s open house, we had the largest number of attendees that we’ve had in a very long time.” He added that the school will know whether the acceptance rate will remain the same or not by the end of July. Dr. Laura Anker, Director of First-Year Experience Program at SUNY Old Westbury, pointed out that the program “does not apply to all in-state New York Students as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students are not eligible.  I am also concerned, after speaking to several high school guidance counselors, that students who are citizens or have residency, but whose parents are undocumented, may also be ineligible because they cannot provide parental information on the FAFSA form.” Dr. Anker said, “This is discriminatory and creates an even greater sense of hopelessness for the motivated and hardworking student population,”

In the excitement over its release the fact that the scholarship program provides “tuition-free college” not “free college” may be overlooked. Students will still need to secure funds for non-tuition costs. Tuition is often only half the cost of attending college. As listed on the SUNY Old Westbury website, tuition and fees for the 2016-17 academic year for full-time students who commute is $7,682 and about $13,000 for students living on campus. Those totals do not factor in the price of textbooks, supplies, transportation, and other related expenses.


For recent graduates that missed the opportunity to participate in the Excelsior Scholarship Program and earn $54,000 or below, NYS offers “the nation-leading ‘Get On Your Feet‘ Loan Forgiveness Program. The program allows eligible college graduates living in New York to pay nothing on their student loans for the first two years out of school.” For more information visit          


Oprah for President…



March is Women’s History Month. What better way to kick the month off than with news alerts circulating that Oprah Winfrey; one of the most known and celebrated philanthropists in the world, is considering a run for President of the United States in the 2020 election.

To rule out the possibility of reports being “fake news,” verification was necessary. A quick internet search revealed, various articles and links on, Huffington Post, CBS and others about Oprah’s recent announcement. According to Cavane37f79bd154c4a533c0b81cf1111b276be9bea05a0c117de51d8dad95faaf7ab.jpg Sieczkowski of the Huffington Post, “[Oprah Winfrey], the media queen sat down for an interview on the Season 2 premiere of The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations …, and revealed she maybe [would] consider running for president.” Many Oprah enthusiasts are on board and preparing to scream one of Winfrey’s famous catch phrase; “You get a car. You get a car. Everyone gets a car.” To some, the news would make us all winners.

David Rubenstein’s imageshow, Peer to Peer, possess an important question to its interviewees; “What makes a geat leader?” Oprah Winfrey is an accomplished individual who states from an early age she knew she was destined for greatness. It is a greatness that radiates bright enough for others to see; Maya Angelou saw it in her and that she sees in others; Barack Obama.

The interview comes to a close with Rubenstein asking Oprao-for-president-im-with-that-shit-tmz-4-mins-15399202h the question of the hour. He states, “… we have someone elected to president who is a media figure… we’ve never had a woman elected president of the United States, have you ever thought given the popularity you have, we haven’t broken the glass ceiling yet for women that you could actually run for president and actually be elected?” Momentarily speechless, Winfrey finally responds “… I never considered the question even a possibility…”  Rubenstein interjects, “It’s clear that you don’t need government experience to be elected president of the United States. Oprah continues, “I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough… But now I’m thinking … Oh!”

oprah-winfrey-mother-teresa-j-k-rowling-arianna-huffington-uccess-marie-15910632Hillary Clinton, another woman to celebrate in honor of Women’s History Month, cracked the glass ceiling in her attempts at becoming the President of the United States. Since then, many have speculated who will be the woman to break through the glass ceiling. In 2016 articles similarly titled; Democratic women who could run for president in 2020, written by reporters Amy Davidson of The New Yorker and Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, comprise lists of political veterans; Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, and others; all highly qualified candidates. Neither list mentioned Oprah Winfrey as a potential candidate. Why?

Ten years into the taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show began to build comradery 7ba10b9bfdbf9911357ac9f3ae20460bwith audience members, which altered the outcome of the show. She “used the information that she gathered every day; people who were the greatest resources.” Future shows were mainly based on viewers’ interest, needs and wants. In a perfect world, adults are aware that we cannot get everything that we want. However, having the ability to understand and curtail political agendas to positively suit the masses is a vital gift. Winfrey used her talk show “as a platform to speak to the world,” and in an official capacity, we can expect the same of her.

Oprah’s philanthropic work began in 1998 when she established the Angel Network. “Before the organization stopped accepting donations in 2010, it had raised more than $80 million, all of which was donated to charitable causes.” In 2007, Winfrey extended her philanthropy61878-Oprah-Winfrey-Quote work beyond the borders of the United States by opening the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls located near Johannesburg, South Africa. Oprah helps “poor girls because [she] was a poor girl and [she] knows what that feels like, it resonates in [her] spirit. [She] knows when you change a girl’s life, you not only change hers but you change her entire community, because girls give back to [their] family; give back to the community. Saving girls around the world are really important to [her], educating … and empowering girls and women … feels like a natural thing.”

960Winfrey’s charitable contributions go on and on. What may be most important to many is the need to finally break through the glass ceiling. In doing so, it will positively influence millions of women worldwide and set precedents for equal pay for equal work and bring women’s issues and rights to the forefront for change.

Article II. Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution imposes three requirements to qualify for president of the United States; one must be a natural born U.S. Citizen, 35 years of age and one must have lived in tweet-oprah-presidentthe USA for at least 14 years. Not only does Oprah meet the necessary qualifications, to run for president her accolades add to the idea’s appeal.

Wanting an answer to the question at hand, Rubenstein jokingly asks Winfrey again. To which she responds, “That won’t be happening…” Winfrey’s long-running television program was the highest-rated of its kind and provided leadership, set standards and mentorship towards not only women but all races, nationalities, and sexes. Qualities like these make for a great president and pave the way for a possible win in 2020. Despite Oprah’s denials of a presidential run for office in 2020, her life, legacy, and contributions deserved to be cherished and celebrated during Women’s History Month.




Spring Beauty Trends

Self-proclaimed beauty gurus flood YouTube and #Instagram demonstrating their best rendition of the full on highlighted, contoured #beat face made famous by Kim Kardashian and her makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic. With Spring upon us, it is time to put the heavy makeup into hibernation and lighten uspring_summer_2017_makeup_trends_no_makeup_makeup_fashionisersp.

Just in time for Spring, many fashion magazines are giving suggestions to the “2017 Top Spring Beauty Trends.” Looks taken from fashion runways do not always transfer well into real life. However, there are some trends that you can use to enhance your beauty for date night (soft femininity), a special event (subtle glam) or a job interview (polished professional). Of the multitudes of looks, here is a few anyone from a makeup novice to a makeup artist can recreate and wear with confidence.


This year’s top wearable trends include natural brows and skin, a subtle bronze and glow, a neutral or bold lip and a well-manicured nail. The Au naturel look has made its comeback!

The look starts with a moisturizer of your choice, that best suits your skin type. If you have oily skin, use a gel moisturizer to minimize shine. For dry skin, use a lightweight cream to add moisture and prevent flaking. For acne-prone skin, use a moisturizer with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to provomg-which-highlighter-are-u-using-my-sister-last-night-6708071.pngide acne fighting properties all day. Some may think, if they have oily skin, it is not necessary to moisturize. However, studies show that when oily skin is not properly moisturized, an overproduction of oil occurs to combat dryness resulting in a shiny, I just ran a mile appearance.

Next, the same goes for a foundation, use one that is appropriate for your skin type. Spring is a good time to try a BB or CC cream or a tinted moisturizer; all boast a lighter texture than a medium or full coverage foundation. Whatever your choice, there is a plethora of them on the market. From drug store brands; Neutrogena, Maybelline, and Rimmel London to more expensive options; Urban Decay’s Naked Skin or BareMinerals Complexion Rescue. To apply, you will need a makeup brush, beauty blender or something you carry with you every day, your fingers. Work a dime-size amount into the skin and remember less is more.

Kim Kardashians looks mainly consists of concealer, concealer and more concealer to brighten the under the eye and highlight the high points of the face. I would skip this step, unless you intend on strutting down the red carpet after your makeup application. The Overly maxresdefaultperfect skin has a tendency to look cakey and fake, and most of us, including the Kardashian clique, have scars, hyperpigmentation, freckles or dark circles. It is life, it happens and certain types of imperfections, if you would like to rid yourself of them, begins on the inside with a balanced diet, vitamins, and a workout regimen. Not by packing on tons of makeup.

Blot the skin by pressing a tissue or blotting paper over the skin to remove any excess product ensuring a natural finish. Instead of using a dark brow gel to stencil in Instagram brows, brush the brows upwards, lightly fill in any gaps with a brow pencil and set with a clear brow gel. It is quick and easy, just brush, fill, set and go!

To add a natural flush and warmth to the skin, lightly apply bronzer with a large fluffy makeup brush. The larger brush helps to diffuse and spread the product to minimize the amount of product applied to the cheeks and prevent a contoured effect to the face.

If you ask makeup aficionados what beauty product they cannot live without, it may be a toss-up between mascara and lipstick. When worn alone, both transform the faimagesce. When worn together, it may change your day for the better. For both products, I would stick to the drug store brands that are tried, tested and synonymous with makeup. Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara has been around for decades, and you can’t beat its price tag or performance. Spring is a great time to try a bold lip. This year matte colors in crimson, orange and magenta are popular. For a simpler look try a neutral pink, taupe or mauve hue.

Finally, use a touch of setting powder through your t-zone to lock the makeup in place and you are done. This Spring makeup trend can defiantly be achieved in five minutes or less and enhances one’s natural beauty. By no means is this article suggesting that makeup is a necessity or a vital part of looking beautiful. When trying any new trend, use your discretion. If you do not feel comfortable wearing makeup, don’t. If you are new to makeup and do not know where to start, the natural look is a good place to start.

For more information and techniques check out these natural beauty looks from some of my favorite professional makeup artists on YouTude. Lisa Eldridge, Jonathan Curtis and Pixiwoo.



Remy Ma vs. Nicki Minaj

Since the 1980s, the music industry is no stranger to male rappers lyrically going head to head in a testosterone driven battle to disseminate who is the best at whatever title they conceived; best freestyle, best verse, most bars etc… Today, rap battles evolved into a sometimes vicious dismantling of one’s character, writing ability and is some cases one’s career. We’ve seen this during last year’s battle between Drake and Meek Mill, which left Meek Mill “… bodied…,” and his lackluster response, left his rap career hanging in the balance.

Similarly, in the 90’s, the fight between Jay-Z and Nas, to be crowned New York’s #1 rapper, proved whose lyrics could flourish years later; Jay Z’s. Rap battles do have their perks, as Ice Cube’s feud with NWAs members, Easy E and Dr. Dre, solidified his career successes as a solo artist.

The most current beef is between rappers, Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj.


After numerous back and forths between the two rappers; Remy Ma on All The Way Up and Nicki Minaj on Black Barbies, Minaj escalated the beef through her collaboration on Gucci Mane’s song Make Love, where she went in on Remy Ma. Remy Ma responded on February 25th by dropping shETHER, a whopping 7 minutes of pure unadulterated lyrical genius, where she not only aired out Minaj’s dirty laundry (whether true or not remains to be proved), but proceeded to rip Minaj a new one.

Remy Ma’s rap career started in the early 2000’s as part of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad. Remy was a rising star until a 2007 late night shooting sidetracked her burgeoning career. Since her release in 2016, Remy has made it known that she wants her shot to claim the female rap thrown by any means necessary. Through lyrically discrediting the completion or sheer pettiness.

In a 2017 article, Kathy Iandoli, contributor for states, “Nicki Minaj was the first female rapper to penetrate the mainstream since Lauryn Hill …” Since the release and success of her Pink Friday album, Minaj has enjoyed sitting on the thrown and being touted as the #1 female rapper. But why? Is Nicki Minaj that fabulous? Or could it possibly be, that her rise to fame came during a time when there was little to no competition?

But before you send that complaint, look at it this way. Beyoncé has earned the title of Queen Bee, not only from some awards won, albums sold and songs downloaded but by beating out others in her craft; Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez and countless others. Yes, Beyoncé did not win the 2016 Grammy for Record of the Year (My letter to the Grammy board is in the mail), but even the winner, Adele during her acceptance speech stated, “I can’t possibly accept this award … I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but my life is Beyoncé.” Let’s face it, Adele is correct, as most women who want to be empowered, lives is Beyoncé.

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the competition to be the top female rapper, well, was actually a completion. The radio waves were filled with songs from female rappers; Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot and Eve. In Nicki Minaj’s case, at the time of her rise, she was the only female rapper on the airwaves. Now don’t get me wrong, yes, Nicki Minaj has won numerous award. Yes, she has topped music charts. And yes, she has millions of followers on various social media outlets. However, this battle is not based on who has the most.

This fight is a competition for the throne based on lyrical content. And for that, for now, Remy Ma has won. However, in a society where “cash rules everything around me,” the award goes to Nicki Minaj. I spoke to a self-proclaimed rap coinsure about this current beef, and he stated, “Nicki is a lady and way more successful than Remy will ever be, so with that being said, as long as she reaches down to respond to struggling artists, she loses no matter what. Do I think Remy is a better lyricist, yes but Nicki is now, she is a brand.” In a time of the forced #GlowUp, the hope of Instagram popularity and being a #BossB!&%h, then yes, Nicki Minaj wins.


It has only been a few days since Remy Ma’s diss record, so we have yet to hear a response from Nicki Minaj. Know this, it’s coming! We don’t know when, but we all know it’s coming, and many of us are here for it. Now, I’m not into giving advice to anyone whose bank account makes mine look as if I am one step away from the poor house. However, as suggested by Remy Ma, Dear Nicki Minaj: If you take anything away from the current predicament you find yourself in, please, please, please let it be this, “never bring a knife to a gun fight” or a rap battle for that matter.


Tools for Verifying the Authenticity of Online Images

6a00d83451e32769e201bb087a5b99970dRecently, anti-abortion activists at The Center for Medical Progress, released images and videos purported to show the illegal practices that took place at some Planned Parenthood clinics. The graphic images showed dismembered fetuses after abortions were completed and videos allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. According to The New York Times, Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s embattled president, during her recent testimony on congress stated, “The videos had been edited by the activist to mislead…” Richards goes on to say “The latest smear campaign is based on efforts by our opponents to entrap our doctors and clinicians into breaking the law…”

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 29: Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, prepares for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on whether PPFA should be federally funded, September 29, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In an age of societies reliance on various images professed to be actual on the internet, how can journalist verify the images that are being distributed? There are online tools that help verify the authenticity of images.

According to Storyful, one of the top sites or verifying user-generated content, Google Search by Image is a top online tool used by journalists to verify the authenticity of images. Google Search by Image tool allows users to upload images and Google yields results with similar images, sites that include the image and other sizes of the image searched for.


Another helpful site is TinEye. According to the TinEye site, they are “an image search company that uses innovative and customizable image search solutions using image recognition and computer vision.” TinEye has multiple image recognition products and services. When a user uploads an image to TinEye API, the image is searched against the TinEye’s index. Whereas, TinEye’s MatchEngine matches uploaded images against those on the internet.


For many new media journalist and stringers, using Google Search by Image may be the best bet as the Google tool is free for Google Chrome and Gmail users.


About.Me, Me, Me …


Most new media professionals have a presence on various social media and professional sites; Twitter, Facebook, Storify and LinkedIn. Keeping track of all the sites can be daunting. One could create, host and maintain URL or web page, but it can get expensive as many are not formally trained in maintaining a web page. Thankfully, there is an alternative.

This is where enters stage left. markets the site to new media professionals with a catchy tag line; “Don’t stress when someone Goggles you. We got you covered.” Who doesn’t stress with the idea of being goggled? One way to elevate the unnecessary stress, create an page that is written by “You.” Tells “Your Story.” All on “One Page.”

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With an influx of new media professional graduating each year and all eager to begin a career in their respective fields, it is important to create an page that separates oneself from the rest. For most, writing about themselves can prove difficult. Taking the time to plan and design the page is the first step in setting yourself apart from the rest.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your page that may help you stand out from countless of professionals vying for the same position:

  • Decide on a clear direction for your page. Is the site solely to promote yourself to potential employers, gear your page to highlight who you are as an employee. Steer clear of creating a page that reads as a boring resume.
  • List your credentials: education, internships, volunteering experience and your passion for your respective field in a manner that is personable and authentic.


  • Less is more, but not always In some cases, putting less on your page may be a good idea.
  • You definitely want to change the standard colors offered on and add some personalization. Stick to a central color scheme and unless you are a professional graphic designer, do not attempt to create web page that deters from the information posted.
  • Be Unique. The best pages will have similarities. Pages are unique based on an individual’s personal touches; pictures, videos and bios. To further the uniqueness of your page, consider adding a timeline of your career journey.
  • Add multimedia components through audio and visual appeal If you’re a budding reporter, add a video of your most recent work. For radio personalities, add a 30 second sound bite of your voice. This adds a face and a voice to accentuate the words on the page and displays your ability to use programs such as final cut pro x and audacity which are readily used in new media fields.
  • Impress them by adding excerpts of testimonials written by peers, past employers, clients and professors you have worked for and helped in the past. This serves as online informal references.


Once your page is complete, it is important to add links and social media buttons to your other professional pages. “Each user profile page can include links to twenty-one other services; from [Twitter, Facebook, Storify, LinkedIn] to WordPress, these and a bevy of other sites can be linked to your custom profile page. In its simplest form, is your on-line business card for all of your web-based information and pages,” according to Porter Gale, Reporter for

Is FaceBook Making Us Lonely?

Stephen Marche’s article, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? poses a question that most ignore in the midst of using Facebook (FB) and other social media platforms. Marche states, “Social media – from Facebook to Twitter – have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all is connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier.” The article suggests, societies increasing existence in cyberspace is limiting their physical contact because many are, according to Marche, “transfixed by the glare of a screen, hungering for a response.”

I, like many others, jumped on the FB craze. Within days of posting a profile, my FB friends list grew exponentially. Instantly, I was connected with people I knew from high school and family members in other states or in the Caribbean. As my FB friends increased, so did my happiness. I felt like I was re-living high school. This time around, instead of being the tall, artsy girl with glasses, I was the popular girl who amassed hundreds of friends in days. This explosion of my friends list, gave me a false sense of popularity; because as my online friendships grew, my actual circle of friends did not.

After interacting with friends on FB for a few years, I found myself unable to get through the day without checking statuses. It became a methodical ritual that if not completed, would upset the equilibrium of my day. I craved the artificial interactions. This made me question my need for FB. Was I relying on the mind-boggling optimistic statuses posted by my FB friends as some means of satisfaction? How did their lives mimic that of a celebrity and my life was habitually average? The lives of my 300 plus FB friends were as perfect as a made for and my life resembled a news broadcast; comprised of depressing events. I began to feel isolated. As I continued to compare our lives, reality set in and I came to a conclusion; my FB friends were no happier than I was. They were putting on a “happy” façade, by posting only camera-worthy moments from their lives in an ongoing effort to convince themselves and their FB friends of their happiness? Marche states, “Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy – it’s exhausting.” I was exhausted. I no longer needed or wanted to constantly look at the falsities projected by most on FB.

With the onset of a new year right around the corner, I began thinking about what my new year’s resolution would be. I crossed off my virtual list things I had accomplished that year; obtain my AA degree, loose the 10 pounds that accumulated throughout the year and cigarettes and I were no longer friends… so, I settled on, omitting things from my life that added no value to it. What immediately came to mind was FB. Subsequently, on Jan. 1 2014, I deleted my FB profile. I figured if anyone wanted to get in touch with me, they could call as I have had the same cell phone number for the past 10 years. I was accessible.

Today, I do not have a profile on Facebook, SnapChat, Vine or Tumblr (I actually had to Google “social media sites” just to put together the aforementioned list). I do however subscribe to some social media sites; YouTube for the instructional services it provides. When I was single, I watched countless hours of videos on how to clear a sink drain, patch interior walls and install a new flush valve system in a toilet bowl to replace the ballcock system (Yes that is a term. I know, I watched YouTube videos on it). Additionally, I have Twitter; my beloved Twitter. However, I do not follow many personal accounts as much as I follow news accounts: Associated Press, 1010 Wins and Huffington Post. I want to be updated on news events while I’m unable to access a T.V. or newspaper.
In answer to Marche’s question of, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? Facebook allows users to become detached from one another. It seems that the more connected we become, via social media, the lonelier one is. Marche states, “Loneliness is certainly not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves.” Face to face conversations and daily interaction is being replaced by interaction in a digital alternate reality and many users are satisfied as it according to Marche, “Spares us the embarrassing reality…” of our waning popularity.