Profile: Alexa Lisitza, Founder Of Caged Bird Magazine

Alexa Lisitza, 21, is a junior English major, secondary education minor from Chicago who created a voice for minorities through her online writing publication, Caged Bird magazine.

Lisitza started the magazine to represent the many different perspectives and views of minorities adding, “there is no single minority voice”.

“I created Caged Bird magazine to give a platform to minority millennials,” Lisitza says.

Although Caged Bird magazine was an idea Lisitza developed over the summer of 2016, the magazine didn’t reach the public until this past November. Lisitza says that although minorities may be grouped together as people who share the same hardships, she aims to show the different views and different cultures they come from.

“Whenever minorities are a part of a magazine or anything editorial, they are either one of two or three minorities on the team, or they are automatically given the black stories,” Lisitza says.

Lisitza keeps the perspective diverse by opening up the platform to writers from other colleges such as Spelman and Morehouse College. She reached out to these writers through people who had worked for her when she was the editor-in-chief of the Odyssey Online at Howard.

Along with that, Lisitza is also currently the co-editor of the Sterling Notes, which is Howard’s literary magazine, and a member of Sigma Tau Delta, an English fraternity. Outside of Howard she has had an internship with the Afro American newspaper, a Black newspaper in Washington D.C., and is currently a freelance writer for CapitallyDC.

Being an English major is one thing that has aided Lisitza with writing for her magazine. However, the location of Howard also helps Lisitza, due to the amount of publications here in Washington, and says she has more opportunities to work for major publications in comparison to her hometown Chicago.

In the future, not only will Caged Bird Magazine continue to give voices to minorities, they will also give back. Lisitza says that the platform will raise three $1,000 scholarships to be given out to students who write for Caged Bird magazine. Lisitza will also hold events on campus such as a “black bloggers event” where bloggers will be able to meet with others, and help each other to improve the quality of their own blogs.

Lisitza’s goals for Caged Bird magazine is to expand, and to be more than what it is now. “Right now we are article focused, but we are in the works of becoming more in order to tap into more interests,” she says.

“After graduating, I intend on going to grad school in New York,” Lisitza says. She chooses New York  due to the many major editorial positions there. In the future she also hopes to work for Codné Nast, a premier media company whose headquarters also reside in New York.

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Profile: New HUSA VP Proves To Be Missing Piece

Arabella Okwara, 21, is a senior political science major, African-American studies minor from East Providence, Rhode Island. She is the current vice president of the Howard University Student Association’s 56th administration, and also the president of the international pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. Being in such a high position for more than one organization could be seen as stressful, but Okwara is making it work.

Okwara was appointed HUSA’s VP by HUSA Executive President Allyson Carpenter this past fall. This appointment occurred after the unexpected resignation of former HUSA VP, Jordan Roper. According to HUSA, Roper resigned due to the workload of being HUSA’s VP.

“There was no constitutional protocol on how to fill a vacancy for HUSA executive, so I released an executive order,” Carpenter said. “Arabella shares our values, but brings a different approach that has proven to be effective.

Okwara was already familiar with Carpenter when she worked with her and the HUSA Senate during an event called ElectHer, which was an event held to promote young women to run for public office. During their time together on these events, the two realized that they worked well together.

“Because I had been dedicated to student government already, it was a kind of a natural fit,” Okwara said.  Although she was somewhat hesitant in the beginning she accepted the offer to be HUSA Vice President “willfully and gratefully.”

Okwara’s past experiences with student government and politics include being on HUSA Senate as a representative for Colleges and Arts and Science, where she later stepped up into the constitutional review committee chair position. This position entailed her looking over constitution proposals, and vetting policy board members ensuring that they were sound members.

Okwara’s role as Vice President has been to position herself as a mediator between Senate, and Executives. She says a lot of her role has been attending meetings and working out issues that may come along. “Sometimes students will tweet Allyson with their issues, and we try to work to get them solved.”

So far, Okwara has been working on a Transportation Alternatives Committee, “under that will fall the Bike Project, which students will receive more updates on in the future through HUSA’s mid-year report,” Okwara said. She is also focusing on putting an advisory committee together to work on different methods to improving Howard’s shuttle system, such as better shuttle stops and better times for the shuttle to be running. Another facet of transportation she is looking into is getting students metro cards, and also partnering with an affordable ride sharing app for students.

Luckily Okwara has not faced any challenges or adversity, and said, “fortunately enough it’s been a very smooth transition.”

Although she’s extremely dedicated to student government, Okwara’s political practices are taken beyond campus as well. She has interned with IMPACT, which is an organization dedicated to helping young black politicians and professionals. She has also worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, who she says does a lot of research and conventions for young political leaders as well.

In the future, Okwara has hopes to strengthen and further her political career.

http://thehilltoponline.com/2017/02/17/profile-new-husa-vp-proves-to-be-missing-piece/

Jumpstart Celebrates the End of the Year with a Citywide Celebration

The Cherry Blossom Festival wasn’t the only celebrating taking place in the District this April. Jumpstart held a citywide graduation for participating students on April 8. The celebration took place at Calvary Baptist Church in Chinatown where students from American, George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard University attended to celebrate themselves and the program itself.

Jumpstart is a national early education program dedicated to working towards making sure children in America enter Kindergarten inclined to succeed. The organization provides support with alphabet awareness, vocabulary and comprehension, phonemic awareness, and social-emotional skills in under-resourced communities.

Students are trained to work with children ages three to five. They prepare material, and session plans and implement them twice a week. Students do not only work with children during session plans, but they also assist teachers in their classroom assistance training for five hours a week.

“Knowing that Jumpstart is ending comes with a feeling of nostalgia, because from the beginning of the program to the end, I was able to see a lot of the children grow not only in their learning skills but also their mannerisms,” Laura Cameron, a sophomore broadcast journalism student at Howard University, says.

As a program under Americorps, Jumpstart participants who are considered Americorps members are required to fulfill 300 hours of service. This citywide celebration occurred just as the students entered their last week of Jumpstart to complete their final hours.

“It feels good knowing that I committed my time, I learned a lot and gave a lot, and I’m glad that I’m moving one and taking what I learned,” senior psychology major, Stephanie Thomas says.

The celebration began with lunch, followed with awards being presented to each team at a specific site. In between the awards, a game of Jumpstart Jeopardy began, where students were to answer questions pertaining to the Jumpstart program.

As the game of Jeopardy concluded, site managers were able to present their own special award to one member from their site.

“Watching Jumpstart develop over the year has been such a joy. In the beginning of the year, it is hard to always remember that we will “get there,” but every team has grown so much, that there is no doubt that they made a positive impact on every child they served this year,” Howard University’s site manager, Sonya Soloway, says as she reminisces about the school year.

Just as Jumpstart is ending for the year, it will be starting back up for the next school year to serve more students.

“I always love meeting the new Corps members, getting people excited about a new year, and meeting the new children we serve!” Soloway adds as she explains what she looks forward to next school year.

The Story Behind Clearly Innovative’s Incubator on Georgia Avenue

Luma Lab held a “week of welcome” in celebration of the opening of IN3 (Inclusive Innovation Incubator) which began Monday, April 17 and ended Sunday, April 23. Luma Lab is the educational brand of Clearly Innovative, a web and mobile development firm based in D.C.

IN3 is a partnership between Clearly Innovative, Howard University, and the mayor’s office. When D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser’s office along with Howard University put out a request for proposal for an operator of Technology Innovation HUB, Clearly Innovative responded to the request and was selected.

Aaron K. Saunders, D.C. native and owner of Clearly Innovative, says that the idea began to develop in 2012 when the company held a youth hackathon, which is an event in which people meet to engage in computer programming. Through the event he noticed what he thought to be an issue.

“We recognized that there was a problem in the community that there’s no place for kids to go who are excited about technology,” Saunders says. This realization caused the company to search for a solution.

Clearly Innovative began their solution with teaching an entrepreneurship and technology class at Howard University Middle School for Math and Science, located on Howard’s campus, which lasted for two years.

Soon, the company decided that they would run a summer camp, which Saunders describes as being beneficial, “Then we got a little bit of press and we got some funding and we expanded our summer camp,” Saunders said.

In 2015, Clearly Innovative won a $100,000 Mission Mainstreet grant from Chase Bank to expand youth programming to focus on workforce development.

“When we won the $100,000 Mainstreet grant around our education program, we said we wanted to find some space,” Saunders added.

It was around the same timeframe that Clearly Innovative won the Mainstreet grant, that Howard University and the mayor’s office released the request for proposal.

“So we decided to respond to this opportunity, instead of trying to go out on our own because we figured that D.C. is not that big and if the mayor was behind one, and we were already trying to do our own, we would have success,” Saunders said as he describes the motivation behind taking the opportunity.

Saunders, who also taught courses in business and computer science at Howard University, says that IN3 is not yet affiliated with Howard’s campus, but it is something that’s in the works, “We are working with Howard to figure out ways to support the students,” Saunders said.

Saunders also says that he is trying to create a space where students from Howard and people in the community can come in and work together to not only enhance the experiences of Howard students, but also the experiences of those in the community.

“What we want to do is to be the connective tissue between the larger tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem here in D.C. and Howard University,” Saunders added.

http://thehilltoponline.com/2017/04/26/the-story-behind-clearly-innovatives-incubator-on-georgia-avenue/

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION CHANGE CAUSES AN INCONVENIENCE TO THE DC COMMUNITY


           Members of the DC community are frustrated due to the elimination of the bus stop at Newton without any warning. The frustration was addressed at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) meeting held Tuesday, February 23 2016 in the Mount Pleasant Library.
           The ANC is a committee that listens to the neighborhood complaints and attempts to put ideas into action in an effort to fulfill the communities’ wishes for improvement. A meeting is held once a month, with commissioners who are the actual advocates for the community. Typically, a meeting will consist of commissioners trying to attain licenses of many sorts for restaurants and stores.

          However, this particular meeting also addressed issues affecting more than just a store owner of some sort. The community is frustrated at the inconvenience of the public bus route. The stop at the Newton was eliminated, and the community was unaware of this upcoming change.

         Carolyn Franklin, a resident effected by the change, voiced how much of an inconvenience the change was to her. “Walking an extra two blocks in not necessarily easy for some people,” says Franklin who has had knee replacement surgery.

          The change was made by the committee in an effort to save time, Franklin says, also adding that the committee claims “it saves 1.3 minutes per stop.”

         However, Franklin also claims that passengers having to walk an extra two blocks to use the bus places that extra two minutes on the passengers. Therefore, she says it does not actually save any time.

         Although, the committee had good intentions with the elimination of the stop at Newton, the inconvenience is not one that is being taken lightly. Their efforts to save time caused a petition to begin being circulated online in an attempt to reverse this change.

PROBATE SEASON IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER

Spring is the season of warm weather following the winter season chill. Flowers begin to bloom and the insects come out. But that’s not the only thing that comes out. At many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) probates come to life.

These probates are held for Greek fraternity and sorority members who are new to the organization. At HBCUs, the main fraternities and sororities are referred to as the ‘Divine Nine.’

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta all make up the sorority portion of the Divine Nine. Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma, and Iota Phi Theta make up the fraternity portion of the Divine Nine.

The Divine Nine came into place due to the trials and tribulations. Inlcuding African American students into universities showed to be difficult times for black students. Often times blacks were banned from joining organizations causing them to create their own. 

Most of these particular Greek organizations cross in the spring semester. They hold probates to reveal the new members to friends, family and peers. These probates consist of the members strolling, dancing, and singing.

“The feeling I felt when I was revealed was indescribable” said newly crossed member of Omega Psi Phi, Owen Obasuyi. Obasuyi is a student at Hampton University, which is the Gamma Epsilon chapter. He says that he joined the organization because he wishes to start a legacy within his family. Owens also says that he loves what the organizations does within the community, saying that they are extremely dedicated to community service.

A student of Hampton University, as well as, a friend of Owens, Shannon Lloyd, says that she had never expected as many people to attend the probate as they did. Lloyd said purple and gold filled the Hampton auditoriums as people anxiously awaited the crossing of new members.

Sophomore Brandon Harvey says that the previous year before also brought in a large audience. However, Harvey also mentions that a previous probate held for members of Delta Sigma Theta right before Omega Psi Phi’s probate caused an even larger audience this year. 

Considering new member of these fraternities and sororities take place relatively every spring, it is safe to say it is always a highly anticipated event, and one that is anticipated even as soon as the current probate is over.