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Informing the Young Professional

Mentoring Our Brothers:

Reshape Their Vision, Rebuild Our Society

Glass Houses:

How We No Longer Value Education

No Time Like the Present:

Preventative Healthcare in your 30s and 40s

Looking Back, Moving Forward National Urban League at 100, New York Urban League at 90 New York Urban League Young Professionals

Vol. III Issue No. 3 Fall 2010

Griot (pronounced grEE O) “A storyteller in West Africa; perpetuates the oral traditions of a family or village”

Contents Fall 2010

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CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Looking Back, Moving Forward National Urban League at 100, New York Urban League at 90. Excerpts from Empowering communities. Changing lives: 100 years of the National Urban League and Black America: 1910-2010 by Alonzo Nelson Smith PhD. YP in the Community: Backpack Drive 2010. Article by Symone Edwards and Christina Tapper CIVIL RIGHTS & RACIAL JUSTICE: Mentoring Our Brothers: Reshape Their Vision, Rebuild Our Society. Article by Keji Oshin


The Trouble with Black Boys. Book review by Joseph Rogers


EDUCATION: Glass Houses: How We No Longer Value Education (Or So the Story Goes). Article by Joseph Rogers


Grad School: Yes, You Should Go! Article by Julian Gunder


ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: Money, Holidays & The New Year. Article by Kolonji Murray


What about an IRA? Sidebar written by Kolonji Murray


Budget Friendly Ideas for the Holidays. Article by Orane Williams


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/ CAREER ADVICE: Show Me the Money! A Guide to Today’s High-Paying Careers. Get Taylormade with career advice from Aisha Taylor


Leaving the Job Market for an Advanced Degree: Is it Worth the Risk? Article by Obi Okere


HEALTH & QUALITY OF LIFE: No Time Like the Present: Preventative Healthcare in your 30s and 40s. Article by Kira Brereton



Love the Skin You’re In Article by Obi Okere


YP Reflections: Looking Back, Looking Forward. Article by Johari Imani Murray

In Every Issue 05 05 06 15 27 33

President’s Letter Editor’s Letter Contributors Member Spotlight Motivation on the Go YP Upcoming Events

The Impact of Health Reform to be Determined. Article by Kelvin Davis

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Editor-In-Chief Mariama Todd

Managing Editor Jazmin Haygood

Lead Designer Dwayne Neckles

Copy Editor

Kimberly Parris

Photo Researchers Julian Gunder Kenyatta Joseph

Logo Design

Dwayne Neckles Cover Design Shaun Williams

Executive Board President Rahshib Thomas

Vice President Monique Myles

Secretary Michelle Sprott

Aisha Taylor Membership Committee Chair

Mariama Todd Communications Chair

Lisa Leid Civics & Economics Chair

Nicole Clare Community Service Chair

Want to write for The Griot? E-mail


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Treasurer Chadwick W. Roberson

President’s Message Dear Friends, It’s exciting to continually bring you The Griot: The Publication of the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP). Over the past year, NYULYP has worked on behalf of the New York Urban League to promote education and employment opportunities throughout New York City. After enjoying a centennial sized celebration this summer in Washington, DC, we are proud to return to you this Fall as the “2010 Eastern Region Chapter of Excellence.” This accomplishment was a year in the making and came from every aspect of volunteerism. Members, supporters, sponsors and mentors fueled our success on a national level. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou said it best during the opening ceremonies of the centennial conference”...We’ve already been paid for!” Ms. Angelou’s spoken word caused seasoned civil rights leaders to reflect on where they’ve been and newcomers to the Movement to aspire to carry on the cause. Many walked away from various workshops, networking opportunities, engagement sessions and a visit from President Obama saying “I AM EMPOWERED.” A century of service to America has been an example to the world. Through this commitment to service we have come to know, the more things change the more they stay the same. Enabling African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights has achieved great strides because of the Urban League and there is more work to be done. Communities around New York are ringing the alarm for increased education initiatives which lead to self-reliance. The New York Urban League has continually responded to this alarm for 40 years with the Whitney M. Young Scholarship and Football Classic Weekend. NYULYP increases this response with the Emerging Leaders Scholarship now approaching its third year. As you enjoy the articles in this edition and reflect on the Urban League’s role in American history, think about what your legacy to the movement will be. All hands on deck. Don’t be OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE! Yours in the Movement,

Rahshib Thomas NYULYP President

Letter from the Editor Reflection As another calendar year comes to a close, we reflect on where we’ve been, and look forward to where we will go from here. As an organization and a chapter, we think about the accomplishments we have made in the last 100 years and 90 years respectively. We also think about where we are headed as an organization, and how we can continue to be empowered and keep the momentum going. As a publication, we look at where we were last fall and are encouraged by the fact that we continue to improve The Griot by holding each issue to a higher standard than the last. The articles in this issue are meant to encourage our readers to hold themselves to a higher standard as well, whether they are encouraging readers to look into an advanced degree, become a mentor, get back on track financially, or take a more active role in their health and well-being. Moving forward as a people, after all, suggests that we must each progress as individuals. Be empowered, be encouraged, and be inspired. Yours in the Movement,

Jazmin Haygood Managing Editor, The Griot The Griot


Contributors Orane Williams

Julian Gunder

Orane Williams is Your Financial Literacy Coach. He purchased his first home at 23 years old. Orane is the Founder and Executive Director of D.R.E.A.M. Inc (Dispelling Realities & Empowering African-American Minds Inc.), a non-profit organization that provides financial literacy workshops for urban youth, ages 13-25. He is a graduate of William Paterson University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management.

Julian Gunder was born and raised in sunny San Diego, CA, and received a Bachelors Degree in Marketing from Howard University. He is currently an Advertising Specialist with The New York Times, providing print and digital advertising solutions for companies throughout the nation. He has a strong passion for uplifting youth, and looks forward to starting a non-profit organization later this year.

Keji Oshin Keji is an up and coming writer and holds a degree in Computing from the University of Essex. He moved to New York in 2006 to pursue job opportunities and new adventures. He is an avid reader and a writer who believes in imparting knowledge, information and motivation through the written word. He currently works at The New York Times digital division and has been a member of YP for over 7 months. Apart from The Griot, he also writes for Smaart Talent magazine in the UK.. He follows soccer and is warming up to American football.

O.B. Wilson O.B. Wilson, is the first co-editor of the NYULYP’s Griot, previous president of FAMU Alumni NY Chapter and a writer of inspirations, poetry and travel stories. He has been published in local and national online and print publications. His passion is writing and helping within the community. He enjoys living life, traveling and enjoying time with friends and family.


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Joseph Rogers, Jr. Joe Rogers, Jr. serves as Director of Policy and Civic Engagement with Education Voters of New York, a statewide education advocacy organization working to ensure all children an excellent public education. A Harlemite going on seven years, Joe proudly mentors a third grader with Brotherhood-Sister Sol, addresses community needs as a member of Community Board 9’s Youth, Education and Libraries Committee, and enjoys writing and working with our stellar YP Communications Committee! In 2008, he launched Conscious Gear Expo, a grass roots youth voice program that guides middle and high school students toward advocacy and activism through critical thinking, community problem solving and the art of T-shirt design. Recently selected to participate in Coro’s Leadership New York policy program, Joe holds a master’s degree in Education Leadership, Policy and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The George Washington University.

Aisha M. Taylor Aisha M. Taylor, MPA is the Owner and Chief Consultant of TAYLORmade . Professional Career Consulting (

Kolonji Murray

Johari Imani Murray

Kolonji Murray is President of the financial advisory firm Murray Wealth Group in New York. Prior to starting the firm in 2009, he worked as a banker and financial advisor for a number of leading Wall Street firms. He holds a degree in Accounting from Hampton University and is active in a number of civic and industry organizations. Mr. Murray is Series 7 and 66 licensed in NY, CT and GA. He is also life, accident and health, variable life/variable annuities insurance licensed in those states.

Raised in Westchester Country, New York, Johari Imani Murray earned her Masters of Arts degree from Teachers College Columbia University in 2002. She studied Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing with a special emphasis in Bilingual Education (Spanish and English). Added to her teaching credentials, she worked in different public and private schools teaching and developing language and communication skills in at-risk students. Johari currently works at the University of Extremadura in the department of Spanish Programs for Foreign Students in Cáceres, Spain. She has made this small medieval, World Heritage city her own since 2006. Johari’s hobbies include art, yoga and traveling. She travels to the United States with her husband and two children at least twice a year to visit with family and friends.

Obi Okere Obi Okere is a qualified life coach, helping young professionals bridge the gap between their core essence and their ideal career so they can have more fun, make more money and experience a greater sense of fulfillment in their lives. He is the President and CEO of HYPE Success LLC, a personal coaching company. Learn more about him at

Kelvin Davis Kelvin Davis serves as an attorney with the NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct. He has also served in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) for four years with assignments in Maryland and Alabama. In his free time Kelvin enjoys strength training, yoga and watching movies and sports.

Alfred Blake Alfred Blake is known as the “Servant to the masses” and a dream catcher who looks to find the unlimited potential in every person he meets. He is the founder and president of I Am Multi LLC, a company that provides life skills workshops for youth, ages 13-25. He is also the president of Dice City clothing, an urban clothing line. Alfred is a graduate of Oakwood University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Pre-physical therapy. To book, or find more information about Mr. Blake, feel free to view and add at alfredblake .

Other Contributors Kira Brereton, Mariama Todd, Symone Edwards, Christina Tapper

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Looking Back, Moving Forward

National Urban League at 100, New York Urban League at 90.


ew York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP) was a proud participant in the National Urban League Centennial Conference held in Washington, D.C. July 28-31. This year’s theme: Empowerment Time: Past, Present & Future. In addition to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Urban League Movement 2010 also marks the New York Urban League’s 90th year of service to the community. NYUL and NYULYP represented proudly at the conference, bringing home two awards: Centennial Newcomer CEO of the Year Award for Arva Rice, CEO of NYUL, and Young Professionals Northeast Region Chapter of Excellence. Our History: Since its inception in 1910, the National Urban League has been steadfast in its commitment to empowering communities and changing lives. The National Urban League was born out of the Great Migration, as thousands of black Americans left the rural south

for the big cities of the North. Today, with key programs focused on eliminating the equality gap for African Americans and all people, the National Urban League delivers social services and programs to over two million people annually through a network of nearly 100 affiliates. Looking Forward: As the National Urban League celebrates and reflects on its one hundred years of service and rich history, it can be proud of its proven track record of pulling people out of poverty and putting them on the path to empowerment. As the organization begins its second century of empowering communities and changing lives, it goes forward reenergized, renewed, refocused and inspired. Through innovative programmatic initiatives and advocacy grounded in sound research, the National Urban League will continue to address and explore current and emerging opportunities and challenges. Through signature programs it

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prepares America’s workforce for the changing economy, provides housing and financial literacy counseling and foreclosure prevention, and conducts career and small business fairs, among other initiatives. Crucial to the programmatic initiatives, The State of Black America report in 2010 takes an in-depth look at the critical state of unemployment among people of color and for the first time includes extensive data on Hispanic Americans in the Equality Index. To that end, the National Urban League celebrates its centennial by launching the I AM EMPOWERED Campaign. Focused on four aspirational goals for American in the areas of education, employment, housing, and healthcare, I AM EMPOWERED will galvanize millions of people to take a pledge to commit their time and talent to help achieve these goals by 2025! (Nelson, 2010) All conference attendees and members of the Urban League Movement were asked to take the “I Am Empowered” Pledge:


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I pledge to responsibly commit my time and talent to ensure that the nation is empowered to achieve the following goals by 2025:

I. Every American child is ready for college, work and life.

II. Every American has access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits.

III. Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable and energyefficient housing on fair terms.

IV. Every American has access to quality and affordable health care solutions. You can still take the pledge at The national and local Urban League Movement is moving forward with the same vision for the future: Empowering Communities. Changing Lives. Article contains excerpt from Empowering communities. Changing lives: 100 years of the National Urban League and Black America: 1910-2010 by Alonzo Nelson Smith Ph D. Virginia Beach, VA, July 2010.

YP in the Community:

Backpack Drive 2010 by Symone Edwards and Christina Tapper


s our nation faces challenging economic times, the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP) continues to answer the call to serve the community, holding their 5th Annual Back to School Supplies Drive to support needy families. This year, the Backpack Drive committee, led by community service co-chair Valerie Darguste, set out to fulfill a lofty goal of providing fully-stocked backpacks to children in each of the city’s five boroughs. The committee began meeting in May to devise plans for fundraising and identify organizations, schools, and programs to receive the donations. Fundraising efforts included social networking media, soliciting corporate sponsorships and funds from local politicians, and reaching out to local business in the areas where backpacks would be distributed. Fundraising efforts culminated with the Beverages,

Beats, and Backpacks party at Taj II Lounge on August 12, co-hosted by Share and Share Alike. By the end of the campaign, NYULYP collected over $4,500 primarily from individual donors, tripling the amount raised last year. In order to assure that supplies would reach underserved children in the community, NYULYP partnered with several organizations to donate 200 backpacks to students. In Brooklyn, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation identified summer camp students at P.S. 7 to receive backpacks. Children participating in the Queens Baisley Park Library Summer Reading Program collected backpacks during their end-of-summer party. The New York Urban League’s Staten Island office worked with Brother’s Care Inc. to donate backpacks to children in need in that borough, while in Manhattan,

students in the 2nd and 3rd grades of P.S. 241 in Harlem received backpacks. Bronx students at The Children’s Aid Society’s C.S. 61 were the recipients of fullystocked backpacks as well. As the supplies were distributed, some children couldn’t wait to unzip the bags to compare pencil cases and notebooks, while others immediately modeled their new backpacks to pose for photos. In addition to helping lovingly stuff bags, several YP members were on hand at giveaway events to meet parents grateful for YP’s efforts to give their children a head start on the upcoming school year. The success of this and every year’s Backpack Drive depends on the continuous support of YP members and supporters. Next year, we will strive to increase our outreach as we seek to empower youth in our community.

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Mentoring Our Brothers: Reshape Their Vision, Rebuild Our Society by Keji Oshin


lot has been written about the problem with black boys and men: why we comprise such a high percentage of the prison population, why we glorify violence rather than intellect, why we graduate college at lower rates than black women. Poverty, absence of father figures, inadequate education, societal and peer pressures, drugs and racism are just some of the causes of these problems.


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According to Pedro Noguera’s book The Trouble with Black Boys… and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education, the problem starts during the formative years. Our young boys learn certain societal rules and mindsets which tend to influence their future outlook. One of those is to “dumb down” or hide academic ability and portray street-smarts. Also, changes in the black community over time have placed a disproportionate value on quick money, rather than building a functioning community. The glamorization of sports, music and violence set narrow visions of success in the minds of our young men. Though there is nothing wrong with wanting to be athletes, rappers, and singers, these visions and expectations affect a greater share of the male population and limit their potential.

Mentoring can enlighten young men about the alternative definitions of success available.

Many of our young men don’t strongly consider careers in business, engineering, medicine, etc. They need to be told and reminded of success stories of black men in all fields. Give them something to dream about and aim for. There are many organizations including the New York Urban League who are constantly looking for mentors to continue the great work of giving hope and dreams to our young men (and women): iMentor, Children’s Aid Society, 100 Black Men, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs. The Eagle Academy in New York City does great work nurturing young men in

Interracial mentoring is sometimes a good way to see beyond an existing benchmark or envision different goals. an educational setting, preparing them for a brighter future. Each student is assigned an adult mentor to assist with their academic and personal development. Mentor/mentee relationships can transcend the boundaries of race. Interracial mentoring is a good way to see beyond an existing benchmark or envision different goals. Gerald Boyd, the first black Managing Editor of The New York Times recollects in his autobiography My Times in Black and White, the influence of a Jewish family who gave him his first job and provided a view into another world, one where with hard work, regardless of race you can become anything if you persevere long enough.





As President Obama has said, it requires “everyone doing their bit... parents switching off the TV and Playstation and helping the kids with their homework…” So the next time you see a young brother hanging around, not doing much, try to connect with him. Better yet, take him under your wing!

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MUST-READS for the Young Professional

The Trouble With Black Boys (2008) Review by Joe Rogers, Jr.

A former high school teacher who has taught at both Harvard and Berkeley, Dr. Pedro Noguera currently serves as Executive Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and as a leading member of the State University of New York Board of Trustees. Though much Noguera’s work focuses on New York City, he is a nationally-recognized researcher and a trailblazing public intellectual in the movement to ensure all children the high quality educational opportunities they need and deserve. His latest book, The Trouble With Black Boys . . . And Other Reflections On Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education, hit the stands in 2008, an important year for Black men and boys around the world. Unfortunately, few outside of education have read or even heard of this book. But Black Boys isn’t just for teachers and policy wonks. In clear and well-researched analyses, Noguera


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contextualizes his findings on the causes of, and solutions to, the academic and social underachievement of our boys with examples from his experience as a former teacher, father and professor. Black Boys is a thoughtful, userfriendly, evidence-based resource with a clarion call for action to help our young people actualize their full potential. Pick it up, get “in the league,” and help lead the civil rights movement of our generation! Want to learn more about current issues in public education? Complement Noguera’s work with two education-related must-reads released earlier this year: The Death of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch, and The Flat World and Education by Linda Darling-Hammond. These books, equally accessible to the average reader, examine our systemic educational challenges and propose strong remedies using a national and international lens, respectively.

Educational Equity Specialist and Community Organizer

Member Spotlight: Joe Rogers, Jr. by O.B. Wilson

A native of Maine, Joe Rogers, Jr. is now a Harlemite and an active member of New York Urban League’s Young Professionals (YP). Joe’s passion is helping to improve our community by fighting for educational equity. He is a graduate of George Washington (GW) University, a world traveler, activist and educational specialist. Joe spends his time working for the community. Previously, Joe worked for AmeriCorps and lead part of their literacy program. After AmeriCorps, Joe spent time in Morocco, exploring the country and reflecting on his life mission. After Morocco, he moved to New York, where his passion for educational reform within society has blossomed. He is now an active member of his community board, NY/NJ Chapter of GW’s Black Alumni and co-founder of his own youth empowerment effort to help build communities, especially those of color. YP was introduced to Joe, through a friend, who invited him to come out to a YP general body meeting. Joe liked that the Urban League enabled him to serve the organization and community, while networking with people of similar views. Within YP, he is a member of the Communications Committee, where he works with great people, learns about community strategies, while providing his strategic expertise to the group. Joe looks forward to YP growing and playing his role to help the community fight the issue of educational equity.

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Glass Houses: How We No Longer Value Education (Or So the Story Goes) by Joseph Rogers

Black folks aren’t doing so well these days, particularly our kids in inner-city public schools, because we no longer value education. Pretty straightforward, right? Let’s look a little closer. Not long ago in our nation’s brief history, Black folks learned at their own peril. Enslaved African caught reading? Teaching an enslaved African to read? Catch a beating, lose a hand, lose a life. Many still chose to take that risk. For some--those who associated with free Blacks, abolitionists and the like--the risks weren’t as daunting. In fact, some folks who lived in the big house had access to books and tutoring courtesy of a “benevolent” massa or massa’s agents. You could try, but would be hard-pressed, to argue that those who lived in the big house valued education more than those in the field. And yet, today, many argue that our community’s underclass (i.e. our field brothers and sisters) are simply too lazy and/or intellectually deficient to value education. Makes some of us feel good about our industrious, intellectually gifted, supremely talented selves, right? “I’m not one of those.” Right? “Not like them.” Moreover, we continue to celebrate folks who have made it “all on their own”--poster men, women and children who have proverbially pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and climbed out of the morass of underachievement (as some see our communities). All on their own.


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hen’s the last time you ventured into the projects? I grew up in poverty a good chunk of my life, but in Maine. Maine’s public and government-subsidized housing isn’t always pretty, but it has nothing on the projects in Harlem or in so many other communities across our city. Two weeks ago I visited 5 or 6 Harlem project buildings in one night while distributing flyers for a state senate campaign. Suffocatingly narrow hallways marred by graffiti (not the pretty kind), dirty floors, dirty walls, a mouse cowering just outside an apartment here, a dead roach or two there. Certainly, one or two buildings or building floors were in decent shape, but If I didn’t know better, I’d think our folks--our young people--were being introduced to prison early through their jail-like living arrangements. (Truth be told, I’m not sure I know better.) You’d walk away from many of the school buildings in our communities with the same impression.

Only 12% of New York City’s black male 8th graders read proficiently. Because they don’t value education? Or because the brothers and sisters in our community who have benefitted from quality educational opportunities and social supports aren’t mentoring them? Because the curricula and instructional practices used in many of our schools aren’t culturally-, community-, and globally-relevant and in tune with the interests of our young people? Because we continue to match our least educated children with our least prepared teachers? Because we aren’t doing enough to recruit Black males into teaching so our boys interact daily with more academic role models who look like them? Because so few of our leaders understand the need for and have consistently fought for systemic educational improvements beyond racial integration?

Only 12% of New York City’s black male 8th graders read proficiently.

Have you checked the rates of unemployment in our communities recently? Hovering around 25% by some conservative estimates. Ever tried supporting a family on $7.25 an hour? Seems light years away from the American Dream that a public education, if you’re lucky enough to get a quality one, is supposed to get you. Inhumane living conditions, unemployment and poverty have a funny way of trumping educational values. And to make matters worse, the prevailing notion that a good education, like a farmhouse-snatching tornado, is supposed to take you far, far from home--from your family, friends and familiar surroundings--instead of equipping you to stay connected and help strengthen your community, steals some of the glitter from “making it”. (Perhaps we should think twice about whose values are warped here.)

It was heartening to see the National Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and other civil rights organizations join together a few months ago in petitioning the Obama Administration for a much-needed change of course in federal education policy, especially concerning the distribution of resources to our neediest schools and students. But that was a beginning, not the end. We must continue to both ask ourselves and our leaders tough questions and offer (and be) answers. The most important and pressing questions have less to do with how much we value education. Sure, let’s talk about educational values . . . but let’s do so within the broader context of human values and community values. How much do we value our less privileged brothers and sisters? How much do we love them? Enough to ensure them the opportunities they need and deserve to reach their full potential and live their dreams . . . to live our shared dream?

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Grad School: Yes, You Should Go by Julian Gunder


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Bachelor’s degree is a stellar achievement; it lays the foundation for success, opens doors, and is the gateway to reaching any potential professional goals. Often the emphasis on receiving additional degrees and certifications is minimized. It is true that not all fields require a graduate degree to reach the highest level. However, additional education is strongly suggested in fields such as finance, consulting, marketing, and sociology. Many executives in Fortune 500 Companies and on Wall Street have one thing in common: a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Minorities must step up to the plate and put themselves in a position to reach the executive level. Many top level positions are only made available to those with advanced degrees. The movers and shakers of this country, the real decision makers, and the ones who control the corporations with the most influence, are those with

advanced degrees. Here are some of the benefits of graduate level education:

Developing a Network - Networking with like-minded peers and alumni can help achieve your long term career goals. Often times, your classmates are great resources of information and can be the gateway into different professional and social circles. Even after graduation, many alumni keep in touch and hold alumni-only social events, where ideas and career opportunities are exchanged. Remember, often times it’s not as much what you know as it is who you know…

Access - Receiving access to a graduate school’s connections to companies in corporate America is a means of accessing a network that you might otherwise not be able to engage. Many companies specifically recruit from certain graduate programs. For example, entering the marketing

management ranks at Nike usually begins with an internship as a graduate student. However, the only schools that they consistently recruit from for their internship program are Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and MIT. With no graduate degree, your chances become very slim.

Upward Mobility - Across every industry, companies have top level positions that can only be obtained by individuals with graduate degrees. Don’t let a lack of education keep you from getting that Vice President job you’ve been working so hard for.

Financial - We’ll let this graph speak for itself. College Board: Education Pays Update 2005. A graduate degree Can help make the leap to senior management and, in some cases, validate your qualifications for your job. Education is key to empowering communities, so why not shoot for the very top?

Figure 1.1: Median Earnings and Tax Payments of Full-Time Year-Round Workers Ages 25 and Older, by Education Level, 2005

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Money, Holidays & The New Year

by Kolonji Murray

The end of the year can be a fun time

but it can also be financially challenging. The upcoming holidays are often spent with family, friends and colleagues. Some choose to show their love with expensive gifts. However, this year many Americans are on a tight budget, so creativity is key. To get the most bang for your buck, look for sales and gifts that are budget-friendly and imaginative. By doing this, you can minimize what your spend, making it easy to get back on track with a reasonable budget in the new year.


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Going into the new year, Americans are looking for ways to improve their financial lives. For many the last few years have been financially difficult and a lot of net worth has been lost. People are looking for ways to get that back. Some of the ways they’ll try will bear fruit in the short term, while others will take a little longer to show results. As in the past, many people are getting more education. By doing this they know that they can increase their knowledge base and also their marketability in the work place. Some people are going full time. Some people are going part time. If this is something that makes

sense to you, by all means seize the opportunity to be more marketable. Find a time frame that works for you to go back. It’s money well spent. Savings are up. Federal Reserve data shows that the rate of savings has spiked dramatically in recent years as a result of the recession Hopefully this trend will continue when the economy turns around. If people can set a goal of saving 10% of their income and not feel any pain, they should do it. Finally, even though times are tough, now may be the time for people to start that business they’ve been thinking about. Hiring

has slowed for many industries and recent data shows that for every job posting there are five applicants. So whether people have lost their job or they’re worried about losing their job, they may want to look at starting a business as a way to gain long-term security. If that’s the case then they need to do their homework. They need to check the viability of the business. Next they need to determine if their family is comfortable with the idea. Finally money and energy are required. All the ideas mentioned above are ideas we’ve heard before. But every so often it’s good to be reminded.

What about a Roth IRA? Imagine being able to take a few thousand dollars out of an account and not having to pay any taxes. Now imagine being retired. An important time when every dollar counts. Food and housing are just the start of the bills you’d have to pay. Well that tax free income is what you can get if you set up a Roth IRA. Why? The federal government wanted to encourage Americans to take on more of a financial role in their retirement. As a young person you have a huge advantage in that you have time on your side. The earlier you start contributing on a paycheck by paycheck basis the more you’ll have when you retire. But again, the key to having a hefty sum at retirement is to start as soon as possible and to contribute on a regular basis. Because it’s an individual account, you have a number of options to buy under the Roth IRA. These options include savings accounts, cds and money market accounts just to name a few. There are income restrictions on who can contribute to a Roth IRA so talk with your advisor about those restrictions. Also unlike traditional IRAs, with the Roth IRA you’re not able to get a tax deduction in the year that you made the contribution. Contributions that can be made up to a limit of $5,000 for most people but $8000 in certain circumstances. For more information on the Roth IRA visit the IRS website at

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your resource. The site allows you to bid on airline tickets, hotel rooms, and restaurants in the various cities.

Budget Friendly Ideas for the Holidays

Ever consider getting a parttime job? With the holiday season approaching, many stores are in need of additional help. A part- time job is a good way to get some extra money not only for the holidays but also to fill some budgets holes that may have formed over the summer.

by Orane Williams

Believe it or not, the holiday season is quickly approaching. It seems like only

yesterday we were basking in the sun, enjoying long strolls in the park, outdoor concerts and rooftop soirées. Many of us set up budgets in the beginning of the year but may have extinguished them through summer festivities. Fall is the time to review your initial plan and prepare for the upcoming year. It is never too early to get ready. People tend to become frantic at the thought of Black Friday sales and all the excitement that comes with the holidays, but there are many ways you can cut costs and still provide a great gift for someone. Are you a part of a large family? A cost-effective idea is to establish a “grab bag”policy with your family. Set a budget and have everyone


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pick a name. Participants create a wishlist of 3 items within an agreed budget. My best friend’s family is large and that is how they partake in gift exchanges for Christmas. Do you need to travel for the holidays? How about getting a travel package as a gift for someone? can be

As the holidays approach try to manage your shopping. Gift giving is a great time but don’t let your spending get out of control. A good rule of thumb: increase income and decrease expenses. Don’t wait until it is too late.



Show Me the Money! A Guide to Today’s HighPaying Careers

While we aren’t all cut-out to join the ranks of the thousands of medical doctors that graduate from college each year, there are still many very rewarding careers that can be both personally and financially fulfilling. Let’s admit it…most of us go to college because we want to make a lot of money. Unfortunately, many of us don’t choose careers that will, in fact, reap that benefit.


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Some of the most common college majors happen to be those with the lowest starting salaries. Social Work, Psychology, Liberal Arts, History, Education, and Communication are amongst the top 10 college majors in the US according to US News & World Report. However, it will likely take many years of experience and at least one graduate degree to achieve high-paying salaries in these fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following careers are amongst the fastest growing and highest paying. Computer Sciences / Information Technology Average Salary Range: $75,000 - $150,000 It should be no surprise that in this day and age, careers in the computer science and information technology fields are in high-demand and compensate well. Positions include computer programmers and engineers, business analysts, technical support, network analysts, and database administrators. As the world continues to advance in technology, the need for experts in the field is growing, and so are their salaries. Physician Assistants Average Salary Range: $60,000 – $100,000 Not to be confused with Medical Assistants, Physician Assistants perform medical care under the supervision of physicians and surgeons are a much more affordable option for clinics, nursing homes, and other smaller medical facilities. Their ability to review medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret lab tests and x-rays, and make diagnoses keep them in high demand and well-paid. Landscaping Average Salary Range: $80,000 - $107,000 Certainly a step above just cutting grass, careers in landscaping can include both domestic and commercial beautification of exterior lawns, gardens, parks, and other outdoor facilities. Their tasks include planting, weeding, decorating, maintaining irrigation systems, and consulting. With a few reliable contracts, landscapers receive handsome salaries in return for their hard manual labor. Personal Financial Advisors Average Salary Range: $65,000 - $80,000 In an economy where people have experienced significant financial loss, many are turning to the advice of professional financial advisors. The hope is that the advice of an expert can prevent further loss and ideally generate financial growth for one’s personal portfolio. Families and individuals fear that they’ll be hit by the effects of this economic downturn and are turning to Personal Financial Advisors to be their saving grace.

Send your career questions to Aisha M. Taylor, MPA is the Owner and Chief Consultant of TAYLORmade ~ Professional Career Consulting (

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Leaving the Job Market for an Advanced Degree: Is it Worth the Risk? by Obi Okere


ince the beginning of the recession in 2008,the number of applications for graduate programs has dramatically increased. According to the New York Times


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by October of 2009, 13 percent more people took the Graduate Record Examination than in 2009. Universities are reporting higher numbers of applications for enrollment. More people are simply considering leaving the job market to return to school. The real question is: “Is it worth going to graduate school and leaving the job

market?” For some, the answer is clear depending on their intention. If we want to enter certain professions such as medicine, law, psychology and social worker higher education is necessary. For other careers there are some graduate degrees that just don’t pay off in the workplace. Observe the comparisons in chart on the next page. It is easy to get caught in “graduate school fever.” As soon as we graduate from college, teachers, peers, parents can

become cheerleaders for continuing formal education. They will give reasons like: you’ll make more money, you’ll get a better job. Let’s face it. Graduate school isn’t cheap. According to the Census bureau, extra years of graduate school can cost about $16,000 per year. Bachelor’s Degree Computer Science – $61,467

Master’s Degree Computer Science – $68,627

Electrical Engineering – $60,509

Electrical Engineering – $70,921

Mechanical Engineering – $59,222 Mechanical Engineering – $66,961

Depending on the profession of simply continue the search depends choice, is it worth leaving the job on the insight gained from the market, delaying employment for following tips: at least 1 year, and accumulating student loan debt for the benefit Success leaves clues. Look for of a graduate degree? It may people who have the success not be necessary. Despite the that you want and ask how they unemployment rate companies are got there. Do an informational still hiring and actively looking interview with them. This will for sharp professionals. In August help to answer questions you may 2010, the private sector added have about your career path. They 67,000 jobs. Although the job may know certain shortcuts to market today is advance in their field tough, how can that the average outsider Success leaves clues. we still position would not know about. Look for people who ourselves better Go to the following against the link to learn how to have the success that competition you want and ask them do an informational for these job interview: http:// how they got there. opportunities www.quintcareers. as they become com/informational_ available? interviewing.html The answer may be as simple as taking a continuing education course to bridge the gap between the skills we have and those needed to be competitive. The answer may also lie in leveraging our professional networks. According to Mark Granovetter, American sociologist at Stanford University, 56% of all job seekers find their jobs through personal referrals. Whether or not it is necessary to either go graduate school, take a continuing education course or

Check whether your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. Many employers will require that you sign a contract stating that you will continue to work with them for an “X” amount of years after graduation. This will allow you to get valuable work experience while you explore your options. Consult with a life coach or a career counselor to help you plan out your career and determine what the best options are for you.

“Plans are not optional to successful people! Contrary to popular belief, without a plan, success is not an option”- Alfred Blake What is reflection? Reflection is conscience thought about your actions, their results, and how you can improve upon them. Reflection is the trump card of success. Without reflection, there would be nothing for a man/woman to profit after a great failure or success. As you ponder on how you will continue to ascend in the ladder of life, I charge you to seriously think about your goals, and your inner most desires of the heart. You may be wondering why I have charged you to the aforementioned. I have done so, because I am sure that you will make thoughts and dreams become reality, rather than figments of your imagination, by making a plan. Every architect is aware of the importance of a blueprint. Although not in title, you are an architect. A blueprint serves as the plan you will use for your architecture of your enterprise. As you continue to plan your actions always reflect and make sure your actions resemble those of an architect valuing craftsmanship, sturdiness, and creativity. All of which will help to transform your plan from a plan, to “THE PLAN”.

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Monitoring Your Health

One of the best steps you can take toward having a healthy life is to know your baseline (or the conditions under which your body regularly operates). Having a good sense of your health status allows for a quick identification of any abnormalities that could be markers of the early stages of a life debilitating or threatening illness. Early detection often times makes a world of difference in how a disease may ultimately affect you in the long run. For those with a family history of illness, it is particularly important to regularly monitor health status because the risk of developing an illness significantly increases when you have a close family member who developed a illness. The best way to have a good handle on your baseline health status is by selecting a doctor with who you feel comfortable and making annual visits for checkups.


Between doctor’s visits you can continue to monitor your health through self screening, particularly for breast or testicular cancer. Regular self screening will permit you to quickly identify any differences in your bodies tissues (such as lumps or bumps) that could be signs of the development of cancer. There are many methods for conducting self exams and you should select which ones work best for you and consult with a doctor if you find any abnormalities. Below are examples of how to conduct each type of exam.

Breast Cancer Self Exam: 1 Lie down and rest the palm of your right hand behind your head.

2 Using the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on your left

hand, feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping pennysized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue. Use 3 different levels of pressure to examine all the breast tissue. Light pressure should be used to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure should be used to feel a little deeper; and firm pressure should be used to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. 3 Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting the palm of your left arm behind your head and using the finger tip of your right hand to do the exam. 4 While standing in front of a mirror, look at your breasts for any changes of size, texture, shape, contour, or dimpling of the nipple or breast skin.

Testicular Cancer Self Exam: 1 Examine one testicle at a time. Place your thumbs over the

top of the testicle, with the index and middle fingers of each hand behind the testicle, and then roll it between your fingers (with slight pressure). You should be able to feel the epididymis (i.e., the sperm-carrying tube), which is a normal lump that feels soft and rope-like and is slightly tender to pressure. It is located at the top of the back part of each testicle. 2 When examining each testicle, feel for any lumps or bumps

along the front or sides. Lumps may be as small as a grain of rice or a pea.

Diet and Exercise

As we grow older, maintaining a proper diet and having a regular exercise regimen is just as important as regularly monitoring our health. This is because our metabolisms slow, our recovery is less rapid and our bodies are far less forgiving in the allowances we are given for not maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise. The food choices we make can exacerbate our chances of having a life debilitating or threatening illness. As such, diets should be rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains to maximize health benefits. If you have an aversion to any of these foods, then you should make sure to supplement your meals with a multi-vitamin or a specific vitamin supplement so that your body is getting all that it needs to maintain a healthy life. You should reduce the amount of saturated fat included in your diet and replace it with monounsaturated fat such as that in olive, canola, and soybean oils. You should also make sure that your body is properly hydrated. While some of the water your body needs will come from the foods you eat. The rest of your water need should come from the beverages you drink. Water is the best choice. The body needs water in particular to regulate body temperature, permits nutrients to travel to various places in your body in which they are needed, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs. You should drink water in an amount that is equivalent to half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink at least 90 ounces of water per day. If you drink alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water to counter the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Additionally, when you exercise you should drink another eight ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. The health benefits of exercise are far greater than assisting us with controlling our weight and strengthening our muscles. Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress, improves sleep, slows the rate of bone loss, enables the body to use insulin more efficiently and improves cardiovascular health. As a minimum, we should incorporate endurance, flexibility, strength and balance exercises into our workout regimes. • • • •

Endurance exercise, such as walking, helps increase stamina. Strength exercise, with free weights or resistance weights, increases metabolism and may help prevent osteoporosis. Flexibility exercise, such as stretching, prevents, and aids recovery from, injuries. Balance exercises, such as standing on one foot, help prevent falls.

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The Impact of Health Reform to be Determined by Kelvin Davis


itizens seeking to learn all the changes in the health care law President Obama signed into law in March of this year will have their work cut out for them. Review of the 1,000 page bill would be a tall task for even those armed with a law degree and great patience. The law is called the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill can be reviewed in the Federal Register and is listed as Public Law 111-152. It is designed to increase access to health care and to make it more affordable. Those interested in knowing their rights and responsibilities may want to get a guide or a summary of the law. The law may be a big benefit to affected individuals. The law imposes fees on certain employers who fail to provide insurance coverage to their workers. Health care insurance providers will be able to allow parents to keep their adult children on their plan up to age 26. Prescription drug benefits for senior citizens are expanded to remove the gap in coverage commonly referred to as the donut. Individuals will be required to obtain health care coverage. The law also aims to make student loans cheaper by ending subsidies to lenders and providing for more direct loans. The health care law may have an impact on the fall election. Opposition to the law has been demonstrated by law suits initiated by State Attorney Generals, such as in Florida and Texas, challenging the constitutionality of the law. Candidates for office have campaigned against the health care law. Government attempts to educate the public on the benefits of the law may be able to create a more favorable opinion about it. The impact of the bill will not be clear immediately because some provisions of the law will not take effect until 2014.


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The Skin You’re In by Obi Okere

The following are 5 keys ways to show more love to yourself and improve your self-image:

1 Exercise regularly.

This allows you to not only improve your physical health, but also the amount of energy you experience daily.

Each of us has our own mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. This is our self-image. It is made up of our own beliefs derived from past experiences, successes, failures, and the way others have reacted towards us. What is interesting is that once a belief goes into the picture of our self-image it becomes “true” as far as we are personally concerned. It becomes our reality.

2 Get Your Routine

Tim is an unemployed accounting professional. His girlfriend has recently broken up with him. As a result of how he sees himself, he is not able to see his situation as normal. Many people like himself are finding it challenging to get a job and mostly everyone has had a relationship that didn’t work out. Instead Tim sees himself as a failure and questions who would want him for a romantic relationship. His negative self-image has caused him to sabotage job interviews and romantic dates with women because he wants avoid the shame of being seen as a failure and an undesirable man.

3 Eat Nutritious Food.

People with a positive self-image are more likely to be self-confident. They are also effective at work, social situations, and relationships. People with a negative self-image can be very self-conscious, inhibited, and ineffective with people. What I find is that most people who have a negative self-image don’t love themselves. Self-love is one of the best ways to improve your self-image. It is important for us to love ourselves so that we can give love to others. One cannot give what he does not give to himself. The more that we show love to ourselves, the more that we can overflow with love into the lives of other people. A common misconception between men and women is that buying new clothes, keeping ourselves well groomed, and going out to social events is self-love. This isn’t love, it’s pampering. It is a way of covering up a negative self-image with superficial self-care.

Check-up. Visit your doctor and make sure that you are aware of the state of your health and how to improve it.

Your body is only as good as the food you feed yourself.

4 Invest time in prayer or meditation. This allows you to connect with your spirituality.

5 Read beneficial information. One must learn something new to do something different.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward by Johari Imani Murray


t is important to have personal goals, to make plans, to progress in one’s life. When moving through these engagements, now and again a cautionary turning back should be observed. Inscribed in Titian’s painting “Allegory of Time” reads, “From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future action.” So let me take stock in recalling that I’ve always had natural hair save two times when I had it relaxed. The first time, I was a curious 16 year old and about four years later a young women in search of adventure. Both occasions ended with me carrying a lemonadestand in my heart. From these experiences, I learned to look


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internally as opposed to looking out at popular culture for my own experiments in beauty. I’ve braided my hair with extensions, colored it, wrapped it in cloth and yes, even shaved it all off. I’ve taken myself to task in forging an operational definition of beauty, which revealed an “inseparable” dichotomy between private self and public other. This is a universal reckoning. Liberation from Standardized cannons of beauty is not a separation from it, but a conscious understanding of its influence and one’s personal determination of how to deal with it. My parents made a clear distinction between natural hair (groomed and healthy) and unkempt hair (natural, treated or otherwise. Locs had been a grey issue. Long hair and/or thick hair was preferred to short and thin hair; it was deemed healthier and therefore more attractive. So when I shaved my hair off, the reception of my new style was

mixed, similar to that of my uncle who had locked his hair. Both styles achieved “family approval” (in other words people said, “that style looks nice on you”), but the situations created a re-visiting of aesthetics. My personal goal is to maintain healthy hair. I plan to try different styles and possible treatments such as the apple cider vinegar rinse. I’m not looking to have longer hair or even to convince anyone to make the same decisions I have made regarding hair. I do look to encourage the critical lens and to push the envelope when it comes to givens and standards about beauty and Afro hair. I encourage looking in to self to better look out to the world and make informed, sincere choices that reflect a critical beauty that does come from within and without.

UPCO MI NG E V E N T S October 19 - General Body Meeting with The Scripps Network 23 – NY Cares Day November 13 – HBCU College Fair at Riverbank State Park 19 - General Body Meeting 26 – YP Member Potluck December 21 - General Body Meeting

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“Our Community, Our Schools, Our VOTE, Our Future”

Join Education Voters of NY in getting out the vote! We will engage African-American, Latino/ Hispanic and young voters to make education a priority in the upcoming elections and hold elected officials accountable for improving our public schools beyond Election Day. Help us register over 500 of our neighbors in Brentwood and Central Islip to vote in the 2010 Elections. Join our drive on: Sat, 9/25. Sun, 9/26, Sat, 10/ 2, Sun 10/3 Help us organize 3000 voters in Brentwood and Central Islip to the polls on Election Day! Join our canvass on: Sat, 10/16, Sun, 10/17, Sat, 10/ 23, Sun 10/24, Sat, 10/30, Sun, 10/31, Mon, 11/1, Tues, 11/2 To sign up and for further information, please contact Cynthee Cortes, Director of Civic Engagement @ or Education Voters at (646) 405-4806 ext. 1

The Griot - Fall 2010  
The Griot - Fall 2010  

Fall 2010 Issue of The Griot, publication of the New York Urban League Young Professionals