STEM awareness gets boost from Caribbean conference

Participants at the recent CSF Conference in Guyana.

Participants at the recent CSF Conference in Guyana.

(December 19, 2013, Georgetown, Guyana): In a packed conference room at the Grand Coastal Hotel, enthusiastic professionals from the Caribbean joined students and teachers from Guyana to discuss careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Under the title, “Stimulating Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Science and Engineering,” the Caribbean Science Foundation (SCF) hosted its third annual conference. Details were provided about promoting STEM careers to help diversify the economies of the Caribbean. The event was held December 2-3.

The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), in collaboration with the Guyana Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation organized the conference. The CSF was established in 2010 as an independent non-profit non-governmental organization whose mission is to assist with the diversification of the Region’s economies by promoting education reform in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship.

Students listen intently during workshop at the conference.

Students preparing for micro-science experiments.

Prime Minister of Guyana, the Hon. Samuel Hinds, opened the conference, and both he and Guyana’s  Minister of Education, the Hon. Priya Manickch, highlighted the importance of harnessing science and technology for the development of the region. Collaboration and cooperation across institutions and sectors throughout the region, and networking with the diaspora, were mentioned frequently as key to facilitating science and technology advances. The recent approval of Guyana’s National Science and Technology policy was highlighted by Science and Technology Advisor to the President of Guyana, Mr. Navin Chandarpal. He stressed the policy as a national milestone in elevating awareness of the importance of STEM education reform. Barbados Ambassador Designate to China, and Director General Emeritus of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, focused on the importance of food security, the expanded agricultural sector, and the need for the Region to produce more of the food it consumes.

Many students and teachers from high schools in Guyana participated in the conference, with the students posing some of the most difficult questions to the speakers. The students, under the supervision of Ms. Petal Jetoo of the Ministry of Education of Guyana and her team of Guyanese scientists, also carried out experiments using microscience kits provided by UNESCO. The students commended this hands-on learning experience.

Conference presenter shares information while students gaze in rapt attention.

Professor Winston Mellowes engaging students at the conference, while students gaze in rapt attention.

CSF programs such as the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge and the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) were featured, with three Guyanese students speaking about their recent experiences in those programs. Also covered were STEM curriculum and modernization updates, with the primary objective of making science fun for the students. Teaching with examples drawn from local resources and needs, inquiry-based science approaches, the scientific method, and the use of digital e-learning were also emphasized. The need for more national science fairs, math Olympiads and science museums was also stressed. The vast range of career options in the STEM disciplines was the subject of a career panel. The requirements for the launch of a high-tech electronics start-up company were demystified with examples showing how, in the Internet era, the materials and components needed could be sourced worldwide from a desktop. The critical need for execution to bring ideas to fruition was emphasized.

The 2013 CSF Distinguished Service Awards went to Prof. Maya Trotz of the Univ. of South Florida, Ms. Petal Jetoo of the Ministry of Education of Guyana, Sagicor Financial Corporation, and Sagicor Life Caribbean. Key sponsors of the Workshop included the Caribbean Examinations Council, the Organization of American States, the Canadian government, UNESCO and Sagicor.

Individuals or organizations interested in supporting CSF projects may donate at http://caribbeanscience.org/donation/ or send inquiries to Professor Cardinal Warde (warde.csf@gmail.com). OnPointPress.net.

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Tessanne Chin is the new “Voice” winner

Tessanne Chin belting out the late Whitney's Houston's "I Have Nothing."

Tessanne Chin belting out the late Whitney’s Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”

By Carmen Glover

Riding a wave of enthusiastic support from an impressive fan base, Jamaica-born singer Tessanne Chin, 28, was named the season five winner of NBC’s singing contest, “The Voice,” on the Tuesday night finale. Chin, who was coached by Adam Levine during the contest, beat out Jacquie Lee, who was coached by Christina Aguilera and Will Champlin, who was also coached by Levine, to become the newest winner of the popular talent search show.

The highly watched finale took place over a two-day period, beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Monday night as the three finalists belted out various songs designed to show their range and expertise. Chin electrified the crowd with her powerful rendition of the late Whitney Houston’s hit “I Have Nothing,” causing Levine to rise from his seat and state:

” I don’t know what else is left for Tessanne to do. She’s the winner.”  Viewers of the show have voted in large numbers for Chin, and have also encouraged others to watch the show and vote for her. The winner was announced Tuesday night after a recap of the season. Chin could barely contain her excitement when her name was announced.

An emotional Tessanne Chin performs on "The Voice."

An emotional Tessanne Chin performs on “The Voice.”

“Oh my God,” Chin said, when her name was announced. Happy tears slid down her cheeks and she held her face in a combination of joy and shock. Levine hugged her happily while her husband and mother embraced at the edge of the stage. After holding the trophy briefly, Chin sang the single that “The Voice” is releasing on iTunes at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday. In addition to being named the winner, Chin, who has been a backup singer for reggae star Jimmy Cliff, will be given a record deal by the producers of the show. Chin expressed her “love” and gratitude for Levine and the dedication he has shown in coaching her during the competition  Levine expressed feeling “happiness” when his team wins and he could not disguise his pleasure that Chin emerged as the season five winner. He said often during the completion that she deserved to win.

When the parents were asked how they felt about their children progressing to the finale, Tessanne’s mother, Christine, a musician herself, did not hold back. “I’m very proud of Tessanne,” she said, urging Chin to “be yourself,” while explaining that Chin is representing her family as well as “a nation, Jamaica.” Social media exploded with positive feedback when Chin sang the duet “Love Can Move Mountains,” with multiple award-winning music icon Celine Dion.

Tessanne with her producer Paul Kastick of Big Mountain Records.

Tessanne with her producer Paul Kastick of Big Mountain Records.

Throughout the contest, Chin has won fans far and wide, but Jamaicans across the globe have mobilized en masse to watch diligently each week while reaching out to residents in the U.S. to host various voting parties, since voting was restricted to the U.S. As Chin distinguished herself week after week, her fan base grew steadily while she has thrived, exuding class, dexterity, humility and a fun-filled aura that supporters have found refreshing.

For Paul Kastick, CEO of Groove Galore Muzik Productions and member of the Big Mountain band, who spotted Chin’s talent, nurtured her musical dreams, produced her chart-topping single, and worked tirelessly to get her air play when she was being snubbed by radio programs, her latest achievement comes as no surprise. “Let me tell you, Tessanne is one of the best voices out there right now,” he stated, boldly predicting her victory on Sunday night when he was vacationing in Malaysia. “My team was the original team that worked with her from the ground up. We were there with her from day one, working with her because we could see that she was just a natural with the music,” he said.

Chin’s album, “In Between Words,” has been rising steadily on iTunes, as she continues to revel in the embrace of the U.S. fans. Chin thanked her well-wishers from the “tiny island of Jamaica and her new fans in the U.S,” saying she was “grateful for their support,” throughout her journey on “The Voice.” She also thanked her husband, who she said has “been there” through it all. By winning “The Voice” contest, Chin is now poised to take the musical world by storm, building on her past achievements while enjoying well-deserved, long-overdue recognition on the international stage. Her victory on “The Voice” signifies that she has broadened her appeal, won new hearts and fans who saw her in their living rooms for weeks and fell in love with what she delivered. Well done Tessanne. –OnPointPress.net

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2013 WWE Divas feature diversity, skills, achievements

The cast of the WWE Total Divas reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

The cast of the WWE “Total Divas” reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The last pay-per-view event of the year for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) coincided with the season finale of the first year show “Total Divas,” a reality show featuring several of the female talent working at WWE. As millions watched the personal developments of the divas, the “Divas Champion *AJ Lee,” defended her title at the year ending WWE pay-per-view event “Tables, Ladder, and Chairs,” capping an exhilarating year for WWE’s top diva, while expanding the fan base for all the divas.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Lee has had a phenomenal year and has become a fan favorite while earning and retaining the WWE Divas Championship. She was also the general manager of WWE Raw for a short period this year. She has demonstrated the screen presence and charisma the WWE looks for in its talent to help with cross-branding pursuits. Other WWE Divas like *Kaitlyn and *Layla have been WWE Divas Champions over the past couple of years. However, Lee has stood out with her ability to connect with fans on the microphone as well as in the ring. The ability to connect with the crowd is always the toughest challenge for WWE superstars and Lee has become the best WWE diva in that category this year.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

The WWE Divas were featured prominently on television this year too. The *Bella twins (Brie and Nikki), joined Naomi and Cameron (the Funkadactyls)  on the “Steve Harvey Show.” The twins also appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The twins led the WWE Divas in appearances in non-WWE shows, which has helped to increase the popularity of all the women of the WWE.

“Wresting is a great workout,” The twins and Funkadactyls said as they demonstrated various exercises and dance moves on the Steve Harvey Show, delighting the mostly female audience. “Oh this is good,” Harvey said, clapping his hands in appreciation while the divas took over the stage.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

The shift to in-ring performance as an emphasis for the divas has resulted in fewer women resembling the former WWE divas like *Sable, Stacy Keibler, and Torrie Wilson who were known more for their beauty than their wrestling ability. While there have always been WWE divas who were known for their wrestling ability, the WWE fans gravitated to the most attractive WWE women, regardless of wrestling ability.  Many of those former WWE divas still maintain public interest , which speaks to their appeal and the wide reach of the WWE audience.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women's Champions in WWE in the past.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women’s Champions in WWE in the past.

The current crop of divas has earmarks of other former WWE divas like *Trish Stratus, *Lita, and *Mickie James, who were lauded for both their beauty and wrestling ability. These woman have gained a different type of exposure than the previous generation of divas as many of the current women at WWE are mainly in-ring performers. The women of the WWE have been able to combine their trademark beauty with the rough and tumble ability necessary to excel in and out of the ring.

The “Total Divas” show has given the *Bella twins, *Natalya, *JoJo Offerman, *Eva Marie, and *Naomi and *Cameron (the Funkadactyls) more exposure on the crowded WWE roster. The “Total Divas” show also included frequent appearances by two of the most popular WWE superstars, *Daniel Bryan, and Jon Cena.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

The WWE continues to find a way to promote its many products across multiple platforms and with the divas showcasing their diversity and skills, the potential for greater achievements will continue to grow. .–OnPointPress.net–

* Denotes WWE stage name

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.

NY Congresswoman Yvette Clarke hosts Tessanne voting party, re-election event

 

New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke poses with her mother, indomitable politician Dr. Una Clarke.

New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke poses with her mother, indomitable politician Dr. Una Clarke.

(Brooklyn, New York, 12/16/2013): Tonight, Monday, December 16, 2013, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., friends, supporters and well-wishers of Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, from New York’s 9th Congressional District, will join her for a post-holiday soiree, cocktails and a voting party for Jamaica-born Tessanne Chin, who has made it to NBC’s “The Voice” Finals. The event will be held at the Windland Restaurant, located at 242 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

“For weeks we have watched our darling Tessanne deliver one flawless performance after another on The Voice,” Clarke said. “On Monday night, she will deliver her final ‘winning’ performance and we will be right there, all Jamaicans, wherever we are across the Diaspora, to support her with our votes.” The congresswoman noted that regional support for Chin has reached fever-pitch proportions, especially in her Brooklyn congressional district.  “I encourage everyone to get on every device available and vote  to ensure victory for Tessanne,” she said. Part one of the two-part “The Voice” Finale airs on NBC tonight at 8:00 p.m. and the winner will be announced on Tuesday night.

Guests at the Tessanne voting/re-election event will mix and mingle with the political elite, business leaders and young professionals of New York City, while raising well-needed funds for the congresswoman’s 2014 re-election bid.The primaries will be held in June 2014 instead of September, the usual month. Distinguished guests are expected to include: NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; NYC Public Advocate-elect Letitia James; Assemblyman Karim Camara; Council Member-elect Laurie Combo, as well as other political, business and community leaders.

Congresswoman Clarke was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 from New York’s 11th congressional district. She was re-elected to represent New York’s new 9th congressional district in November 2012. Her steady rise in the 113th Congress has seen her serving on three House Committees including the Homeland Security, Small Business and Ethics Committees. Her 7-year tenure has been one of leadership on key issues, a path that she hopes to continue on behalf of her constituents. She recently called on President Obama to halt the deportation of immigrants to the Caribbean and other countries to protect families and ease the sense of fear under which these families exist.

General admission tickets for the event are $100.00 with other support levels ranging from $500-$2,600.00. For information on tickets and contributions please call: (718)-940-2480, or (718)-940-2008. Funds raised from the event will support “Clarke for Congress.”  –OnPointPress.net.

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Many memorials later, Nelson Mandela is laid to rest

South African residents leave notes and flowers for their beloved Nelson Mandela.

South African residents leave notes and flowers for their beloved Nelson Mandela.

By Carmen Glover

The ten-day mourning period announced previously by South Africa’s President Joseph Zuma culminates today with the burial for late international icon Nelson Mandela. Mandela was buried earlier today in his ancestral hometown of Qunu, surrounded by family members.

President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy at last Tuesday's public memorial service for the late great Nelson Mandela.

President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy at last Tuesday’s public memorial service for the late great Nelson Mandela.

Well-wishers have flocked to pay their respects to the late great leader, as his body lay in state from Wednesday through Friday last week in Pretoria. This period occurred after a public memorial was held on Tuesday in Johannesburg. That memorial was attended by U.S.A. President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, three former U.S. Presidents as well as presidents, prime ministers, leaders, celebrities and admirers from across the globe. Raindrops fell throughout the public memorial but the event continued unabated with dancing, singing and reflections. President Obama delivered a stirring eulogy.

Mourners listen to various speakers at the public memorial.

Mourners listen to various speakers at the public memorial.

Memorials were held across the globe during the week, including one in Washington D.C. which was hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and one in New York City which featured former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. Dinkins hosted Mandela at Gracie Mansion on his first US visit in 1990, mere months after his release from prison. The outpouring of love, grief, celebration and reflection inspired by Mandela’s death provided mourners from across the globe with an opportunity to share their views about the impact of the late leader’s life on citizens all over the world. Additionally, it provided a forum for people to reflect on their lives individually and globally. Also, it inspired mourners to examine ways in which they can learn from Mandela’s myriad of examples to achieve goals and change people’s lives, regardless of how dark, difficult and impossible the odds may seem.

Late South African President Nelson Mandela is now at rest.

Late South African President Nelson Mandela is now at rest.

Rest in peace Nelson Mandela. Your inspiring legacy will live on and serve as a beacon of light, propelling others to unleash their inner greatness.–OnPointPress.net.

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Jameis Winston takes home the 2013 Heisman Trophy

 

Jameis Winston adds the Heisman Trophy to the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award (featured above) with a convincing tally of votes.

Jameis Winston adds the Heisman Trophy to the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award (featured above) with a convincing tally of  668 first place votes.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Heisman Trophy was awarded to red-shirt freshman Jameis Winston Saturday night in a decisive victory. Once the investigation into his involvement in a sexual assault case was ended last week, the Florida State Seminoles quarterback entered Saturday as the favorite to win the award. Winston, 19, becomes the youngest Heisman Trophy winner, a designation formerly held by fellow finalist and last year’s winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The six Heisman Trophy Finalists (l - r) Jordan Lynch, Johnny Manziel, Tre Mason, AJ McCarron, Andre Williams, and Jameis Winston.

The six Heisman Trophy Finalists (l – r) Jordan Lynch, Johnny Manziel, Tre Mason, AJ McCarron, Andre Williams, and Jameis Winston.

The final tally of votes for the award saw Jameis Winston win the Heisman in a landslide with a total of 2,205 points which included 668 first place ballots. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron placed second with 704 points, with Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch totaling 558 votes. Andre Williams of Boston College (470), Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M (421), and Tre Mason of Auburn (404) rounded out the ballot. Winston took to the podium and graciously thanked “God for allowing this dream to come true.” Winston also continued to thank his family and Florida State teammates and coaching staff for instilling the value of “trusting in the process” and their continued support. His parents looked on proudly as Winston addressed the gathering.

Winston adds the Heisman Trophy to the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and Davey O’Brien Award as the top quarterback in the nation. He also becomes the third Seminoles quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (1999) won the Heisman Trophy and led their team to the college football National Championship in the same season they won the award. Winston will try to keep that tradition alive as the Florida State Seminoles will face the Auburn Tigers for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship on January 6, 2014 to conclude the college football season. He will celebrate his 20th birthday on the day of the BCS Championship.–OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.

Golden Globes nominations for Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o

Idris Elba in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Idris Elba authentic performance in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” earned him a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Actor Category.

By Carmen Glover

Movies depicting the nuanced and diverse range of the black experience have been released in record numbers in theaters this year, making 2013 a great year for blacks in film. The announcement by the Golden Globes that two dramatic actors, Idris Elba (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”) in theaters Christmas Day and Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave,” will compete in the category of best actor comes as no surprise. In fact, it would have been unsurprising if that category had been dominated by black actors, including Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station;” Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Black Nativity;” and Chadwick Boseman in “42: The True Story of an American Legend,” for his moving portrayal as baseball great Jackie Robinson.

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor renders a solid performance in "12 Years a Slave."

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor renders a solid performance in “12 Years a Slave” for which he was nominated for Best Actor by the Golden Globes.

“12 Years a Slave” tied with “American Hustle” in receiving 7 nominations each. The movie was nominated for best actor, director, film in drama, supporting actor, supporting actress, screenplay and score. The nominations were announced yesterday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The Golden Globes are often seen as precursors to the Oscar, as far as the films most likely to be honored. The Golden Globes will air on January 12, 2014.

Lupita Nyong'o  was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "12 Years a Slave."

Lupita Nyong’o was nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave.”

Michael B. Jordan in "Fruitvale Station."

Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station.”

Although Elba and Ejiofor were nominated in the dramatic category, black actors were ignored in the comedic category, despite the strong performances by the actors in the popular romantic comedy “Best Man Holiday.” And for reasons known only to the Globes’ selection committee, black women were snubbed for their film portrayals in the major categories. The exception was Lupita Nyong’o, who was nominated in the supporting actor category for her stellar performance in “12 Years a Slave.” Also, Kerry Washington snagged a nomination for her fierce depiction of Washington fixer Olivia Pope in the television drama Scandal.

Chadwick Boseman in "42."

Chadwick Boseman in “42.”

Among the noteworthy films that showcased the diversity of the black experience this year are: “Temptation,” directed by Tyler Perry and starring Journee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Vanessa Williams; “2 Guns,” with Denzel Washington and Paula Patton; “White House Down,” with Jamie Foxx; “Olympus Has Fallen,” with Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett, directed by Antoine Fuqua; “The Call,’ with Halle Berry; “Las Vegas,” with Morgan Freeman; “Now You See Me,” with Common; and several movies starring Dwayne “The Rock Johnson,” including “Snitch” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”

Forest Whitaker and Oprah in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

Forest Whitaker and Oprah in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

One aspect of the range illuminated by the plethora of black films that hit the theaters this year is the opportunity the trend allowed for the pantheon of directors and producers to expand their reach and shine. Validation for the risks taken by directors and producers were evident in box office receipts with many films far exceeding expectations. Moviegoers flocked to the theaters in droves, eager to reunite with characters who seemed like old friends (“The Best Man Holiday.”) or simply to gain exposure to a different take on slavery in Steve McQueen’s masterful direction of “12 Years a Slave.”

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

 

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "Snitch."

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Snitch.”

As the wait for the Oscar nomination continues, expectations are high that more black actors and actresses will be recognized for stellar performances that filled theaters from the year began. That trend is expected to surge when British heart-throb Elba’s stirring performance in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” is made available to an expanded audience base on Christmas Day, when the movie opens in wide release. —OnPointPress.net.