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Ikie’s College Dream

I read and watched a lot of stories out of West Virginia out of the election and all were focusing on red vs. blue politics. I wanted to put a face on the story and hear firsthand what is going on in rural Appalachia. Ikie Brooks took me on a tour of his town and shared his story with me. Ikie is one of those students who is a true gem.

Nurturing ‘the Next Generation of Women-of-Color Leaders’

Inside SisterMentors, a nonprofit group that mentors girls from low-income families and helps women complete their dissertations.

Shireen K. Lewis is dedicated to increasing the number of minority women who have earned Ph.D.s. As founder of the nonprofit SisterMentors, Ms. Lewis takes a holistic approach, helping minority girls realize and develop their talents. The organization supports these young students from elementary school through college via a robust network of women who know the ins and outs of applying to, getting into, and completing college. Many of the girls are the first generation in their families to pursue higher education. Often they are poor.

Since its founding, in 1997, SisterMentors has helped 62 women in the Washington, D.C., region earn their doctorates, and more than 40 girls go to college. Ms. Lewis, who is also executive director of the umbrella nonprofit EduSeed, is gearing up for SisterMentors’ 20th anniversary, in 2017 — and for helping new generations of girls realize their educational dreams.

Dreamers in Jeopardy

Immigrant students share what college means to them, and their fears as they wait for Donald J. Trump and his administration to take office.

One of the women came to the United States on her own when she was 15; others came as children, brought to this country by their parents. They are known as Dreamers, so-called because they meet the requirements of the Dream Act, which was established to help immigrants taken to this country illegally as children. They have grown up thinking of America as home, but all are concerned about their future following the election of Donald J. Trump as president.

In 2012 the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy gave young immigrants of their status the ability to get driver’s licenses, work legally, and attend college. President-elect Trump said on the campaign trail that he would overturn all of President Obama’s executive actions, and deport all people in the country illegally.

The five women interviewed here all know that Trinity Washington University and TheDream.US scholarship fund will continue to support them. They share their thoughts as they wait to see what the new administration will do.

Lots and Lots and Lots of Rain


















I had great plans for photographing spring migration, but I had more rain-outs than I can count. It was always worth the adventure – just to be out. Seeing firsthand the relationship between the migrating Red Knots and the spawning Horseshoe Crabs was fascinating (This is currently the front slide show).

We had probably the best year of warbler sightings in our northern Virginia yard, but with the exception of the yellow-rumped pictured below and a friendly common yellow throat, everyone else stayed at canopy level. Well it’s still only the end of May so there is more shooting to be done!


Spring Semester’s Work for The Chronicle

Now that graduations are in full swing and summer is upon us, I have a couple minutes to catch-up and reflect on my work form the past five months. First it was an amazing honor to have ‘Ask Me’ be a finalist for a Webby Award. As you can see were were in good company.

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I also published three video stories that took me to Florida to profile an undocumented student named Eli Garcia, to southwest Virginia to take a look at Hollins University and then finally to Asheville, North Carolina to experience Warren Willson College – one of only seven work colleges in the country. All were wonderful experiences. You can check them out here:

Eli Garcia

Bernarda Elizabet (Eli) Garcia, a junior at the University of Central Florida, balances coursework and political activism. Recently Ms. Garcia, an undocumented student, was awarded the Mario Savio Lecture Fund’s Young Activist Award for her work fighting for immigrant rights. The once-shy young woman, working at the Hope CommUnity Center, in Apopka, Fla., has successfully advocated for scholarships for undocumented students. Twenty such awards are now available at Seminole State College of Florida. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2017 and to continue to work with her community on improving the quality of life through immigration reform and education.

How One Student’s Fight for Scholarships and Immigration Rights Made Her a Community Touchstone from Chronicle of Higher Education on Vimeo.

Hollins University

year ago, when Virginia’s Sweet Briar College was enduring a life-and-death struggle, another women’s college nearby was flourishing, despite the challenges that have become common to many single-sex institutions.

“Ninety-eight out of 100 young women taking the SAT nowadays will tell you that they’re not interested in considering a women’s college,” says David W. Strauss, a principal with the Art & Science Group, a consulting firm. “Those that thrive have had to do very specific things and do them at a strategic level in order to thrive.”

Hollins University, in Roanoke, is the oldest undergraduate women’s college in the state and has offered coed graduate programs for more than 50 years. Even though it’s little more than an hour from Sweet Briar, the two institutions are miles apart in many ways. Nancy Oliver Gray, who has been at Hollins’s helm for 11 years, put her university on firm financial ground and believes it’s in a position to succeed in a tough climate.

As Neighboring Campus Faced Death, Hollins U. Set Itself Apart from Chronicle of Higher Education on Vimeo.

Here is a temporary link to the Warren Wilson project that is part of our subscription package.



How The CBC Can Help Save Birds in Cuba

Janice Lloyd wrote a nice Q & A off of our Cuba Trip. From what i have read it sounds like we beat the rush! Cuba is well worth the adventure. Let’s just hope they keep seeing preserving their natural resources as a priority.



A week in Cuba – Starting and Ending in Old Havana.

Our trip to Cuba was not to take photographs, it was to help with the Christmas Bird Count, but Cuba is a photographers dream. I had to take a few snaps. In our free time Janice and I did as much wandering as we could. Our routine went something like this – gather at 6:00 am for coffee and some sort of bread and ham breakfast, travel or bird for the morning, do a group lunch and then explore in the afternoon and gather again at dinner time. We hit three main regions – Havana, Viñales to the west and down the the swamps around Playa Larga and The Bay of Pigs. If you are an easy traveller – one who does not mind fixing toilets and the possibility of not having hot water, get to Cuba! As far as the Christmas Bird Count goes, hopefully our work annually documenting birds in designated regions will help with conservation efforts and encourage additional tourism and money for their parks.

This post contains images from Havana – yes, the cars are really everywhere. The following posts includes a little of what we saw on the way to and at Viñales, the area around the Zapata Swamp and the Bay of Pigs and our last excursion to the National Botanical Garden outside of Havana. I did not shoot images everyday since I wanted to focus on the count, but these posts include a few of the more than 120 species we saw.