Sunday, January 29, 2017


Don’t touch my hair.
Having strangers constantly feel your hair or ask if it’s real is the uncomfortable reality for these African American students. For junior Aniya Longmire, when some people see her long hair, they assume it’s fake.
“I went to the mall with my two friends, and this lady stopped us to show us a hair care product,” Longmire said. “She assumed I had a weave. Some people think African American women can’t have long hair; they think we all have weaves.”
Longmire said the composition of black hair is different from other races and requires certain care techniques.
“African American hair has to be moisturized, or it will break off,” Longmire said. “We have thicker, more coarse hair. Black people do not like the rain. We do not like the pool. We do not want to get our hair wet, or it will revert to its natural state.”
While styling is common, more African American women are wearing their hair natural. Two-thirds of African American women wore a natural hairstyle in 2013, according to Mintel’s Black Consumers and Hair Care executive summary. Junior Amaya King said she’s come to accept her natural hair and no longer tries to emulate society’s standard of beauty.
“Growing up in Mason, the stereotype here is that to be pretty, you have to have long, straight, blonde hair,” King said. “This year I’ve focused on building my confidence. I had a weave in and took it all out and went all natural. African American hair is very versatile–I can wear it curly like I am now, straighten it, have an afro, or blow it out.”
African American males embrace their natural hair as well. For freshman Marshall Spencer, having an afro allows him to stand out in a crowd.
“I feel like I’m well known for having my hair,” Spencer said. “I haven’t cut my hair in four years. People know me by my hair and it’s a way to express myself.”
Senior Jariah Sweeten said the pressure to have straight hair extends beyond the classroom and into the workforce.
“A lot of black girls aren’t comfortable in their own skin and with their hair,” Sweeten said. “We’ve adapted to European beauty styles, which is the reason we get our hair straightened. It’s a disrespect to our ancestors to get our hair straightened, but we’ve been influenced. We can’t go to a job interview with our natural hair because more than likely we won’t get it, but if you have straight hair, that helps. That’s why a lot of girls wear weaves, because they have to look white. It’s horrible, but that’s the reality that we live in.”
Cultural appropriation is the use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. There has been a trend of non-black celebrities taking hairstyles from African American culture and attempting to create them into their own style. Celebrity mogul Kim Kardashian was one of the early celebrities to wear cornrows, or braids. Sweeten said she does not have a problem when people use black hairstyles, but does when they are intolerant of African Americans as a whole.
“I don’t get mad when people of other races use black hairstyles, but you can’t take some and say that other styles are gross,” Sweeten said. “You have to take it or leave it. When there were riots going on, people didn’t want to stand with us during this protest, but you want to wear our hairstyles and dress and dance like us. You have to accept it all.”
Ultimately, King said she suggests people be respectful and mindful when it comes to African American hair.
“I would advise people to educate themselves about hair,” King said. “There are ways to be respectful and ask questions without invading someone’s privacy. Appreciate everyone’s hair whether it’s real or fake.”
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Students showcase talent to raise money for cancer research

“Chicken on a Stick” won it all.
Performers hit the stage for the annual Talent Show on January 20. National Honor Society put on the event to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. NHS raised around $6,000 for blood cancer research.
Senior Anirudh Rajgopalan sang “Sweet Caroline” as one of the acts. Rajgopalan said he chose the familiar song to allow audience participation.
“It took a lot of courage to show yourself and others that you are one person with your own unique qualities,” Rajgopalan said. “Music can unite people. It helps feed our humanity for the better, and as celebrities perform, whether it be Shahrukh Khan or Neil Diamond, we all can share the same title: fan.”
Talent Show co-chair Ashley Schlaeger said the implementation of new marketing strategies helped them to have a full house.
“We had basket prizes from places like Kendra Scott, Cheesecake Factory, Chick-Fil-A, and other promotional methods included Schoology messages, contacting Tracey Carson, and advertising in clubs and classrooms,” Schlaeger said.
Sophomore Kayleigh Flynn and junior Harrison Wright took third with their performance of “Oceans”. Senior Shreya Dey claimed second singing and playing piano to “Bird Set Free”. Seniors Miles Ware, Jacob Lannes, Vardhan Avasarala, and Michael Hiett also known as Chicken on a Stick won first place with their choreographed dance to “Bye Bye Bye”.
Chicken on a Stick dance group put in a lot of preparation along with the other performers.
“Michael Hiett and I came up with the idea to perform a dance in the middle of October,” Ware said. “We started practicing about two times a week from October to November, and Cole Marvin helped us with the choreography. The month of December was rough with finals and people going on vacation, so we ended up doing nothing for about three weeks, but we made up for it by practicing nearly every day after school in January.”
Ware said performing in the show was a once in a lifetime experience.
“Seeing all the audience was crazy and getting to interact with the other performers backstage was really cool,” Ware said. “We were all in disbelief at first. It felt amazing to win such a big competition. All the time we spent preparing was worth it in an instant. We knew that we would go against quality talent this year, and it wouldn’t be easy. I think we surprised a lot of people with how serious we took our performance. We will be back.”

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Photographer has unique approach

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Mason grads raise $1.2 million for new medical tool

Former students create device to minimize invasive surgery
Juliana Discher | Staff Writer
By senior year, most students are preoccupied with college applications and the notorious ‘senioritis’, not beginning their own company.
Three Mason graduates formulated their own medical company during this time. Class of 2013 graduate Peeyush Shrivastava and class of 2014 graduates Manny Setegn and Vineet Erasala are co-founders of Genetesis. This three–year–old company has built a tool, known as CardioFlux, that allows doctors to see the electrical circuitry of a beating heart. Recently, Genetesis raised $1.2 million in seed money during its first round of financing, led by billionaire investor Mark Cuban and CincyTech.
Shrivastava said the CardioFlux medical tool works by measuring electrical fields from the heart.
“The medical device images the electrical currents of the heart,” Shrivastava said. “It does so by measuring the electric field emitting off the body. Those magnetic fields are generated by electricity moving inside of the heart. It’s cool because the medical fields are unperturbed by the lungs and conductive tissues. It’s a pure signal and we leveraged that fact.”
The trio hatched a plan for the company at a barbeque, Erasala said.
“We met up one day in the summer at a friend’s barbeque and were talking about the healthcare space,” Erasala said. “We all identified that there was a huge deficiency in tracking and mapping the electrical properties of the heart. At the time, the only way for physicians to do that was very invasive. Doctors would have to use some type of catheter or some sort of injection, but there was no way to do it non-invasively and efficiently.”
After conducting labs, contacting those in the research field, and reading up about measuring electrical currents, the boys decided to build a product to correct this issue and were eventually able to create a prototype.
“It was a lot of learning in the beginning and understanding how the scientific field worked and how we could adapt the science to a commercial clinical product,” Erasala said. “The technology had to be user–friendly and work well for the patient. We were able to attract the right kind of talent, and to feel out a minimal viable core functionality of the software. Then we were able to get to a point financially where we could attract people who were as passionate about the cause as we were.”
The trio competed in business competitions to prepare them for the enterprise sphere. Shrivastava said participating in 43 North helped them launch their company.
“43 North is the world’s largest business idea competition and is located in Buffalo, New York,” Shrivastava said. “That’s what pushed us up. We participated in 2015 and we won the People’s Choice Award and a $250,000 award. As a team, we moved to Buffalo and worked out of there for a year. The ability to work full time on Genetesis got us ready to present ourselves to partners and investors.”
Starting a company in high school taught Erasala to follow his dreams.
“It showed me a lot about what it means to be self–taught and how to pursue something if you’re really passionate about it,” Erasala said. “Being an entrepreneur is about being able to learn on the fly and learn very quickly. It’s definitely taught me a lot more than school has in terms of how the business entrepreneurial world works.”
Setegn said the key to having a business start-up succeed is to not have a back-up plan.
“I feel like the majority of companies that fail happen when everyone has a backup plan, saying ‘I can just fall back on this and I will be fine,’” Setegn said. “It’s like a subliminal thing–you are more inclined to put all your time and effort into making your business work if you have to make it work.”
Erasala said he sees Genetesis helping to expand the concept of non-invasive medical imaging to different parts of the body like the brain and organs.
“There are a lot of different uses for this technology,” Erasala said. “We wanted to build platform technology. I think it’s something that can be impactful because this means for the first time you are able to track the underlying physiology, the cellular activity, in a completely non-invasive way that has never been done before.”

Arctic Dash 5k

On December 3, my friend Kira and I took the plunge and competed in a muddy obstacle filled 3.5 mile race. Camp Kern's Arctic Dash definitely challenged me physically and mentally.

I did not know what I was getting myself into initially. I have run a few 5k races so I had an assumption of the challenge level I would face. But after the first obstacle, I knew I had a big storm.

We all had to walk across a log elevated over a pit of frigid water and mud. I thought I would try to get it done as fast as possible by walking quickly across. I slipped right off the log, but instead of falling in, I attempted to hang on. I latched on like a spider monkey for a few seconds, then fell into the icey mud water. It was a sensory shock. It didn't get much easier from there.

We finished with a time of 1 hour 13 minutes and placed 159/293. I'm not sure if I would do another race similar to this, but it was a great bonding opportunity for Kira and me.