Coming To Terms With Cultural Heritage

Rising senior Krystle Jiang is this year’s recipient of the Benigno and Corazon Aquino scholarship, which honors students who represent the highest ideals and aspirations of the University and the Asian American community. But there was a time not long ago when Jiang felt trapped, rather than empowered, by her Chinese heritage.

Growing up in a predominantly white, upper-middle class New Jersey suburb, Jiang often endured taunts — for eating dried seaweed as a snack, for example — and racial jokes aimed at her cultural background. So, as Jiang explains, “I quickly learned how to fit in. But unfortunately, my way of doing that was in sequestering my Chinese-ness to my house.”

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Alem Wins Fr. Joyce Award

In her native Ethiopia, Feven Alem’s first name is translated as “God’s Gift.” Already, the newly minted graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences has more than fulfilled that endearing appellation.

After contributing countless hours of volunteer service on campus, in her church and in the greater Boston community during her four undergraduate years, Alem was selected as recipient of the University’s second annual W. Seavey Joyce, SJ, Award for Service and Citizenship. The award, which includes a $5,000 stipend to support the recipient’s post-graduate civic engagement, was presented last Friday by representatives from the University’s Offices of Campus Ministry and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.

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Two challenges that college graduates will inherit

Many of this week’s graduates may be too exhausted by round-the-clock celebrations and too distracted by the fanfare to remember much of what their graduation speakers tell them. And it is too much to ask that they focus on their cosmic responsibilities as citizens after receiving their diplomas. But, as we pass the symbolic baton of leadership to them in the years to come, there are at least two great national challenges the graduates will inherit that are worthy of reflection.

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The Dream, the Reality: Civil Rights in the ’60s and Today

Just before noon on Aug. 28, 1963, a quarter of a million people began slowly moving toward the Lincoln Memorial. Eventually, they would completely surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool all the way to the shade trees that surround it. They were mostly African-American, but they represented all creeds and colors of U.S. citizens. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest demonstration ever staged in the nation’s capital.

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How Age Bias Hurts Business

These days, people who wouldn’t dream of making racial and ethnic slurs can be heard agreeing with ageist comments and laughing at jokes about older people.

The workplace is not free of these attitudes. According to a 2009 survey of workers and job seekers between the ages of 55 and 70, 43 percent of those who were currently seeking work or who had retired because they could not find work said the main problem was “they could not find an employer who would hire someone their age.” Nearly a quarter of all charges brought to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year claimed discrimination on the basis of age. Nevertheless, ageism—discrimination on the basis of age—is a diversity issue that employers in the United States are only beginning to understand.

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