Halima Aden Makes History as 1st Miss Minnesota USA Contestant to Wear Hijab

Halima Aden (photo via cosmopolitan.com)

article by Gina Mei via cosmopolitan.com

Halima Aden is flawlessly breaking down barriers in the pageant community: Over the weekend, the 19-year-old made history as the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a hijab throughout the competition and a burkini during the swimsuit round. And needless to say, she looked absolutely stunning.

Miss USA Minnesota pageant (photo via twitter.com)

Miss USA Minnesota pageant (photo via twitter.com)

The Somali-American teenager, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to America when she was just 6 years old, ultimately made it to the pageant’s semifinals Sunday. But as she told multiple sources both before and after the pageant was over, despite not winning, she hoped her participation would serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many different forms.

“A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it. So growing up, I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” she said in an interview with KARE-11. “Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”

To read more, go to: Halima Aden Makes History as the First Miss Minnesota USA Contestant to Wear Hijab

In Case You Missed It: Aretha Franklin Takes the “National Anthem” to Church at Detroit Lions Game

Aretha.  National Anthem.  The Piano.  That Voice.  Game Over.

Junior Olympian Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year

(photo via Sports Illustrated)

article by Rachaell Davis via essence.com

This week, young track and field stars Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard were announced as the recipients of the 2016 Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year award for their athletic accomplishments and unwavering dedication in the face of extreme hardships. ESSENCE caught up with the young track stars and their proud mother Tonia Handy for a quick chat just as they were preparing for the SI SportsKids of the Year announcement.

The girls first took an interest in track and field when their babysitter signed them up for a track meet in January of 2015. When the family fell on hard times and relocated to a homeless shelter that September, the encouraging spirit of those around them played a big role in helping to keep them going.

My coach really inspired me to try hard and to really put everything into it,” 9-year-old Brooke told ESSENCE. “Also, my babysitter Sharon Davis, who introduced us to track and field and really helped us work as hard as we could to get us where we are now.” Brooke also credits Olympic champion Alex Felix with inspiring her to push forward. “My inspiration is Alex Felix,” she adds. “She really inspires me to work really hard like her.”

To read full article, go to: Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year Essence.com

The Cowgirls of Color: Black Women’s Team is Bucking Rodeo Trends

Pinky, Pennie (in background) and KB calm their horses before riding in the grand entry. (Photograph: M Holden Warren)

article by Annalies Winny via theguardian.com

The Cowgirls of Color are frustrated. It’s the final stop of Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and the only all-female team has had a difficult first ride, making their chances at a victory very unlikely. “The whole point was to win, not just to be in [the event] because we’re girls,” says KB, a 39-year-old legal administrator who has been riding with the team for a year and a half.

In a sport dominated by white men, the all-female, all-black team is a rarity. At the Bill Pickett rodeo, the only black rodeo in the country, high-octane events such as bull riding and steer wrestling remain almost exclusively male. But every year brings more female contestants than the last.

Since the team formed two years ago, they have set out to prove that they’re more than just a novelty team – that they can beat their male-dominated competition in the most intense events and go on to win thousands of dollars in prize money.

When they first started riding as a team just two years ago, “we were terrible!” says KB. “But I wanted to master it. I wanted to compete on a larger scale where I [could] make money.”

Selina “Pennie” Brown, Sandra “Pinky” Dorsey, Kisha “KB” Bowles and Brittaney Logan met through a veteran horseman, Dr. Ray Charles Lockamy, at a riding event in Maryland. Despite being relatively new to the sport, they decided to form a women’s team to compete in the Bill Pickett rodeo, with Lockamy as their coach. Only Pinky had competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says.

Like most equestrian sports, rodeo has always been mostly white. Black cowboys competed in rodeos from the 1940s, but tales of corrupt scoring and judges literally turning their backs on black contestants proliferated for decades thereafter, stalling the growth of the sport among black riders. Black cowboys who entered rodeos “would be discriminated against in ways that were supposed to be subtle”, says Carolyn Carter, the general manager of the Bill Pickett rodeo. In 1968, the legendary bull rider Myrtis Dightman was advised to “turn white” if he wanted to claim the top prizes.

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21st Century Fox and Pepsico Team Up to Offer STEM Scholarships with “Hidden Figures” Contest for Girls and Women

hidden-figures-750x315_orig

Are you a real-life “hidden figure” on her way to changing the world? You could win a scholarship to help make your STEM dreams come true! PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox are partnering to find the next generation of girls and women who will lead the way in STEM. Sound like you? Enter the Search for Hidden Figures contest by Dec. 10!

Prizes are awards of $200,000 total in scholarships to 12 standout finalists. Winners will also receive exclusive opportunities and more from PepsiCo and Hidden Figures.

For more information and contest rules, go to https://searchforhiddenfigures.com

British Racer Lewis Hamilton Cruises to Victory at United States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton (photo via rye-house.co.uk)

article by Samuel Reiman via foxsports.com

Formula One racer and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton cruised to his seventh win of the season on Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX. He now sits 26 points back of his teammate Nico Rosberg. This is his fourth win in five starts at CoTA and the 50th of his career.

The Brit started from pole position and beat Rosberg into the first corner. He never looked back.  Rosberg, meanwhile, had a more eventful race, as he lost second spot to Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo in Turn 1.  Rosberg wasn’t able to get the spot back until the middle of the race under a Virtual Safety Car period.

The Virtual Safety Car had been deployed after Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen had parked his car with a mechanical issue on track. This hurt Ricciardo as he had already pit ahead of the Virtual Safety Car period, while both Mercedes drivers had yet to make their second stop and so were able to pit without losing too much time.

Verstappen had already been having a race to forget, as he had came into the pits not too long before his retirement, mistakenly thinking the team had called him in. They hadn’t, and so were not prepared for his stop, costing the Dutch racing driver a lot of time.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also hit trouble in the pits. The Finn was trying to make a three-stop strategy work, and it was going well. He was running fourth when he came into the pits for his final stop of the day, but was released when the right-rear wheel gun was still attached. His wheel was not bolted on correctly, and Raikkonen was forced to park the car on pit exit. Ferrari is being investigated for releasing Raikkonen’s car in an unsafe condition.

While Hamilton led Rosberg and Ricciardo over the line, it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel placing in fourth behind them. Behind him was the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who muscled his way by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Williams driver Felipe Massa, in which there was contact involved, in the closing laps of the race. Sainz placed sixth while Massa placed seventh. Sergio Perez placed eighth for Force India ahead of Jenson Button in ninth, meaning both McLarens scored points. Romain Grosjean rounded out the points in 10th, scoring a point in the team’s first race on home soil and in his 100th start. The collision between Alonso and Massa will be investigated after the race.

To read more, go to: http://www.foxsports.com/motor/story/f1-us-gp-race-results-recap-austin-texas-lewis-hamilton-mercedes-wins-102316

Teachers Erin Whalen and Kari Croft Win $10 Million Prize to Start School for Homeless and Foster Youth

Los Angeles educators Kari Croft and Erin Whalen have won $10 million to start their own school, courtesy of a nationwide competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Los Angeles educators Kari Croft and Erin Whalen have won $10 million to start their own school, courtesy of a nationwide competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

article by Joy Resmovits via latimes.com

Instead of going to school, school will come to you.

That’s the prize-winning idea behind RISE High, a proposed Los Angeles charter high school designed to serve homeless and foster children whose educations are frequently disrupted.

Los Angeles educators Kari Croft, 29, and Erin Whalen, 26, who came up with the idea, won $10 million in XQ: The Super School Project, a high school redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs.

RISE is one of 10 $10-million winning school projects nationwide. Winners receive the prize money over five years.

XQ officials, in announcing the winners on Wednesday, described RISE as a “completely new” model. The idea is to have three to four physical sites sharing space with existing nonprofits as well as an online learning system. A bus will also be turned into a “mobile resource center,” to bring Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer and homework help to the neediest students.

That way, if a student suddenly moves or can’t get to school, he or she will have various options to get tutoring or the day’s lesson.  “The model exists outside the traditional confines of space and time,” Croft said.

RISE, which stands for Revolutionary Individualized Student Experience, is in its preliminary stages. It will be a charter school, but the staff is still figuring out governance structure, facilities and partnerships. As of now, the plan is to open with a small group of students next fall, but eventually to serve between 500 and 550. Continue reading