Posts tagged with "college"

College Student illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Tutors Not Just for Kids

Tutors Are Not Just for Kids: They Help People Get Through College, Too!

Tutoring community, The Oxford Method, offers up tips to help people get through college

Many people tend to think of tutoring as being something for kids. Yet there are millions of college students who struggle and need help, too. In fact, according to EducationData.org, around 40% of undergraduate college students drop out before earning a degree. The website also reports that 30% of freshmen don’t make it to their second year of college. One of the main reasons that people drop out of college is that they struggle to keep up academically, followed by the stress, financial situations, and lack of campus connections. The good news is that there are things that can be done to help address the issues and keep on going.

“Millions of people dream of earning a degree, but when they begin struggling, they tend to leave,” explains David Florence, professor and founder of The Oxford Method, a community that offers tutoring services around the country. “The help is readily available, but many people are not aware of it. We want to change that, so we can help more people see their goals through.”

The Oxford Method is on a mission to share with the world that education is the great equalizer and an essential gift to the next generation. Its goal is to help more people stick with finishing their academic goals. Here are some tips it offers to college students to help them get through:

  • Stay organized. One of the most important things you can do is to organize your schedule. This way you won’t fall behind or feel as much stress. Use a good planner, plan ahead, make lists, set goals, and do things that will help keep you on the right path.
  • Become involved. Rather than feel that you are not connected at college, make a goal to connect. Choose at least one thing to become involved in, whether it’s a fun group, study group, club, or something else. Make the connection so you feel that you are not there struggling alone. This is especially important during this time when so many people are isolated with online education.
  • De-stress. When the stress of juggling everything becomes too much, that’s when many college students want to walk away. Make a commitment to yourself to reduce stress every week. To do this, you can take up hiking, meditation, yoga, or whatever it is that will help you to de-stress in a healthy way.
  • Get help. Those who are struggling academically should get the help they need, rather than fall behind, which will make them drop out. A tutor can help give you the one-on-one assistance you need to gain a better understanding of the subject or lesson and will help keep you on pace.
  • Be gentle on yourself. Many people get upset if they are struggling a little, and they beat themselves up over it. Learn to take things easy, go with the flow, and give yourself a break. Treat yourself how you would treat your best friend if they were in the same position.

“When you are struggling in college, it’s so important to know that there is help available,” added Florence. “No matter what subject you are having difficulties with, there’s a good chance that you can get the assistance you need and keep going. We are happy to be help college students around the nation continue meeting their educational goals.”

There’s good reason to finish college and earn the degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more you learn, the more you tend to earn. Those with the highest educational attainment tend to make triple of those who just have a high school education. The average weekly earnings for someone with only a high school diploma is $712, compared to the average for someone with a bachelor’s degree being $1,173. Plus, the bureau reports that the unemployment rate is lower for those who have more higher education.

The Oxford Method has over 100 tutors around the country, covering all subject areas. They offer online tutoring, as well as in-person and in-classroom options. Their tutoring services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, with many of them having a master’s degree, PhD, and at least four years of teaching experience. The Oxford Method works with their nonprofit, Social Actualization, Inc., by giving them 10% of all profits. The funds are used to provide free computers, high-speed internet, and instruction to underprivileged families in urban and rural America. Plus, 40% of their instructors are PhDs, 40% have a master’s degree, and 20% have only a bachelor’s degree.

Subject areas include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as business, social studies, psychology, English, history, public speaking, study methods, test taking, and more. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the website.

About The Oxford Method

Started in 2020, The Oxford Method has over 100 instructors who provide access to tutoring 24/7. It also has a nonprofit sector of its community, which offers tutoring services and computers to underprivileged students. Its relationship-based education helps everyone, including those who need financial assistance and those with special needs. It donates 10% of its profits to social organizations that help those in urban areas. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the website.

Piggy Bank illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Future Fax Filing Tips

Tips for Tax Filing in the Future

Tax time is near, and soon everyone will be rushing to get their taxes filed. Last year, Americans were met with quite a few delays in getting their refunds with the onset of the pandemic.

If you have a refund coming, the sooner you file, the sooner that refund will make its way into your bank account.

If you’re like most tax filers, you probably want to do everything you can to reduce your overall tax bill. We know that taxes are needed to run the government, but there’s no need for you as an individual to pay more than you need to.

Here are a few areas to consider or understand for future tax filing years:

  • Funding tax-preferenced accounts. One way to save on taxes is by putting money in various tax-preferenced savings accounts such as an IRA, a 401(k), and others. Depending on the account type, you can deduct your contribution each year, defer paying taxes on growth or take withdrawals tax-free. In health savings accounts (HSA), you can do all three. There are eligibility requirements you need to meet. An HSA can only be used for medical expenses.  With a traditional IRA, you don’t pay taxes on your contributions, and you defer taxes on the account’s growth. You do pay taxes on withdrawals you make in retirement. A Roth IRA has different advantages. You can’t deduct your contributions now, but your money grows tax-free, and you aren’t taxed when you make withdrawals.
  • Using a 529 for K-12 private or college education. Many people are familiar with 529 plans, but they often think of these solely to save for a college education fund. But a 529 can also be used to pay for a private school in elementary and high school. The significant tax advantage with a 529 is that you don’t pay federal income taxes on the account’s growth. However, you must spend the money on qualified educational expenses and nothing else. This is essential to remember and understand because if you use the money for other reasons, you will pay taxes on that withdrawal, and you will also pay the penalty. A 529 account is something to consider if you have children or grandchildren and want a tax-efficient way to save for K-12 or college education.
  • Making charitable donations. Charitable donations are a great tool for reducing your tax bill. They come with the bonus of allowing you to make a positive impact in your community. Through charitable donations, you can reduce your income tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax. Some people view this most straightforwardly – you choose an organization that qualifies under the tax rules to donate to. There are other ways to contribute as well: You can establish a donor-advised fund, which is a personal charitable account opened in the name of the donors and held by a nonprofit organization. For example, let’s say you sell a stock and, instead of paying the capital gains tax, you choose to place the proceeds in a donor-advised fund. You can claim the total amount as a charitable deduction, although you don’t have to donate the money in one lump sum. The money remains in the fund and can be donated in small amounts over a period of years while drawing interest.

These are just a few things you can consider as you look for ways to reduce your tax bill. Your financial professional will be able to help you work your way through the process and find what works best for you and your situation.

Film illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Unforgettable Foreign Films

10 Foreign Films with the Most Unforgettable Love Stories

By Roberta Seret, PhD

I have two loves – literature and film. The most powerful love stories jump off the pages or off the screen, narrating different types of love turmoil, journeying through danger and obstacles to find love. The best love stories occur when love triumphs over evil. 

In the past twenty years, I have taught film through my NGO at the United Nations and at New York University. It is a love story that captures my students the most. Their 10 favorite love stories in foreign films deceit different ways of loving, but they all try to overcome these obstacles to find it. Although they may not always get their happy ending, it’s always worth the risk:

1.     JOJO RABBIT – (New Zealand) 2019, director Taika Waititi. During World War ll, ten-year-old Jojo is being brainwashed as a Hitler Youth. Strangely, his mother allows this, for it is her only way to protect him. We see how deeply a mother loves her son as she prepares him to be independent. Simultaneously, the director expresses his love for the future of children to do what’s right.

2.     HONEYLAND – (Republic of Northern Macedonia) 2019, directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary and Best Feature Film, this story recreates a Paradise Lost and its destruction by a greedy man. Love for beauty and nature, and the desire to recapture it, is represented by honey – becoming extinct – and man’s inhumanity to lose it.

3.     NEVER LOOK AWAY – (Germany) 2018, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Based on the life of the famous painter, Gerhard Richter, the director recreates the artist’s search for Truth. It is only through love for Art that the artist can find peace. It is this tumultuous search that pushes him/her to create.

4.     CAPERNAUM – (Lebanon) 2018, director Nadine Labaki. Lost children, abandoned, hungry, and forced to go against their conscience, are victims of war-torn Lebanon and Syria. The director opens her heart by using her hand-held camera to capture how children suffer in their struggle to survive. It is through her love for these children that we understand and want to help. 

5.     FACES PLACES – (France) 2017, directors Agnes Varda and JR. At 89-years-old and one year before her death, famed filmmaker, Agnes Varda embarks on a road trip to show her appreciation to the people of France. As a token of her deep love, she offers them a new type of art – photos of themselves – while she is making a film of their acceptance. Photography mixes with cinematography, the moving image fuses with still art, to show the director’s love for people and give them Art. 

6.     LION – (India/ Australia) 2016, director Garth Davis. The true story of 5-year-old Saroo, who gets lost on a train in India and cannot communicate in a different dialect to return home. He is placed in an orphanage and adopted by a couple from Tasmania, Australia. Twenty-five years later, his obsession to find his biological mother is proof of his filial love.

7.     TONI ERDMANN – (Germany / Romania) 2016, director Maren Ade. A father loves his ambitious, modern daughter and wants to help her understand what happiness and love are. But the generational gap proves to be stronger than his quest. Despite his struggles and sacrifices, she answers when she sings Whitney Houston’s song, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

8.     PHOENIX – (Germany) 2014, director Christian Petzold. Nelly survives World War II because she is obsessed at Auschwitz to be loved again by the man she loves. She does return to him but disfigured, and he does not recognize her. Deceitfully, he schemes to help her survive the traumas of her past. But as she learns the truth, will her love forgive him?

9.     IDA – (Poland) 2013, director Pawel Pawlikowski. Ida embarks on a spiritual journey to choose between a life of love and family, or God and religion. As she voyages toward the answer, she learns about her history and what the material world can offer. But she keeps repeating, “And then?” She realizes it is love for God and the spirit that can offer her the truest love.

10.  CASABLANCA – (USA/ Morocco) 1942, director Michael Curtiz. This is the best love story of all. For those who will see this film for the first time, I am jealous. This is an American movie made in Morocco with an anti-Hollywood ending. It shows and answers what is true love? What we see on the screen is a love that hurts – for all of us. And yet, love must be experienced, and this film must be seen!

Roberta Seret, Ph.D., is the director of Advanced English and Film at the United Nations for the Hospitality Committee and Founder of the NGO at the United Nations, International Cinema Education. She is the author of the Transylvanian Trilogy, with Love Odyssey releasing March 23, 2021. Visit her website for more information.

tech illustration by rita azar for 360 Magazine

JAIN Launches Online Degree Programs

JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) has announced the launch of JAIN Online to offer Undergraduate and Postgraduate Online Degree Programs, in Commerce, Management, Information Technology, and Humanities recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) is a world-class institution promoted by JAIN Group, with over 30 years of excellence in Education, Research, and Entrepreneurship.

The Chancellor of JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) Dr. Chenraj Roychand stated,

 “The changing landscape of education [has been] globally shaped by disruptions due to the pandemic and technological advancements has caused challenges as well as opportunities for the education sector. When Universities, as we have known them, are being forced to change, online education brings a paradigm change that not only helps in reaching the unreached, but also helps in differentiated program offerings in line with market demands. With JAIN Online, we are extending our commitment to provide high-quality and globally benchmarked education to the masses. The programs are designed in a way that also fulfills the needs of international students. With an industry-driven curriculum and cutting-edge technology, JAIN Online is set to reshape the careers of millions of students, making them global leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.” 

The efficient and robust Learning Management System (LMS) of the University provides a high degree of convenience and flexibility to the learners who can access videos, self-learning materials, virtual labs, assignments, quizzes, discussion forums, and live classes over the weekends from top-notch faculty members are drawn from across the globe. Personalized support is offered to the students to clarify their queries from a dedicated program manager. The learning hours and credits of the online degree programs are at par with the regular programs of the University.

With technology playing a major role in its teaching-learning methodology, the University is all set to deliver an exceptionally engaging and enriching learning experience for its students through its Learning Management System. The learners will additionally get access to live classes on 25 key skills for success and more than 16,000 courses on LinkedIn Learning, where they can learn as per their interests and get certified by LinkedIn and various industry partners like SHRM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, EC Council, IIBA, etc. The University also extends its Career Advancement Services to its students on JAIN Online to facilitate job placements with over 2000 hiring partners.

With this, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) has become the first University in India to launch online degrees with prestigious Global Professional Bodies like ACCA – UK, CIMA – UK, CIM – UK, CIIS – UK, IOA – UK, CMA – US, and CPA – USA. The students would also be eligible for exemption of papers or get relevant professional memberships from these professional bodies on successful completion of the Online Degree Programs.

To know more about the programs, please visit this website.

 

Dr. J. Goosby Smith

Named Vice President for Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Pepperdine University

Dr. April Harris Akinloye will join Smith as assistant vice president for community belonging.

Press Release: The KAIROS Company for Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University announced today its long-anticipated selection of the University’s inaugural vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer, Dr. J. Goosby Smith. 

Smith will join Pepperdine on June 1, 2021, from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she currently serves as associate professor of leadership; associate professor of management; assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center. 

Smith received her BS in computer science from Spelman College and her MBA and PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University. She anticipates earning her master of divinity from Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, in December 2021. 

“What an honor it is today to announce Dr. Smith is returning to the Pepperdine community,” said Pepperdine president Jim Gash. “I’m especially grateful to the Search Committee for identifying an amazing and experienced leader. I simply cannot wait to work alongside Dr. Smith as we chart a distinctively Pepperdine path forward addressing one of the great issues of our time. Our goal isn’t just to have a community of belonging but to train generations of graduates to create the same in their own communities.”

Smith is no stranger to Pepperdine having served previously as an assistant professor of organizational behavior in the Seaver College Business Administration Division from 2002 to 2006, and then as a tenured associate professor of organizational behavior in the same division from 2011 to 2015. She has also served as assessment coordinator for the Seaver Diversity Council and as an adjunct professor in the Graziadio Business School’s MBA program. 

Smith will report directly to President Gash, serve as a member of the University’s Steering Team, and be a principal leader on the University Diversity Council for which she previously served as inaugural faculty co-chair in 2005. 

The selection of a vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer is one in a series of initiatives the University has been implementing to cultivate a community of deep belonging and to build and model a diverse, informed, loving, and unified community at Pepperdine. 

Joining Smith in leading diversity and inclusion initiatives at Pepperdine will be Dr. April Harris Akinloye (’00, MA ’05), who will return to her alma mater as the assistant vice president for community belonging.

Harris Akinloye is a double alumna of Pepperdine, receiving her BA in speech communication and religious studies from Seaver College and her MA in education from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She earned her PhD in education with a focus on cultural perspectives from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Harris Akinloye will join Pepperdine from Social Good Solutions where she is currently a senior consultant for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She previously served as the chief diversity officer at Vanguard University.

“When I was a candidate to be Pepperdine’s eighth president, I made it clear that hiring a chief diversity officer would be among my top priorities,” said Gash. “Though we began our national search for a chief diversity officer, after getting to know these two extraordinarily qualified leaders, each of whom has a deep love for Pepperdine and our mission, we decided to hire a team—and what a team it is! Drs. Smith and Harris Akinloye will be a venerable force to help lead Pepperdine to a new level of inclusion, excellence, and genuine belonging, befitting the Pepperdine community’s unwavering commitment to radical Christian hospitality.”

Purdue Startup Fund Helps Move Technologies Across the World

A new funding option is helping provide support for Purdue-affiliated startups looking to gain traction and improve the world through innovative technologies.

The Purdue Startup Fund was started in 2020 by Purdue Ventures, an arm of the Purdue Foundry. The Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals help Purdue innovators create and grow startups.

“This fund is a partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue University to maximize the university’s commitment to serving others through the commercialization of innovations,” said Wade Lange, vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation. “This is another crucial source of early-stage capital for our startups.”

The Purdue Startup Fund is designed to provide support for startups across all industries. Four startups have been selected so far for funding:

  • Umoja Biopharma – a startup focused on drugs using a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancerous cells.
  • Novosteo – a company that is developing an injectable drug to accelerate bone fracture repair.
  • ClearBlade – an industry-leading Edge Computing software company.
  • GoGig Jobs – an anonymous professional networking platform.

“These startups were selected based on their potential to make an impact on the world

through their technologies,” said John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures.

The Purdue Startup Fund was created to provide support for early-stage companies with direct ties to Purdue intellectual property, alumni or other university connections. Like the Foundry Investment Fund, the Purdue Startup Fund is a sidecar funding that requires the existence of a significant institutional investment in a startup against which it can match a percentage.

“PRF has a mission to support Purdue and take the research, technologies and other work done here to the world,” said Riley Gibb, director of business development for Purdue Ventures. “The Purdue Startup Fund is another strategic way for us to make that happen. Capital can be a scarce resource for startups, so we wanted to offer another option.”

Startups interested in learning more can contact Gibb directly at rtgibb@prf.org.

Purdue Ventures directs three other funds: Ag-Celerator, Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund, Foundry Investment Fund, along with the Purdue Angel Network.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals help Purdue innovators create and grow startups. The Purdue Foundry is housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. The Purdue Foundry has been involved with creating more than 300 companies. The Purdue Foundry is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Celebrates Grads with Robots & Holograms 

Delivering an innovative and inclusive experience fit for this historic year, Thunderbird safely recognized the academic accomplishments of its class of 2020 in a technology-enhanced graduation celebration today to close an unprecedented fall semester.

The online event took place within an immersive virtual reality rendering of Thunderbird’s new global headquarters, opening August 2021. The ceremony was held in a digital version of the global forum, which will be a centerpiece of the state-of-the-art facility. The commencement speaker appeared as a holographic projection within the virtual building, which mirrors the real headquarters under construction now. Outstanding graduates also had a special aerial delivery of their award certificates, courtesy of the Dean’s drone.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic has accelerated the adoption of transformative new technologies like the ones we’re pioneering at Thunderbird that help us stay healthy while connecting us so we can still learn and celebrate together,” said Director General and Dean, Dr. Sanjeev Khagram.

“In keeping with our commitment to impactful and inclusive innovation when others retreat, we’re harnessing these powerful tools not only to adapt to the challenging circumstances of this historic health crisis, but also to be a vanguard in business, leadership, and management education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution going forward. As the most global and digital leadership, management and business academy in the world, we’re proud to celebrate our 2020 graduates and their families in a way that transcends limitations and highlights the future-ready skills and experience they gained at Thunderbird. Next, we look forward to welcoming our fall 2021 class to the most cutting-edge educational facility anywhere,” Khagram said.

About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird School of Global Management is a unit of the Arizona State University Enterprise. For 75 years, Thunderbird has been the vanguard of global management and leadership education, creating inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by educating future-ready global leaders capable of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management was ranked #1 in the world for 2019 by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. ASU is ranked No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for six years in succession.

About ASU

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence, and, impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

The “Magic” of the Disney College Program 

By Hannah DiPilato

“The Magic Kingdom is now open!” a loud voice blares over the intercom at the entrance of the most famous park at Disney World. Hoards of people rush towards the small gates to journey into the land of magic. Upon entering, the magic hits like a wall with Mickey Mouse balloons and a Main Street lined with buildings that look like they were pulled from a storybook. This all leads up to the glistening masterpiece that is Cinderella’s castle. 

But how magical is this experience when you have to do it daily as a burnt-out college student working to make ends meet? For thousands of college students, this is their daily life, but the magic gets dull with each screaming child and cranky parent they encounter. Does the magic truly vanish while working for the Disney College Program, or is all the hassle worth the enchantment that encompasses Disney? 

What it Takes to Work for the Mouse

Although it may seem like no one would be begging to work in a theme park, the Disney College Program gets thousands of applicants every year and only ends up accepting less than 20% of those students. The Disney College Program offers programs at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. There are five basic qualifications students must meet before they should begin to apply.

According to the Disney Program website, students that hope to apply to the program must be “enrolled and taking classes at an accredited program or institution” at the time they hope to apply. Students must have already completed at least one semester of classes or have graduated within 12 months. The program is specifically designed for undergraduate students, but graduate students are able to apply. Some individual universities have special requirements for students to meet such as a specific GPA, so students should meet with an advisor at their school before applying. 

The program also requires all applicants to be at least 18 years old by the time the program starts as well as possess an unrestricted work authorization. Finally, students that have done the program before must wait at least four months from their departure date to return to the program again. 

However, the program requirements go deeper than this. Since the program is so competitive applicants need to do their best to stand out. The first step of the application process is a general questionnaire that’s similar to many basic job applications. After passing this step, applicants move on to a more in-depth web interview. Finally, a phone interview makes the final decision if someone is selected for the program. 

The Captivating Cast Member Positions

There’s a variety of positions available for students that register for the program. The jobs range from working in the parks to working in the hotels and are assigned by random or based on applicants’ prior experience. These positions are no walk through wonderland, they’re full-time positions and students need to be available to work days, nights, weekends and holidays. The wage depends on the position, but most of the employees only make around $9 an hour or a similar amount close to minimum wage. The paychecks certainly aren’t fit for royalty. 

One past cast member who was a part of the Disney college program, Rebecca Condon, worked Merchandise at the Emporium on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This retail experience allowed her to become a manager at Lilly Pulitzer at the young age of 22. Northeastern alumni, Kayla DiPilato also participated in the program as a seater at Be Our Guest, a themed restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. She believes she received this position because of her prior experience as a hostess at Top of the Hub in Boston. 

As both of these jobs seem to capture the whimsical essence of Disney, many positions in the program are not as sought over. Some roles such as custodial or food prep, are minimum wage jobs that can be found at most basic establishments all around the country. However, what would be a part-time job in a fast-food restaurant or a business turns into hours on hours in an amusement park to make ends meet. Depending on which job an applicant is selected for could determine whether they love or hate the program. Although, one person’s job nightmare could be a dream come true for somebody else. 

Not a Castle Nor a Carriage 

The housing and transportation for the program has not received stellar reviews from past cast members. Members of the Disney College Program are housed in apartments and rent is taken weekly from their paychecks. Rent can cost anywhere from $114 to $205 a week depending on what housing a person is placed in. Many times cast members have to share a room as well as sharing the apartment with a few other workers. The rules of housing are apparently incredibly strict, with restrictions against alcohol as well as overnight guests of the opposite gender. 

“My least favorite part of the job was the apartments they housed us in,” said Rebecca Condon. “My apartment was the oldest Disney property and had tons of issues. My toilet overflowed 7 times during the program because of bad pipes in the wall to the point where it flooded our whole apartment with about 2 inches of water.” The rent might be cheap, but in the end you get what you pay for. 

If students were unable to bring their own car, they had to rely on the transportation provided by Disney. The college program in Orlando provides a shuttle service to help transport cast members, but the Anaheim program only provides cast members with a free city bus pass. Although the shuttle sounds like a convenient option, it was much less practical than having a car on the property. 

“It is unbelievable how they are able to transport thousands of us,” expressed Condon. “Although, with that being said, it was really hard because I would have to leave two hours before my shift to make sure I got there in time and I often wasn’t home until two to three hours after my shift.” After an incredibly long day of working in a busy park, a two-hour commute is much longer than anyone would want to endure. 

The unreliable shuttle was one reason DiPilato decided to drive her car all the way from Massachusetts to use during her time in the program. “I knew how disastrous it would be to take the shuttle for commuting,” she said. “I also wanted to have the freedom to explore Orlando.”

Experience the Magic but Fight the Villains 

Disney has its perks as well as its downsides just as any normal day job does. DiPilato said her favorite part of the job was making magic for guests, especially for kids that were part of the Make A Wish program. However, she also recalled that families would often get hot and tired after a long day in the park and take out their frustrations on her.  

There were also a lot of strict rules such as never being allowed to point with one finger, never calling guests “people” instead of guests, not being able to have piercings besides one on your earlobes and not being able to wear too much makeup. 

“Once I got yelled at because a child threw his shoe into our moat. How was that my fault?” recalled DiPilato. “Although, I did get to meet Josh Gad in promotion of the Beauty and The Beast live-action movie that was set to come out at the time, so that was a super cool experience.”

Condon recalled one occurrence where the cast members got to experience an exclusive party for the cast members. “Disney opened up one of their water parks for cast members after hours,” she recalled. “They hired a DJ and catered with some of the best Disney Treats, especially the Mickey Bars!”

Every day working at Disney for the Disney College Program is a unique experience. DiPilato mentioned that guests would often sprinkle ashes of relatives within the rides and cast members would have to clean them up. “Yeah, that happened a lot, mostly in the Haunted Mansion,” she said nonchalantly. She also touched on the fact that kids would often get separated from their families, throw up randomly and scream… a lot. “Giving kids a magical experience is amazing, but it comes with so many more problems than would come with working strictly with adults,” she said. 

Is the Work Worth the Pixie Dust?

It takes a special and dedicated person to participate in the Disney College Program. Days are full of long hours of work and lots of cranky families. However, the perks and experience a cast member receives from the job will last a lifetime. 

“I absolutely loved the program and feel like I grew so much from it,” concluded Condon. “The skills I learned from working for this Fortune 500 company is something I carry around with me every day.” 

If you could walk through the streets of Magic Kingdom daily without it ever getting old, or eat a Mickey Ice Cream bar every day without ever getting sick of them, you could have what it takes to become a cast member. To many, it is the job of a lifetime to be able to play an important role in millions of children’s most magical memories and the free park entry doesn’t hurt either. 

If you can get over the job’s flaws, you could have Mickey Mouse as your coworker. And hey, don’t all jobs have their downsides? 

Breast Cancer Illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

UVA Breast Cancer Discovery

University of Virginia Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene responsible for the spread of triple-negative breast cancer to other parts of the body – a process called metastasis – and developed a potential way to stop it.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of breast cancer that accounts for 40,000 deaths in the United States annually. The majority of these deaths result from resistance to chemotherapy and subsequent aggressive metastases. So UVA researchers asked: What causes a primary tumor to become metastatic? This is an important question in cancer biology because patients with metastatic tumors have the highest death rate.

UVA’s Sanchita Bhatnagar, PhD, and her team found that the breast cancer oncogene TRIM37 not only causes the cancer to spread but also makes it resistant to chemotherapy. A new approach she and her colleagues have developed could possibly address both, the researchers hope.

“Despite metastasis being the key reason for failure of cancer therapies, it remains poorly understood. We do not clearly understand what drives the metastatic growth in patients,” said Bhatnagar, who was the first to identify TRIM37 as a breast cancer oncogene. “In general, several genes are altered during tumorigenesis. However, whether targeting the same genes will prevent metastatic transition remains to be addressed.”

Promising research from Bhatnagar’s team shows that targeting TRIM37 prevents metastatic lesions in mouse models. Those findings form the foundation of her lab’s current work exploring the role of TRIM37 in racial disparities in triple negative breast cancer. Incidence of the disease is disproportionately higher in African-American women compared with other races, with a 5-year survival rate in African-American patients of only 14% compared with 36% in non-African-American women.

Targeting Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Bhatnagar and UVA’s Jogender Tushir-Singh, PhD, have developed a new approach to stop the effects of TRIM37 and, hopefully, prevent or significantly delay the spread of triple-negative breast cancer. This could also lower the disease’s defenses against chemotherapy.

Blocking the gene could benefit approximately 80% of triple negative breast cancer patients, the researchers estimate.

Bhatnagar and Tushir-Singh’s approach uses nanoparticles – microscopic balls of fat – to deliver treatment to block TRIM37. These nanoparticles are paired with specially engineered antibodies that bind to the cancerous cells but not to healthy cells. “As soon as the antibody finds the triple negative breast cancer cell, it binds to the receptor and is taken up by the cell,” explained Tushir-Singh, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

“It is a kiss of death,” Bhatnagar said, “that selectively reduces the expression of TRIM37 in cancer cells and prevents the spread.”

The approach could be used to deliver targeted treatments for many other cancers as well, the researchers report. “That would not only get the treatment where it needs to be but, hopefully, help prevent unwanted side effects. Besides preventing metastases, it adds selectivity,” Bhatnagar said.

“A problem in the field is, how will you give [a nanoparticle treatment] to the patients? Most of these nanoparticles are cleared by the liver, so they never have a chance to really do their job,” she said. “In this study, researchers bypassed this issue by delivering nanoparticles by nasal route, increasing the rate of uptake in the lungs – one of the most common metastatic target sites in TNBC patients.”

The development of the new approach is in its early stages, but tests with lab mice have offered encouraging indications. “The lungs showed dramatic reduction in metastatic lesions after the treatment in comparison to the mice that received no treatment,” Bhatnagar said.

Next Steps

To verify that TRIM37 targeting might offer a potential treatment approach, Bhatnagar teamed up with Tushir-Singh, her husband, to test it in the lab. “And we find that our targeted nanoparticles significantly reduce metastatic lesions in the lungs of spontaneous metastatic murine [mouse] models – both immune compromised and immune sufficient,” she said. “This is an important proof-of-concept much needed for the bench-to-clinic transition of these important findings.”

Clinically, most women in the early stages of breast cancer are treated with surgery, followed by radiation or chemotherapy. However, metastasis remains a challenging medical problem. Bhatnagar’s research offers a potential way to target a driver of metastasis that she hopes will prevent or slow metastatic progression and improve overall survival.

Much more work needs to be done, but Bhatnagar’s research is being noticed by pharmaceutical companies interested in exploring the approach’s potential. “This is a delivery platform, not only for targeting our protein of interest but for many other chemotherapeutic drugs that can be packaged into the nanoparticles and selectively delivered,” Bhatnagar said.

Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Cancer Research. The research team consisted of Piotr Przanowski, Song Lou, Rachisan Djiake Tihagam, Tanmoy Mondal, Caroline Conlan, Gururaj Shivange, Ilyas Saltani, Chandrajeet Singh, Kun Xing, Benjamin B. Morris, Marty W. Mayo, Luis Teixeira, Jacqueline Lehmann-Che, Jogender Tushir-Singh and Sanchita Bhatnagar.

Bhatnagar, a Hartwell Investigator, is supported by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Breakthrough Award (BC170197P1, BC190343P1) and Metavivor Translational Research Award. A provisional patent has been filed for the molecularly targeted nanoparticle design engineered by the Bhatnagar and Tushir-Singh laboratories.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog.

Rita Azar illustrates relationship article for 360 MAGAZINE

Important Tips When Vacationing with Your Special Someone

Traveling is an enjoyable activity, most especially if you are with the one you love. Sunrises and sunsets become more beautiful, the food seemingly tastes better, and any cultural barriers become more of an experience to laugh at than an irritant.

So, all your custom research papers are written, vacation is about to start, your clothes are ready and tickets are waiting for you to take them and go. But if you are together and unprepared, things might not go the way you planned. Here are some things to consider when vacationing with your special someone.

#1 Agree upon what you’d like to do together

A common source of conflict when vacationing together is that one person is dictating the terms. He or she says what tourist sites they will visit, where they will eat, what souvenirs to buy, and even what time of the day they will do all these things. While the other partner may give in at first, it eventually becomes a pain.

Instead, the couple should discuss what they’d like to do together before going on the trip, including possible dos and don’ts. While spontaneity can be fun and romantic, if your partner is really against doing something (swimming with the sharks, jumping out of a plane, or eating scorpions), then there should be no reason to force them.

#2 Be patient when difficulties crop up

When traveling, difficulties of some sort usually crop up, such as misplacing your tickets, leaving the cellphone charger at the hotel, or forgetting to pick something up on your supply run at the local store. It is important to stay patient. Snapping at each other over such minor inconveniences will ruin the mood for your trip.

This patience is also necessary when dealing with the locals. Cultural and language differences may cause you to become impatient. But dealing rudely with them may get you into further trouble, or it may even irritate your partner who just wants to have a good time.

#3 Give each other space

Even in your locale, it is important to give one another space. 

This is also true when visiting a new place. If the place is safe, it is good to allow one another to explore the area alone for a time. If not that safe, then give one another time to lounge alone, read a magazine, or even watch a favorite show. You will find that after some alone time, you and your partner will be ready to enjoy things together again.

#4 Enjoy your time together

A vacation together is supposed to strengthen your bond as a couple. So ensure that you are both having fun. That’s why it is inadvisable to bring work with you as much as possible.  

If you notice that one of you is not enjoying the trip, find ways to make it more fun. Think of what you can both do to bring more life to your trip. It could be visiting something not on your itinerary, having a coffee at a local café, or just watching the sunset together.

Summary

It’s a blessing to have the chance to travel together. Take advantage of such time, and make it enjoyable by considering the tips above.