Cover Story
Avoiding the Hazards on the Road to Higher Education
At the core of the American Dream is education and one’s right to pursue it without bounds—however, the education system is ringed with inequalities for the poor and others lacking certain privileges. These disadvantages widen the gaps between whites and students of color in higher education. 
Most students in pursuit of higher education face a multitude of problems, like the burden of paying thousands of dollars a year. Currently, the total U.S. student debt is $1.4 trillion and growing rapidly each year. In 2017, the average student amassed $37,172 of debt, and every second about $2,858 worth of student debt is accrued. 
For first generation college students, often students of color from non-affluent neighborhoods, this problem can worsen as they are more likely to drop out; drowning in debt with no college degree is a calamity. Furthermore, the cost of books and other materials weighs down students’ growth.
 Shurly Won, a senior at Simmons University studying computer science and biostatistics, faced these overwhelming challenges. “Financially, many of my classmates have told me that their parents have paid for or will pay for their tuition,” she said. “Unlike them, I need to carry my own burden and take out my own loans.” Won’s responsibility for paying for her college education put her in a different headspace from many of her classmates.
 Many students of color have similar burdens, especially when attending predominantly white schools. Won called her financial advisor before attending Simmons and explained her circumstances, which helped her manage the financial toll college education would take on her.
 “For incoming minority students, I would like them to know that if they happen to be in a difficult situation, never be afraid to speak up,” she said. “There are likely other people on campus who share the same situations.” 
Jaelle Sanon, a junior at Cornell University majoring in industrial and labor relations, echoed these same sentiments. “Take advantage of everything and also advocate for yourself,” she said. “The school accepted you, and now they must give you all the resources needed to succeed.” It is also in the best interest of the college to provide these resources and support programs so students’ successful graduation is guaranteed. 
Many students in college feel out of place, disorganized or homesick. For students of color, these problems are only heightened as the cultural dynamic shift is bigger and stronger.
 According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, starting from K-12 education, students of color are plagued with inequalities, with schools serving predominantly black and Hispanic students offering “disproportionately fewer math, science, and college preparatory courses” and experiencing “disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in 9th grade, suspended, or expelled.”
An educational gap is one of many factors making life different for students of color in the U.S. These differences manifest themselves as huge obstacles in college as students of color are faced with problems they’ve never encountered before.
Students of color need close support from the institutions they’re attending to guarantee success. Sanon goes to a predominantly white institution, or a PWI, and is a first generation college student of color, which makes her experiences very hard at times. “Academically, I felt like I wasn't prepared for Cornell, but it is a learning curve,” she said. “You learn as you go. I had to re-learn how to read, study and take exams. However, Cornell provides academic services, and I have been able to surround myself with friends in my major to help me.” 
 At Cornell, Sanon attended the Prefreshman Summer Program which she credits for helping her transition from high school to college. “The Prefreshman Summer Program allowed me to take classes in my major before I officially started Cornell as well as familiarize myself with the resources Cornell offers for low-income students,” she said. “I also met some of my best friends there.” 
Programs like these help students of color adapt and prepare themselves for a successful four years of college.

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AFH Photo//Kiara Maher
We’ve all failed at some point, whether at school or in our personal lives. But for someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), failure seems to be a lot worse. As someone with ADHD, I feel distressed daily. Completing “normal” tasks seem impossible, causing me to feel defeated. It’s very important that people understand this condition and the people who live with it. While you may not be able to help their brains, you can help by being supportive and educated on their symptoms.
There are two kinds of attention deficit, inattentive (ADD), and hyperactive (ADHD). The difference is, if you have ADHD, you have trouble staying still for a long period of time. ADD is a mental hyperactivity, where your attention is everywhere.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of ADHD include fidgeting, forgetfulness, trouble following directions and controlling emotions, switching quickly from one activity to the next, being easily distracted and frequent daydreaming. ADHD is on a spectrum, so not everyone struggles from symptoms in the same way. The severity varies and depends on factors such as environment, diet and how often you exercise. 
Some of these symptoms can lead to serious consequences. For example, according to CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), youths with ADHD are “overrepresented among crash and fatality statistics than their non-ADHD peers.” This not only puts ADHD drivers at risk, but others as well. 
People with ADHD also often suffer panic attacks. These feelings, according to Dr. Andrea Spencer, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Boston Medical Center, make teens with ADHD “blame themselves and feel demoralized.” Michelle Privé, clinical social worker at Boston Medical Center, said that ADHD can also lead to “academic and social difficulties, which may increase feelings of frustration, irritability, sadness, low self-esteem, or loss of motivation.” Over time, these feelings can make you feel depressed, or contribute to depression. 
Despite the challenges I’m destined to bear, I felt relieved when I finally understood the reasons for my inattentiveness and frustration. But it wasn’t long after that I perceived the stigma many have about ADHD—that those on ADHD medication haven’t tried hard enough to control their symptoms. From personal experience, I can tell you this is not true. 
It isn’t me who wants to take three hours doing one assignment. I want to finish my homework as early as I can, I want to sleep by 10 pm each night and I want to be able to control my brain so that I complete my tasks on time. I am sure this applies to many others who also have ADHD, but we have little control over our brains. 
I have tried to overcome my ADHD. I’m on a pescatarian diet, limiting foods with preservatives, artificial flavors and colors in attempt to eliminate factors that may trigger symptoms. I try to find a “perfect” place to study and do homework, where I can focus. But blocking external distractions is not enough. Even in these “perfect” environments, it’s nearly impossible to get my undivided attention on what’s in front of me. I often feel as if I’m a total failure, that I can’t accomplish anything like a “normal” person.  
“I wish people would understand that ADHD can make it hard for those who have it to focus on one thing at a time, and people keep pressuring us,” said Illea Hutcherson, a student at the William W. Henderson Inclusion School.
Regardless of the stigma, it is important for ADHD to be treated. Understanding your disorder and what works for you will force you to create coping mechanisms early on, before life gets even more hectic to manage. ADHD is typically treated with stimulants, which increase neurotransmitter dopamine in the central nervous system, while improving focus, attention, planning and organization. Dr. Spencer said these medications are safe and effective when taken as prescribed. She added that “up to 90 percent of children with ADHD can get relief from their symptoms with medication.”
There are also natural ways to improve ADHD. Privé suggests using tools to help you stay organized, such as a daily planner or apps on your phone. Limit your distractions by keeping your phone away while you are doing homework, or sitting near the front of the class in school. Use a timer if you work best under pressure. Lastly, practice mindfulness or meditation. By practicing these strategies, your symptoms and feelings may improve.
ADHD may seem pervasive, and while it still impairs one’s life, it’s not the worst thing. People with ADHD tend to be very enthusiastic and we get excited over the smallest things. We also have a very special talent—the ability to hyperfocus. Many writers, engineers and artists with ADHD are successful at their jobs because of this superpower. Hutcherson said, “drawing  helps my mind focus and settle because I really enjoy it and it just helps me get use to focusing on my work more.” Use your hyperfocus to your advantage by finding a productive activity that helps you alleviate your stress, as Hutcherson has. This lessens your feelings of failure, because you know what you’re a master in.
Helping the ADHD community begins with acknowledging their struggles. Instead of judging or ridiculing them for their mistakes or their behavior, let’s start helping them turn their feelings into feedback on how they can improve. People with ADHD love trying new things and failing at something new is perfectly okay. It merely shows how determined and resilient we are.

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AFH Photo//Darren Hicks
Want to get free college credit before graduating high school? According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the state provides a program called the   Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership, which “provides opportunities for high school students to take college-level courses free of charge and simultaneously earn credit toward high school completion as well as their future college degrees.” While only a handful of high schools offer this opportunity, students should push for dual enrollment in all Boston Public high schools because they can earn free college credit and gain experience with college, plus it may increase the college graduation rate. 
Dual enrollment gives students experience with college academics by allowing high school students to take high school and college courses simultaneously, for free. Securing your future by taking college classes during high school will bring students one step closer to success. According to, “Dual-enrollment classes have been shown to give students a preview of the college experience and permit students to amass some post-secondary credit before even enrolling at a college or university.” In other words, dual enrollment helps students get more college experience while being in high school. 
Fernando Rodriguez, a college coach from Sociedad Latina, wishes he could have taken dual enrollment classes in high school so that he would have been more prepared for college. “It would have given me an idea of what professors are looking for in my work,” he said. “Also it helps students to balance their’re taking on additional work and that's something a college student does.”  
Additionally, dual enrollment may increase college graduation rates. According to a study done by the Community College Research Center, “Students who participated in dual enrollment in high school had significantly higher cumulative college GPAs three years after high school graduation than did their peers who did not participate in dual enrollment programs.” A better college GPA gives students more opportunities to get a better job post-graduation. 
Dual enrollment helps high school students experience the lifestyle of college. It can boost their interests and allow them to experiment with career paths, while building up valuable credits and creating a successful network. Dual enrollment puts you on the right path for a successful future. 

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AFH Photo//Dominic Duong
For six years, I have been playing with SquashBusters, a sports-based youth development and academic program with sites in Boston, Lawrence and Providence, Rhode Island. Because squash is often viewed as a Caucasian sport, you wouldn’t think my squash team is made up of mostly black and Latinx athletes—but it is. Since my teammates come from minority backgrounds, we relate to one another on a level beyond sports. 
As high school athletes look forward to participating in college sports, we often do not think about the lack of diversity among college teams. However, because there is less diversity in college teams, you should expect you may struggle to build a sense of community with your teammates if you are a minority athlete.
When minority students enter college many experience culture shock, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “ a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” This culture shock extends beyond the classroom and onto the field. “No one here looks like me” is a phrase that too often echos in the head of minority college athletes. 
According to the NCAA, from 2016-2017, in the sport of squash, black male college athletes made up 3.6 percent of all players, while whites made up 57.6 percent. Similarly, black women made up 2.8 percent, while white women made up 58 percent. Sports that lack diversity lack understanding of different cultures and ideas. For minorities, this insufficient knowledge from their peers can make it hard to bond with them.
Ravi Rao played with SquashBusters in high school and now plays for his college team at Bryant University in Rhode Island. He describes his relationship with his former teammates at SquashBusters as a family, a group of people who build each other up. Now, he says he is close to his team at Bryant, but wouldn’t consider them family. The SquashBusters team “ just gets me,” said Rao. It is easier to build a team when the teammates all relate to one another. By understanding each other, they create a stronger bond which strengthens the team. 
Felix Polanco, a senior at New Mission High School, has been playing tennis with Tenacity—a sport and academic program for urban youth—for seven years. One aspect Polanco likes about Tenacity is that his team members look like him and share similar backgrounds and upbringings. He plans to continue playing in college, but fears his new teammates may be prejudiced. While he wants them to understand him, he’s also not going to force friendships. 
“I would still be cool with them, but not as cool as I am with the people I have at Tenacity,” said Polanco. If he does run into conflicts with his future team, he will simply focus on himself as an athlete. “I am in it to play the sport, and they shouldn’t keep me from playing my sport,” he said. 
Your love for your favorite sport can be compromised if there are people on the team who do not respect you. While you should try your best to talk through every situation and express your feelings, it is understandable if you need a break from your team. As Polanco said, you play the sport for your own personal growth. The people there should push you to be better, not make you feel worse or insecure.
Christopher Ferguson, 18, from Chicago, has been playing squash for five years with Metro Squash, a Chicago-based squash, academic, mentoring and life skills program. Through sports, he has learned discipline from his coaches and has developed healthy, long-term friendships with his teammates. Yet, Ferguson has faced racism from other players outside his program. As he thinks about playing in college, he hopes not to encounter more racial situations. “It would hurt to not continue playing if the environment was hostile,” said Ferguson. In order to combat this, he said, the best thing for athletes to do is educate their teammates on racial tolerance. 
Talking to your team about what makes you uncomfortable can give your teammates a better understanding about you and can potentially lessen tensions within the group. As high school athletes look forward to playing in college, they should keep in mind the challenges they might face when dealing with teammates who may not hold the same viewpoints. Push yourself to speak out against those who say or do hurtful things to others. Hold your new teammates accountable, but if it becomes too much to bear, know there is a much bigger community out there who will push you as an athlete and respect you for who you are.

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AFH Photo//Dominic Duong
Are you in public school and don’t have an afterschool job? Are you in a place where you aren’t able to go to college because you and your family are not financially stable? Do you need motivation to go to school? If so, you have probably wished there were a way to earn money during school hours. Students should get paid to go to high school because it encourages them to graduate and improves their test scores. Money might give students extra motivation to graduate. Dohn Community High School, located in Cincinnati, demonstrated that this system works. According to an article in CBS Cincinnati, Dohn’s system allots $25 to seniors and $10 to younger kids each week. The money distributed to the students comes from Easter Seals and private donations. Additionally, every time students got paid, $5 goes into a savings account they can access when they graduate. So if students need that extra push to come to school each day, there are immediate rewards, and if they need help going to college, they already have savings started. 
Students are more likely to improve their test scores if they get paid to go to school. This is where the Advanced Placement Incentive Program, or APIP, comes in.  In a school that participates in APIP, students in 11th and 12th grade receive money for good scores on AP exams. The amount paid per exam is different from district to district, and  students can receive between $100 and $500 for each score of 3 or above in an eligible subject. This could add up to hundreds of dollars for students who take lots of APs. Sometimes, students just guess on tests and just get a bad grade, especially on difficult tests like APs.  But if students are getting paid to get a good grade on a test, it will motivate them want to study. 
Most students need more encouragement to go to school and money is one of the ways to give them a little bit more motivation. They will feel more hopeful about school. They can build savings if they need help paying for college. They will get a raise if they do even better on a test. High school students should get paid to go to school because it will encourage them to do better in high school, help students if they are in need of money, and improve school test scores. Money is the key to success.

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In today’s technology-filled world, the most intimate interactions some get are through their computer screens. 
Broadcast Jockeys, or BJs, can fill the empty void that comes coupled with your cheap instant ramen. BJs spend hours cooking and consuming food while live-streaming themselves on platforms like the Korean video streaming site “AfreecaTV.”People around the world tune in to hear their favorites slurp their noodles and crunch the crispy exterior of their chicken wings. Many viewers eat along as they watch, enjoying the sensory experiences from the steady staccatos of knives chopping chives against wooden cutting boards to the sizzling of fish cake upon the electric grill. 
This Internet phenomenon is known as mukbang (pronounced “mook-baang”),  a portmanteau combining the Korean words for “eat” and “broadcast.” 
“When I’m lonely I can watch it, when I´m happy I can watch it, when I’m on a diet I can watch it,” said @mukbanq. An Instagram user who reposts popular mukbang clips, @mukbanq has amassed over 264,000 followers, attesting to the popularity of this subculture. 
Mukbang broadcasts all tend to follow a similar set-up. BJs typically stage their entire videos from the perimeters of their quaint bedrooms. They begin their broadcasts by chatting with their audience members within the chat box below their stream. This chat box allows them to crank up the intimacy and engage in conversations with their viewers. Another important aspect of the chat box is that it serves as a  lucrative hotspot for the BJs, as this is where viewers may send them “star balloons”—the site’s unique form of cryptocurrency which can be exchanged for regular cash. This aspect is the cherry on top of eating delicious food. 
“Mukbang first intrigued me as I saw these thin females, like me, who would eat so much. The only difference was that they could eat so much more than me, which sparked my curiosity,” said Wanyi Chen, a John D. O’Bryant student. Like Chen, many American high schoolers enjoy watching these videos, demonstrating how the trend has spread far from its origins in South Korea.
Seeing how many have made this their full-time careers—with some top tier broadcasters harnessing “as much as $10,000 a month by some accounts, not including sponsorships,” according to an article in Quartz— I decided to get into the fun and take a stab at this potential career option. Following the traditional mukbang set up, I visited my local Korean supermarket and purchased the traditional items for about $20—store-made kimbap, pickled radish, and Samyang’s infamous spicy ramen (popularized by the viral Internet trend “Fire Noodle Challenge”). After placing all of these atop a small wooden table in my room, I nervously began my broadcast.
As I slurped my first noodle, I realized how awkward this practice really is. I'm not Korean and don't know how to speak Korean, so I just ate silently as viewers began to slowly trickle in. My anxiety was running high. After amassing 20 viewers and consuming a row of kimbap, a couple slices of the radish, and a spiral or two of ramen, I had to conclude my broadcast, too uncomfortable to continue. 
The actual experience made me realize how glamorized this peculiar occupation really is. I had difficulty splitting my attention between the aromatic food in front of me and the chat box (which had surprisingly more messages than I expected), making me realize how challenging it is to monitor the live stream and eat at the same time. 
Apart from the few messages that came off a tad bit creepy, the messages were delightful. For example, people had noticed me tearing up as I consumed my spicy ramen, and they were kindly encouraging me to continue eating. They certainly added a dash of spice into this otherwise solitary occupation.
“I would consider doing mukbang as it appears to be a lucrative, yet easy, way to work,” said Noelis Tovar, a senior at John D. O’Bryant. 
Prior to my broadcast, I would have agreed with Tovar. However, when I checked my star balloon count afterward, I realized that this was an optimistic viewpoint. During my brief mukbang, I accumulated only about 10 “star balloons.” This translates to roughly 70 cents.
However, I was surprised to find myself making any amount at all.  On top of that, I found my profile landing a spot on the streaming site’s ranking chart. With a few more sessions, I may gather enough of the knowledge that high-ranking Broadcast Jockeys know so I actually take in more money than I spend. 
But until then, I’m going to pocket my 70 cents, queue up some mukbang, and keep slurping noodles with Internet strangers. 

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AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
The following letter was a culminating project for Boston Latin School ELA 10 students in their unit on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”by Mark Twain. They were asked to write a letter to the editor arguing for or against the book being required reading in U.S. public high schools.

A single word. That is all that is needed to break the silence on an unpleasant topic. That is why high schools should not ban “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”by Mark Twain. The N-word is the sole reason that some schools ban Huck Finn and others use an edited version which replaces the word with slave. We believe that this is misguided, because including the word creates a teaching moment where the students can have a discussion about the weight the word carries and the degree of racism that the word slave cannot reach. It carries the oppression of African-Americans, because inferiority was linked with skin color and not with slavery itself. This allowed slavery to be more widely accepted in the “land of the free,” as dark-skinned people were considered less than human. That word alone will give students a chance to talk about an important topic that they would rather avoid and stay silent on. Discussions about difficult subjects such as this one will help students form their own morals and opinions on what is considered racist. In an English class, you would examine the humanity in stories, so how could you analyze human nature without talking about the full extent of its atrocities? Everyone feels uncomfortable at times, so let this be one of those times that we can talk about our dark past, and begin our path towards our bright future.

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AFH Photo//My Vu
The life I have now started in 8th grade when I thought this odd absence of emotion was a survival technique my body decided to pick up. At the time I thought the apocalypse was coming at any moment. And it did: the clouds in my head darkened and brought in heavy rain, some of it leaks through my eyes. Then the tectonic plates made earthquakes that split right through my heart. Then the volcanoes erupted in my brain and burned down all my thoughts. Now I'm standing here watching my world fall apart and not knowing how to save it. Sometimes I try to forget it but this sight is just so hard to miss when I wake up and see it in the mirror.


"Hey, how are you" they ask
The race my brain was once in is now racing even faster as it tries to forget a random memory and make a flipagram out of the worst ones and trying to decide whether I should say good again, or actually answer this time. Then my brain takes a sip of humor juice and answers "nah I'm dead inside." What they confuse for humor is what I call a true story, I'm constantly conflicted and the depression jokes are real life but I slide in a smile so they forget about it like I try to every day. I have trouble with basic math but I can think of one memory and remake them into a thousand different scenarios all without the same outcome. I can go from happy to sad all based off of how my playlist decided to shuffle. 


I hate you and everything you stand for, i hate that you have to remind yourself you’re ok, i hate that you lie to yourself and say everything is alright,  i hate the way you look in the mirror, into your own eyes and through all the darkness you find even the slightest light of hope and hold onto it. I hate that you’d rather take the pain from other people instead of getting rid of your pains. I hate that you put yourself below everyone you meet and you’re so willing to risk so much for people that dont care about you. I hate that you are so nice to people. I hate that you go back to the people that did you wrong because you see the good in them no matter how much bad they show. I hate that no matter how hard life gets you stand and fight life back even harder, giving your all into a lost cause. I hate that you let the good people walk out so easily but keep the bad people close and allow them to derail you and change you into something you don't want to become. I hate that rather than coming out and admitting that you are having trouble, you hide behind the humor and the weirdness and hope nobody sees through it. I hate you because I am your hate, for that we will always be bound to each other, so while you think you may be spreading me to everyone else you’re directing to yourself.

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