My father never went to college. My mother works in a field unrelated to what she studied in college. Yet, almost every day of my life, I feel influenced by everybody around me to go to college. In this modern society I do not believe it's necessary to go into debt for a college degree because there are other viable options that can lead to success.  
The stereotype that one is a failure if they do not go to college pushes many Americans to feel as if their only option is to go to college after high school. This feeling has led to a record-breaking $1.5 trillion of collective student loan debt in 2018, according to Federal Reserve data. The current cost of a college education is $63,973 more than it was 32 years ago, which is an increase of 161 percent, according to Market Watch. 
Emily Stainer, the Chief Academic Officer at Match High School, graduated from college years ago, but the debt still follows her. “It worries me. It really does. Even my husband is still in debt,” Stainer said. 
Stainer believes getting a college degree should be a backup plan and not a gateway to getting a job. “Imagine you lose your main job. If you had a college degree, you would surely be able to get another job,” she said. This point of view is a very valid one as, according to a study by The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major.  Companies like Google and Apple no longer require a degree for many positions, according to the Consumer News and Business Channel. The absurd amount of debt people may obtain just to ensure they’re not poor, it’s far too much. 
Alikhan Fabrice, a local student, dreams of attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is not concerned about the debt he might get into. “Well, to be frank, I don’t really care. All I know is that I’m going to get into MIT and get a good job,” said Fabrice. It is viewpoints like this that have caused staggering student loan debt in the U.S.  
Saving for college while in high school is a difficult task. How is a student going to get a high paying job, save all the money for college and balance their academics? It is almost impossible to do this. Some teens are in better financial positions than others. For the teens in worse financial situations, there should be more scholarships and grants awarded than loans. 
Canada, for example, offers college for free, and I think this is something America should offer as well. Many countries, in fact, offer college for free. Countries are able to offer college for free because the colleges are funded publicly by taxes. I personally wouldn’t mind a costlier tax. What’s a couple of extra dollars for free college? 
Many teenage students like Johandy Ozuna agree. “If there are free colleges in Canada, in my opinion, I think there should be free colleges in America,” said Ozuna. He wouldn’t mind a higher tax for free college instead of wasting tax money on things like the death penalty. If America really raised their taxes to support free colleges, many people would support it as the new generation’s lives would benefit from this. 
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It’s 5:30 pm. Your school day has officially ended and you are walking to the bus station. You take out your phone to call your parents, but before you get a chance to dial their number, you see someone blocking you. They are wearing a jacket with the letters ICE in big white font and they are looking for you. This is the moment you realize you are an undocumented immigrant.  
Immigration is a serious problem in this country because the current administration is not handling the immigration crisis appropriately. One side of the immigration problem that a lot of people are talking about is how inhumanely ICE and border patrol treat undocumented minors once they are in custody. According at a 60 Minutes investigation, about 5,000 children have been separated from their families since the beginning of Trump’s administration. CNN has reported that minors who are held in immigration detention centers are held in windowless enclosures that can be compared to dog kennels, they have to use unsanitary bathrooms and some are placed in solitary confinement. Pretty much, these children are living in jails while being separated from their parents.  
What is most concerning to me are the toddlers being held in these facilities. Young children who are separated from their parents experience a wave of emotions and don’t know how to deal with it. It is hard enough for adults to process their emotions, so imagine how a young kid might feel if they don’t have any familiar people to guide them through this trauma. 
President Trump argues that he and former president Barack Obama had the same separation policy, but he’s just doing it differently from Obama. However, the difference between the two policies is that Trump is immediately prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally, whether they come with a child or not, while Obama didn’t enforce the law as heavily. This ultimately has caused thousands of children to be separated from their parents. The Trump administration has been falsely stating that it is the law to separate families when they are prosecuted. According to the Washington Post, there is no official law that states families should be separated when they are detained at the border. We need to do something about the way the Trump administration is handling family separation. No child should be in a cage waiting to be set free or sent back to their country which could be filled with danger or poverty which they were trying to escape in the first place.  
No president should allow children to be taken away from their parents. This is really damaging the image of the U.S. Trump swears he is a better president than Barack Obama, but at the rate he’s going, he might be remembered as something much different. These kinds of decisions make people really mad, and it's not only because of the family separation, but because more and more people are getting killed or hurt because of his policies. I'm tired of seeing kids in pain and I know I'm not the only one. 
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“Does this black match?” -Daria

Fashion is one of those things that has been around for a while—ever since clothes were a thing, really. Sometimes people wear band merchandise to show that they like that band. Others dress in bright, lively colors or in black and gray.  
Many teens use their wardrobe as a way to show how they feel. I know I do that sometimes. I just throw on some black leggings, a black shirt and black Vans and call it a day. Or, I’ll wear a cute wine-colored shirt with some mustard pants and be fine with it, but like I said, it all depends on how I feel.  
While expressing yourself through fashion becomes harder when you enter the workplace and need to look professional or even wear a uniform, many professionals will use different accessories, shoes and sometimes even their hair to express themselves. I talked to Lali Armijo, a professional in the beauty industry, about how she uses fashion to express herself.  
 
How do you meet professional work expectations while still having a little “you” in your outfit? 
It's really just understanding the criteria of what is professional and what it means. I think that as you get into the working world, there are a lot of commonalities as to what professionalism is. I think it's also something you learn in school. I personally like to wear scarves, earrings, and any sort of jewelry and that to me is kind of a way I express myself while still making sure I’m meeting the professional criteria. That’s my way of spicing up a “boring” outfit. 
 
How important is what you wear to you? 
It's very important! I mean what you wear is what people see you in, right? Unfortunately, we live in a judgmental society, so being professional is a way in which people judge you in the workplace, so it has to be very important because you want people to take you seriously. 
 
When did you really find an interest in fashion?  
I’ve always had an interest; once you start working and you start getting paychecks and you learn how to budget you start to think, “Where can I buy clothes that aren’t too expensive but still look good?” From there, you start to mix and match outfits and it just becomes fun. 
 
Does your mood ever affect what you wear?  
Yes, for sure. I think that if I’m feeling energetic that morning and ready for work, I’ll definitely put more time and energy into that outfit. But if I’m running behind schedule or I’m stressed, then I’m definitely just going to throw something on and not necessarily not think what I’m going to wear.  
 
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Every day, teens check their phones for social media, use their laptops and desktops for work, and watch Netflix for entertainment. Children watch TV and play on tablets. However, staring at screens all day can lead to digital eye strain. Even if you do not know what that means, I bet you’ve experienced it.   
Digital eye strain is the physical discomfort that you feel when you look at TVs, phones, tablets, computers, or other screens for more than two hours at a time, according to Lenscrafters. If you use electronics for more than two hours a time, you probably have experienced digital eye strain at some point. It can cause many symptoms such as sore, tired, burning or itching eyes, watery or dry eyes, blurred or double vision, headaches, increased sensitivity to light, difficulty concentrating, or feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open. While researchers are still studying digital eye strain, many think it can potentially cause permanent damage and ruin your eyesight.  
Some researchers believe that digital eye strain can also lead to you needing glasses, which can cost up to hundreds of dollars. Every hour you spend on your phone could result in worse eyesight and more money gone.  
However, most people don’t even know they have digital eye strain, and the ones that do don’t think it's a big deal. 
“I normally keep my screen at low brightness so I don't have that problem,” Ciara Warner, a 7th grade student at John D. O’Bryant, said.  
“I know students use the Internet, But I don’t know if it’s a problem or not,” said Ms. Yara Cardoso-Barbosa, a teacher at O’Bryant. “As a parent, I want to be able to limit the average time people use technology so nothing bad happens.” 
The hard question is why do people use technology even though they probably know it'll be bad for their eyes? The truth is, the Internet is so connected to our lives that we have no choice but to use it.  
“YouTube is the most interesting thing about the internet because it is a very wide video sharing platform that has a wide variety of videos to choose from  and watch,” said a student at O’Bryant. “And technology is good because a lot of people use it for school. The Internet makes learning a lot easier.” 
If you feel like you’re suffering from digital eye strain, here are some tips. Lower the brightness on any screens you use. When your phone or laptop has low battery, don’t charge it to encourage yourself to use it less. Blink your eyes often. Consider getting computer glasses from a company like Foster Grant or Felix Grey so screens will be less painful to you. And follow the 20/20/20 rule, take a 20 second break from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. 
“I see students using phones every day,”  An O’Bryant nurse, Debbie Kerr, said. “Technology's all over the place.”  
It is, and if you think you have digital eye strain, be sure to get your eyes checked.
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Dora the Explorer is iconic. A brown, bilingual character who got through situations with her brain, magic mochila and monkey best friend? She was the realest role model for a little Latina like me. But, as I got older, I saw more of another Latina on my screen—the ones with curves that made me feel inadequate and an accent that was bait for laughs—the spicy Latina. If you’re drawing a blank, think Gloria on “Modern Family.”  
Although representation of Latinas on screens has improved in recent years with shows such as “Jane the Virgin,” “Orange is the New Black,” and  “One Day at a Time,” the number of characters who bridge the gap between Dora and Gloria have been few and far between. Many may view the spicy Latina stereotype as a mere inconvenience, but here’s why it actually matters: we turn to media to see ourselves, because of the lack of representation of Latinas in the government and positions of power. Thus, the spicy Latina stereotype actually hurts all of us and hinders Latinas from improving the future for all Americans. 
A common misconception is that it’s a compliment to be portrayed as a spicy Latina. At first glance, it does seem like Latinas are portrayed positively. We’re seen as attractive, passionate women who can whip up a delicious storm in the kitchen and an even better one on the dance floor. But in reality, this stereotype negatively impact how the rest of the world views us.  
A study from the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California released in 2016 found that 39.5 percent of Latinas in film and TV were dressed in sexualized attire, and 35.5 percent in some form of nudity. And this is when audiences see us on screen at all. According to a 2018 Glamour article, although one in five American women identify as Latina, we only make up 7 percent of speaking roles on television. How can Latinas be expected to have big career aspirations when we’re continually objectified in the mainstream media? 
For instance, how many Latinas can you name that are in positions of power in our government? In the entire history of the United States, only 19 Latinas have served in Congress to date. Today, Latinas make up only 3.5 percent of Congress even though Latinxs make up 18 percent of the U.S. population!  
According to the Washington Post, in 2016, Mexican-American Catherine Cortez-Masto became the first Latina in history elected to the U.S. Senate. In an interview with CNN, Cortez-Masto says she knows young Latinas look at her and say, “Oh my gosh, if she can do it, I can do it too.” 
We can also find hope in Texas, who elected its first two Latinas representatives to the House, and with New York sending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in Congress, among others. 13 Latinas are currently fighting our fight in Congress, which could result in unprecedented improvement for Latinos’, and all Americans’, rights and quality of life.  
Additionally, in 2013, the Center For American Progress found that Latinas make up less than 3 percent of all STEM fields. The spicy Latina’s impact on this is amplified by research conducted by Common Sense Media in 2017 which found that girls who saw more female stereotypes on TV were less interested in STEM careers than those who saw footage featuring female scientists. That is why Latinas must see more stories like Laura Gomez’s to help them break free of stereotypical expectations. Gomez, originally from Mexico, is an entrepreneur and diversity advocate. According to USA Today, she is part of the 1 percent of Latino tech start-up founders. Gomez worked at YouTube and Google before founding her own company, Atipica.  
Hollywood writers and producers have the power to influence how media-consuming Americans see Latinas, which is why accurate representation matters. We need real, complex Latina characters who know their roots, but are not placed in a mold. Once we see more diverse portrayals of Latinas on our screens, I believe more Latinas will dream bigger than they ever thought possible and hopefully find themselves in a wide variety of real-life roles, whether they be in the government or Silicon Valley. 
As for what we can do, it’s actually easier than we think. Through various social media apps, simply liking or sharing a Latinx’s story can expand awareness. We can look at Gina Rodriguez’ #MovementMondays for inspiration. Created by Rodriguez in 2016 in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, she uses the hashtag to highlight and celebrate Latinx actors and their work every Monday on her Instagram, increasing Latinx visibility. We can also make an effort to support shows, films and other media content made by Latinxs. I recommend starting with wearemitú.com for some great content on the diverse Latinx experiences in America.  
Latinas should not need to continually prove their Latinidad by conforming to a stereotype. Rodriguez said it best in an interview with HuffPost Live, “I don’t actually sit in a definition (of a Latina). I walk in my world, happily and confidently.”  
So, can we please reserve the use of the word “spicy” to food only? I am not a jalapeño.
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