AFH Photo // Janna Mach
Imagine a girl whose hair cascaded down her back now dealing with her curls falling against the cold floor -- never to grow back again.

In 2012, my beautiful sister Paola developed a disease called alopecia, which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles.

After having undergone many treatments, the medicine ended up being too strong and led to an itchy, red breakout all over her head.

I got used to seeing my parents cry -- not because her locks weren’t coming back, but out of fear of how society would treat a young girl with no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes.

Kids did make fun of her, saying,“You have no edges.”

Yet even when my sister got a curly, brown wig, she still felt the sting. Some classmates would question why she was wearing the weave, while others thought it was comical to pull the wig off her head.

People associate baldness with being unattractive. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be so many hair-regrowing products on the market, including those ridiculous spray-ons.

To combat this bald-shaming, there is a movement commemorating today -- September 13 -- as National Bald is Beautiful Day.

During this time, everyone should take  a moment to appreciate the boundless  beauty all around them.
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AFH Photo // Mary Nguyen
After Drake’s “Views” shattered first-week album-stream records following its April release, listeners flooded social media with praise, some saying it was the greatest thing to bless people’s ears since Michael’s “Thriller.” 

When I finally had the chance to hear it, I was blown away -- by its mediocrity. 

Sure, there were songs I liked, but also others I equally disliked. 

And yet, many in this generation are so in love with Drake. 

His role in the teen TV drama series “Degrassi” helped introduce him to young audiences. And the angsty messages in his songs surely tug at teens’ heartstrings. Others, meanwhile, are impressed with his ability to both rap and sing. 

Now, I’m not knocking his talent for producing good music. But other artists, including The Weeknd, Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole, have better flows than Drake, 

What may set Drake apart from his peers is his ability to take all the things he’s good at, put them together, and create nice songs. 

But are nice songs enough to shower him with all this hype?
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AFH Photo // Gabrielle Cartagena
Straight hair and expensive clothes are the norm at my school.

When I first arrived, my hair was curly and my style was unique. Being different did not faze me.

But being different eventually got to me. I started buying the pricey brands that everyone wore, without even liking them all that much.

These clothes put a strain on my parents’ income, but they felt like a necessity to fit in. However, I was not only sacrificing my family’s money. I was also sacrificing my own identity.

My natural curls also became a rare sight. Every week, I would go to the salon and spend $40 on straightening my hair. I was certain I never wanted to see my frizz again.

My dad knew a hairdresser in New York that would do the longer-lasting treatment for a good price, and I pleaded with him and my mother to take me as soon as possible. They finally gave in.

By the end of the day, I had gained a new ’do -- but also lost a defining piece that had been with me for 13 years.

Eventually, chemically altering my hair took a toll. My once healthy locks were now brittle and beaten. I knew I had to stop.

Now, after two summers, my hair is growing back to normal.

I regret rejecting my spontaneous look to begin with.

I finally realized that people like or don’t like me for me -- and not for my clothes or hair.
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AFH Photo // Coliesha Turner
Mathematical puzzles challenge your intellect and can make your brain stronger.

They may seem simple but often force you to think outside the box and beyond.

They help you in the real world because they give you the chance to develop the skill of thinking under pressure.

My brother, Luis M. Sanchez, a high school senior, may be a puzzle-solving prodigy.

He refers to these mind-twisters as IQ-level tests, though he does them for fun.

“In answering a sort of enigmatic problem,” he says, “I get an understanding of the complexity of life and, with it, a great sense of self-completion.”

This summer, for example, he solved  a complex puzzle without even looking  at the instructions, which weren’t needed  because he figured things out correctly  using his own methodology.
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AFH Photo // Kiara Maher
When I get off the plane from Miami, I see the colorful parrots. The vibrant blue waters are crowded with people. I smell the soup that the elders are making. 

I’m back in Honduras, a place my family and I call home. 

Honduras is located in Central America, between Guatemala and Nicaragua. My mother, father, brother, and most of my aunts and uncles were born in my favorite city, La Ceiba, a port on the northern coast. 

The city was named after a giant ceiba tree. The tree was so tall that the first settlers believed it was a ladder God used to visit earth from heaven. 

The city developed in 1872, and the population increased due to the abundance of work harvesting bananas. 

Today, La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras. La Ceiba holds some of the best restaurants in the land and I love the dishes there. 

My favorite foods are baleadas, flour tortillas filled with fried beans, sour cream, and white cheese.
Avocados and eggs are optional. You can eat baleadas for breakfast or dinner. 

I also like pasteles, pastries filled with ground beef and rice or potatoes. 

The drink I enjoy most is called horchata. To make horchata, you put rice in water and let it soak overnight. Then, you blend the soaked rice with peanuts; add cinnamon, sugar, and lime; and mix it. This drink is usually made for birthday parties or cookouts in the summer. 

In two days, September 15, it will be  Independence Day in Honduras, so I  thought it was a good time to share a bit of  information about my country.
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