School Mornings Made Easy

Most parents know the first few weeks of school season and new daily routines can be hectic. From stocking up on school supplies to finishing up homework, there’s few unused minutes in the day.

One thing that’s particularly easy to forget in the mad dash to catch the bus or make it to morning drop-off is a well-balanced, protein-packed breakfast. According to a No Kid Hungry study, when students have a balanced breakfast in the morning, they are more likely to attend school and perform better on standardized tests.

Start the school year off right by giving your kids a breakfast they’ll love that also provides the protein they need to kick-start their day. Recipes like Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches or Baked Eggs in Avocado can be ready in minutes and provide fuel long past the first morning school bell.

As a simple time-saver, Smithfield offers pre-diced, cubed and sliced ham that can make breakfast a breeze any day of the week. Incorporate it into a simple breakfast sandwich for a protein boost you can enjoy on-the-go. Served crispy or chewy depending on your preference, Thick Cut Bacon also puts a savory spin on nearly any breakfast plate, whether paired with eggs and avocado or a simple side of toast.

For more information and breakfast ideas, visit

Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 8 frozen prepared waffles, toasted
  • 8 ounces Smithfield Anytime Favorites Quarter Boneless Sliced Ham, any flavor
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices cheddar or American cheese
  • maple syrup (optional)
  1. Prepare waffles according to package directions; keep warm.
  2. In nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook ham slices until lightly browned, about 30 seconds per side; keep warm. In same skillet over medium heat, fry eggs until desired doneness.
  3. Lay out four waffles and top each with sliced cheese, ham and fried egg, topping with remaining waffles to finish. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

Tip: Try spreading fruit jam on your sandwich for a change of pace.

Baked Eggs in Avocado

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 large avocados
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 strips Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
  • 1 cup blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oven to 450 F. Spray baking sheet or glass baking pan with cooking spray. Cut avocados in half. Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of avocado to create well for eggs. Place avocados flesh-side up on prepared baking sheet or glass pan.
  2. Gently crack one egg in each avocado well, making sure to keep yolk intact. Bake 10 minutes, or until eggs reach desired temperature. Remove.
  3. Top with bacon pieces, blue cheese and cilantro. (Family Features)


Florida Memorial University Awarded Scholarship by Kevin Hart’s “Help From The Hart Charity,” a New $600,000 Scholarship Program

UNCF, KIPP team up with charity to help 18 students attend HBCUs

Following up on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students back in 2015, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree including Laibela Faraba, a freshman at Florida Memorial University.

Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with Kevin Hart’s “Help From The Hart Charity” and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight different cities, attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Hart and the UNCF for helping advance Florida Memorial University’s agenda along with the other HBCUs,” said Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, Interim President, Florida Memorial University.

“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”

UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18 “Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship” recipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.

“The ‘Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship’ will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support, and we want to congratulate these 18 students for keeping their eyes on their goal of a college education.”

Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities who have supported UNCF over the years. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.

“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”

Lomax added, “Over the last decade, UNCF has been building a relationship with the KIPP public school network, and we are so excited that KIPP’s board of directors and their Chairman John Fisher are behind this outstanding new venture. There are more than 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.” 

About UNCF: UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

About KIPP Public Schools: KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of 224 public charter schools dedicated to preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and life. KIPP schools are part of the free public school system and enrollment is open to all students. Started in 1994 as a middle school program, KIPP has since expanded to enroll 96,000.

Off to School and Into a New Routine

The fall season is met with many transitions, from cooler weather to time changes to more time spent indoors. Among these transitions is the immediate shift from packing beach bags for a day in the sun to packing suitcases to head back to campus for a new semester. As every student’s routine faces an overhaul this time of year, it is important to bear in mind any health needs that may come into play while away from home.

“When my patients are off to college – be it for the very first time, or as a returning student – I always remind them to keep health-related to-do’s top-of-mind, just as they would think about ordering textbooks or finding libraries on campus,” says OB/GYN Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a paid consultant of Allergan, the maker of Lo Loestrin® Fe (norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol tablets, ethinyl estradiol tablets and ferrous fumarate tablets). Please see Important Risk Information, including Boxed Warning, for Lo Loestrin Fe below.

To prepare for the upcoming school year, Dr. Richardson shares the following tips a student may not find in her campus welcome pack:

  1. A new city means more than just distance: If you’re adjusting to a new time zone and you take oral contraception, always factor in the time difference to make sure you are taking your pill at the same time every day. You can also have your prescription transferred to a local pharmacy. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to fill a prescription for a three-month supply.
  2. Take more than just class notes: Purchase a planner to help stay on top of assignments while away from home and set reminders to make doctors’ appointments while at home. Stickers are also a discreet tool you can use to keep track of your period cycle each month.
  3. Finding your people means more than just making new friends: Seek out all resources that will set you up for a healthy semester. Find your campus health clinic and ask to be connected to a healthcare provider in the area, stay active at your university’s on-site fitness center and get coursework support through teaching assistants who are there to answer questions throughout the semester.
  4. Packing supplies means more than just lunch: Your class schedule may not allow you to go back to your dorm or apartment during the day. An easy way to stay prepared is to add a cosmetic pouch or extra pencil case to your bag to stash feminine hygiene products and your birth control pill pack.

To find additional resources about available birth control options, , and speak to your healthcare provider to determine the method that is right for you.

What is Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe is a prescription birth control pill used for the prevention of pregnancy. If you are moderately obese, discuss with your healthcare provider whether Lo Loestrin Fe is appropriate for you.



WARNING TO WOMEN WHO SMOKEDo not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years old. Smoking increases your risk of serious cardiovascular side effects (heart and blood vessel problems) from birth control pills, including death from heart attack, blood clots, or stroke. This risk increases with age and the number of cigarettes you smoke.


Who should not take Lo Loestrin Fe?

Do not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you have or have had blood clots, history of heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure that medicine cannot control, breast cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones, liver disease or liver tumors, unexplained bleeding from the vagina, if you are or may be pregnant, or if you take Hepatitis C drugs containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir, as this may increase levels of liver enzymes in the blood.

What else should I know about taking Lo Loestrin Fe?

Treatment with Lo Loestrin Fe should be stopped if you have a blood clot, and at least 4 weeks before and through 2 weeks after major surgery. You should not take Lo Loestrin Fe any earlier than 4 weeks after having a baby, or if you are breastfeeding. If you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes due to problems with your liver, you should stop taking Lo Loestrin Fe. If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, your doctor should monitor you while using Lo Loestrin Fe. Your doctor should evaluate you if you have any significant change in headaches or irregular menstrual bleeding. 

What are the most serious risks of taking Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe increases the risk of serious conditions including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. These can be life-threatening or lead to permanent disability. 

What are the possible side effects of Lo Loestrin Fe?

The most common side effects reported by women taking Lo Loestrin Fe in a study were nausea/vomiting, headache, spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, painful menstruation, weight change, breast tenderness, acne, abdominal pain, anxiety, and depression.

Birth control pills do not protect you against any sexually transmitted disease, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. 

Please see the fullPrescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, andPatient Information which are also available (Family Features)

Lo Loestrin Fe

Crime Museum Offers Visitors Rare Look Inside Surveillance Van, Joins Other Overlooked Gems at Alcatraz East

Former undercover surveillance van joins museum displays

Alcatraz East Building

There’s a new artifact on display at Alcatraz East, but since its focus is on undercover work it might be hard to spot. The crime museum in Pigeon Forge is giving visitors a look inside the workings of law enforcement surveillance, with a van formerly used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a Georgia police department. Visitors can see how agents on a stakeout spend time in the cramped quarters of a van which is not nearly as glamorous as made out to be on television.

“It’s not often that something like this comes along, that was actually used by federal and local law enforcement on criminal cases,” says Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits. “And it has not been stripped of its equipment, giving visitors a real insider look at how it all works.”

Surprising to most people is the close quarters for the agents to work. In fact, the van doesn’t even allow the undercover officers enough room to stand up straight. It also offers little privacy using the toilet inside. Officers could monitor suspects from four different camera angles and would often spend hours in the tight space during a stakeout.

According to Lilburn, Georgia Police Chief Bruce Hedley, the van was used for several years in active criminal investigations, including drug crimes and burglary stake outs, such as in a neighborhood where there was a rash of car break-ins. From the Getaway Cars Gallery in the museum, guests will be able to see the camera perspective of a detective on a stakeout inside the van, viewing in real time as visitors come and go from the museum.

“I am very proud that the public can look at a very important piece of law enforcement equipment that we used to keep our community safe,” says Chief Hedley.

The surveillance van is not the only artifact in the museum that hides interesting details unseen from the public. The car belonging to the bank robber John Dillinger was involved in a shootout, and although the car was restored by a later owner, they kept one of the bullets visible, but only from inside of the car.

In the over twenty galleries in Alcatraz East, it can be easy to miss some of the most fascinating details of the hundreds of artifacts on view. For instance, the initial “ZT” carved in the brass railgun in the Pirates Gallery or the handwritten notes on the side of the Unabomber’s scale about its calibration. In the Mob Gallery hidden behind Mickey Cohen’s custom suit is his shirt, embroidered with his name. On the end of the sniper rifle used by the University of Texas Sniper are small numbers on a piece of tape, settings for the scope. There are other examples of objects that were designed to be hidden, like the dye pack inside a stack of $20 bills to ward against bank robberies.

Also going on display this week are the winners of Alcatraz East’s Graffiti Art Contest on June 2nd. First, second, and third place winners can now be seen on display, that is, if you’re paying attention. “The exhibit is a bit off the normal museum tour,” says Penman, “a reflection of where you often are when you see graffiti in real life, in alleys, abandon lots, by train tracks and other neglected spaces. We thought it was fitting to maximize our limited space and beautify our own “alleys.”

The museum is always adding to their collection and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

School Bus Safety 101

For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. While the school bus is the safest way to travel to and from school, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), it’s important for parents to teach their children how to stay safe in and around the school bus as obstructed views, distracted drivers and more can put kids at risk.

These tips from the experts at NAPT and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.

Before the Bus Arrives

  • Ensure backpacks are packed securely so papers and other items don’t scatter as the bus approaches.
  • Create a morning routine that puts kids at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. This helps avoid a last-minute rush, when safety lessons are easily forgotten, and ensures kids are safely in place for boarding.
  • Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they can be seen easier by drivers.
  • Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage kids to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
  • If kids must cross a street, driveway or alley, remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing.
  • Verify the bus stop location offers good visibility for the bus driver; if changes are needed, talk with nearby homeowners or school district officials to implement changes. Never let kids wait in a house or car, where the driver may miss seeing them approach the bus.
  • Remind children that the bus stop is not a playground. Balls or other toys could roll into the street and horseplay can result in someone falling into the path of oncoming traffic.
  • Instruct children to stay at least three steps away from the road and allow the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.

On the Bus Ride

  • When boarding the bus, items can get bumped and dropped. Caution children that before picking anything up, they should talk to the driver and follow instructions to safely retrieve their possessions.
  • Teach safe riding habits: stay seated with head, hands and feet inside at all times; keep bags and books out of the aisle and remain seated until the bus stops moving.
  • Instruct children to never throw things on the bus or out the windows and to never play with or block emergency exits.
  • Remind kids that just like when riding in a car, loud noises are off limits so they don’t distract the driver. That includes cellphones and other electronic devices; instruct children to put them on mute or use headphones.

Leaving the Bus

  • Remind children to look before stepping off the bus. If they must cross the street, teach them to do so in front of the bus by taking five big steps (approximately 10 feet) away from the front of the bus, looking up and waiting for the driver to signal that it is safe.
  • For parents who meet their kids at the bus, remember that in their excitement kids may dart across the street. Eliminate the risk by waiting on the side of the street where kids exit the bus.
  • Make the bus ride part of your daily “how was school?” discussion. Encourage kids to talk about the things they see and hear on the bus so you can discuss appropriate behaviors and, if necessary, report any concerns to school administrators. As bullying is prevalent and buses are no exception, ask your child to tell you about any bullying they observe, whether against another child or themselves, and talk about how to shut down bully behaviors.

For more information and additional school bus safety tips, visit

An Alternate Form of Transportation

Many school districts are moving away from diesel buses in favor of buses powered by an alternate fuel, like propane, which offers numerous benefits for school districts and their students.

In fact, school buses powered by propane transport approximately 928,000 students to and from school every day at more than 840 public and private school districts in 48 states, according to a vehicle registration report compiled by PERC using IHS Polk new vehicle registration data.

“There’s a lot to like about propane school buses for community stakeholders and school officials, and school districts across the nation continue to take notice,” said Michael Taylor, PERC director of autogas business development. “Compared to other fuels, propane school buses are quieter and offer reduced emissions. Plus, they cost less for the district to operate, so schools can put more money back into the classroom where it helps students most.”


Among the numerous safety advantages propane school buses provide, engines powered by propane are noticeably quieter than diesel engines, which can help ensure a safe ride. Plus, just like all buses, propane buses are crash tested to ensure they meet U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for side and rear impact. In addition, an automatic shut-off valve prevents the flow of fuel to the engine when it’s not running, even if the ignition is turned on.


The World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency have identified diesel engine exhaust as a carcinogen, which can cause short- and long-term health effects. With the emergence of alternative fuels like propane, which provides a clean emissions profile compared with diesel and gasoline buses, there is decreased risk of exposing young passengers to harmful particulate matter that can be found in the exhaust in older diesel buses, which can escalate breathing-related issues and aggravate asthma.


Financially, propane buses provide school districts with the lowest total cost-of-ownership compared to other fuel types, according to PERC. Even as gas prices continue to fluctuate across the country, propane consistently costs less per gallon than diesel and gasoline, by as much as 50 percent, which saves districts significant money on fuel costs. They also require less maintenance over the lifetime of the vehicle, saving additional money on upkeep. Savings on transportation can help keep more money in the classroom helping students learn.

Start a discussion with your children’s school district about exploring a switch from diesel buses to cleaner alternatives by first downloading resources including fact sheets, videos, a toolkit and more at (Family Features)

Propane Education & Research Council

5 Maneras de Combatir el Estrés del Regreso a Clases

Contenido patrocinado

Volver a clases es emocionante para los niños y sus padres, pero con toda la emoción y la anticipación, también puede haber un poco de estrés. Como padre, usted puede acercarse al inminente año escolar con una actitud positiva y estos consejos pueden ayudar a minimizar el estrés y darles a sus hijos una mayor confianza al entrar al salón de clase.

Jeannette Kaplun, una experta en estilo de vida latino y madre de dos hijos, recomienda lo siguiente:

Comienza a ajustar la hora de dormir antes de que empiezan las clases. Es común que en el verano los horarios de dormir no se siguen. Sin embargo, una transición abrupta al despertarse temprano en la mañana puede provocar estrés e irritabilidad. La Fundación Nacional del Sueño recomienda implementar los nuevos horarios de acostarse más temprano dos semanas antes de que comiencen las clases y programar la alarma un poco más temprano cada mañana para una transición suave al primer día de clases.

Frenar el retroceso. El tiempo de pantalla no es sólo para pasar el tiempo; aproveche de la tecnología para mantener las destrezas de lectura que tus hijos aprendieron en el salón de clase todo el verano. Un dispositivo como Fire Kids Edition Tablet de Amazon está diseñado para niños, con garantía por dos años, un estuche y una suscripción de un año para Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, dandole a los niños el acceso a videos, aplicaciones educativas, juegos y a 15,000 libros apto para niños en inglés y en español. El minorista ofrece una amplia selección de libros en español que les facilita a los niños la tarea de leer clásicos como El Principitoo Cien años de soledad y practicar las habilidades lingüísticas mientras se divierten.

“Siendo una mamá latina, es importante que mis hijos sean bilingües, y que hablen, leen y estudien tanto en inglés como en español,” dijo Kaplun. “Hay tantas formas únicas de incorporar el español a la vida cotidiana y una de mis maneras favoritas es a través de los libros, ya que permiten a los niños explorar sus intereses”.

Vestirse para el éxito. Hay una razón por la que los adultos tienden a vestirse con elegancia para eventos especiales – cuando te ves bien, te sientes bien. Ayuda a sus hijos en elegir prendas especiales para el primer día de clases con las que se sientan cómodos y seguros. La compra de ropa es una oportunidad para que sus hijos expresen su individualidad, así que diviértase con ellos. Para evitar estrés adicional, prepare el conjunto completo la noche anterior y deja que su hijo se lo pruebe y se sienta cómodo. Si la rutina funciona, trate de hacer de esto parte de su hábito nocturno para que las mañanas estén libres de estrés durante el año escolar.

Simplificar la experiencia de compra. Cada temporada de regreso a clases viene con listas de útiles para el salón de clase y las nuevas necesidades de vestimenta. Un centro único minorista como Amazon le permite completar sus compras en su propio tiempo, y su tienda de back-to-school tiene ofertas y una amplia selección, por lo que es fácil encontrar artículos imprescindibles como carpetas, mochilas y zapatos hasta cosas divertidas como pegamento con brillantina, gomas de borrar en forma de dona y pegatinas de emojis. Ahora, usted también tiene la opción de navegar y comprar en Amazon en español; solo haga clic en el icono de globo en la parte superior derecha de la pantalla de inicio y selecciona español para hacer compras en su idioma preferido.

Compartir la emoción. Es perfectamente normal que los padres y los hijos se sientan ansiosos por el nuevo año escolar. En lugar de revelarle su propia aprehensión, comparta con sus hijos tus recuerdos favoritos de cuando estabas en el grado de ellos. Pregúnteles a sus hijos qué es lo que más les emociona y qué los pone un poco nerviosos y busquen soluciones juntos.

Comience pronto a realizar la transición para el regreso a la escuela libre de estrés con más consejos y recursos en (Family Features)



Texas Teen Book Festival Announces 2018 Keynote Authors

Texas Teen Book Festival Welcomes Best-selling, Award-winning Authors for 10th Anniversary.

The Texas Teen Book Festival, now celebrating its 10th anniversary year, announced today the keynote speakers for the 2018 Festival, which takes place Saturday, October 6 at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Bestselling authors Nic Stone and Neal Shusterman, with his son and co-author Jarrod, will keynote this annual, highly anticipated event, which draws thousands of teens to Austin for a day of panels, book signings, workshops and more, all free and open to the public.

 “We are so excited to let everyone know about the amazing authors we have lined up for our keynotes for 2018,” says TTBF Director Shawn Mauser. “Nic Stone and Neal and Jarrod Shusterman masterfully bring complex, timely stories to the page with intense honesty and heart, and we cannot wait to welcome them to our Tenth Anniversary TTBF!”

Nic Stone

Nic Stone

Nic Stone's Odd One Out

Nic Stone’s Odd One Out

Nic Stone is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Dear Martin, which was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. At TTBF, Stone will present her sophomore novel, Odd One Out, a book told from three perspectives that explores the complicated, sometimes confusing dynamics of friendship, love, and identity.

Neal and Jarrod Schusterman.  Photography courtesy of Brendan Shusterman.

Neal and Jarrod Schusterman. Photography courtesy of Brendan Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman's Dry

Neal Shusterman’s Dry

Neal Shusterman is the National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults including The Unwind Dystology, Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award, and Scythe, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book. Joining him in presenting their co-written book, Dry, is Neal’s son, Jarrod, who has also written for television shows such as “Goosebumps.” Dry is set in a dystopian future where the California drought, “the Tap Out,” has spread throughout the country.

Stone and the Shustermans join a long list of memorable keynote speakers over the Festival’s ten year history, including past keynotes Jason Reynolds, Marie Lu, Mindy Kaling, Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, Sonia Manzano, and many others. The Texas Teen Book Festival, which began as a grassroots labor of love among librarians and booksellers in 2008, is now one of the most highly regarded teen book festivals in the country.

The Texas Teen Book Festival is presented in collaboration with Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, a dedicated team of librarians, and venue sponsor St. Edward’s University. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

TTBF remains free and open to the public thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and dozens of committed volunteers. For more information, please visit the Texas Teen Book Festival website and keep up with announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tips To Help Ensure A Successful Transition From College To The Work World

Contributed By Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer of the

Graduating from college this year? This can definitely be a daunting time for many, but there are so many ways to prepare for success in the industry you’ve worked so hard to be a part of. From building your personal brand (which is essential in the work world) to knowing how to effectively network, below are must-know tips to help you succeed once you get your diploma and enter the “real world”.

Build Your Personal Brand

We all have a personal brand whether we are aware of it or not. Your personal brand is how the world views you, so it’s important that your personal brand be a strong, capable one that best reflects your true self—especially when it comes to the business world. It is important for you to establish your own brand and cultivate it rather than let it be defined on your behalf. Your personal brand is made up of your beliefs and your strengths. Think of it as your personal core values.

If you do a good job of branding and marketing yourself, people will begin to identify you with a certain area of expertise, subject matter, and the general qualities you want linked to your name. Once you determine the way in which you want your brand to be received, you can start to be more strategic about your personal brand.

Here are some of the areas that are important in building a personal brand and a few tips to help you build yours:

Be true to yourself and your word. Your brand should reflect who you really are—your authentic self. Skip the falsehoods or who you want people to think you are, especially in the digital age. You don’t want there to be a big discrepancy between who you are online and who you are in real life. Today, people want to connect and they want to connect with other genuine people. And remember that actions speak louder than words to the people in your circle of influence, so keep your word and follow through with promises you make.

Know how to introduce yourself. Prepare a 30-second speech to introduce yourself to others. Think through the key things you want people to know about you and practice it so it comes easily. When networking, hit the high points of your story with a concise presentation. You want their take away to be the most important highlights about you and how you want them to remember you.

Have an online presence. Set up a personal website that you can direct people to, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be a simple site with your resume, links to your social platforms, a bio with photo, and some of your college achievements. Having your own site gives you a platform to build your brand from. It will also help rank your name on the search engines. You can always expand the information on the website with time.

Google yourself and setup alerts for your name on a regular basis. Know what is being said about you online. It’s not a bad idea to run a background check on yourself too to make sure your record is exactly what you think it is. Be purposeful and thoughtful on anything you share with others.

Use social media as your platform. Social media is ideal for giving people a platform to share their personal brand, as long as it’s done consciously and consistently. Always reread and proof before you post, use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, and use discretion when sharing photos. It’s best to steer clear of controversy or emotional topics in general and certainly if it could discredit you personally. This includes reacting to other people’s posts as well as the ones you share. Have your brand identity statement in front of you when posting and ask yourself if the post you are about to publish contributes to that identity. If handled well, social media is a great way to sell yourself!

Once you’ve established your own personal brand, it’s time to share it with the world. Let the world know who you are, what your talents and core values are, and what you have to offer. The road to unfulfilled career dreams and disappointment is littered with lists, dreams, and goals never shared with anyone. So it’s time to get your personal brand out there.

Start Networking & Connecting With Professionals In Your Field Early

It is never too early to start networking and connecting with people who may be able to help or influence your career. So set up professional profiles such as LinkedIn and any other site that is geared toward work and business. Reach out to professionals you know or want to. Also, remember that other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like will be viewable by potential employers so keep that in mind with everything you post. What might be funny or appropriate for college you may regret once you move on. It is never too early to be thinking about your career.

Practice Makes Perfect—Find Opportunities to Refine Your Communicative Skills 

College is the perfect place to hone skills and work on things that scare you. Maybe your public speaking skills are shaky. Maybe you don’t know how to put together a presentation. Heck, maybe you have never been on an interview. College is a great place to learn these things. Join a public speaking group and utilize the services of your career services office. Reach out to your community for services and clubs that can help train you. Trust this–it is much easier to acquire and perfect these skills while in the relative comfort of college than to be under the gun in a real work environment.

Look for seminars and career development lectures. Take all of them because most of them will allow students to attend for free or for a reduced fee. These are great opportunities because they not only teach something but they give valuable opportunities to network with people that are in the work world and contacts are very important indeed.

Learn how to small talk and work a room. Chances are that you will need to attend many lunch and evening functions for companies that you wish to work for or for available internships. The more comfortable you are talking to people and introducing yourself the more success you may have with landing the job of your dreams. If you are a shy person, this can be a particularly daunting task but it will serve you well if you pick up a few tips from books or particularly social friends.

Seek Out & Apply for Internships and Jobs Early

Don’t delay. Things move quickly and there are always people that seem to be ahead of the game. These people are your competition, so don’t wait. Find out about internships early. Apply when the job or internship opens. Make sure that you have all of your documents ready and polished so you can send them when needed and if something just pops up. The documents you should have ready at a minimum are a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and references. You may need a writing sample or other more specific document but at a minimum have these four polished, up to date, and ready to go.

Justin Lavelle
Justin Lavelle is Chief Communications Officer at BeenVerified (the leading source of online background checks and contact information), where he often writes about topics like credit card use and scams, financial fraud, and other personal finance advice. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, property records and criminal records in a way that’s fast, easy and affordable.

Florida Memorial University Hosts its First Home Fundraiser Thanks to Aaron and Burnadette Weeks

University fundraisers have never been as enjoyable until now. Florida Memorial University captures the spirit of giving through an exuberant home fundraising initiative.

Burnadette Weeks, Esq.; Dr. Castell V. Bryant, Florida Memorial University (FMU) Interim President; JoLinda Herring  Esq., FMU Trustee Chair

Burnadette Weeks, Esq.; Dr. Castell V. Bryant, Florida Memorial University (FMU) Interim President; JoLinda Herring Esq., FMU Trustee Chair

The gracious home of Aaron and Bernadette Weeks. Esq. was the setting for Florida Memorial University’s (FMU) first of a series of home fundraisers on April 22nd. The North Broward Chapter of the Links rallied to socialize and be entertained by the melodic saxophone of Randy Corinthian while doing a great service to South Florida’s only Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

JoAnn Fletcher, President of The North Broward Chapter of the Links’ opening remarks welcomed the group of over 40 guests, “The National Links initiative this year is to adopt a Historically Black College and University and nurture it.” FMU is was delighted to be adopted by the prestigious group.

FMU celebrates 50 years in Miami this Fall and 139 years since its beginnings as an institution for higher- learning in Live Oaks, Florida. FMUs Interim President, Dr. Castell Bryant words resonated with the

North Broward Chapter of the Links, many who attended HBCUs, “Let us work together to help the next generation of HBCU students become successful!”

FMU Trustee JoLinda Herring added, “The students at FMU inspire me. FMU has a wonderful school of aviation, and our alumni are now doctors, lawyers, and professionals in all walks of life.”

The FMU fundraising program ended on a high note, as The North Broward County Chapter of The Links reached its fundraising goal.

Host Aaron Weeks closed the event by reciting the prolific Renaissance poetry of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each piece is a continent, a part of the main. If clod be washed away by sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thine own or of thine friends were. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am

involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know or whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

Mr. Weeks reminding us of a time when attending HBCUs were the only choice for Blacks. But the tradition and legacy live on with our support. For more information on becoming an FMU Home Fundraising host, contact Vice President Cory Witherspoon at 305 623 1443.

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is Hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball. Please add the following information to your Events on your website and radio stations.


The 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball culminates an intensive, seven-month program that provides mentoring, education, and social enrichment for college bound African-American males from the Greater Austin area.The purpose of the Beautillion Ball is to showcase the achievements of these young men and to reward them with scholarships and a technology package. These distinguished “Beaux” pay tribute to the community and to their mothers with a breathtaking waltz. The night is made even more enchanting by the lovely “Belle” who escorts each “Beaux”.

The entire Greater Austin community is invited to support these young men and their families! Proceeds from the Beautillion Ball support local and national 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the Greater Austin community.

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. was chartered in June 1953. Throughout its fifty plus years, the Austin Chapter has worked to fulfill its service mission to the community through group activities as well as chapter projects. The Beautillion Ball, begun in 1972 and presented biennially, has become our signature event in the Austin community. It is also our main fundraiser that has, over the past 35 years, raised funds for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the George Washington Carver Library & Museum, the Austin Children’s Museum, and the Jack & Jill Foundation.

You can support the Beautillion by purchasing tickets to the event and/or by purchasing advertising in the program book.

Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Tickets can be purchased from this page ($6.79 processing fee will be added) or may be purchased by check or money order, payable to “Austin Chapter, Jack and Jill of America, Inc.” and mailed to P. O. Box 6059, Austin, TX 78762-6059. Tickets purchased by check do not include a processing fee. All ball tickets must be purchased by May 31, 2018.

To learn more about the Beautillion or to become a corporate sponsor go to our website at​​

Saturday, June 16, 2018
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM CDT

​​Austin Hilton, Governor’s Ballroom, Fourth Floor

500 E 4th Street

Austin, TX 78701​​


Eventbrite Link: