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Joy

13-year-old child prodigy accepted into medical school after graduating high school last year

This little girl is my actual hero right now!

Alena Analeigh; Alena Wicker; medical school; genius

13-year-old accepted into medical school.

Does anyone remember the show "Doogie Howser, M.D." or am I just aging myself? I used to watch that show religiously, but even as a kid, I realized that could never happen. Kids can't be doctors! Please don't tell 13-year-old Alena Analeigh Wicker that because she will prove you wrong. Alena has just made history as the youngest Black person in the U.S. to be accepted into medical school.


Most parents want their children to do good things in their life. They hope they will accomplish any dreams and goals they set out to do while cheering them on along the way. Which is what Alena's mother, Daphne McQuarter, does constantly. The pair travel around the world as part of Alena's mission for her organization Brown STEM Girls, which works to help girls of color explore futures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are still in the minority in STEM careers, representing just 27% of all STEM workers. When broken down further, only about 5% of women of color have careers in STEM.

How does one get accepted into medical school at just 13? "I was bored," Alena told the The Washington Post. "The high school work was so easy for me that I ended up graduating from high school at 12 years old."

After that, she was accepted into Arizona State University and Oakwood University and is currently a junior at both schools finishing up degrees in biological sciences. After a single engineering course, which she ended up dropping, the future doctor changed direction realizing that engineering was not something she was passionate about. As she told Ebony, it was a trip to Jordan with her organization that made her conclude that viral immunology is where she wanted to be, so she took the next step and applied for medical school.


The teen posted about her acceptance on her Instagram page, sharing a picture of the letter from the University of Alabama's Heersink School of Medicine for 2024. On average, only 7% of applicants get accepted to medical school in America, and just 7% of those accepted are Black. Clearly, she is amazing, this achievement topping her previous accolades of being nominated for Time's Top Kid of the Year and being NASA's youngest intern. Is there anything she can't do?

If you're worried she's missing out on her childhood, have no fear. Though she is scheduled to complete medical school by 18, Alena still makes time for her friends and does age-appropriate activities like going to the arcade and playing soccer. In her Instagram post, she reflected, "Statistics would have said I never would have made it. A little black girl adopted from Fontana California. I’ve worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams.”

Alena is determined to succeed and it's clear that she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Here's wishing her all the best in medical school. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see her picture next to the cure for something big.

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Taryn Charles blew everyone away with her BGT audition.

For nearly two decades, people have been enjoying "Got Talent" competitions all over the world, inspired by the first "America's Got Talent" in 2006. And thanks to social media and YouTube, we can enjoy the most memorable auditions over and over again.

For instance, this one from Taryn Charles on the 2024 season of "Britain's Got Talent."

Charles is a music teacher who works with special needs kids. She even brought one of her students and her parent to be part of the audience during her audition. When the judges asked why she wanted to be on "Britain's Got Talent," Charles said, "I love to make people smile and I think my voice is alright."

Talk about an understatement.


As she stands waiting for the music to start, she shakes her hand by her side a few times, clearly getting some nerves out. But as soon as she starts to sing the first line, "Looking out on the morning rain, I used to feel so uninspired…" it's clear from her rich, raspy voice and easy stage presence that she's got something special.

And it only gets better from there. "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman" was written by singer-songwriter Carole King, then famously covered by Aretha Franklin, which is a hard act to follow. But Charles knocked it out of the park, blowing away the audience and judges alike. In fact, the performance earned her not one but two standing ovations and inspired judge Bruno Tonioli to smash the Golden Buzzer button before the judges even began to offer their feedback.

Watch:

What makes this performance especially memorable is how humble and unassuming Charles is before and after her knock-out performance. If you didn't watch til the very end, you may have missed her hilariously real, "I think I've wet myself," which only makes her even more endearing.

"WOW I was blown away with her angelic and powerful voice," wrote one commenter. "And yet she is so humble and has a beautiful soul. Plus, I have never in my life seen a double standing ovation, she so deserves a golden buzzer, wishing her the best success."

"This is how you do an audition, stunning tone to her voice.....if anyone deserves a chance it's this lady......BOOM!!" wrote another.

"This was so inspirational. Taryn I am in tears," shared another. "I know what it feels like to struggle with self-worth. You are a mirror to show me that that those people are not always right. You are phenomenally gifted and you have an amazing career as a professional singer ahead of you! Blessings!"

Talent competition judges often warn contestants about the challenge of singing songs done by big vocal divas, and we've seen singers attempt to sing the likes of Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey and fall flat. It's not easy to sing an iconic song most people associate with Aretha Franklin—the Queen of Soul and Rolling Stone's #1 singer of all time—and have any hope of impressing people. And yet, Taryn Charles managed to make the song her own and wow everyone in the process with her unique voice.

We'll definitely be keeping an eye on this humble music teacher as she makes her way through the "Britain's Got Talent" gauntlet. Heck of a way to kick it off.


This article originally appeared on 5.6.24

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.


In a TikTok that's been viewed over 17 million times, the Gardiner Brothers don cowboy hats while they step in time to "Texas Hold 'Em," much to the delight of viewers everywhere.

Watch:

@gardinerbrothers

Beyoncé 🤝 Irish dancing #beyonce #countrymusic

Michael and Matthew Gardiner are professional Irish-American stepdancers and choreographers who have gained international fame with their award-winning performances. They've also built a following of millions on social media with videos like this one, where they dance to popular songs, usually in an outdoor environment.

The melding of Irish dance with country music sung by a Black American female artist may seem unlikely, but it could be viewed merely as country music coming back to its roots. After all, country music has its roots in the ballad tradition of the Irish, English and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. And despite modern country music's struggle to break free from "music for white people" stereotypes, it has roots in African-American traditions as well. For instance, the banjo, which has long been used in bluegrass and country music, was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents during the colonial era, according to The Smithsonian.

People are loving the blending of genres and culture that the TikTok exemplifies.

"Never thought I’d see Irish step dancing while Beyoncé sings country," wrote on commenter. "My life is complete. ♥️"

"So happy Beyoncé dropped this song and exposed my timeline to diversified talent 👏🏽👏🏽," wrote another.

"Beyoncé brought the world together with this song 😭," offered another person.

"Ayeeee Irish Dancing has entered the BeyHive chatroom… WELCOME!! 🔥🔥🔥" exclaimed another.

"I don’t think I can explain how many of my interests are intersecting here," wrote one commenter, reflecting what several others shared as well.

The Beyoncé/Gardiner Brothers combo and the reactions to it are a good reminder that none of us fit into one box of interest or identity. We're all an eclectic mix of tastes and styles, so we can almost always find a way to connect with others over something we enjoy. What better way to be reminded of that fact than through an unexpected mashup that blends the magic of music with the delight of dance? Truly, the arts are a powerful uniting force we should utilize more often.

And for an extra bit of fun, the Gardiner Brothers also shared their bloopers from filming the video. Turns out stepping in the rain isn't as easy as they make it look.

Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers

@gardinerbrothers

Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers

This article originally appeared on 2.26.24

Family

Naming twins is an art. Here are some twin names people say are the best they've ever heard.

With twins, all the regular pressures of having a baby are doubled, including choosing a name.

Are you in favor of rhyming twin names? Or is it too cutesy?

Having twins means double the fun, and double the pressure. It’s a fairly known rule to name twins in a way that honors their unique bond, but that can lead to overly cutesy pairings that feel more appropriate for nursery rhyme characters than actual people. Plus, it’s equally important for the names to acknowledge each twin’s individuality. Again, these are people—not a matching set of dolls. Finding the twin baby name balance is easier said than done, for sure.

Luckily, there are several ways to do this. Names can be linked by style, sound or meaning, according to the baby name website Nameberry. For example, two names that share a classic style would be Elizabeth and Edward, whereas Ione and Lionel share a similar rhythm. And Frederica and Milo seem to share nothing in common, but both mean “peaceful.”

Over on the /NameNerds subreddit, one person asked folks to share their favorite twin name pairings, and the answers did not disappoint.


One person wrote “Honestly, for me it’s hard to beat the Rugrats combo of Phillip and Lillian (Phil and Lil) 💕”

A few parents who gave their twin’s names that didn’t inherently rhyme until nicknames got involved:

"It's the perfect way! Christmas cards can be signed cutely with matching names, but when they act out you can still use their full name without getting tripped up.😂"

"The parents of a good friend of mine did this: her name is Allison and her sister is Callie. Their names don’t match on the surface, but they were Alli and Callie at home."

“Alice and Celia, because they’re anagrams! Sound super different but have a not-so-obvious implicit connection.”

This incited an avalanche of other anagram ideas: Aidan and Nadia, Lucas and Claus, Liam and Mila, Noel and Leon, Ira and Ria, Amy and May, Ira and Ari, Cole and Cleo…even Alice, Celia, and Lacie for triplets.

Others remembered name pairs that managed to sound lovely together without going into cutesy territory.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesThese matching bunny ears though. Photo credit: Canva

“I know twin toddler boys named Charlie and Archie and they go so well together,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “Tamia and Aziza. I love how they follow the same sound pattern with the syllable endings (-uh, -ee, -uh) without being obnoxiously matchy matchy.”

Still another said, “Lucy and Logan, fraternal girl/boy twins. I think the names sound so nice together, and definitely have the same 'vibe' and even though they have the same first letter they aren't too matchy-matchy.”

Other honorable mentions included: Colton and Calista, Caitlin and Carson, Amaya and Ameera, Alora and Luella, River and Rosie, and Eleanor and Elias.

One person cast a vote for shared style names, saying, “If I had twins, I would honestly just pick two different names that I like separately. I tend to like classic names, so I’d probably pick Daniel and Benjamin for boys. For girls my two favorites right now are Valerie and Tessa. I think Val and Tess would be cute together!”

Overall though, it seems that most folks were fans of names that focused on shared meaning over shared sound. Even better if there’s a literary or movie reference thrown in there.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesMany adult twins regret that their names are so closely linked together. Photo credit: Canva

“My mom works in insurance, so I asked her. She’s seen a lot of unique ones, but the only twins she remembers are Gwenivere [sic] and Lancelot... bonus points... little brother was Merlin,” one person recalled.

Another shared, “If I had twin girls, I would name them Ada and Hedy for Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr, both very early computer/tech pioneers. Not that I’m that into tech, I just thought it was a brilliant combination.”

Other great ones: Susan and Sharon (think the original “Parent Trap”), Clementine and Cara (types of oranges), Esme and Etienne (French descent), Luna and Stella (moon and stars), Dawn and Eve, plus various plant pairings like Lily and Fern, Heather and Holly, and Juniper and Laurel.

Perhaps the cleverest name pairing goes to “Aubrey and Zoe,” since…wait for it… “they’re A to Z.”

It’s easy to see how naming twins really is a cool opportunity for parents to get creative and intentional with their baby naming. It might be a challenge, sure, but the potential reward is having the most iconic set of twins ever. Totally worth it!

Family

Mom reveals 4-year-old's grievances for the week, showing just how nonsensical kids can be

"I wouldn't pull over on the side of the road to let her pet a coyote."

Mom shares 4-year-old's accidentally hilarious grievances.

Preschoolers can be absolutely hilarious when they aren't even trying. They're old enough to be able to have very strong opinions about things but young enough for most of their strong opinions to be about things that make little sense to adults. Like when a 3-year-old asks for a peanut butter sandwich only to get mad because you put the two pieces of bread together and they didn't want a sandwich like that. They wanted the kind that wasn't a sandwich at all.

While these things can be frustrating in the moment, once you've had a little space from it you can laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Kristen Cook took to social media to list all of her daughter's complaints for the week and they're pretty hysterical. One of the very first things the girl was upset about is the fact that Cook refused to pull over so the girl could pet a coyote. The list got increasingly more interesting.


"I also have two chins. She said it's not really fair that I have two chins and she has one. Her ice cream was too cold. I wore sunglasses the other day—and I don't often wear them but I did—and she said that she felt like that was me lying about being her mom," Cook rattles off before detailing more random grievances.

The mom's confessional style video made for a great starting point for other parents to list their children's nonsensical complaints and they're just as amusing.

"Mine demands I turn off the Sun while we drive," someone says.

"Mine flipped out because I couldn't give her a cloud.....FROM THE SKY!!!!!" another commenter reveals.

"When my daughter was four she got so mad when I showed her a picture of me when I was about six years old …… she can't believe I was a child and I didn’t wait for her so we could grow together as best friends," one person shares.

"My husband is an amputee and our 3 year old daughter randomly gets pissed that I’m mean and took daddy’s leg, he hasn’t had a leg since he was 12 and I met him when he was 17 I had nothing to do with the missing leg," someone else laughs.

"My 4 year old is mad at me because my husband told him he can’t marry me. He’s also mad that I’m pregnant and I won’t let him be pregnant," another person says.

If nothing else, these kids are consistently upset about things outside of their parents' control and it will never get old. But while everyone else was sharing their similar stories to help the mom feel less alone, one person had a message for the mom. Think of it as a small nugget of encouragement: "Well, maybe this week you can do better."

Yes, maybe this week this mom and all the ones facing similar dilemmas can simply do better so their children don't continue to have these very logical (insert sarcasm) complaints.