Black grads are celebrating their success with this empowering hashtag.

Completing a master's degree, doctoral degree, or professional program is a big deal. When you're all done, a celebration is in order.

This is especially true for black students, who are still underrepresented at the highest academic levels. That's why these recent graduates are shouting each other out in an awesome way.

GIF from "The Daily Show."


Since the commencement regalia for master's, doctoral, and professional students often includes a hood, black graduates are posting selfies and giving each other well-earned props using the hashtag #BlackAndHooded.

It's a celebration of black joy, persistence, and talent.

The new grads behind the hashtag, Anthony Wright and Brian Allen, earned their master's degrees in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University and Columbia University, respectively, this spring.

While talking with one of his undergraduate students, Wright was reminded of the importance of black graduate student representation. He teamed up with Allen, a friend from his undergraduate days at the University of Wisconsin, and came up with #BlackAndHooded. It's intentionally inclusive of all black students across gender expressions, fields, institutions, and geography.

"Black excellence exists in all facets of education and we're pretty much killing the game," Allen says. "I think [the hashtag] really works to combat the negative notions of inadequacy in academia."

Wright and Allen expanded #BlackAndHooded into an online photo series too.

Recent grads can submit their photos via email and share their institution and field of study. The site is pages and pages of black excellence. At the time of this writing, Wright and Allen have more than 200 graduates on the BlackAndHooded site and are even honoring "Grads of the Week."

"The hashtag is cool, but ... they go away after a few weeks," Wright says. "I wanted to have something consistently available — all the images and not just tweets."

The number of black students earning advanced degrees is on the rise, but we're not done yet.

Black enrollment at post-secondary institutions has increased since the 1990s and advanced degree attainment has followed suit. In 1990, 5.6% of master's and 4.7% of doctoral degrees were conferred to black recipients. In 2013, those numbers jumped to 13.6% and 8%, respectively. They're baby steps, but they're headed in the right direction.

A community-conscious, action-oriented EDUCATOR ✊🏾💙 #BLACKANDHOODED #ZΦB #MasterOfEducation #MASTERED

A post shared by Jessica L. Williams (@jleannaw) on

We'll get there. Because behind that data are real living, dreaming black people. Disregard us at your own peril. These students are putting in work and making the impossible possible in a system that was not designed for their success. This celebration is for them, and they've certainly earned it.

Wright and Allen both hope this project inspires black people to pursue their dreams, not just in academia but wherever they may lead.

The road to success doesn't always go through higher education, and that's OK. But seeing their black peers work hard and accomplish their dreams across different fields and disciplines may be just the motivation someone needs to go for it.

"I hope it inspires people to push themselves to achieve their goals, regardless of what those goals are," Wright says.

For every happy, proud smiling face you see in this photos, there's a lot you don't see.

Earning an advanced degree requires years of research; tough projects, teaching, or work assignments; sleepless nights; and enough reading to make your head spin. There are days when you don't know if you'll make it. There are days when you question yourself and your abilities. But you persist, not just for yourself, but your family, your community. And you do it for a moment like this:

An advanced degree is much more than a piece of paper, it's an achievement earned by the best and brightest. And no one can take that away.

Hats off to the class of 2017, and the people who love and support them.

This is your time. Go ahead and show out!

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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