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In a few years, he'll graduate debt-free and be a doctor. Yep, I'm jealous.

When Pasha Jackson graduates from med school, he won't have to worry about student loans cramping his style.

In a few years, he'll graduate debt-free and be a doctor. Yep, I'm jealous.
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The Atlantic Philanthropies

He'll be debt-free because he studies at the Latin American Medical School in Havana, Cuba.

Pasha Jackson, a former football player from Oakland, California, is one of over 100 Americans and 10,000 students who attend the school, known as ELAM.


Why Cuba? Well, it doesn't hurt that the Cuban government is paying for his entire medical-school education, room, and board — a hefty expense that typically costs about $50,000 a year in the U.S., saddling graduates with $175,000 in debt on average.

"Receiving this gift from a country who already does not have a lot, there's no way that I'm going to return back to United States and just take any job. I want to be able to give myself to the very communities who are under-served." — Pasha Jackson

But he's not the only scholarship winner. ELAM funds tuition and living costs for international students who excel academically and are mostly from low-income communities.

Wow! But waaait. Funding six years of medical school for thousands is a huge investment for "one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere." So what's in it for them?

Cuba has a history of working to expand healthcare access in low-income areas.

Former school director Dr. Maritza Gonzalez Bravo explains:

"The school's aim is to create a pool of physicians for public service in disadvantaged rural and urban areas around the world." — Dr. Maritza Gonzalez Bravo

According Dr. Melissa Barber, an ELAM alum and U.S. coordinator for the scholarship program, the idea to fund U.S. students came after the Congressional Black and Latino Caucuses visited Cuba. They saw that “within every 10-block radius there is a doctor." They wanted the same access for low-income families in the states. So they brainstormed with Fidel Castro. He extended the opportunity to Americans in 2001.

Since the school opened in 1999, there's been over 7,000 graduates from 45 countries. They're learning from Cuba's fleet of 350,000 health care professionals who specialize in medical diplomacy.

Cuban doctors play a huge role in the government's larger global outreach effort. In 2014, hundreds of doctors flew to West Africa to combat Ebola. Cuba also sent over 600 medical workers to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

It's the country's history of outreach that made Pasha's scholarship offer more attractive. It is also personal. He told Havana's CubaDebate that it was Cuban doctors who helped his family who were affected during Hurricane Katrina.

Now it's Cuba's hands-on approach and sense of service that Pasha will continue, when he graduates debt-free.

To learn more about his story and the ELAM program, check out the video below.

Wanna apply? Here's a handy guide.

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

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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