+
True
UCLA Optimists

It was just before Thanksgiving when then-high school junior Angela Sanchez and her father lost their home in Glendale, California.

A perfect storm of financial and family problems left her architect father unemployed, and the hardships soon led to eviction.

They slept in a car for the first few months, keeping up appearances of normalcy as best they could. Eventually, they found their way to a cold-weather shelter, then a family shelter.


[rebelmouse-image 19530515 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

But these were little more than places to sleep, and while it certainly helped to have a roof over their heads, it wasn’t enough to stop the stress of poverty and homelessness.

Despite it all, Sanchez did what she could to keep her grades — and her attendance — up. Her father had always taught her that education was incredibly important, and she had just started a new after-school club at the beginning of the year.

The theme of that club? Magic.

"A magician, by profession, is someone who is withholding knowledge," she explains.

And Sanchez's desire for hidden knowledge — to move beyond the hand that life had dealt her to experience something more — pushed her to succeed.

But just like magic, it would take a little know-how to get her there. That didn't stop her from trying, though.

[rebelmouse-image 19530516 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

From a young age, Sanchez was drawn to the history of magic and magicians.

Everything from witchcraft to voodoo to Harry Houdini — particularly the ways they all tied back to women’s roles in society. Women who practiced magic were historically condemned while men were revered. Even as magic became more theatrical, women were still relegated to the role of assistants.

The history of women in magic resonated with Sanchez's thirst for knowledge, particularly when the odds are stacked against you.

After all, even AP calculus is still a secret knowledge of the world.

[rebelmouse-image 19530517 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

But it wasn't easy. As her anxiety and uncertainty about the future got the best of her, even magic club began to fall apart her senior year, and calculus turned out to be an even greater struggle than she imagined.

Sanchez’s plummeting grades threatened the future she’d been looking forward to (one that, she hoped, would take her to UCLA).

That’s when she discovered School on Wheels, a nonprofit that offers tutoring support for children struggling with poverty and homelessness.

The nonprofit paired her with an astrophysics graduate student from Cal Tech.

"Making that connection was the best thing that ever happened to me while being homeless, and since then I have maintained a constant relationship with them," she says.

Her tutor not only offered her guidance in AP calculus, but he also gave her some "secret knowledge" to help unlock the mysterious realm of the college application process, a process that many underprivileged students are unsure of how to navigate.

A little support went a long way, and Sanchez was accepted to UCLA.

[rebelmouse-image 19530518 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

And by calling on that same tutor, Sanchez was also able to track down a variety of local community scholarships, and learned about the differences between need, merit, and passion-based support as she navigated her way through a pile of applications.

[rebelmouse-image 19530519 dam="1" original_size="1200x625" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

She secured enough scholarships to cover the cost of her education. But there were two in particular that meant more than money.

Sanchez received $10,000 through the Spirit of American Youth scholarship, awarded by L.A. developer and USC alum Rick Caruso.

"Having that scholarship was extremely important because I was able to request that money in different amounts over the course of my four years," she says, "So, I could fill in the gaps as I needed it."

[rebelmouse-image 19530520 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

She also received a UCLA scholarship from the Alumni Scholars Program and was supported by an alumnus named Craig Ehrlich.

Ehrlich not only doubled the value of Sanchez’s initial scholarship, but also turned out to be a crucial networking conduit for Sanchez's personal and professional relationships.

"More than just maintaining a relationship with my donor, I’ve also kept in touch with all the other scholarship recipients," she says. "When you're able to provide support for students like that, it's a game changer. It colors your whole experience."

[rebelmouse-image 19530521 dam="1" original_size="1200x636" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

That support helped Sanchez find tremendous success throughout her time at UCLA — and she used that opportunity to pay it forward.

During her sophomore year, Sanchez launched and organized a School on Wheels chapter at UCLA to help out other kids who were in the same tough spot that she had been just two years earlier.

"Our volunteers took care of everything from supplies to snacks to transportation," she explains. "We would go over to the shelters and group homes at night, and we would work there with the students."

[rebelmouse-image 19530522 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

When it came time to write her thesis for her history degree, Sanchez returned to a topic she knew well: the representation of women in magic history.

And thanks to the skills she learned in seeking out and applying for scholarships and grants, she was able to find the funding to travel around the country and continue her research through fellowships at other universities, too.

"If you can invest yourself into an area of extreme passion for you, everything else follows from there," she says.

The connections that she made — and the knowledge she discovered — helped Sanchez to secure a job after graduation.

After completing her bachelor’s in history, Sanchez stayed at UCLA to get her master’s in education. Along the way, she became interested in ECMC Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in L.A. that invests in programs to improve educational outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.

[rebelmouse-image 19530523 dam="1" original_size="1200x624" caption="Image via UCLA/YouTube." expand=1]Image via UCLA/YouTube.

For some students — especially those who are at-risk or low-income — the pathway to success is mysterious enough that it may as well be magic.

But Sanchez’s story shows that scholarships can open the doorway to the tools that students need to make their dreams a reality.

Today, Sanchez continues to work as the program analyst for College Success at ECMC Foundation, helping students like the one she used to be.

She helps oversee and determine the efficiency for college support and scholarship programs that help out people in similar situations to the one she used to be in. Essentially, she's professionally giving advice about how to succeed in college like she did.

She’s also on the board at School on Wheels, and is a magician member/magic historian with The Academy of Magical Arts. She gave back to UCLA with a monetary donation last year and hopes to give again in the future.

"I’m hoping to foster opportunity for others," she says. "A lot of opportunity has been given to me, so I am responsible for creating the same experience for other students and scale it as far as I can."

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
Keep ReadingShow less