Lake Forest Charter Student Wins $10,000 STEM Award

Lauren Ejiaga, a 14-year-old student at Lake Forest Charter School, recently received the $10,000 STEM Talent Award, sponsored by DoD STEM. The award was given to Lauren based on her demonstration of excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math, along with the leadership and technical skills necessary to excel in the 21st Century STEM workforce and build a better community for tomorrow. 

Lauren’s project, “Ozone Depletion: How It Affects Us,” focuses on the effects of UV radiation on plant life. 

“I was always fascinated by nature,” Lauren says. She has become concerned about the problem of ozone depletion. For her project, Lauren put pansy plants inside three hollow growing cases made from plastic pipes and connectors. Then she attached plastic films to each one. The films either filtered out or let in specific wavelengths of radiation. Pansies in one structure were exposed to UVA radiation but not UVB. Plants in another structure were subjected to UVB radiation but not UVA. And a control group of plants got a regular balance of both UVA and UVB radiation. Every other day, Lauren measured each plant’s chlorophyll content with a handheld meter. She also observed changes in the plants’ foliage and flowers. After 15 days, the plants in the control group had fairly normal growth. In contrast, plants that got UVA but not UVB radiation lost about 14 percent of their chlorophyll. And plants exposed to UVB but not UVA radiation lost about 61 percent of their chlorophyll. Lauren says this suggests that UVB radiation “is too strong to be protected against if not balanced out.”

This young scientist also enjoys sports and creative hobbies. Her favorite sport is volleyball, “because it involves playing side by side with a team.” She also enjoys tennis, soccer, and taekwondo. She also plays the piano, flute, and ukulele. 

Kalamu Ya Salaam Honored with Blue Collar PEN Award

Called by the New York Times the “Blue Collar Pen”, PEN Oakland has announced the winners of the 30th Annual PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Awards. And New Orleanian Kalamu Ya Salaam is among them, receiving the 2019 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles for his book Be About Beauty.

The 2019 PEN Oakland Award winners will be formally recognized on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Rockridge Library in Oakland. 

Be About Beauty is a collection of selected writings that celebrates human beauty and goodness. Through essays, poetry, and speeches, ya Salaam distills his years of wisdom, reflecting on a career built on art and activism, which strove to create community while resisting the powerful who worked to tear it apart. Intensely personal and refreshingly honest, Be About Beauty covers topics close to the artist’s heart: public education, jazz, Black art, Mardi Gras Indians, WWOZ radio, community, and the past and future of New Orleans and its culture.

PEN Oakland Josephine Miles awards, named for the late poet and Professor at The University of California at Berkeley, were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.

Verizon Announces Tandra LeMay as Director of Louisiana Government Affairs

Verizon Wireless recently announced the Tandra LeMay, has joined the company’s ongoing expansion in the Greater New Orleans area as Government Affairs Director. LeMay joins Verizon with 15 years of experience in Government and Public Affairs with previous work experiences including Special Projects Manager and Government and Public Affairs Specialist for BP America, Marketing Project Manager for the National Football League (NFL) and Associate Vice Chancellor of Workforce Solutions at Fletcher Technical Community College. 

“I am excited to join Verizon as Government Affairs Director for the great state of Louisiana,” said LeMay. “I look forward to bringing my skills and diverse background along with my passion for philanthropy to Verizon to help deepen our community relationships and to establish new strategic partnerships in New Orleans.” 

Verizon is taking intentional measures to increase community engagement in New Orleans and surrounding areas. As Government Affairs Director, LeMay will act as spokesperson for Verizon’s local public policy initiatives and will develop programs to assist the company’s community engagement initiatives. 

In her previous roles, LeMay’s responsibilities included aiding BP in overseeing the implementation of several successful public affairs strategies. LeMay has also worked with the New Orleans Saints and was the project manager for the NFL’s first overseas regular season game in London. She is an avid community leader through her Board Membership for Ben Franklin High School and the Black Butterfly Strong, Inc. 

LeMay earned a law degree from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans and a Bachelor’s degree in General Business Administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. 

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