2023 Winning Scholarship Essay: Assistive Technology Devices

By Esther Kim, Winner of the 2023 YuJa Scholarship Essay Contest

My younger brother Joseph couldn’t talk properly until he was seven years old. Joseph was diagnosed with autism, an intellectual disability and mild cerebral palsy.

He worked hard with his speech therapist every session while his school would try to teach him American Sign Language. Another professional worked with Joseph on an iPad to use as an assistive technology device. It is a miracle sent from heaven that Joseph is able to talk now, almost to a fault, where he never stops talking to make up for his years lost in nonverbal communication.

Although Joseph is able to communicate with his voice, many of his peers are nonverbal and have to use similar devices to communicate their thoughts, wants, and feelings. Many nonverbal individuals with autism face significant challenges in expressing themselves verbally, hindering their ability to interact and communicate effectively.

I myself am studying to become an occupational therapist where I will work with many people in this situation, and have already worked with numerous individuals through volunteer opportunities who use iPads to communicate. Assistive technology devices have emerged as valuable tools to support individuals with autism in overcoming these barriers.

After familiarizing myself with these communication devices, I have drawn conclusions to its many pros and cons. One beautiful aspect I have grown to appreciate is the way assistive technology devices play a crucial role in facilitating communication for nonverbal individuals with autism. I’ve worked with many individuals through their limited ASL, which I am also on the journey of learning for my future patients, but it simply is not as practical because the majority of the population is not fluent in ASL. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, such as speech-generating devices and picture exchange communication systems, allow individuals to express their thoughts, needs, and desires effectively.

”A picture says a thousand words and can be a much smoother, quicker way to communicate for nonverbal people.”

This is also a great way for visual learners to grasp the meaning of new words because sign language may not always provide the extensive understanding as a visual representation might. For example, Austin, one of the children I worked with, who used an assistive technology device, enjoyed pointing at the pictures that would then say the word out loud to communicate their thoughts. A picture says a thousand words and can be a much smoother, quicker way to communicate for nonverbal people. These devices provide a means of communication, reducing frustration and improving social interactions.

Assistive technology devices empower nonverbal individuals with autism to become more independent in their daily lives. Devices like communication apps on tablets or smartphones enable individuals to make choices, request assistance, and engage in activities with greater autonomy. This can be especially important in instances where others who are familiar with their language are not in the vicinity. They would still be able to communicate if they are hungry, what they want to eat, whether they need to use the bathroom, and express their wants. For example, Austin, who I mentioned earlier, at our day program would not be able to communicate many of his needs if I wasn’t there, as I was one of the few people who understood his language, sign, and nuances. By reducing their reliance on others, these devices enhance self-confidence and promote a sense of control over their environment.

“Assistive technology devices have transformed the lives of nonverbal individuals with autism by providing them with a means to communicate, increasing their independence, and fostering social interaction. “

With the help of AAC systems, these individuals can actively participate in classroom activities, communicate with teachers and peers, and engage in learning experiences. One remarkable boy I remember was Justin, who was also nonverbal. Since his only way to communicate with others was his iPad, he became so quick with it, memorizing all the boards and forming sentences at an unbelievable rate. He would tell me whole stories about his trips to Disneyland with his family, just through his iPad. By providing equal access to education, assistive technology devices promote inclusion and support academic progress.

One major drawback of assistive technology devices is their cost. Many high-quality devices and software applications can be expensive, making them inaccessible for individuals with limited financial resources. This financial barrier restricts the availability of these devices to those who could benefit greatly from them. Moreover, individuals in rural or underprivileged areas may face challenges in accessing these devices due to limited availability and support services. One way I have seen this used alternatively was to get paper cutouts laminated with the same visuals and words, and we would teach our students to point to the word they wanted. Although there was no spoken aspect after the “button” was pressed, like with the iPads, it was still a great, and much cheaper alternative.

Assistive technology devices often require time and effort to learn and adapt to effectively. Both the nonverbal individuals and their caregivers or educators must invest significant energy into understanding and operating the devices. I remember when I was learning how to use these communication devices for the first time, I was incredibly slow at it, forming sentences that would take seconds to say in minutes. This can be even more challenging for those with a learning disability such as my brother. However, as I mentioned earlier, Justin who has used these communication devices for years was incredibly quick with it to communicate. The learning curve, however, may be steeper for some individuals, potentially hindering their immediate access to communication and support.

”Assistive technology devices empower nonverbal individuals with autism to become more independent in their daily lives.”

Although assistive technology devices aim to improve communication and independence, they may inadvertently contribute to social stigma. Nonverbal individuals with autism may experience judgment or negative reactions from others who are not familiar with the devices. Such stigmatization can lead to feelings of isolation and hinder social integration, defeating the purpose of these devices.

Beyond that, they also need to bring their communication device everywhere which can come with its own limitations such as having to carry a bulky iPad everywhere, needing to keep it charged, and of course, the social stigma that comes with bringing a huge communication device everywhere. If their battery dies, or they lose their iPad, there goes their only means of communication, which is definitely not something that would apply to everyone.

Assistive technology devices have transformed the lives of nonverbal individuals with autism by providing them with a means to communicate, increasing their independence, and fostering social interaction. However, challenges such as cost, accessibility, and learning curve can also make it not the most accessible way of communicating for individuals. I’ve personally seen great progress and had amazing experiences with assistive technology devices, and can’t wait to see it continue to improve and help many more people throughout the world.

Read more about Esther Kim.

Technology, Sustainability, and the Future of Work

In the 2010s, sustainability has come to the forefront of public discourse. Our work conditions are not exempt from this discourse, and remote working has many sustainability benefits. Sustainability simply means investing in a long-term future, and it has three components: Environmental, Economic, and Social. Remote positions can provide benefits for all three of these. For example, environmental sustainability could be improved due to fewer emissions from decreased commutes. Fewer commutes would, in turn, require less economic resources to be put towards car maintenance. This would be because of greater localization. We would be spending more time in our immediate areas rather than driving to surrounding areas, requiring less money for things such as gasoline and vehicle upkeep.

“Sustainability simply means investing in a long-term future, and it has three components: Environmental, Economic, and Social.”

Perhaps most importantly, decreased commutes would have a significant impact on social sustainability. This is because the stress that is associated with commutes would be reduced. Additionally, remote working would provide an opportunity to plan one’s own schedule, making it more viable to balance priorities. Rather than working for a set block of time (leaving very little time for anything else in a day) workers could instead schedule their work in sections throughout the day, with other important tasks being laced in as well. This could increase overall life satisfaction due to a greater number of lifestyle components being fulfilled.

While this may seem disconnected from information technology and internet availability, these are actually both related to sustainability. The combination of information technology and internet availability has already increased awareness of sustainability and continues to do so. It has also increased our knowledge of how and why we can and should make a difference as individuals. Such progress couldn’t be made without IT and, subsequently, internet access and popularity. In addition, these two facets have made it possible for a greater number of people to work remotely. They simplify the process of working from home, and the sustainability benefits mean that normalizing working from home shouldn’t be ignored.

Editor’s Note: This essay was written by Darian Williams, winner of the 2018 YuJa Essay Scholarship Contest. Learn more about Darian here.

Fall 2018 Scholarship Winner – Darian Williams

Tell us about yourself:

I’m from Utah, USA, and earned a degree in Anthropology from Southern Utah University. I’m currently a graduate student of Global Environmental Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. I’m focusing my MA thesis on sustainability marketing, and currently have content marketing internships with American startup Alda Lifestyle and international organization Plastic-Free Tuesday. I also work part-time as an English teacher.

What has been your best experience in school?

During my second semester, I was able to go on a research trip to a small town called Karuizawa. While I didn’t directly learn anything about marketing, I gained hands-on experience with forest management. I also learned many traditional Japanese conservation methods that are unfortunately beginning to die out. On top of that, I was able to bond with my classmates and professors over good Japanese sake!

What influenced your choice in major?

During my undergraduate, I learned of primate endangerment in a biological anthropology course and decided to focus my senior thesis on the various dimensions of this problem. My findings from this thesis made me understand that conserving natural resources can’t be done from a one-dimensional perspective. As I approached grad school, I knew that I wanted to make sustainable living more doable for a greater number of people. Because of this, I decided to focus my MA thesis on how to increase sustainable consumption with marketing methods.

How do you envision yourself in 5 years?

I’d like to continue globe-hopping while working remotely as a sustainability marketer. Since I originally come from the countryside, which is quite homogeneous, I’m happy to experience different cultures. I also see this as an important educational and career skill in an increasingly globalized world. I’d like to be working on a diverse range of environmental problems and hope to see improvements in climate change, waste management, and biodiversity loss.

What do you hope to learn from your school experience?

I would like to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior because I see this as paramount to creating a sustainable future. This is something that was part of my undergraduate education, so it’s an extension of what I already know. Something that I missed during my undergrad, though, was any type of marketing or business knowledge. Although human behavior is important for sustainability, so are economic processes. I intend on melding these two elements in my final thesis as well as my career. What extracurricular activities do you enjoy? Most of the time that I don’t spend on my thesis is put towards two internships. One focuses on the general growth of a sustainable startup, in which I do everything from blogging to email marketing to Twitter growth. The other is more specific and focused because it’s for an organization that aims to decrease plastic waste with doable, everyday changes. I am currently working on revamping the organization’s Pinterest account in order to grow awareness about its mission.

Winter 2019 Scholarship Submissions

From Medicine to Cars; Code

By Willa Campeau

The most influential piece of technology in today’s fast pasted society would be code. Coding is not only a technology but a mathematical language that happens to be the format of most of today’s app and online world. From Html to Javascript; it also happens to be part of a problem within the United States. The problem being occupational fields such as the medical field using outdated forms of code to where if one knows how to hack into the programming, they can easily corrupt files upon files of information. This information most likely being a patient’s vitals and their form of treatment which could then possibly lead to a lawsuit that could’ve been easily prevented if they’d taken the time to update their software. Coding also happens to be used in cars now-a-days. A few of these computerized components being the windows rolling up and down, the locking mechanism and even regulating the temperature. Thus the vehicles that 76% of Americans use on daily based can also be hacked. An episode of Criminal Minds was dedicated to the topic; and all the average civilian has to do is buy a device off of Amazon that allow them to override the mentioned locking mechanism. A simple click of a button a second right after you lock your vehicle, advancing faster than when the main way of stealing a car was hot-wiring it.

Now while code has allowed for problems to occur like those mentioned above, it has also allowed for our society to advance far than those in the past millennium could ever imagine. One of the many being in the field of medicine, those with diabetes can now make insulin pumps that regulate themselves. The way it does this is by sensors placed on the skin that measure the glucose. This has helped diminish the amount of patients going into a hyperglycemia coma. Hyperglycemia comas are what occurs mostly in patients with type 1 diabetes when their glucose levels get too high but it can also occur in those with type 2 as well. Coding has also helped society in more everyday use as well. A few of those being online shopping, transportations services such as Uber and Lyft along with helping people get into shape. One of those apps that helps people get into shape is Pokémon GO, which also has connected a ton of people on the basis of collecting creatures in Pokéballs and leveling up—a means of storytelling. Concluding all of this; code has its downfalls and it upsides and it’s the pros that outweigh the cons thus giving rise to products that some individuals wouldn’t dare to live without. One of them, I haven’t mention till now; the smartphone. So let’s see what the world has offer when it has the influence of coding within our society.

A Picture of Time

By Izabella Caruso

The lightbulb made everything visible, no one was to be left in the dark. My grandmother’s young hands pressed the camera’s button, capturing the smiles of pure triumph. Waiting to be developed, her fingers shook the imperfections into existence as the reality of flaws were accepted by all. Patience was compulsory and never questioned. Smiles were genuine, never staged.

The hands of my grandmother began to tell a story, much like the journey she took her camera on. Disposable and inexpensive, times were designated to process the memories but reduced to an effortless escapade. Being handed the pictures from across the drugstore counter, society began to be handed their livelihoods as well.

The hands of my grandmother are now weathered. She holds a posed picture instantly, contrary to the joy that once sprung from her fingers. How ironic it is that the selfie she took is more representative of the person next to her than of herself. Patience is nonexistent, the world can never be satisfied. An image must be taken a billion times because one will never be enough, and even that one will never be perfect. A lens is placed on the images taken today, altering the existence of pure triumph. How disastrous it is to live in a world where the camera my grandmother holds in her hands is more disposable than the disposable camera itself. If dropped, the memories will shatter. If disliked, they may be deleted. History has the potential to be lost, flashing before the future’s eyes before they even have the opportunity to appreciate the raw delight once encompassed in an image.

Information Technology Discussion Essay

By Destney Johnson

There is no doubt that social interaction plays a big role in every human’s life. It doesn’t matter whether they are more social online or in person how social you are or how social you aren’t plays a big role in how your personality develops and how you react to different things. In fact, people can actually be considered to be a part of social networks even when they are not online. Back then, people had roles in the social network in their society. However, things have definitely changed now and social media has a strong control on how information is developed, how people think, feel, speak and how they act.

This unit in my Composition Rhetoric Class we are learning about argumentative writing. We have been challenged to write an argumentative paper on our point of view of social media and the positive and negative effects of social networking on society. I have done some research and in the result of it, I have found out that in my point of view I feel that the old school social media has definitely been taken over as a result of the social media networks that are out now. In my first source, “Who Do You Think You Are?” I found a statement that supports my claim that the social media networks now have caused people to become more cowardly and less social ironically, “Our results reveal that, although both identities have similar effects on usage behavior, users with higher social identities are more oriented toward variety seeking, while those with stronger relational identities are more oriented toward reinforcement”.

Back then when everything was not based off of how many likes you have or how many people follow you, it was easier to be yourself and for people to get to know the real you. How can someone get to know you and become a real friend if all you do is sit behind a computer screens? As Dylan says in the back to the lake source, “Our results reveal that, although both identities have similar effects on usage behavior, users with higher social identities are more oriented toward variety seeking, while those with stronger relational identities are more oriented toward reinforcement”. These are the types of questions that you asked when you only know someone in the new social media and not meet someone in person like the old school social media.

After all, would you rather have friendly smiles and healthy relationships like back then in the old school, or would you rather an unhealthy selfish online social life? Many people would definitely pick the healthy lifestyle over the unhealthy one. In my second source, “Old school” meets “new school” the journal focuses on “Using books and tablets to improve information literacy and promote integrative learning among business students”. When I read about this I felt like this could be a very good way to improve the technology and social media sites nowadays. I do feel social media plays a huge role in how people behave and how people think as well.

The iPhone ́s effect on our society

By Anissah Surita

I believe the most influential piece of technology today is the smartphone and particularly the iPhone.I believe that Apple has become the most influential technology brand involving iPhones, iPads, Macbooks, and other items. A reason that I believe iPhone has the popularity is because in our society there has been a line drawn between iPhone and Samsung or any other brand of smartphone. People believe there is a better quality in speed, camera, apps, and other features of the iPhone.The reason why this is the biggest influential in today’s society is because it affects everyone including who do have an iPhone and those who do not. The iPhone allows users to call,text,surf the web, use apps, facetime (video chat), and other tools. One of the biggest problems in society has been produced from all of the uses that are available on this phone. In groups of people that are friends or family you would imagine interaction between them. In today’s society almost everyone in a room is noticed to be on an iPhone or other brand of smartphone. I have experienced situations where I am with friends and everyone is just sitting on their phone. I think to myself wondering what the point of being with each other is when everyone is sitting on their phone scrolling. One way I tried to solve this is I have told the people I was with to place their phones in a pile so that we could interact with each other.This is one way in which smartphones including the iPhone have affected our society while one more being the use of apps of social media. With so many people using iPhones it comes with the ability to use social media in an easier way that on the web. Social media influences our society in positive and negative ways. A beneficial way I have experienced is that it is an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family that are near and far. Of course you could call, but sometimes that is not always quick or they may not be available when you are. Social media is a quick casual way to see pictures and posts of how others are doing. One negative that has affected many people emphasizing young and older teens which is cyber bullying. With apps being at an easy access through iPhones and various smartphones people find it easy to say attacking words about or to people through their accounts on social media or even through text. Of course there was bullying before the smartphone, but this has given bullies an easy way to say what they want to people without having to face them. Social media does have the option to report, but unfortunately some people will continue the bullying. Through social media,the way people are interacting with each other, and the dominance Apple has over other products I believe that the iPhone is the most influential piece of technology.

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Winter 2019 Scholarship Winner – Anissah Surita

Tell us about yourself:

I am Anissah Surita and I graduated from St. Francis High School in 2018. I just finished my first year of college at Folsom Lake College and I plan to transfer to Sacramento State after my second year. I will transfer with an Associate’s degree in business. In my free time I enjoy playing soccer with my parents and younger brother.

What has been your best experience in school?

My best experiences in school so far would have to be from high school when I played for the soccer team for all four years. I gained so much experience and grew as an athlete and a person. I became closer to so many of my classmates and it was a true bonding experience.

What influenced your choice in major?

I really like within the business major how many options of careers there are after graduation. I am thinking of either choosing the marketing or accounting concentration. I will learn more as I continue to take classes about which concentration I want to focus on at Sacramento State.

How do you envision yourself in 5 years?

I envision myself with a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Sacramento State. After I earn this I plan to work towards my Master ́s degree. With this time frame, I hope in five years that I will be working towards earning this. I hope within this time I can also gain some experience through internships that are offered to students in this field of study.

What do you hope to learn from your school experience?

I hope to grow as a student and person through my courses and peers. I have already enjoyed a year’s worth of classes and the experience they have given me. I look forward to my next year at Folsom and earning my Associates’s degree. I also look forward to transferring to Sacramento State where it will be a completely different experience I assume.

What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?

Since I was a young girl I have been involved with sports. As I got older I decided to focus on soccer and play on a competitive team. I enjoy playing soccer still with my twelve-year-old brother, my family, and friends. I also enjoy practicing softball. I played softball for about seven years when I was younger and I played for St. Francis in my junior year.

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Scholarship Submissions 2021

Essay topic: Describe your experience navigating in an online world during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pandemic Online Learning

by Ashley Rodriguez

For me personally my experience navigating in the online world during the pandemic was very easy. Yes, the courses were more challenging to understand through online teaching, but it gave me so much more time with my family. With my normal busy schedule, I was never able to spend this much time with them. Since I also had very little time left before leaving for college, it was somewhat good timing. But with that being said, it was a double edge sword. I wasn’t used to the annoying aspects of my family. I love them with all my heart, but too much of a good thing is bad. I really needed in-person school to see other people that were more my age.

Before the pandemic, you could usually ask your classmate questions during class to understand the curriculum better. Yet, with online learning that wasn’t really an option, unless you already knew their personal contact information. You couldn’t even make new friends in class because no one dared to put on their cameras. There was an extreme lack of communication which resulted in diminishing social skills of all students.

Another thing that I think stops a lot of students from learning is that they are scared to ask questions, especially since there is now text receipts or video recordings of what they said. In person you could go up to the teacher and talk to them in private without it being such a big deal. Now it involves a documented email. Even though I grew up in the digital age, I still don’t like communicating entirely through digital means. It’s much easier to see them in person and explain exactly what you are trying to convey. Your voice inflection and non-verbal body language are crucial to having interactions that are well received.

Now with hearing all the bad parts of online learning, you could probably suspect that all of the grades were bad. From what I’ve heard, some people actually started to do better because it was all personal learning and that’s how they thrived. For me, on the other hand, my grades were great, but I hated about every aspect of online earning. I had an extreme lack of motivation to finish work and because of the pandemic I’ve used that as an excuse to turn in work late. The only thing I got from online school was how to sleep during class and fake my way into good grades. I didn’t actually learn as much as I thought I could have in my senior year.

In conclusion, it seems like each person reacted differently to this new learning environment. I think teachers could use this knowledge of how students learn in different formats as a way to improve their ability to impact more students. All in all, we persevered through the challenges of a worldwide pandemic and we can be proud of how far we have come.

Vote for Ashley

Navigating an Online World

by Michael Reyes

Before COVID-19 struck, I was already fairly adapted to an online social lifestyle. I talked to most of my friends through social media apps, like Twitter and Instagram. I joined many calls and voice chats through sites like Discord, and played games with many of my friends there. I also posted media of nearly all of my own hobbies and projects online, which gained a bit of traction with other users. As a then-Junior in high school, I was also used to doing and submitting most of my work online. So, by the time the virus finally entered Colorado, and every school in my county transitioned to an online lifestyle, I thought it would be an easy transition. Little did I know of the challenges and obstacles that laid ahead for me.

In order to compensate for all of the online work we had to do, students were told to use a third party app instead of an established platform, like Google Classroom. It was a difficult adjustment to make at first, since almost no one knew how to use it. By the time I, and other students and teachers had managed to sort out all of the app’s issues, two others issues emerged: teacher-peer communication and work overload. It was not uncommon for a teacher to mistakenly assign an assignment, earlier than what was originally told to the students. I would frequently email teachers back, or raise my virtual hand in my online classes, in order to clarify what the correct due date was for that assignment. Projects that also required me to work with a partner were also hard in terms of communication. I never knew most of my classmates phone numbers, which forced me to contact them through their school emails. Some were quicker to respond than others, but it was still a pain just waiting a response from them. Whether I was emailing a teacher or classmate, those emails took time away from the limited work period I had throughout the day. I always tried to maintain a consistent work schedule in order to complete as many assignments as I could, before I had to do my house chores. That lost time also contributed to the amount of homework I had to do each night. I would frequently stay up until one in the morning, just to make sure all of my assignments were completed and submitted. That included missing and late assignments, which took an emotional toll on me. I broke down most nights, and contemplated on whether or not I was going to pass high school and attend college.

Fortunately, working online wasn’t a total nightmare. Thanks to the social network I had created online, I went to my close circle of friends to ask for advice and tips about how to endure online schooling. They were very receptive and provided help for the classes I was struggling in. They even helped provide so much needed relaxation, by inviting me to certain games they were playing and discussing other topics that were happening in the world. I feel like the experience of working online has strengthened me, and now that the country seems to be getting back to normal, I hope to apply that knowledge into my future career.

Vote for Michael

Virtual Throwback

by Emory Taylor

It was a very strange and unusual experience for us this time last year. Many of us had already switched to virtual learning due to Covid becoming worse and worse over the past few months, and for the most part, everyone was now in virtual learning. Around this time, we started finishing up the last part of the school year. This was an unusual and confusing thing to get used to. I don’t only mean the coronavirus situation and lockdown itself, but also navigating things like virtual learning and other online tools for school. I remember the day I first saw zoom and tried it out. I was in my Spanish three honors class and the teacher was talking to us about it, if it should arise that we have to switch to virtual learning. At first, it seemed kind of weird and unusual. My initial thought was, “ why don’t we just use FaceTime or Skype?“. However, I didn’t feel like I was really in a position to try and think about a decision that the school had made for us. We sat there for about 40 minutes or so walking through the different features on the app. There were multiple things such as how you could turn off the screen, mute yourself, and even change the screen saver face. Of course, it didn’t take long for many kids to start putting photos that they thought were funny as their screen savers. Over the next few months, it didn’t die down much as far as that was concerned. I would log into a class call or onto Google classroom to check my assignments and I would see everyone’s new profile pictures they use to annoy teachers. My favorite was the one of a child holding across and freaking out. Over the next few months, I got more and more familiar with those applications such as zoom and Google classroom. While I did get more familiar with them, it was by no means seamless and perfect for how I used them. There were multiple times when I either forgot to submit my assignment because I didn’t click a specific button, or that my work or file did not go through and then I would have to resubmit it. Along with this, there were other things such as due dates and guidelines the teachers used that made it kind of hard. I remember a specific time that I keep submitting an assignment and my teacher said that the file was corrupted and I would have to resend it. That lasted for three days, and thankfully I got it in. However, overall I was able to make it work and get through my junior year. Outside of that, I don’t feel like much else had changed with the online world and how I experienced it during Covid. For the most part, I just went on to apps like YouTube and Netflix, watched videos, watched the news when it was on, I did everything else that I usually do if I was not in a pandemic. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but I do a lot of stuff online anyway so it’s not like it changed up much. Overall, it’s been an odd, but fun experience for this past year.

Vote for Emory

Staying Afloat

by Ezra Morarescu

When the coronavirus pandemic started, I didn’t expect it to last for this long. I saw the break from school as a treat and not having a high school graduation as a mild inconvenience. Of course I was disappointed, but I could look past it. University was approaching and I was excited to enter the new world of post-secondary education – until I realized it would all be online. I’ve grown up with the Internet, so I can say that I know my way around websites and a variety of platforms. However, my moderate knowledge of the World Wide Web did not prepare me for the struggle of learning new, difficult material all on my own. Suddenly, learning every new term, concept, and discussion was just that much harder. Being tech savvy and being thrown into the depths of a digital world are two very different concepts, and I found myself working quickly to figure out how to stay afloat. With regards to school, I managed to stay afloat, although sometimes life got overwhelming and I would start to feel under supported. I will be forever grateful for my friends and family for being a part of this journey, and helping me remember that my success and self-worth are not based in grades, but in the connections I make and the efforts I put into my work.

Aside from my academics being online, I quickly had to come to terms with the fact that the rest of my life is also trapped online. Future goals have become postponed, and things such as my health were a struggle to deal with. Without being able to interact in person with my friends, and later my family, my motivation quickly went down the drain. The looming pandemic seemed to have turned a helpful resource into a crutch, as I turned to social media to aid my worries and loneliness. As one can expect, this was not a useful coping mechanism, but the never-ending posts and trends drew me in, making me numb to the rest of the world. As the summer ended, I was forced to pull myself out of the siren’s call of social media, and promptly realized that my problems did not go away through ignorance. I had dentist appointments to navigate, therapy online as I kept my mental health in check, and phone calls with my doctor as I tried to discover how I as a transgender individual could feel more at peace with my body. I fought with government websites regarding my identity, and many places refused to change their information to align with my new name. An already complicated system had become that much more impenetrable with the coronavirus, and I had to come to the realization that very few changes can be made for my well-being until the pandemic comes to a stop. While in the beginning this felt like a daunting concept, I have come to terms with my new reality. Through the help of my partner and my ever-growing support group, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is much brighter than it was a year ago.

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Covid Experience

by Gabriella Corona

The pandemic hit many people hard and nobody was excluded from it. Students had to go online for their education and it was not easy. It became hard on them and it seemed more demanding. As someone who strives to do their best I was filled with confusion and doubt. This was quite possibly the hardest year of my academic life.

A lot of the times I felt very stressed and confused on how work would get done. Overall, I was on top of my studies but many times I felt like I could procrastinare and miss assignments because I began to not care. Everytime I did that I got more stressed and was just digging myself a bigger hole everytime. As someone who always tries to get straight Asm, I felt as if I was not doing as well as I had been. I would lose track of time for assignments and that would make me stress out even more.

I lost a lot of motivation to try and turn in work and study for tests. My friends felt the same way and I felt like I would fall behind and never catch up. I felt like this would get me nowhere and retaining information was by far the hardest thing for me. My note taking would lack and when it came down to use it, it would make no sense or that information felt useless. I knew I was not retaining information and I knew that if I didn’t do anything to change my actions I would fail. I knew that I would let myself down if I did not change my outlook on life.

I realized that not doing work or waiting on it will disappoint my family, teachers, and myself. I had to step it up or fall. So I tried really hard on making sure I knew what the lesson was about and how to retain that information. I work on motivating myself and my friends. I encouraged myself and others that we will make it to graduation and that will be our goal. To make it through these tough times so we can achieve our goals. That was our final push to get us through the tough year and half. That will still be my goal and push, to always strive forward.

Overall, this pandemic has tested my family, friends and me. I do think it has made me stronger and has allowed me to motivate myself in different ways. It has allowed me to communicate with my friends more often and to appreciate their company and companionship. I will thank my family and friends for pushing me to do my best. I will also thank myself for allowing me to grow and to not stay stuck to what I thought was a nightmare.

Vote for Gabriella

An Absolute Online World

by Persis Pochara

When the lockdowns were first issued in Pennsylvania, I was in the middle of my second spring semester in college. Most of my classes were physical and I had never used programs like Zoom for my classes before. I wondered what our schedule would look like and how we were going to continue our learning. It was not easy at first. All of our work was independent and confined to only ourselves. Some professors didn’t know how to use certain features in Canvas, or how to resolve issues in communication. If we needed extra help, it was limited since it could not be face-to-face. In my public speaking class, I had to record my speeches and fabricate an audience—my siblings—and concentrating on my assignment was extremely difficult with them there. Nonetheless, I was able to survive that semester. But I was troubled by the future of my education. I had a limited option of classes to choose from, all online, and I had not chosen my courses without help in-person before. I felt that I had no one to turn to for answers; in reality, I did, but I was too inhibited to ask for it nor did I even know how to ask what I needed to do. In time, I gradually adjusted, and I figured out what I was confused about.

My online experience wasn’t all that bad in retrospect. I no longer had to wake up early or at a set time. My classes were asynchronous, so I could work on my assignments at any time so long as it wasn’t past the deadline. No longer needing to be driven to and from my campus by either one of my parents—and thus getting in the way of their schedules—was a blessing for all of us. Being able to stay home with my computer is what most students around my age dream of. When I finished my assignments early, I had time to relax, watch a show or a movie; play some games; play an instrument; and work. It was interesting to see how our society was able to adapt in the absence of physical meetings and activities. I was always more inclined to interacting with people and doing most things online instead of in-person. Around the time of the pandemic, I was just beginning to go outside with my friends to hang out, even go to a sleepover for the first time! Unfortunately, since things have been closed down and heavily regulated, I don’t know if I will be able to experience going out on my own and interacting with others personally ever again. IE don’t even know if I am going to the campus of my intended university or choosing in-person classes. After being cooped up in my house and relying on my computer for school, I may not want to go back to a building so far away from my house; that my parents have to drive me to on their own work schedules; needing to get up and get ready at a set time; and bringing a backpack with supplies, as well as my phone, and also something to eat. A normal, synchronous, and physical classroom is something that cannot surpass the online experience for me.

Vote for Persis


by Mukund Vishwanath

The pandemic was initially thought to be a temporary escape from the outside world. While the traffic on the roads started to disappear, the usage of social media reached its peak. I could finally speak to my friend who lived in a completely different timezone because neither of us had proper circadian rhythms, I could read a book online, or watch the same series for the 5th time as I fell asleep on the couch. All of this had lead to a monotonous lifestyle where I was just switching between tasks all day. The task switcher- Alt+Tab- was perhaps the most used shortcut throughout my time navigating in an online world during the coronavirus pandemic. This shortcut would help me switch between a hilarious video I was watching on YouTube to the video call where my teacher was calling my name for attendance. I emphasize this shortcut because it reminds me of the time I was stuck in one place- stationary but still constantly switching between tasks. I stayed inside my house, took all the precautions, got lazy, yet hoped that I can soon meet the friends I kept video calling every day because we had nothing else to do, hoped that we could play Pictionary or party at our favorite club instead of vibing to the online concerts, hoped that we could move past the screens and finally hug each other. Perhaps, that is all I did the entire pandemic. I hoped.

This pandemic may have not taught me how I can laze around and still get my work done, but it surely taught me to respect the world outside the digital network that is slowly consuming us. Following this realization, I started to spend my time researching the mental toll this pandemic could cause on numerous individuals. I would then have more video calls with my friends and alt+tab between different windows regarding the statistics of it and what we can do to not fall prey. We would then alt+switch to watching our favorite stand-up comedy, then alt+tab to the main screen and talk about how one saw a parrot from their window or how one found a toy from 10 years back. The pandemic has taught me to appreciate the nuances of life. Yes, the entire world is accessible to me at my fingertips, but none of it would truly make me happy if I didn’t know how to alt+tab away to the next window at the right time.

I could not promise myself that everything could go back to being exactly the way it was before the pandemic, but I could definitely hope that when things do get better and I can finally go out, I never forget the importance of alt+tab- to switch through my tasks and make sure I maintain balance in my life.

Vote for Mukund

An Online Nightmare

by David Carey

Unfortunately, COVID-19 ruined the class of 2021’s junior and senior year of high school by forcing students to use virtual learning. Many schools use one or two websites for distributing assignments, notifying students, and giving lessons. Using one or two websites would not have been an issue for me, as I love building computers and competing in cybersecurity competitions. The issue for me is having to use two different Canvas accounts, Google Classroom, Blackboard, Webassign, Acrobatiq, Zoom, Pearson, and four different emails for school. Juggling four emails and six different platforms for my education is a nightmare because all the assignments seem to endlessly pile up and merge into one giant monster. Crawling between the spider web of educational media, assignments are bound to be missed. Not only is virtual school a navigational nuisance, but it also poses potential problems like not being able to connect to the internet, cameras or microphones not working, hyperlinks not working, or forgetting passwords. Trying to spend a massive amount of time staring at a screen attempting to escape the labyrinth of problems and assignments creates a herculean headache.

Not only are the assignments physically and emotionally draining, sitting through long zoom classes without any entertainment is a bore. There were no hands-on activities, no crazy experiments, no messing with friends, or snarky comments. There was no class drama or days chock full of excitement, only depressingly gray squares with white initials. The only chance to talk with friends is through discord calls while playing video games or late-night facetime making stupid jokes. At some point, purely virtual connections will not fill the void of seeing friends in person. COVID-19 closing schools for the first two weeks was nice, but one and a half years of online classes made me numb to the flow of time and excitement of graduation. The only thing I had left to look forward to was seeing my friends again.

On top of all the assignments, I still had to apply for college and scholarships. The colleges I applied to had poorly designed websites that made it confusing to navigate. As if the websites were not confusing enough, I had to go down rabbit trails of links just to find out I went to the wrong place. When I got to the end, I would have around twenty tabs open and I had was lost in the catacombs of college credentials. Feeling overwhelmed with unrelated information, it was difficult to find related information for academic requirements, payment plans, honors programs, and housing plans. Now that I have been accepted to college, everything is virtual, including the orientation and tours. The only thing they show on the tours is pictures of building insides or pretty campus views. When I go on campus for the first time, it will be a maze trying to figure out where classes are and where different buildings are.

Vote for David

The New World

by Le’Dajha Tuff

The first change of Coronavirus was intimacy. Suddenly, there was a vast distance between my friends and I that wasn’t there before, a distance of more than just six feet apart. As I was starting my senior year, I was thrust into a new world. Previously, the most important thing in my life was what to eat for dinner or do on the weekend. However, during Covid-19, my home simultaneously became an escape and a prison. After curfews were implemented, borders and restaurants were closed, and masks were required, I became more technologically-reliant.

Curfews are of the most impractical of methods to combat Covid-19, and naturally, led to more online activity for me. My family and I were forced to get the same amount of daily chores and activities before Covid-19 done in less time. Even something as simple as going to the grocery store with my family involves more people, meaning there’s more contact and chances to catch Covid-19. To prevent us from falling victim, we’ve had to use more online resources. Instacart, one of the more popular delivery services, is just one of the many we use, and it is by no means cheap.

Another way I’ve become reliant on the Internet is through food and travel. Seeing my loved ones has been nearly impossible given they live in different states, and many states closed their borders to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Now, we use websites, such as DoorDash, to deliver food from restaurants that do not allow customers to sit down to eat. Even worse than that, I can remember my mom receiving a call from my grandmother saying that my aunt Cathleen had died after contracting Coronavirus. No one could go to her funeral because she lived in a different state. My entire family was crushed, and even though we saw each other over video, it wasn’t the same as comforting and seeing each other in person.

Many people, including myself, favor staying in and using technology over going out because masks, a type of personal protective equipment, have been such a nuisance to wear. I’d rather stay inside my house, playing online games and breathing easy as opposed to venturing outside my house to go to a bowling alley where I cannot. It’s the little things that make an already monumental issue worse. Masks may keep me safe while in public, but I don’t have to use them if I stay inside so that is what I usually do. However, this has been to my detriment because, while I may be able to see others’ social lives on social media, it’s not the same as experiencing life for myself.

Overall, navigating this new, online world during Covid-19 has been trying. Of course, the Internet is a substitute to experiencing real life in person , but it is an inadequate substitute. The intimacy of a computer screen is hollow in the place of a hug’s intimacy. For now, this online world will have to suffice, but that does not mean it is truly worthy; it simply means that it is all that is currently available. Until the curfews vanish, borders and restaurants reopen, and masks become optional, this online world is my world, and I will navigate it to the best of my ability.

Vote for Le’Dajha

A Unique Purpose for Social Media

by Savannah Bidlingmaier

When the first COVID-19 lockdown occurred I had been living in a foreign province for six months as a volunteer Missionary and all that I had to perform proselyting and community service with was my phone. If someone had told me that I would be spending the first year of the COVID-19 working on a team of Social Media Leaders during my volunteer service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I would not have believed it. I had spent the first quarter of my eighteen month, fulltime Missionary service doing the vast majority of proselyting and community service in person. Now that had drastically altered with the lockdown of Ontario. Missionaries had used social media before the lockdown, though in limited ways, such as posting listings for free Bibles on Facebook Marketplace. However, a month into the isolation restrictions a new, Missionary-led social media initiative was put into action worldwide by the leaders of the Church.

This project has the purpose of giving individuals the opportunity to learn more about the beliefs of members of the Church and provide free service in the community, such as English language tutoring. The first step was to create Facebook Pages for every major city in Ontario. It was a whirlwind of online training meetings and reading of resources for the first few weeks. I distinctly recall receiving a Chromebook for the first time which was to enable me to set up the Facebook Pages my Missionary partner and I were in charge of. Each Social Media Leader was to supervise the management of one to three Facebook Pages. A few of these would be in a language other than English for the purpose of reaching certain members of the Ontario community. We trained the other Missionaries in our respective areas on how to effectively manage them. The superintending of the pages done by Social Media Leaders entails several aspects of responsibility, including: facilitating the creation of Christian-themed posts; running and analyzing the results of ads offering free services; monitoring the quality of the communication between page-followers and Missionary page-moderators; as well as gathering and reporting the statistics to Mission and local, Congregational Leaders.

It is the most fulfilling way of using social media that I have ever experienced because it connected me with friends; fellow Missionaries; and members of the Ontario community in one of the most meaningful ways. This is because it is for the sole purpose of uplifting and enriching their lives through friendly association; virtual and in person service; as well as sharing a message of hope and peace centered on Christian principles. Since completing the volunteer Missionary service, I continue to be involved in this effort through sharing page content with friends and family as well as offering assistance to the Missionaries in my locality. The combination of a pandemic and a fulltime religious as well as philanthropic purpose, has uniquely taught me how social media can better the lives of individuals by providing connection in isolation and meaning in chaotic confusion.

Vote for Savannah

Obstacles In a Pandemic

by Amy Nguyen

I remember March 13th, 2020 was the last day of in-person school. This day was the Friday before Spring Break and I remember being so excited and stoked to get a break from school, but little did I know that the world would end up in a world-wide pandemic. I remember reading emails about spring break being extended for another week and being filled with excitement that I would have another week to stay home. But as soon as that week went by everyone started to get flooded by emails about the school year having to end on Zoom and Canvas. As soon as I would turn on the news or go on social media all everyone talked about was how schools were going to continue online. When I started online classes for the remainder of the school year, there was a lot of confusion and questions. I remember kids would use the function on Zoon to raise their hand and ask “Will we ever go back to school?” teachers would answer with uncertainty. March 2020 was when reality hit students all over the world that there was going to be a new normal to adapt to.

Navigating in an online world everyday whether that was for school or even to socialize with friends was for sure a tough thing to get used to. I remember coming back to the first day from our extended spring break and having to remember that I can’t leave the house for school because of the fear of catching the virus. I would wake up, sit down at my desk and wonder if there was an assignment posted on Canvas or if my teachers have sent a message. It was hard because some days I wouldn’t hear from some of my teachers and would start to wonder if we even have school that day. And even if they posted an assignment online it was hard to find the assignment through our devices because no one was used to it yet. Every night my friends and I would make the effort to catch up and FaceTime each other, but even that didn’t feel like enough. Being away from the ones you loved was the toughest obstacle for me during the start of the pandemic.

As the new school year came around the corner the first day of school was rough. The realization that we would all be online for the next couple of months was a dread to think about. When I started to receive emails from my new teachers about the different Zoom codes for each class it was overwhelming. The difference between the last school year to the start of a new school year was that now Zoom was mandatory. Every morning I dread getting up from bed and walking 3 steps to start the Zoom meetings. Although I was still a diligent student and still did all of my assignments on time, it was still hard to navigate where the work was and having to constantly stare at a screen for multiple hours a day. Online school for sure had its obstacles. And although we all had to adapt as a nation, starting my Senior year, which was supposed to be filled with fun memories, didn’t start off as I would’ve wished.

Vote for Amy

Struggles Navigating Online Education and Life During COVID-19

by Evelyn Domsalla

A new normal has approached us, and it has many of us confused and scared for the future. Nobody likes change, especially changes they did not ask for. Navigating the online world post-COVID-19 has been a challenge. My university had moved to remote learning when news of COVID-19 had reached the public eye. This type of online learning was significantly harder for me to focus on than in person classes. I am also a rural student, meaning my internet connection, and availability to efficient service decreased heavily. All of this, plus the inconsistent usage of online portal tools, has caused great distress in terms of online learning. The online world had become the home to all my social interaction and academic learning.

I am a rural student, and it had been difficult for me to engage fully with my education because of internet connectivity issues causing Zoom® to not fully functional. Many professors also lived in rural areas, causing poor connection on both ends of the streams. I once tried to host a Zoom® call for a group project in my Writing Composition Class and it crashed twice. I had to ask another group member to host the call instead. During Zoom® lectures, it would lag because of inefficient ping. Sometimes I could not complete a lecture for the day. This had caused me to lose information important to understanding the class material.

The academic portal we had used to host the classes also came with additional problems. Many assignments and grade updates had different places for different teachers. Many teachers would use the calendar app to post assignments, while others used the feed and post function to allow everyone to know when they will be available. Some even ignored both and relied on the Syllabus for the traditional calendar. To communicate to teachers, email had become the standard. This form of communication happened more often than any other semesters prior, it was a replacement for me traditionally going up to them at the end of class. Professors did not have the time to send personalized emails to each of their students, so many chose impersonal brief overviews of a subject either in the beginning or end of the Zoom® lecture.

Over time, I had become depressed and lost a lot of the motivation I once felt for school and socializing because of the isolating nature of government mandated quarantines. To cope with the stress and strain of these problems, I would play Dungeon and Dragons with my friends through online programs like DnDBeyond® and Roll20™. The tabletop game worked as a way for me to distract from the stress and was one of the few fulfilling sources of remote socialization.

These were my experiences navigating through the online world during COVID-19. I have learned my own ways to cope and adapt to these additional issues; they are still burdening. Remote learning effects some students differently than others, and while it should be available for students who benefit from this model, we should also pay attention to the many people who have opposite effect.

Vote for Evelyn

Texting is Not Talking

by Ashlee Henrie

The very thing that supposedly connects us all, has never been more isolating. It is often mentioned how our world is more connected than ever. With the click of a button, a text can be sent, a picture posted, an article released, a news broadcast viewed. By simply tapping on a screen an update is received whether it be about people, current events, or newfound knowledge. Yet, with the introduction of the pandemic, I have come to realize that what we know as amazing technological advances have actually become our greatest mental and emotional downfalls as humans.

Communication online is not the same, however we treat it as such. Making phone calls, sending instant messages, emailing, and posting and commenting on social media is not human interaction. These methods of communication are merely inadequate substitutes for what we need as humans to remain socially aware and mentally and emotionally fit. As someone who has always relied on the importance of face-to-face conversation, the pandemic has proven to be quite the challenge. No matter how advanced the technology you use is, nothing can replace speaking to someone in person. There is something to be said for the raw, unaltered sound of a person’s voice, the emphasis placed on certain words, their tone, pacing, the inflection of their voice and how it changes when they are talking about something they love. There is beauty in facial expressions and body language. Learning to read someone and the way they carry themselves during conversation establishes a connection that cannot be created through an electronic device. As we were driven into quarantine, more phone and video calls were made because even a slightly altered video and voice is better than nothing. We crave human interaction but social media and texting was not cutting it anymore.

Even though online communication has provided a substitute for conversation by allowing immediate responses, it will never be the same. Among the many shortcomings of online communication, there is no physical aspect. As a very affectionate person, this has caused a great deal of difficulty for me to communicate. Physical touch is a means of connection that speaks for itself and enhances verbal conversation. With the intense emotions that everyone has experienced during the pandemic, the lack of physical contact has not helped. Online communication eliminates the opportunity for the growth of mental and emotional awareness that comes through human touch. Humans need physical reassurance, and words on a screen can only do so much. Although, of course physical contact is unadvised for health safety, online communication platforms have done significant damage to these types of conversations even before the pandemic hit. Then, once we were stuck alone, our cravings for human interaction intensified. It was no longer a matter of not wanting to talk in person, hug someone, high five them, or shake their hand. It was a matter of not being able to. Not having the option creates a desperation that can only be subsided through in person, physical conversation.

We no longer know how to express ourselves in person. We read emojis better than facial expressions. We understand abbreviations better than the meaning behind the words. We converse in LOLs and OMGs rather than genuine meaningful conversation because we all know, it just is not the same.

Vote for Ashlee

Time, My Most Cherished Gift

by Annika Pierre Michel

My experience navigating in an online world was unwavering. There were unusual times of event conflict, where I would have to attend one or the other; however, that was to be expected. Navigating in an online world positively affected me. The most important one is time. As I see it, there is so much time saved throughout the day. For instance, I no longer drive to school. In my previous life, most things were generally routine. A night of sleep, a drive after school, a load of laundry, a hot bath, a cup of tea, and it goes on. After certain years, these things fall into my category of averageness. Although it becomes a sense of boredom and repetition, this weariness and repetition are the inspirations for my creations. This time and flexibility allowed by the online world during the coronavirus urged me to plan, organize, analyze, and particularly create. I strive to appreciate my daily activities as often as I can.

This has opened me to an appreciation for ideas, people, and things. Perhaps I also get inspired by not what I know, but by what I do not know. As I glance at the starry night sky, staring at the incomprehensible–the infinite space above me, I experience an overwhelming awareness of how little I know. It reminds me of the unclarity of life. It proves to me that what I think I know is probably wrong. -Richard Feynman said that “Nobody ever figures out what life is about, and it does not matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough”. At the base of almost everything, the conclusion is we do not know. The reason I sleep and dream remains a mystery. People are fascinating; I can’t help but appreciate their creativity. The little moments make me excited and the mistakes become less significant.

To answer the question, navigating online has been hectic, busy, and confusing. It has been an experience of waiting an hour on a phone call, getting an email response after 5 days, not understanding my statistics class, watching excessive Tiktok videos, and much more. However, I have been able to generate ideas like never before. Often my inspirations are random thoughts, memories, illusions, or simply something that I do not know. I wonder if my inspirations are nothing, somehow through me, they become everything. I wonder if I create art by living through it.

I believe that this creativity impacts a great part of my future. This ability allows me to take risks, to be open-minded. It permits me to reveal my inhibitions. This side of me helps me approach situations from many perspectives. I see things differently and better deal with uncertainty. I have become vulnerable to share my art and accept that some of my creations may never see light again. Most importantly it improved my health and life, provided relaxation and serenity; it filled my life with positive emotions such as love, forgiveness, joy, and hope. This is my experience living and navigating in an online world.

Vote for Annika

Transformation of My Experience in the Online World

by Sara Mohamed

It was my first year after achieving my goal of studying abroad as a girl from a developing country. I was very excited and full of energy to get more involved in community engagement, meeting new people, knowing about other cultures, and adventurous new things. I remember that day when I read an email from my university about switching to online learning, closing most of the on-campus facilities, and canceling all the events and gatherings. For a few minutes, my brain seemed like stopped working. I tried to think of how this could affect my life and dreams; however, I failed. As an international student who was chosen for a scholarship award from one of the best universities after working so hard and facing many challenges, it was tough to digest that. All my energy and excitement changed to disappointment. Everyone was recommended to return home if possible. I couldn’t return to my country and be with my family during that hard time as the borders were closed. The campus that was full of students, all of a sudden, becomes nearly empty. I found myself isolated and alone. There were plans that I had made for my time in my university; suddenly, that dream was gone. There were still many things -like joining a software development club, volunteering off-campus, trying hiking, and skating with friends- I didn’t have the chance to cross off my list.

After experiencing these feelings of isolation, disappointment, and powerlessness, I decided to make the best I can from my time during the pandemic. I focused more on my academics. The transition to online classes was not too bad; however, it was challenging to stay motivated. I was in contact with my family and friends, which gave me the support I needed to overcome these feelings. I tried to provide as much support as I can to all the people I know. I found that others are in a much worse situation than me, people dying every day, people who have health concerns, and those who lost their jobs. Knowing that made me feel guilty for feeling bad and helped me from feeling that my experience abroad was stolen. I started to think from a different perspective about the changes. For example, I told myself that despite missing the in-person lectures and seeing that online learning is less effective, some universities in developing countries couldn’t offer a good online learning system. Many students struggle a lot with that and could be one of them. I told myself that I should be thankful and trying to help others whenever I can. I have made new plans with the available options. I found many online opportunities like hackathons, events, and conferences that would require traveling if they were in-person and now available online for all people. I have decided to take advantage of these opportunities and make my experience in the online world during the pandemic good as possible.

My experience in the online world becomes better as now I’m more comfortable with my classes in the online form, even with missing having them in-person with friends. Also, the accessibility of many opportunities helped me in my professional and personal development and made me closer to my dreams in spite of the pandemic.

Vote for Sara

Online Education During The Coronavirus Pandemic

by Benjamin Williams

During the Coronavirus pandemic, I feel that the most important thing that students were able to take away was adaptation. In 2020, it seemed like world changing news was coming up every other week. Students needed to do their best to be prepared for the unexpected at all times, and to be flexible. During the spring 2020 semester, the amount of times my college had changed their coronavirus plan had everyone’s heads spinning. In the span of three weeks, I went from having in person classes as normal, to being on spring break, to being on spring break for another week, to being online for the foreseeable future. The amount of changes myself and my peers had to endure were astounding.

At the height of the quarantine during the pandemic, students needed to learn to adapt to only mainly having themselves to rely on when it comes to school. No longer was there a teacher or professor in front of you to teach you something in a hands on learning environment, they were on your screen. It became much easier to convince oneself to skip a class that met online, rather than one that met in person. It was also easier to get distracted. A lot of these things shook up the entire learning environment.

Not even limiting the discussion to the school environment, students’ social interactions were limited as well. At first, it seemed scary that I would not be able to see many of my friends for an indefinite amount of time. Then, online developments such as group voice chat, various trendy video games, and watching films online made us all closer than ever. I can speak the same for many other peers that I have had conversations with.

Additionally, students were given much more time during quarantine due to the outside world being temporarily closed. I, for one, got very used to the excess time. Everyone that I had spoken with had their sleeping schedules completely in shambles, and even one of my friends is still trying to recover his sleep schedule from the impact of quarantine. When quarantine began to loosen up as summer came, and eventually the fall, it was time to start having to schedule on terms that were not necessarily one’s own. Many students learned the skill of time management around this time, myself included.
Some people look at the coronavirus quarantine as a period of wasted time, but I know that myself and many other students looked at it as a period of self growth, as well as learning to adapt to what the world has to bring. This has made students more resilient than ever, and I am excited for the future that these people bring.

Vote for Benjamin

Unpredicted Isolation

by Maggie McInnis

I remember my last day of high school as a senior, thinking we’d be able to come back. We crossed our fingers for that announcement that school would be closed to get those few extra days of sleep, not realizing that this would be a pandemic that would cause intense isolation for the next year. We went from talking with our peers, meeting up after classes to catch up about our days to hearing the urgency of our school to stay home away from each other. The online environment was designed to just finish the class to earn the credit. Motivation decreased immensely. I waved from my car to my fellow classmates of 13 years because we were told we couldn’t be together. Our diplomas were handed to us through our car window with our cords in a plastic bag. This was beyond everyone’s control and no one knew how to wrap their minds around the matter. Life was changing and I didn’t know how to have closure with any part of it. My best friends were moving a thousand miles away and we couldn’t see each other. Instead, we compromised and skateboarded outside, making sure to keep arms length. We’d have sword fights with brooms, but be careful to not touch each other’s brooms. When it came to school starting back up, my first year of college was in the comfort of my room. What once was excitement for meeting new people in the college environment turned into anxiety from loneliness. There wasn’t much to look forward to besides zooming strangers for a few hours a day. Eventually, my days seemed the same and I found myself slipping into this unmotivated mindset. Forcing myself to get dressed for the day allowed me to feel more accomplished for the day, propelling me to perform better. Eventually, I established a rhythm that allowed me to perform well in the online environment. My grades turned out to be the highest ever as I stayed focused and motivated throughout my first year of college. The learning curve came with its anxious moments and its’ unmotivation, however, it showed me that I had potential to be a stronger student to work towards my degree.

Vote for Maggie

An Unknown Feeling

by Ethan Price

Navigating in an online world during the coronavirus pandemic was a unique experience and one where I saw myself falling out of my comfort zone. It didn’t happen right away as I had attended my first college semester online with no problems. I was able to maneuver and understand how to use the required campus software and I was proud of myself for being able to navigate and be successful in my classes. However, that was not the case for the start of my second semester. I guess it started because I wasn’t able to communicate or be socially active with my friends. All of a sudden, I had become depressed to the point where I neglected my school work for two months. This was very uncharacteristic of me to do, and this ended up being very high risk with the possibility of it becoming a slippery slope of me losing my scholarships, damaging my GPA and overall affecting my education. Usually, I’m a very outgoing person and I have never experienced any mental strains or depressions my whole life, so depression was an unusual feeling. I was depressed to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed for most mornings and the thought of even going to the bathroom seemed to be a journey in itself. Over time my homework dramatically increased to the point where when I did recover, I had only a week to do two months of work for three classes.

Fortunately, the help I received was a hard journey and the road to it was even tougher, with the stigma of asking for help from a professional and sharing your burdens with someone you barely know. However, it did eventually help me get back to my former self and I was ready to accept the consequences of my actions. There is no answer on why I took this risk or why depression manifested inside of me, but I did my best to complete the work for all three classes and emailed the professors and the Dean of Students Office to inform them about my predicament. They were all very helpful towards me and they granted me the permission to turn in all missing assignments without a late penalty and I ended up receiving two A’s and one B in those three courses. What I was able to learn from that experience is that although I managed to save my grades, it’s important not to give up and ask for help from people who have the tools necessary to support you and guide you. I am very grateful that I was able to overcome my depression and that I was also able to learn that I have the strength to accomplish anything that’s in my path. I now understand that sometimes you do just need to take it one step at a time.

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The Unanticipated Year

by Rosalyn Ficklin

My experience navigating in an online world during the coronavirus pandemic was frustrating while also terrifying. In truth, 2020 was not “the year” that everyone predicted. It started a crazy turn of events. The world was not prepared for this, especially me.

Namely, the year of 2020 was my high school senior year. And I was so excited that I would be graduating and moving on to something greater. I had been looking forward to walking down the aisle and shaking the hands of the teachers and professors that have taught me so much over the years. In fact, I was ready to receive my diploma and celebrate with my friends. The virus outbreak originated right around my spring break, also the senior prom was scheduled close after. Unfortunately, once the coronavirus spread, my spring break was elongated indefinitely. My school would not allow students to return afterwards. So, my senior prom and graduation were both cancelled. All the events that occurred were unexpected. I was not prepared for any of it. Many people were dying, chaos spread, and people were scared. And, I had no idea what to do.

Due to the virus, California schools had strict health rules, and enforced schools to have classes online. Well, since no one really knew what was going on, there were no online classes yet, so students would just email the homework to their teachers, and they would grade it through Turnitin. Since I had always attended public school, I finally experienced what homeschool was like when the pandemic hit. In truth, it seemed like fun at the beginning, but I started to miss my friends and think about the future.

When I found out that I would not be able to walk down and have my relatives and friends see me graduate, it was hard to swallow. Luckily, my school cleverly came up with a solution. The class of Vanden High School 2020 would drive up and get their diploma on video, and then all the videos would be collected into one big graduation video. Though I was upset that I would not be getting what I always dreamed of, it was great seeing my friends drive up, receive their diploma, and wave to the camera. Whenever I think back to the graduation I never got, I remember what my dad once said to me, “Look at it this way, you are the only one who can say that I graduated during a pandemic, not everyone from the previous years can say that. You graduated in a unique year.”

Overall, the coronavirus has affected my life in a presumably negative way until I changed my perspective and started overcoming the hurdles that the virus had brought me.

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Pandemic Learning: When Home Becomes School

by Chase Jones

This pandemic altered my life in myriad ways. It impacted school and family especially, in terms of the blurring of lines between school and home life. Sometimes I can’t get schoolwork done because of “home” work. Sometimes I can’t get “home” work done because of schoolwork.

Being at home because school shifted to virtual-only classes increased my family responsibilities exponentially. My grandma, who lives with me, is an invalid due to a rare, chronic pain condition. Since I’m home all day now while my mom works, I help my grandma with tasks like cleaning her room, emptying her portable toilet, and massaging on a special ointment for her when it’s too painful for even the sheets to cover her feet. I also help watch my 5-year-old brother. These things were often difficult because I was also experiencing an extended medical issue resulting in daily challenges ranging from physical pain to adverse reactions to my medications.

Virtual classes were convenient because they eliminated my normal, hour-long walk, bus, and train commute to school – that’s one-way! I was grateful for asynchronous learning on days I wasn’t feeling well or was enduring countless interruptions from my family responsibilities. I didn’t have to struggle through a lecture just to keep from missing class. Most of the online testing was user-friendly, except the class where the professor wanted the camera aimed at my hands the whole time, making it hard to see the problems on the screen.

However, navigating the pandemic online became harder as I began to miss being “connected.” There were no more lunches with my friends, catching up with former teachers in the hallways between classes, or unwinding in the library. I missed having study groups with actual people instead of the avatars of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t turn on their cameras.

I had taken for granted all the routine parts of my day. As it turns out, the important part of “the high school experience” was being able to connect with different types of people all the time. The main reason I’m looking forward to a hopefully, Covid-free college experience in the fall is the opportunity to collaborate, innovate and connect with people from all walks of life – different races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, incomes, household composition, geography, talents and interests – MASKLESS AND IN PERSON! I can’t wait to share a pizza with my classmates while having a late-night study session for my mid-term exam!

Although this past year of being cooped up in the house with no senior memories to be made has truly been, to date, both the worst and most memorable of my life, I was still able to grow as an individual and a future leader. The sheer mind over matter perseverance I used to cope with home, school, and COVID-stress has created the type of fortitude and resiliency I can draw upon to face life’s future challenges. I can perform under pressure. I can pivot and shift to respond to changing dynamics. However, I also learned about the importance of self-care. While it’s great to be able to experience personal growth during tumultuous times, some days the best use of your energy is for getting out of bed and binge watching Hoarder’s on Netflix while eating a bowl of cereal.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with COVID-19

by Justin Agudah

If someone were to ask me right now how the COVID-19 pandemic affected my life as a young adult, I would not know what to say. There are so many thoughts, emotions, and feelings I have, filled with negativity, positivity, and neutrality born from the coronavirus pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, my life was as average as you could get. I was experiencing my first year as a college freshman at the University of Missouri in Columbia, going to all my classes (for the most part) to take notes and apply what I have learned, socializing with other people on campus, going to campus events, such as career fairs, movie nights, concerts, and completing all of my assignments on time, usually the day before it was due. It was a simple life, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. Then, someday between late February and early March in 2020, the students of the University of Missouri receive an announcement that the school will be transitioning all of its courses from a physical setting to a virtual setting and that the school will be closing earlier than it was supposed to. The announcement shocked a lot of students, including me. Many students, including my friends, were sad that the last semester of their freshman year was ending in a way they did not expect. On the other hand, I was mostly indifferent to the announcement and what it meant for me. Ever since I entered college as a freshman, the only things I had on my mind were getting my bachelor’s degree and securing a full-time job by the time I graduated. Although making friends and hanging out with them are important aspects of college life, I did not allocate a lot of time or energy towards these things. Also, as someone who tends to have a positive outlook on life, I began realizing that this announcement had a lot of positive outcomes for me: First, with all of the university’s courses shifting to a virtual setting, I was able to fly back to my home in Texas, which meant I would no longer have to share a room with anyone, have my own bathroom, have access to my own kitchen, and see my family again. Second, I was able to see my friends again and drive wherever I wanted to go because my car was in Texas. Third, with all the courses being virtual, I was able to get more sleep than usual since I no longer needed to walk to the physical setting of my lecture, discussion, or lab. At first, it seemed like everything was going to be alright, despite the severity of the situation, but eventually, the sad and troublesome reality of the COVID-19 pandemic would change my life. The amount of loneliness and stress that I was coping with made the initial motivation I had to get all A’s decline significantly. Instead of aiming for excellence, I aimed for mediocrity, which felt unfair to my parents, the people who are taking out loans for my educational expenses so that I can graduate. Overall, navigating the world virtually during the pandemic has made it difficult to stay focused, but at the end of this bleak tunnel is a hopeful light.

Vote for Justin

Zoom University

by Angelica Osorio

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

“You’re on mute! We can’t hear you!”

These were the two most used phrases while attending Zoom University. While I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy myself a laptop at the start of online distance learning, I acknowledge that not everyone was as fortunate.

My life pre-covid consisted of working three jobs, going to school full time, and being involved in many different clubs and organizations on campus while also holding officer or leadership positions within them. I was never home, I pretty much lived on campus, at work or in my car. Transitioning from that losing 2 out of my 3 jobs, working online, going to school online, and being involved as a student online was a major transition for me. I am the opposite of a homebody, I was never home and I used social interaction and people’s energy to keep me energized and going. Having to go from never being home to only being home and staring at a screen from dawn until past dusk was so difficult. You can no longer ask questions and raise your hand, because at least for me, all of my professors only held zoom classes to explain where to find the course materials and what the homework was but all learning was expected to happen on your own time through reading material provided and going over the powerpoint slides. Group work became even more difficult and learning paused and transitioned to meeting deadlines.

Half way through my third year, the remainder of my college education and experiences including graduation was taken from right under me as I stayed trapped inside my house staring through a computer screen. The moment you fantasize about, commencement, throwing your cap in the air and receiving your diploma, gone. That moment that you work your whole academic career to be able to graduate from college turns into a 30 second drive through ceremony. My graduation cap was supposed to say “My parents crossed the border so I could cross this stage” but I couldn’t even write that because it didn’t happen and so it didn’t feel right. I’m glad we adjusted the best we could to a worldwide pandemic, but online learning was no easy feat and it robbed so much from so many.

Also, at home it gets complicated. Being a Latina, at home you are not a student first even through online learning, you are first and foremost a daughter and a member of the family so if your family needs something you do it even if it messes with your academics but at the same time. God forbid your grades drop or you will face the consequences of not living up to the perfect Latina daughter standards.

Overall I can say it wasn’t easy, but it got done.

Want to hear a joke?
Q: What do you call a doctor who finished their degree online due to the pandemic?
A: A Google Doc

Vote for Angelica

COVID-19 throughout 2020

by Ashleigh VanDahm

Towards the end of my junior year spring break, Arizona went into lockdown. Now, at first this was a relief because this meant I had time for some mental stress release. At the time of the spike of COVID-19 I was also dealing with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, when I was seeking treatment options, it was also during the time everything started online. This meant my new intensive out-patient group was only online, and never in person. I believe while trying to navigate; school, 9-hours a week of therapy and an eating disorder is what led to a complete downfall. I started going to these meetings, three-times a week, and was introduced to so many other people that are now my closest friends. Facing your own mental health alone is hard. Especially when there is a pandemic going on. Over the next month I started believing the only way to come out of this pandemic happy is if I look like a model at the end of this. I started over-exercising, calorie counting and restricting my food intake. My treatment team was not aware, as I was lying to them. All because I was surrounded by the online world. It was so ironic when everyone also became “fitness focused” on social media. People were celebrating losses of 15+ pounds a month. That is not healthy. Except it didn’t matter, because it “looked good”. I wanted to now be like them. 5 months later and everything was still online, I found ways around therapy over zoom. I then fell to my lowest point. In August of 2020, I was admitted into Rosewood Ranch Center for Eating Disorders. This in-patient treatment center was my “home” for 94 days. I believe people, including me, were not prioritizing both mental and physical health during the pandemic. Everyone wants to be healthy and fit, to look good, but skip over the mental aspect. I think we have hit so many brick walls while trying to express this. If anything, the online world introduced us to something new almost every day and my navigation has been extremely bumpy. Positive, and negative, the internet opened up many new opportunities for everyone. The internet is not to blame, but only a fraction of the problem.

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Bitten by a shark

by Maina Atluri

Navigating the online world amidst the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic was like having a nice boat day at the beach, putting on a life jacket, then being thrown into the ocean with the life jacket, getting bitten by a shark, then told to swim back to shore.

At first, it was easy. Most college students had an extended spring break, during which they were able to catch up with friends, visit family, relax a little. Then classes started and the transition was slow, both teachers and students were figuring out how to navigate zoom university together. During this time we were all enjoying the boat ride, eating snacks, enjoying the ocean views. This period of time changed the way students and teachers interact. These conversations, discussions, meetings were much more intimate and impactful and for a brief period of time, it brought everyone closer together.

Then quarantine happens. Everyone is given a life jacket to prepare for whatever is to come. In the face of the ocean the life jacket will help, but only so much. We were given a life jacket to prepare us for the millions of people who were about to die, we were given a life jacket to face isolation, we were given a life jacket to face the new era of the civil rights movement, we were given a life jacket to not only enter in the arena of politics but face the political chaos during the presidential debate, and then we were given a life jacket to comfort unimaginable loss that the human population felt as one.

With this life jacket, we were expected to swim back to shore. We had to continue to excel in our classes while simultaneously keeping up a world that was rapidly deteriorating. We had to suffer the losses of our friends and family from all around the world while still waking up in our bedroom and logging on to our 8 am zoom class. The current of the ocean kept beating and carrying us away from shore, but don’t worry our assignments and projects were still waiting back for us at the shore. The life jacket kept us afloat but failed to give us the strength and motivation to swim back.

Then, the shark comes, and since it is facing its own battle of its home being relentlessly destroyed it bites of our legs. It takes our support system. Our friends, family, hobbies, dreams taken away by a virus. A virus that people believe is a hoax even after watching millions of people die. Now our legs are cut off and we are still expected to swim back to shore. Oh but don’t worry we have wellness days and links to telehealth professionals ready to assist with any medical emergencies.

Though we were given the resources we needed to succeed such as time off, and expansion of various mental health and medical resources we lacked human encouragement and comfort. We didn’t get to celebrate birthdays or graduations, or new life. Instead, we celebrated vaccine rollouts and flattening the curve. In the fight against the ocean current, we lost the ability to connect to what it means to be human. To be compassionate, understanding, and help one another swim back to shore.

Vote for Maina

Working From Home and Online Classes In the Pandemic

by Megan Howell

When my university announced that we would be finishing he semester online in March 2020 My whole world was flipped upside down. I work on campus for my university and attend on campus classes so switching to both online classes and learning how to do my job remote were big challenges.

I work in a customer service capacity and it was frustrating for both the students we serve and the office in which I work to have limited contact when we usually meet in person to help them. One thing that was challenging for me was that I was spending full days online staring at a computer screen and I started to get really painful headaches. Finding remedies for that was something I had never thought to look for before the pandemic. Blue light blocking glasses were a big help for that.

I ended up having to pay a large fee to leave my off campus housing since I live away from home but could no longer attend school or participate in the various activities I am apart of. To say I was caught off guard would be an understatement.

Living at home was a challenge. Finding a quiet place to attend my online classes while 2 of my siblings did the same and my mom worked from home was difficult each day. Things for working remote were also changing frequently so some days I would need to meet with students on zoom and other days I would spend hours reading and responding to emails.

The days became pretty monotonous. I would sit in my bedroom at my desk from 8AM to 6PM doing my online classes and working only taking breaks to stretch my legs and eat.

Once I was finally able to return to campus for work, even though my classes are still online my days became much easier. The hardest part of quarantining for me was being lonely and cooped up. I felt incredibly isolated, so getting to go to work and socialize with my co-workers was a much needed change of scenery.

Overall it was a big learning curve switching my whole life to be online. I learned a lot about how to combat eye strain and fatigue from sitting for long periods of time. I also learned a lot about how to maximize efficiency in my job and taking time for myself.

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My Online World

by Keely Alexa Bullock

The rising online world has been a huge topic of recent years but not as much as 2020. This is year we will always remember as the Coronavirus or online school year. This pandemic struck smack down in the middle of my senior year of High School. At first it was great to be able to stay home, sleep in, and have little school work, but after a few weeks things began to change. When news first came that there would be no traditional high school graduation, senior prom, etc, the intensity of last years impacts began to set in. “Online School” then turned into “Zooming” everything. The online world became our only world while millions of households became quarantined to their own four walls. Everything was done online. Work, school, and even grocery shopping became online tasks. I remember when two of my high school teachers informed all of their students that everyone would receive a “W” in place of their letter grades that we had been working so hard for. I believe that moment was when the laziness started. This laziness continued through the following year when attendance was taken online, but no real grades were being taken. Children are still struggling with this now, more than six months later. In my case, I can learn through online platforms just fine. I have actually taken online college classes for more than three years now since I was enrolled in a dual-enrollment college program with a local community college. That said, I had already previously learned that I am good at online schooling. Since I knew this about myself, I knew I would be able t successfully navigate my way through a completely online freshman year of college for the 2020-2021 school year. I have seen some of my peers experiences with online school who have not been as lucky as I have. That is why I have shared with some of my friends and peers ways that I am able to successfully navigate myself through this new “online world.” Some of my suggestions are never be scared to email a professor and ask questions as long as you have read any directions thoroughly, and to always complete online assignments at least one-day early so that in a case of technology malfunctions, you are already set. Procrastination can truly be a college student’s downfall.

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by Emre Tichelaar

In today’s new normal, the benefits of technology are very evident. The Coronavirus pandemic has led us all to social distance, however technology over the past two decades has brought us closer than ever. Families across the world, across the state or even in another room inside their house use modern technologies to communicate regularly and efficiently. I believe with employers being forced to adopt the working from home model, a lot of businesses will be more lenient to allowing their employees to work from home in the future. The technology that makes this possible will allow things such as parents spending more time with their children and disabled workers to still contribute to their team. This is a benefit to society because more present parenting leads to children going up to achieve more. Less disabled individuals will be relying on government support as well. These two things are only scratching the surface of the benefit that working from home technologies will provide society.

Going further, technology makes society more efficient. Video conferencing technologies, for example, has lessened the need for business travelers to fly across the world for meetings (not to mention better for the environment). However, we must be careful that we understand that video calls are not the same as in person interactions. This sort of thinking could become more and more prevalent as new generations grow up with the technology. For example, in the future a busy mother might misunderstand that spending time with her kids over a video call is vastly different from being there in person. This technology is not a replacement for in person interactions, it’s rather a tool to advance and supplement. If we keep this in mind, we can ensure that technology brings us closer, and not slowly further apart. Increasing the education we give in schools about things like this will go far.

Furthermore, we must understand that technology creates anonymity. Individuals whose identities are hidden are more prone to harassing others. According to Pew Research Center, roughly 41% of Americans have been harassed online. This number will only go up as society moves more and more into the cybersphere. The beauty of online anonymity is that authoritarian governments will be less able to track down individuals who speak out against them. However, online bullying and harassment must still be tackled in some way so we can ensure that the benefits to society are maximized. Advocating for individuals effected by online harassment and those who partake in the harassment to seek mental health counciling will go a long way in todays society.

On the other hand, proponents of technologies coming into the workplace say that they may replace jobs. According to the British Office for National Statistics, 70% of individuals in the UK are at risk of losing their jobs to automation over the next decade. To make sure automation benefits society in the most positive way without creating huge unemployment, we need to actively educate and inform those who may lose their jobs. If there is foresight into where else they can fit and provide in society, then they will have time to retrain in a new field. Overtime, society will benefit because there are more people providing more advanced labor versus easier tasks that can be automated.

All in all, the benefits of current technologies such as video conferencing and future ones such as robotic automation, far outweigh the benefit. This is especially true when education at all levels of life accompanies when new technologies are introduced.

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My Experience in the Covid-19-Related Online World

by Lluvia Hernandez Aguirre

Oh, geez.

I’m sure a lot of people right now can understand how much I have shared using only those two words.

Navigating the online world has been interesting. One of the main changes is that now, with almost everything, I look for sections with information about covid-19 restrictions. This includes operating hours, operating methods (in-person or virtual/appointment or walk-in), and much more.

Because of this virtual format, I have also gotten accustomed to not having to get up early and make myself presentable before my Zoom meetings that do not require me to have my camera on, which is most meetings. This is something that I think many people, particularly students, can relate to.

I have also noticed that the days are starting to blur together and I am not as aware of intervals of time, as I was pre-covid-19. This had also led me to feel tired all the time, as if I don’t get enough sleep or mental rest, which in turn diminishes my motivation to do very much.

Because of all that I have mentioned above, I don’t think that I’m necessarily “navigating” the new online world that has been created; instead, I feel like I am simply “getting by” in the online world.

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Social Media in the Era of the Coronavirus

by Khayan Jefferson

When the coronavirus pandemic effectively stopped the world in its collective tracks, the internet was my saving grace. It allowed me to stay in contact with friends even if I couldn’t physically see them and it kept me occupied when I ran out of books to read. I was constantly in contact with my friends and my older sister who still lived in Arizona through social media. I kept them updated on the random things that were taking place during the mandatory quarantine. It allowed me to get groceries without having to leave my house.

However, my constant consumption of the internet dulled my spirits as well. Every time I would open my phone, someone was honoring a family member or friend who had died of COVID. The class of 2020 would be lamenting the loss of all the celebrations that they had earned through high school. People were discussing how hard the separation from their families had been on them and how their mental health had wasted away. It was a dark space and it put me in a dark place. When added to the around-the-clock coverage of the death toll, it became harder and harder to be on the internet. I would spend time on Tik Tok for the majority of my social media intake because that was a space of laughs and positivity. No one wanted to rehash what was going on on the news and other social media sites.

Then, during the summer a string of attacks on unarmed black people happened. It was all over the news, Instagram feeds, and Twitter as well. As a young black woman, I felt scared. I was already paranoid about contracting a deadly disease and transmitting it to my family. By being reminded of the additional possibility that I could be attacked in the street simply for my skin color, I was downright terrified. I avoided being on the internet for longer than fifteen minutes at a time. When I was on the internet, I was signing petitions and boosting information in lieu of protesting. It was depressing and it drained me completely of my energy whenever I went over my self-imposed limit.

More recently, the internet has become a source of knowledge as opposed to entertainment. I use it for my online schooling and when I need relevant information. Since the summer, I am rarely on Instagram or Twitter for longer than twenty minutes. That time is enough to keep up with what’s going on in the lives of the people around me without being sucked into a negative spiral. However, I am grateful for the internet during the coronavirus pandemic. It allowed me to stay informed and stay in contact with people who I couldn’t see anymore.

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Truth in the Midst of the Pandemic

by Cameron Delgado

My online experience during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increasing distaste for how the internet has begun to affect our society’s sense of truth and objectivity. The emotionally charged lockdowns of the pandemic have progressively caused people to become increasingly susceptible to cash and attention grabs, along with subscribing to political polarity.

The beginning of the lockdown was mainly marked by panic, anger, and confusion, which increased the susceptibility of our nation to ever-present temptations and sly tricks. I recall viewing headlines with increasingly flashy language pop up, and I remember watching comments sections and forums become increasingly panicked. Our society, from the perspective of someone on the internet, was split into a “two-party system” of sorts, consisting of those who decided to become extremely fearful and rash and those who adamantly denied even the presence of the virus, downplaying the entirety of news as a “hoax.” Consequently, much conflict ensued. A battle between people who valued different aspects of their livelihood was brought forth. Nearly everything I saw was fueled by confirmation and belief biases, and I was recommended news that was so polar in nature that I began to question the validity of both sides. Why was it that both sides of news sources assured that they were preaching the truth, but they put forth such different agendas? Why was it that everyone separated so clearly in the midst of a pandemic? Human nature is my suspected reason. Is the pride of man is too great for us to set aside the difference in our views to find the whole truth, or is it something else? The previous questions were raised at the beginning of the pandemic.

By the supposed end of the pandemic, the visual of two long, winding roads passing through a sunbaked desert has become the image in my head. By now, the spark and fear of a new threat had seeped back into the metaphorical ground of the internet, and we are all left with a set of confusingly placed ideas to follow. Should one choose their beliefs based on what they would like to believe or what they believe to be true? Are a person’s true beliefs based on what they say, or what they act out? Both of the previous rhetorical questions have been raised as I look through the same forums and comments as before. I watched as some news stations slyly assured that they cared for us, but then intentionally instigated great anxiety and worry, and I watched as some, appealing to the opposite side, downplayed any inklings of severity. If a person was without an agenda, would they try to mold a scenario to tell that was anything other than the absolute truth? If they were only interested in facts, would they omit the buzzwords and fancy language to get to the real, actionable information? Sadly, I realized that nobody was going to do that for me. In fact, I should not have expected it of them. In the midst of the pandemic, I realized that my own preconceived biases also clouded the eyes that I thought were objective and that I should attempt to come to a conclusion only after I had compiled adequate evidence.

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Describe your experience navigating in an online world during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

by Bharat Raj Taneja

When COVID-19 or popularly known as Coronavirus dawned upon and infected civilization it affected everyone at an individual as well as the world at a global level. We had to stay home for preventive measures. This hit like an asteroid. Students were affected because they lost their one on one learning way. Teachers shifted online and students struggled to get along. Internet access was tough as I was kind of in a remote area. Due to COVID-19 things changed. Everybody knows expenses rise and earnings stay stagnant. Going out to buy food like vegetables and household products toughened as I had to go on a bicycle. I also decided to look for a part time job after the lockdown. Shop owners were not hiring due to social distancing measures. I was not aware of my privilege during these times until I started reading more articles about how millions of people cannot afford to pay their rent, and landlords are starting to send notices of violations. Rather than feel guilty and be passive about it, I chose to put my privilege into a sense of purpose: Donating to nonprofits helping those affected by COVID-19, continuing to support local businesses, and supporting businesses who are donating profits to those affected by COVID-19. According to the Washington Post, unemployment rose to 14.7% in April which is considered to be the worst since the Great Depression. Post-lockdown, It already felt like the world was being asked of us when the pandemic started and classes continued. High academic expectations were maintained even when students now faced the challenges of being locked down, often trapped in small spaces with family or roommates. Now, because of COVID-19, we have to accept life as the “New Normal.” Wearing a mask and following social distancing measures is a part of life that we have to accept.

A Little About Me:
My name is Bharat Raj Taneja. My Primary Goal for going to school is to make a positive impact in society for students just like me. I have two more goals, one is that I want to improve the quality of life of my family as I am a son of a single parent. And two is that one day I want to start a scholarship program to help students who are in dire need for it. So, I respectfully request you to please help me. Thanks! Whoever is reading this Have a Nice Day! Live life the fullest as you may never know what is around the corner for you!

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The Takeaway from Online Learning

by Laura Yim

The coronavirus pandemic brought a lot of changes to the entire world, but one change that every child and teenager has felt is definitely the effects of the pandemic on their education: in came online schooling, not entirely a foreign concept but definitely new to many, like me, who were used to traditional schooling.

The most significant takeaway that I believe students learned about online schooling from the pandemic is that education doesn’t have to be in one rigid format. More specifically, one can learn new concepts while being isolated from others. There doesn’t need to be a physical teacher, peers, or even books (thought having these factors would be beneficial in the experience garnered through learning). I feel that many students that have persevered through this time of hardship have realized that they are stronger than they thought, both mentally and physically. It’s not easy learning through screens and not having the ease of asking someone if there are uncertainties about the topic they’re learning, but looking back from where we are now in the timeline of the pandemic, we got through it (and we still are).

I believe that this experience can only help us for our future, setting us up for individual research and problem-solving on our own. Not to mention, technology is the future as more and more of the world gets turned into a digital counterpart; we have gained many soft skills in using and understanding technology alongside the main concepts taught in our classes through online learning.

Did we know how to set up and use virtual meetings before the pandemic? Did we know how to access course content and associated sites to realize that everything we’ve learned before in school could also have been done on the internet in merely a digital manner? Did we know how to collaborate with other students through the use of handy applications like Flipgrid and learn how to create videos, podcasts, and other virtual presentations? I’m sure many students would say no to these questions.

It’s easy to say that online learning has been nothing but terrible and that the only takeaway is that we have taken traditional schooling for granted, but what I see is that students have also gained so much from this unusual experience, and these learnings will help us far into the future as well.

Vote for Laura

The Digital Year

by Jesse Cook

Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges over the past year. My academic life as well as my social life were greatly impacted, and I had to adapt to a makeshift school structure. The transition to online school last spring was a challenge, but my teachers did a fantastic job helping us, addressing our individual concerns, and preparing us for the 2020 AP exams.

After the abrupt end of my junior year, many of my extracurricular activities were faced with a lot of unknowns. My speech and debate team was going through its second coaching change in as many years, and the format of competition for the upcoming season was unclear. Our league has hosted exclusively online tournaments this season, and our team has had to adjust to the new competition paradigm. I no longer spent my Friday evenings inside of a classroom or a lecture hall delivering my ten-minute oratory; instead, I would face a camera once every month and send a recording to be judged by somebody to whom I would never have the chance to introduce myself. The novices in our program have had the toughest year out of all of us. With no competition experience from past years, they didn’t know what to expect from a year of brand-new virtual competition. Many of them were excited to try new events and enter in debates, but they were understandably apprehensive about a forum nobody was familiar with. The other captains as well as myself did our best to lead the team forward and give everybody a reason to be excited for tournaments. At the beginning of this year, I helped set up online platforms so we could properly talk to each other, play games, and introduce ourselves to the novices. Even this year, I developed deep connections with people of different ages and personalities. I am a firm believer in camaraderie in any team, and it was important to our leadership to create that even if we couldn’t be together in-person.

Perhaps my most affected activity was the National Honor Society. My first year was spent focusing on community service and volunteer work around the Las Vegas area. I, along with the rest of the NHS officers, made plans during the summer involving the club in online-accessible volunteering that would still create a positive impact on our community in these trying times. At the beginning of this academic year, we organized an event in which all of our members recorded a clip thanking the continued efforts of healthcare workers. We compiled them into a video and sent it to hospitals in the Las Vegas valley. Overall, the pandemic has shown that our chapter of NHS is nothing short of resilient and adaptable. Even through an international lockdown, we still find ways of bettering our community. Each month, we introduce new means of volunteering from home. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and even the United Nations offer a plethora of opportunities to continue inspiring change and improvement in peoples’ lives. Even a service such as tutoring or food bank donations goes an incredible distance toward helping those around us through one of the most challenging years in our lifetimes.

Vote for Jesse

In front of a screen

by Micaela Lavado Cornejo

COVID-19, I think that it is one of he worst things that ever happened to me. Since I was a child, I used to do a lot of things; for example, dancing ballet, training track and filed, soccer or volleyball, attending to the Model of United Nations debats, studying new languages like English and Portuguese, or doing social services. I always liked to be doing something because every single moment in our lives helps us becoming the person who we are in the present. I truly believe that the base of our existence is to learn new things and to experience everything that we want.

As I was telling you, this pandemic really affected my routine, my “busy life” of a student in Peru. But it affected me in many other ways. I lost family, two really close uncles: Tio Maco and Tio Francisco. They two were special for me and the rest of my family, they were always making jokes, asking you “how are you”, but meaning it because they really cared, they always cared. I know that I am not the one who has lost someone special in this horrible pandemic and that really makes me feel hopeless. But at the end, we have to push through, fight and keep going. That is what humans do: survive.

Social media has been one factor that helped a lot of people to understand how is the modern world. And the technology has been truly important is this pandemic, and it has improving a lot of things in order to manage this new world. For example, Zoom has been my best partner in this situation, it has been by my side since the first week until now. It has been very useful and I think that is going to be part of the students lives for a very long time. We had to survive and we are doing it.

Vote for Micaela

Navigating through COVID-19

by Molly Patel

March 13th, 2020. The sudden coronavirus pandemic hit the United States hard. Hearing our 2020 president say the words “We are on a nation-wide lockdown” created fear and chaos. From that day on, my life has drastically changed. I am not sure if my life changed for the better or changed for the worse. I lost friends and family but at the same time I gained more friends and family.

The pandemic limited many opportunities and experiences for me. I had missed out on fun high school events like our prom dance. For the majority of the entire summer, I was socially distanced from my friends which tanked my mental health for multiple nights in a row. It was difficult for me to stay focused during online school because my motivation had dropped. I felt like I was not truly learning anything new which disappointed me. I was unable to continue my goal of obtaining 100+ volunteer hours for a platinum award I would receive at graduation. Instead, I had to settle for my 20+ volunteer hours for the Jefferson award. Entering the new school year, half of my friends were continuing online classes while the other half of my friends and I went back to in person school. I even missed out on our senior football season and senior homecoming dance. I had waited twelve years for the moment of receiving the best high school year of my life but due to the pandemic, it felt as if everything was ripped away from me.

On the other hand, I did gain many things out of the pandemic. Staying on my cell phone was one of the few ways I could keep myself entertained. I would get on social media apps, like for example, TikTok, and created some online friends who had the same interests as me. I also got to keep in touch with my school friends through facetime and text messaging apps and spend more time with my family by going on neighborhood walks outside. During the pandemic when restaurants were able to open up again, I pushed myself to get a job as a hostess at a local restaurant in my hometown. Now, I had created work friends and I felt confident making my own money. Also, I joined wrestlerettes for my school wrestling team with two of my best friends and we got to have a different kind of senior night which made up for losing the football senior night experience.

Overall, I would not change anything from this experience. Though it was hard at many times, the pandemic helped me in many ways for both my mental and physical health. My senior year has been a confusing and unpredictable experience but I am so grateful for my school for doing everything they can to help me and others navigating in an online world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vote for Molly

Scholarship Submissions 2020

Vote For The Best 2020 Scholarship Program Submissions

YuJa has launched our annual Scholarship Program to provide one lucky winner with a change to win $1,000 towards your college education. This year, we wanted to hear your thoughts on the steps we can take to ensure that the technology we develop benefits society.

Thank you to all of the participants for their submissions. Please share this link with your friends and family to vote for your favorite essay. Out of the three essays with the most votes, a winner will be chosen by us to win $1,000 towards your college education. 

You can view all of the essay submissions below and vote for the best submission in the poll at the bottom of the page. Voting ends on July 1st.

Steps to Ensure Technology Is Used Beneficially

By Hope Graham

     “81% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis (Perrin & Kumar 2019).” This proves that Americans rely heavily on technology. Consequently, Americans are using technology for everything and anything: to research how to do something, to take notes, or to even watch television. Technology has many positives but it also comes with its negatives: self-esteem issues and many hours spent (or wasted) on the device itself. Therefore, the steps that we can take to ensure the technology that we develop benefits society are to: create software that decreases self-esteem problems and decreases screen time usage.

     The decline of self-esteem in America is a growing issue especially due to the utilization of social media. “60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way (Silva 2017).” As a result of this, apps have been made to increase confidence levels. For example, the Thinkup app “uses your own voice to give you positive feedback and affirmations (2017).” While this app may be assisting in developing a better mindset, overall, it still won’t help how you feel when you go on Instagram or Facebook. A better solution than self-care apps would be to insert a type of filtration software into social media apps. Twitter has implemented a feature where a potentially inappropriate or offensive post is blurred out until you click that it is okay to see it. Furthermore, Instagram could have software that could do the same thing. For instance, Instagram could have software to track face posts (such as selfies) and blur out the photo until someone consents to see it. This way, people who are struggling with their self worth won’t see the Photoshopped, triggering images.

     “American adults spent about 3 hours and 30 minutes a day using the mobile internet in 2019… (Molla 2020),” according to Vox.com. That’s precious time wasted and that can never be retrieved again. There is a solution to this problem; set a time limit. However, the current resolution has one significant fault to it; it doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is that it is too easy to get out of the limit. I can set a limit for Instagram of 30 minutes from my iPhone settings. However, after the 30 minutes are up, I can easily press dismiss. Therefore, the best way to fix the screen time problem is to have a time limit built into future phones. This limit wouldn’t be placed on the internet itself since that might prove counterintuitive if you need the internet for your job or something of important value. The limit would consist of an hour a day and it will be placed on social media apps.

     In conclusion, technology is only beneficial when it is being used for growth: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. However, most Americans are not using it for growth; it is instead being used for entertainment purposes. If Americans limit screen time, not only can more be done in a day but self-esteem levels will rise. Keeping this in mind, I challenge everyone to put the phone or iPad away for one day. Let’s see how much of a positive difference we can make in our mental health and productivity together.

“7 Apps To Help You With Your Self-Esteem In 2017.” Bon Vita, 7 Sept. 2017, www.bonvitastyle.com/7-apps-to-help-you-with-your-self-esteem-in-2017.
Molla, Rani. “Tech Companies Tried to Help Us Spend Less Time on Our Phones. It Didn’t Work.” Vox, Vox, 6 Jan. 2020, www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/6/21048116/tech-companies-time-well-spent-mobile-phone-usage-data.
Perrin, Andrew, and Madhu Kumar. “About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Say They Are ‘Almost Constantly’ Online.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 25 July 2019, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/25/americans-going-online-almost-constantly/.
Silva, Clarissa. “Social Media’s Impact On Self-Esteem.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 22 Feb. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/social-medias-impact-on-self-esteem_b_58ade038e4b0d818c4f0a4e4.

Using Technology to Unify Society

By Samuel Klaczynski

Technology is often mistaken for any invention succeeding the second half of the 20th century. Though now the production of recent technology has become all quite cryptic to the average consumer, the bare roots of technology have always been the premedative human actions of manipulating one’s environment to better suit their needs. When technology is epitomized in such a format, it becomes apparent that such a basic principle can never really be controlled in humans, people will always be driven to push boundaries in every aspect. It is evident sheerly from the metaphoric explosions of technology that occur usually following one unprecedented discovery. Stifling this innate human passion leads to disaster and letting technology develop too quickly can result in a collapse which is why I divulge a solution based on improving society’s ability to share the burdens of our technology that rests on the occupants, home, and legacy of the human race. Sharing the payload, sounds simple enough, but literal meaning implies, together society needs to fund the future of providing more space in the colonization of Mars.

A sci-fi idea some would say, however that is usually a response prompted by a lack of information on the subject. With the birth of SpaceX and its Falcon rockets, the most powerful in existence, the project has sparked public interest, a step that cannot be undermined in its importance. Regardless, I predict these rockets will not be the solution no matter how massive they become primarily because they aren’t using the right fuel. The right fuel is the exact invention that would encapsulate the first step towards ensuring the future of technology is benefiting society. That fuel is nuclear fusion, an endless, powerful, clean energy source that requires creating the environment of a sun at a subatomic scale to generate atoms moving fast enough to override electroweak interaction forces and fuse into a new element. The technology exists in places such as Switzerland and France with the Large Hadron Collider or in Illinois at FermiLab but the future development to make it of practical use will cause an explosion of technology replacing outdated harmful energy sources for a cheaper, cleaner, and more powerful one, something the Earth desperately needs.

In the midst of this technological explosion, both private and government owned space exploration agencies will need to grab hold of the reins of public interest and funnel it into a colonization frenzy. They will need to market this off the belief that Mars is not to be a city upon a hill or utopia but instead it will improve the quality of life for the entirety of the human race by making concerns over or limitations of resources obsolete. It is foolish to think that technology could be at fault for the success or destruction of society, technology is but a tool but this does not mean that technology can not be coerced in a way that aids society. To ensure the technology of tomorrow continues to benefit society, steps such as sustainable nuclear fusion and mars colonization must be taken to make people realize that the concern is not making technology to unify society but rather unifying society to create technology.

Technology as the Engine for Learning

By Jonas Lee

In 2012, when I was 4th grader, my school became among the first districts to utilize iPads in learning. We used applications like “Keynote” for digital presentations, “Notability” for typing out papers, and even interactive educational games such as “Stack the States” to advance our geographical knowledge. No one could have predicted back then how the Digital Age would come to evolve and how crucial it would be today during a pandemic.

There are 6.3 million K-12 students in California. Without technology during COVID-19, millions of students would literally be without a learning environment for the foreseeable future. Teachers would not be able to communicate assignments, lectures, proctor tests on cameras, or socratic seminars during quarantine. The negative impacts of education without technology would be insurmountable. High schoolers seeking to take AP tests would have to wait another year and seniors would not be able to fill graduation requirements before college. But when else did technology push the boundaries of my own learning environment pre-quarantine? Look no further than the world of Model UN.

Mira Costa Model United Nations is a top-5 ranked program nationally. Competition is fierce. A select 20 students out of 150 are invited to participate in prestigious travel trips. I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to interact and compete with delegates in Davis, Chicago, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York. In MUN, I learned an applicable life skill that no other class teaches: the ability to network and problem solve diplomatically with complete strangers. These experiences would be impossible without technology.

I spend roughly 16-24 hours preparing the week before a debate. To find knowledge about a UN topic, I have to scour the internet for data. I have to learn about the topic inside and out. I must read current events pertaining to the countries and organizations involved. I must delve into 3-page Google searches to understand my country policy. I need to craft 10-12 solutions to tangibly solve aspects of the issue socioeconomically, efficiently, and diplomatically. I must find meaningful statistics I can speak about in debate to elevate these solutions. Without ability to research at my fingertips, I would be unable to educate myself. In the actual debate, Google Docs is used to write and format our “resolutions”, where the delegates compile all of our final solutions into a document after discussing what is most important. All of this is done through an online medium.

I am 1 of 11 people in our program to win Best Delegate in my program. I have spoken at the UN Headquarters in New York. Such experiences would be sacrificed without technology available to enhance my learning environment in MUN and beyond.

Both my school district and the world of Model UN used technology to benefit society by providing opportunities for growth in knowledge. We can ensure technology benefits society by continuing to use it as a tool to teach. Doing so builds a better tomorrow for our world.

Future Technologies as Seen Today

By Emre Tichelaar

In today’s new normal, the benefits of technology are very evident. The Coronavirus pandemic has led us all to social distance; however, technology over the past two decades has brought us closer than ever. Families across the world, across the state or even in another room inside their house, use modern technologies to communicate regularly and efficiently. With employers forced to adopt the working from home model, a lot of businesses will be more lenient to allowing their employees to work from home in the future. The technology that makes this possible will allow things such as parents to spend more time with their children and disabled workers to still contribute to their team. This is a benefit to society because more present parenting leads to children going up to achieve more. Less disabled individuals will be relying on government support as well. These two things are only scratching the surface of the benefit that working from home technologies will provide society.

Moving forward, technology makes society more efficient. Video conferencing technologies, for example, have lessened the need for business travelers to fly across the world for meetings (not to mention better for the environment). However, we must be careful that we understand that video calls are not the same as in-person interactions. This sort of thinking could become more and more prevalent as new generations grow up with the technology. For example, in the future, a busy mother might misunderstand that spending time with her kids over a video call is vastly different from being there in person. This technology is not a replacement for in-person interactions; instead, it’s a tool to advance and supplement. If we keep this in mind, we can ensure that technology brings us closer and not slowly further apart. Increasing the education we give in schools about things like this will go far.

Furthermore, we must understand that technology creates anonymity. Individuals whose identities are hidden are more prone to harassing others. According to Pew Research Center, roughly 41% of Americans have been harassed online. This number will only go up as society moves more and more into the cybersphere. The beauty of online anonymity is authoritarian governments will be less able to track down individuals who speak out against them. However, online bullying and harassment must still be tackled in some way so we can maximize society’s benefits. Advocating for individuals effected by online harassment and those who partake in the harassment to seek mental health counseling will go a long way in today’s society.

On the other hand, proponents of technologies coming into the workplace say that they may replace jobs. According to the British Office for National Statistics, 70% of individuals in the UK are at risk of losing their jobs to automation over the next decade. To make sure automation benefits society most positively without creating massive unemployment, we need to educate and inform those who may lose their jobs retroactively. If there is foresight into where else they can fit and provide in society, they will have time to retrain in a new field. Over time, society will benefit because more people are providing more advanced labor versus more straightforward tasks that can be automated.

All in all, the benefits of current technologies such as video conferencing and future ones such as robotic automation far outweigh the benefit. This is especially true when education at all levels of life accompanies when new technologies are introduced.


Technological Advancements for the World

By Briley Olson

Technological advancements provide new opportunities, communication, and give new abilities to the disabled. Throughout many decades technology has been used for good. There has been a burst in production of quality instruments. Advancements have been created for immobility, hearing imparities, and visual disabilities. Technology created for those purposes can be assumed to ensure benefits for society. Safety measures can be applied to all kinds of technology so that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands and used for bad. These measures are put in place for the good of society. However, trying to ensure that technology is always used for good would be like trying to drain the ocean with a straw. Unfortunately, the character of people is what decides if technology is used beneficially for good or as a detriment.

As we have seen in our world lately, people know how to abuse their technological powers to cause havoc and aggressive behaviors. The perfect example of people abusing technology is currently with the rioting, violent protests, and anarchy surrounding the murder of George Floyd. Technology is an amazing tool that provides the ability to create, but when it’s used incorrectly, too much damage can be done. Negative actions stem from a person’s character. Unfortunately, in our world there are people that simply don’t think twice about their actions; or worse, they purposefully use technology and social media to create chaos and aggressive behavior. This is when technology becomes a detriment to society. Only the test of time will determine if someone is going to sabotage good technology for evil purposes.

To ensure all technological use benefits society, many limitations and security checks would need to be used. The only person controlling the actions taken on their devices is themself. There are a plethora of security checks on most financial or business websites that help protect against viruses and cruelty. This type of security could be taken one step further to provide safety and well-being to society; security questions, passwords, fingerprints, and more would be most strategic. To ensure that society is benefited, advancements in mobilization, auditory, and visual technology for disabled people would be necessary. Another area for technological growth is with the environment; water filtration, air purification, and solar panels each benefit our globe. If something as serious as a pandemic can open the eyes of society to protect the Earth, then let’s use it as an advantage and educational time. Technology can provide ample information to educate and reach people across the globe. Security based technology, technology that benefits the disabled community, and technology that improves the environment can be used to ensure the improvement of society.

Our greatest hope is that society would utilize technology and its developments to ensure the greater good. Over the past century, our society has experienced an avalanche of technological advancements; most of those have been used for good, however, in today’s culture we can see technology being intentionally twisted for evil. Some steps to ensure that the development of technology would benefit society are: requiring more security, providing the disabled community with more resources, and focusing on environmental health. Technology stems from creativity of members in our society. My greatest hope is that we could ensure all technological advancements would be used for the good of society.

Technology is Art

By Kathryn Hoang

Technology is evolutionary art that is created in order to strengthen efficiency, intelligence, creativity, and many more aspects of our everyday lives. I am currently a freshman, Electrical and Computer Engineering major at the University of Arizona. In the future, I strive to create bigger and better things through artificial intelligence that will that help benefit and develop life in our future society. One of my grandest dreams is to become a Disney Imagineer and creatively design new way to make people happy. It is inevitable that companies are consistently striving to improve productivity and performance. New ideas and technology arise everyday but it takes more than a single person to bring these ideas to life. I believe one of the most important steps in ensuring new technology will benefit our society is team work. Throughout the first two semesters I have experienced in college, I have learned that working as a team add so much more to a project than if one were to work alone. Working as a team allows for multiple point of views, input from a variety of perspectives and most importantly allows you to grow a bond with the people you work with. Having the responsibly of being accountable and openminded to others ideas is the most beneficial skill a person can have that allows the working process to run smooth and seamless. Communication is another important factor in producing beneficial technology. The ability to address goals and motives as well as concerns to a team strengthen and creates trust within all the members. It builds the bond needed to respect each other’s values as well as prove each member dedication to the success of any new technology.

Technology powered by Kindness.

By Dara Nicole Díaz Ríos

Stone tools were the first technology devices humans developed in the search for better well-being and ease of life. Also known as the science of crafting, tech has a tremendous influence on the ways we build and organize our societies. Nevertheless, not all of us reach the benefits of it, and sometimes we perceive our lives affected by its mismanaged power. Still, we have the potential to define what technologies are truly needed and how we want them to be applied, but to achieve this we must generate more positive and beneficial new practices on our relationship with technology.

Conscious consumption: Most of the technology we use daily is regulated, yet few of us take the time to read the norms and small print of the things we buy and use; some of the products we innocently accept are causing irreparable damage to minorities, creating modern slavery and depleting natural resources. These actions violate the principles of sustainability and human rights. If we adopt more conscious habits of consumption the companies that create products will also adjust to our more sustainable standards. Hopefully, they will stop releasing new phone models every week and protect our planet and people living on the margins.

Transparency and dialog: Nearly all the big technologies have global consequences; therefore there should be a global dialog to ensure that these technologies and their related policies benefit all people and not transnational corporations. Additionally, we need to ensure that we create standard processes to test and evaluate the impact these technologies will have on the people. Technology is today’s most marketable product and we need to keep an eye on it, to ensure we’re not feeding another horrible monster like pharmaceuticals.

The democratization of science: Instead of politicizing science, we should be looking for its democratization, this means that citizens engage actively with science and technology, therefore it becomes popular and participatory. It is in our hands to become analysts, scientists, creators and researchers, so we encourage rigorous politics that serve the public objectives and invest in our own ideas to bring technological innovation out from within our communities instead of passively waiting for ethical technology to save the day.

Suppress anthropocentrism: Technology doesn’t have to destroy the world, there are other ways we can do things, a radical shift to sustainable tech is not only the smarter option but the only one. It is possible to escape from toxic anthropocentrism and support nonhuman biological beings in order to make more balanced societies. Ethical choices will lead us to inspire connections and identities to empower citizens, not to manipulate and distract them from what’s really important: community and connection.

By all counts, and with proved results we can rely on technology to extol the greatest facets of intelligent life and it is in the duty of all to ensure we gain wise at the same time we develop the next technologies that will shape the world.

The Steps to Take Concerning Technology

By Hope Graham

 “81% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis (Perrin & Kumar 2019).” This proves that Americans rely heavily on technology. Consequently, Americans are using technology for everything and anything: to research how to do something, to take notes, or to even watch television. Technology has many positives but it also comes with its negatives: self-esteem issues and many hours spent (or wasted) on the device itself. Therefore, the steps that we can take to ensure the technology that we develop benefits society are to: create software that decreases self-esteem problems and decreases screen time usage.

The decline of self-esteem in America is a growing issue especially due to the utilization of social media. “60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way (Silva 2017).” As a result of this, apps have been made to increase confidence levels. For example, the Thinkup app “uses your own voice to give you positive feedback and affirmations (2017).” While this app may be assisting in developing a better mindset, overall, it still won’t help how you feel when you go on Instagram or Facebook. A better solution than self-care apps would be to insert a type of filtration software into social media apps. Twitter has implemented a feature where a potentially inappropriate or offensive post is blurred out until you click that it is okay to see it. Furthermore, Instagram could have software that could do the same thing. For instance, Instagram could have software to track face posts (such as selfies) and blur out the photo until someone consents to see it. This way, people who are struggling with their self worth won’t see the Photoshopped, triggering images.

“American adults spent about 3 hours and 30 minutes a day using the mobile internet in 2019… (Molla 2020),” according to Vox.com. That’s precious time wasted and that can never be retrieved again. There is a solution to this problem; set a time limit. However, the current resolution has one significant fault to it; it doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is that it is too easy to get out of the limit. I can set a limit for Instagram of 30 minutes from my iPhone settings. However, after the 30 minutes are up, I can easily press dismiss. Therefore, the best way to fix the screen time problem is to have a time limit built into future phones. This limit wouldn’t be placed on the internet itself since that might prove counterintuitive if you need the internet for your job or something of important value. The limit would consist of an hour a day and it will be placed on social media apps.

In conclusion, technology is only beneficial when it is being used for growth: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. However, most Americans are not using it for growth; it is instead being used for entertainment purposes. If Americans limit screen time, not only can more be done in a day but self-esteem levels will rise. Keeping this in mind, I challenge everyone to put the phone or iPad away for one day. Let’s see how much of a positive difference we can make in our mental health and productivity together.

Know the People

By Kasia Janey

I believe that the best way to ensure that the technology we develop benefits society, is to listen to society itself. It is important for developers to learn what people need and want; then the proper steps can be taken to make technological advances that will benefit a larger number of people. Technological developments may fail if consumers do not see a need for the product. To prevent this from occurring, proper planning must be done beforehand.

First, a problem must be identified. A developer must ask, what is a problem that needs to be solved? If technology does not solve a specific problem, its use or value may be diminished. Developers should conduct thorough research to learn trends in society in regards to what is needed. It is also important to take into consideration if a product is what society wants. Advances in technology that are unwanted, no matter what the supposed purpose is, may not do well and in the end will receive backlash, rather than being beneficial. The product must be able to effectively solve the problem it sets out to eliminate with little to no downsides. If there are flaws in the design, features that are undesirable, or even if the method of delivery is off, the product may flop. A product can only benefit society as much as people let it. If people reject the product, it cannot do anything to help them.

Secondly, a developer must figure out how the new product may fulfil its purpose best. A well developed technological advancement should clearly present the issue it is trying to solve. It must be able to effectively tackle the issue in its functions. A product should be tested extensively before release to the public. The trial and error process should work out any bugs or inconsistencies in the product. It is also important to know who the demographic is. If the technology is to be used by a specific group of people with expertise, then those people should be able to use the technology to their benefit. If the product is simple and can be used without specific training, it should be relatively easy to understand and utilize. Technologies that are hard to understand may not be received as well by the public.

Overall, the best way to benefit society with technological advances is to know what the people want. The voice of society is the best way to understand how to benefit it. Technological advances should make life more simple rather than more difficult. To ensure technological advances benefit society, developers must reach into our world and really define, plan, and tackle the problems that we as people face in our daily lives.

What Takes Priority?

By Elia Sanchez

 As society advances, so does the technology around us because it evolves with us. To keep technology advancing beneficially, we must ensure that the technology we develop has a purpose. Schools, hospitals, or anyone in their every day lives may find a need for it. For future inventions and advancements, the creators and researchers developing it should consider a few things before proceeding. These aspects may include the efficiency of the creation and the necessity, along with some others.

Looking back at the history of a particular advancement, such as a computer or a household appliance, may be the key to furthering those innovations. For example, when companies look to release a new product, they analyze their previous ones and improve on them. But, to help society get the most out of these products, the designers must look to see how each new feature would benefit the majority of consumers rather than a select few. The inventor can take an already existing product and modify it to suit the changing needs of current consumers better. Companies also should take all of their feedback and create something new and useful for everyone if more and more people find the need for a particular appliance in their home.

Inventors and researchers should go to schools and hospitals because they are two of the central institutions that would benefit greatly from new technology. A school receiving something that helps students learn is an example of how new technology would benefit everyone. Additionally, hospitals having new machines or equipment to save lives will benefit society as a whole. Because technology can help so many people, it should not be wasted, and those resources should be allocated to a better purpose.

A set of questions in the form of a chart should be created to help creators use their skills to the best of their ability. These question charts would help guide researchers in the direction best suited for their particular invention. The first question would ask about the potential to help; would the invention work to improve a person’s life, or is it recreational and optional. If optional, then the researcher may still proceed, but that project would not take priority over more crucial technologies. The chart would accommodate for the different technology fields as well–from the size of the product itself to the category.

Another approach to guaranteeing that technology supports society is testing the technology before its release to the public. The creators should run tests on a broad demographic of its users to understand which improvements must be made and whether the product is helping. They can then create a comprehensive before and after chart with the data collected, monitoring the participant without the product and with the product. This process would show the researcher the efficiency of their creation.

Technology is remarkable in the sense that it improves the quality of life for many. Technology is not limited to entertainment and leisure and should, therefore, not be treated as such. Establishing guidelines for what type of technology and purpose should take priority will ensure society continues to benefit from new advancements.

The Power of Technology

By Hannah Yim

         I have constantly heard the phrase, “Technology destroys society and young people’s lives” from my parents, teachers, and the elderly throughout my childhood. Although this phrase can be true in certain circumstances, something I think is also important to consider is that technology is entirely capable of benefitting us, not just creating harm. There are still multiple issues with technology; However, it is important to consider what steps can be implemented to ensure that technology can benefit society for the better.

        Something many people don’t often consider is that technology is seen in almost every aspect of our daily lives and that years of research is one of the main factors that allowed for the creation of many innovations. Technology includes things such as the glasses we wear, running shoes, and common medicines. These necessary items have all been designed by scientists and engineers, and have already benefited society for countless years, and we can use these examples to understand what we should continue to do for future technological developments. For instance, medical technology covers an extensive spectrum, ranging from items as simple as band-aids to  CRISPR. These technological innovations are products of years of research and experimentation, which is why they are considered to be so beneficial to society today. Overall, one of the key methods to ensure future technology will benefit society is to continue to research and experiment with new items, which will allow for innovations of better quality and efficiency.

        Besides the tangible aspect of technology, the Internet also carries many social issues such as cyberbullying, the proliferation of fake news/misinformation, and increased surveillance of citizens. As I mentioned beforehand, I believe it is the abuse of technology, especially regarding the Internet, that has resulted in many of the aforementioned issues today, rather than the technology itself. A common issue hindering technology, especially the Internet, from benefitting society as a whole is that laws regarding technology are relatively slow in development in comparison to the rapidly expanding technology. This is why society needs to ensure that cybersecurity measures, as well as technical regulations, need to be implemented faster to accommodate the new developments.

        Lastly, technology can be used to better society through consideration of global issues. I believe educating people/students is one of the best ways to inspire them to create innovations that have the potential to solve major issues. This is supported by examples such as Boyan Slat, a student who designed a plastic-waste trap when he was 18-years old, helping to address the issue of plastic waste pollution in oceans, or Fionn Ferreria, an 18-year old who used ferrofluid to remove harmful microplastics in water, effectively reducing health risks associated with microplastics. These students were inspired to create these innovations through their experiences learning about these issues within their schools and through their own experiences. Overall, I think educating as many people on global issues can help inspire many to create something that will improve society for the better.

        In summation, I believe technology can indubitably benefit society for the better through the implementation of steps such as continuing to research and experiment extensively, increasing cybersecurity efforts regarding Internet use, as well as educating and inspiring more people to create new and improved innovations for society.

The Creation Shall Reflect the Creator

By Caley Soria

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? I believe, in a more general sense, the former. That creation comes from a creator and therefore possesses elements from the creator. In the book the Consequences of Ideas, R.C. Sproul on discussing Soren Kierkegaard, says, “It is no accident that the history of art, music, and drama follows the history of philosophy. The artist picks up new philosophical ideas, employs them, and communicates them as part of a particular movement.”

I will go further to say that it doesn’t just have to be art, music or drama; but anything man brings into existence will reflect his philosophy and that he doesn’t even have to be intentional in reflecting himself in whatever he creates. Whatever man creates will reflect who man is; what he wants. This can also be referred to as man’s philosophy. That is why the world of technology could be in trouble because we, today, are a people of a poor philosophy. So, anything we create will show for that. In a technologically booming society, we see our poor ways of thinking in what we have created. Technology mirrors our narcissism, our materialism, and our desperation for comfort.

In order to take steps to ensure that technology will benefit society we must manage our narcissism. Perhaps we don’t realize the insanity of the plethora of apps that exist solely so that we can document every minute detail in our lives. But more than that, we rely on the validation that comes from the design of these apps in the form of likes, shares, retweets, etc. Social media platforms could benefit society but only if the philosophy, the drives of man, change. We could greatly benefit from the spreading of factual information, positivity, and awareness of social issues if we change our mindset from thinking only about ourselves.

In order for technology to be beneficial we must address our materialism as well. We are a society driven by our mad cravings to possess the latest and the greatest. The newest flat-screen, the newest iPhone and the newest car with the greatest number of buttons and touch screens. We live in the age that is capable of ending world hunger, curing deadly diseases, and providing sustainable energy but instead we are consumed with having the newest thing that will make our life easier.

Technology could relieve so many of the world ailments but the human folly of desiring comfort has to also be corrected first. Think about it, other than the fact that our neighbor doesn’t have it, why do we want the flat-screen, phone, and car? Because it has so many appliances that allow us not to employ brain power and deter any trace of discomfort. The advancement of technology can lead to the salvation of many but has instead led to the stupidity of few.

In conclusion, the steps that need to be taken to make technology beneficial are addressing the issues of human nature. Because whatever we create will only reflect who we are and the philosophy we live by; currently that philosophy is consumed by ourselves. We must grow out of childish narcissism, materialism and desperation for comfort. In doing so, we can push the advancement of technology into a direction that can truly benefit human life.

About Me

By Madison Val

When you are younger, you never expect to grow up quickly. The years you experience make you who you are. Everyone goes through issues, hard time, and difficulties but that’s what makes us who we are. They often say, the more hardship you go through makes you stronger as a person. Looking back to the age of seven, I remember it was more like terrible twos for my parents and me. My parents separated a few long days after my birthday. I remember it like it was yesterday, moving out of my home and having to say goodbye to the memories that lived in that house. It was going back and forth every other week and always having a bag to carry back and forth or not being able to find my favorite sparkly shirt from Justice. That was just the very beginning of many more back-and-forth trips to come.

At the age of ten I had gotten so use to this routine that I often would not forget anything and was happy to see each one of my parents. It was not till a major fight that had broken out with my dad, I lived with my mom a solid year and a half only visiting for early breakfasts at a local old gas station restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona. I had gotten use to this life once again feeling relieved and happy. I would  always here negativity brought into any discussion with my mom, but as a ten year old I figured it was normal. Once i started figuring out and learning that not everyone does speak the truth and not everything is the way it seems I developed my own perspective.

When I turned fifteen I had made another huge life change to live with my dad realizing the manipulation I had been put through. All of the nights crying, always taking the blame, and the threats it was the best decision. I had finally had the best life possible and felt truly happy. I would wake up every morning to the smell of coffee and to the sound of the news. I would leave my house with a chatty trip to school. On the hard days, the one person I needed most was always there. He looked out for me and protected me from the sadness and hard parts of the world. I learned everything I needed to know.

I often would not have to feel all the pain brought on through my mom even tho it was still their. I was taught to have a positive outlook and accept what we can not control. I would still have brunches with her always hearing about something going wrong. To me as each year I grew and changed and would mature. I loved coming home to a place I could call home and where I felt safe. I loved late night movie watching and the family dinners. I would always clean the kitchen and wash the dishes. Late at night I stayed up being quite for those who had to go to work early the next morning.

To me, in some ways our parents do define us and we learn everything we know from them. It has made me who I am today. Yes, we are not supposed to say who we are in this essay, but why not? I am strong, forgiving, happy, and open hearted to change. I have learned more and grew more in high school then I would ever expect. I have had the heartbreakers, the stress, and the love but everything we go through makes us what we are today, and i would not change me for anything.

Waiting Room

By  Victoria Johnson

 Every day for me was a new adventure, I spent all my time with my friends doing as we please. From going out every weekend to sleepovers on school nights. I was never home. Until September 9th, 2018, I got home from being gone all weekend. My mom called me to her room and the moment I saw her face I knew everything was about to change. She started the conversation with “ you know how Bill (my stepdad) went to get a colonoscopy last week”. She immediately broke down and I knew what that meant. My step dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  I could not believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. Because of this, my whole life changed. My everyday routine slowly was consumed by doctors’ appointments and random trips to the ER. Some days my stepdad would be laughing and playing with our dachshunds, other days he would not even be able to get himself out of bed. Every day was a guessing game, with no idea of what was to come next. A waiting room soon became our Safe Haven. A waiting room is an interesting place, so much commotion going on around you, yet all you can think of is what is going on behind those two closed doors. Some people may see this place as daunting because you have zero control and are left in the dark on what is going on behind those two doors. Although for me, this was a place I was able to connect most with my mom and my brother. It was that one time of the day where we had to drop everything else and just be present. Did I also mention how horrible the cell phone reception is in a waiting room? All jokes aside, it was a time where I could rebuild the lost relationships I had created between my family members and I. I would be lying if I said this did not change my entire life. In situations like this, it is hard because the end result is so unsure.After months of chemo and radiation, everything finally felt like everything was going to be okay. Currently my Stepdad is off chemo and radiation and every day is like sitting in a waiting room. Only a few more weeks until he takes his final scans and our lives could change for better or worse. Life is like a constant waiting room, we are never sure of what is to come.

Mercedes Molina, Scholarship Essay

By Mercedes Molina

“There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, There are no limits.”(Micheal Phelps)  Ever since I was born I feel as if life has tested me, I say this due to the fact that I had died for a minute and a half at birth. Then fast forward eight years later and I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. As time goes on more and more things seem to happen but although these curve balls have been thrown my way I would still consider myself a very fortunate, happy and lucky person. By now reading this it may not be the essay that was wanted but it is one that I feel is important because it lets a person know who I am. I feel like for the sole purpose that when investing in a person to get an education it is crucial to know the individual, not their views on a random subject matter. Knowing this is why it is important to look into who I am as an individual and to ensure whom it may concern if I were to receive this scholarship that their funding will not be taken for granite.

My name is Mercedes Molina, I am a twenty year old mexican american who lives in Arizona. I am currently a full time student majoring in nutritional science at the University of Arizona who is in the process of transferring to Arizona State University in the fall. With my degree I plan to become a sports Dietitians for a professional team in the near future. Ever since I can remember I had always wanted to go into the medical field. When I was five it was a doctor, then at age eight it was an endocrinologist and then freshman year of college it was a pharmacist. The reason why I had originally entered college wanting to be a pharmacist was due to the fact that I had wanted a good paying job to be able to not have to worry about student loans or really money in general. For the purpose of wanting to be a pharmacist is why I had originally selected  to attend the University of Arizona. When entering the university I was advised to major in nutrition since it was said to be an easier transition into the pharmacy program later. While taking my nutrition classes it was becoming clear to me that I loved nutrition. I was enjoying my classes and I found myself always reading health books and articles, plus counting carbs and watching my diet because of my diabetes. After completing these classes I started to reflect on what I wanted out of life. I had then came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the money that was important because all in all I would find a way to get financially stable, but the key point was the fact that I realized that I wanted and needed to be happy and I want to want to go to work each day and for this is why I had chosen dietetics and have decided to transfer because ASU has a better program and more opportunities in order to pursue my career goals along with obtaining my masters.

Although knowing my educational goals is crucial it is significant to know a little about me as well. I am not your average quirky student, I say this for the fact that I enjoy being with my friends and family, I would say without them none of my dreams would even be possible. I love Disney, superheros, Ironman being my favorite. I also love football and baseball (go Dodgers and Vikings!), hence the reason why I want to be a sports dietitian. But overall I have been a very hard working dedicated student. All throughout middle school, high school and now college I have always gone above and beyond what is expected of me to do my best and to succeed in school. What I mean by this is I have always been involved in many clubs and leadership organizations and have partaken in opportunities to help enhance my education such as participating in an internship at the universities Mckale center Fueling station, while also being a preceptor for a processor, along with taking advantage of opportunities such as enhancing my skills and experiencing new cultures by studying abroad for a semester in London, England. In general I have always been involved in anything school and I love it, I have always been that strange kid who loved going to school and had never wanted to miss a day of it.I would also stress cry about my grades, because the way I thought was my education is what is going to set me up for success not anything else.

Overall, the reason why I should receive this scholarship is for the fact that no other candidate will be more dedicated and more appreciative than I will be if I were to receive it. Meaning, that personally my main goal and priority in life right now is my school and as I have grown that hasn’t changed. Knowing this it means that I will not stop working and giving my all until I receive my degree and eventually even my master’s degree as well, because I know that not every individual has this opportunity and because I am able to I don’t want to waste it when someone else is out wishing that they were able to do what I am.

Little Digital World We Call Home

By Iva Marinkovic

When I was growing up, I was not having opportunities that technology provides to children in the current times. The only way to reach a friend was a home phone and even that was a commodity of an upper class. Born and raised in a small Serbian home, I began to value little things like conversation with friends, going outside for a bike ride or walking to school. However, as I entered my teenage years technology began spreading and becoming part of the every day life. Having a phone in my hand was as common as eating or drinking water. It was the first thing I checked in the morning and the last thing I looked at at night.It consumed my life more than I could ever expect.

Although some people, I like to call traditionalist, believe technology haven’t brought anything valuable to today’s society yet only created little human machines unable to hold a decent conversation with each other for five minutes straight, my opinion differs for couple of reasons.Primarily, social media is its own little digital world being surfed by billions of people from all over the globe. Without things like Instagram and Facebook, we would never be able to make a connection with a person who lives thousand miles away from us. Share experiences, learn from each other, and finally become a well rounded individuals.I will share a personal story with all of you.After moving to United States at 14 years of age, I am happy to say that I became a very close friend with Japanese Exchange student who truly changed my life.We met in dance class and thanks to social media we were able to stay in contact even after she returned to Japan.Now she is someone I call my best friend.In conclusion, when trying to create a new technology we should ensure that it would work on making many new connections because these networks can be beneficial in business, friendship,relationship and family.

Second, I plan to pursue medical path in my future years of college and I am a big believer that technology can be the cure of many medical dead ends we are facing today. With this new generation, the wave of new technological developments will bring new, unique and creative ideas that will open the door to new discoveries that can be life saving. If we thinking about history of medicine for a moment we can see the exponential growth of people who are saved and cured as the technology got introduced to the field.For example, before defibrillator was developed by William Kouwenhoven we were unable to restore a normal heart beat in cases of life emergency. This shows how technology can be used to create life saving machines without which medicine can not grow.

Finally, looking at the business side of this we can see that new developments like planners, emails, variety of programs allowed for good organization and much faster accomplishments of tasks that would otherwise take too much of time.Entrepreneurship is a new profession in business that is growing in today’s world and is completely relying on technology. It includes things such as promoting brands and products using social media as the platform to using programs to run their transactions.It allows for people from all over the globe to participate and connect which is as I previously mentioned is the most beneficial role of technology.

I do not want to be one sided and therefore I do have to agree that there are setbacks to growing of technology such as declining of human interaction, however we all have to see all the benefits it brought with it as well.I believe that not even in our wildest dreams would we be able to do all the things we are doing daily if technology wasn’t growing and developing with such a speed.

Enhancing Technology to Ensure Our Future

By Maesy Ramirez Macias

As a society, it is in our human nature to want to better ourselves, that much is obvious when you look at our history and see how much humanity has matured and developed since our primitive days. One of the notable, key factors that has ensured the development of people, is the advancements of technology that have been made throughout the years. Life as we know it today would not be the same if we did not have the amount of technology that we rely on. People now have all the knowledge and help they could ask for at their fingertips. Overall, the enhancement of technology has helped our society grow in ways we did not think possible. However, there have also been some hampering to our society due to all these advancements, such as an increase in laziness or people relying too much on technology that they do not think for themselves anymore. How can humanity guarantee that the progress we make daily is a moral one? And what are the steps that we can take to ensure that these technological advancements benefit and help society grow? A step that can help us grow in the right direction is making sure our creators and developers go into the field of creating technology with the correct knowledge about what they are doing. One way that can happen is for those scientists to get the correct education, so they fully understand what they are doing and to truly make sure they are improving the technology they are working on. Getting an education and having the proper background is vital and crucial in almost every field, and development is no different. They could also go back to the basic level of the technology that they are working on and see if there is any way that they could improve that technology from the rudimentary level. With something in its most basic form, there is always room for improvement that could be beneficial. Scientists can also think about the problems with the perspective of a person in society, not a scientist, and ask themselves “what is a problem that needs to be solved or made better for other people, myself included?” With that mentality, they can work on solving the problem while also making sure that they will complete their goal of making sure that their developments truly benefit society. By attacking these problems with the mindset of a normal person in society, they can think of ways that will have a positive effect on the world and how it impacts their daily lives because they are doing it for people like themselves. Of course, there is more to advancing technology than just thinking about it like an average individual, but each person can consider what they could do to make sure that our society a better place with developing technology. It could be as simple as preparing yourself correct and thinking of different ways to solve your own problems.

Technology in a New Light

By Julia Banach

As many people know, technology is growing at an incredibly high pace. Many professions and schools have implemented technology into their foundations. So, technology has already begun to benefit many different people.In addition to that, technology can be used in more monumental ways. Researchers and scientists have started utilizing technology to help with engineering, the building of planes and buildings, technology is even being used in the medical field. With our advancements in technology, people are starting to see just how much it will be able to help the world. In order to ensure that the technology we developed benefits society, we must make sure that the right people have it available to them. A big advancement that has come out is the finalization of 3D printers. These contraptions can assist with many different things, from building intricate and complex parts that would help form a bridge, to creating an artificial organ that can be used to save a person’s life. From that, we can see that alongside with the upcomings of new technology, it must be put into the hands of the right people. These people are professors or researchers who have the creativity to allow this new technology to help the world in ways that have never been thought of before. I believe that the younger generation should be more exposed to technology. I feel that young kids should learn how to operate different technological devices so that when they get older, they could take our technology even further. With how much technology has become a part of everyday life, it is crucial that everybody has a basic understanding of how different things work. Many people have access to a lot of different technology, however they have no idea of the magnificent amount of things they can do with the technology they have. If more people were knowledgeable about what they had sitting right in their homes, I feel as though people would be more willing to utilize it. Anybody in the world could have one crazy idea to put it to the test and find out that it just might work. Anybody could invent something new if they have the determination and resources that it takes. Technology can be used to improve school work. Laptops and computers can and are being used in classrooms to help with research and writing papers. Technology can also be used with homework and can be an amazing study tool. Kids can look questions up and find videos, diagrams, and graphs to help explain the answers. Technology can also be used in more professional careers. If a person has a presentation at a meeting, they can use an abundant amount of resources on iPads, tablets, or laptops to help them in displaying different information. Technology is being used to help the world become a better and more secure place for everyone.

How technology impacts certain parts of society

By  Alexa Giron

 Technology today has impacted the whole human race and is continuously expanding. It has helped and improved our ways of living. It’s played a big role in today’s medical field, our education, entertainment and the way of our everyday lives. Technology is a wonderful thing however it does not benefit everyone in our society. Especially in the minority group. It’s not talked about a lot and it should be. Not everyone has the resources to access technology and in order to make technology beneficial we need to make it accessible for everyone. That’s a big step forward to ensure that the technology we develop and create benefits not just certain parts of society but all. We create so many products of technology and not everyone has accessibility to it. Why would we want to create more of it if not everyone is using it? A big part is the education system specifically in schools that are low income and have a majority of minority students. We need to develop certain programs to generate resources and the closest resource they have is the public library however not every library has up to date technology. Some rely on the library to complete assignments but it can be hard to access a computer right away. Due to the library not having enough computers for everyone or simply because they are out of service. Now today in the 21st century everything is online. From textbooks to homework to contacting your teachers. Growing up being part of the minority group and not having access to technology I would constantly be at the public library. Me and my mom would always be there because she depended on the library’s computers, printers and scanners to complete her homework assignments for college. For that I am forever thankful for the library but now I see how much it can impact individuals for school and work. Even after my mother graduated college I would still go to the public library because we never had access to a computer or laptop. Now that I am 18 years old and starting college soon my parents got me my first ever laptop. Technology is a big part of who we are today and how things function currently. But let me ask you this. We are asking for ways to develop technology to benefit our society right? But how is it impacting us negatively? Without proclaiming the negative side of technology we can’t reach the peak of being able to move forward and create something big and innovating. I know we can create a new technological system for many people who need access to computers, printers, WiFi etc. and it would be a complete game changer. Using technology to help others gain technology.

Why I’m Fit

By Madelyn Peters

I am Madelyn Peters, and I am a graduating senior at Cactus Shadows High School. I will be attending the University of Arizona next semester, but I am currently undecided in my major. I have a passion for writing, but my gut says I would make a great lawyer. As the new generations come, the desire for books diminishes. That’s why I have decided that being a lawyer would suit me best. I am hard-working and passionate. I put my all into everything that comes my way. I push myself to be the best version of me there is. However, the expenses to become a lawyer are too much for my family. My parents are recently divorced and very young. They spend a lot of the time caring for my younger brother and paying for the three sports he plays. My family is not wealthy, especially not wealthy enough to pay for my college. However, I refuse to let this stop me from achieving my dreams. I have a job as a hostess at a restaurant, but I obviously won’t be making a sufficient amount to pay off schooling. Now it’s going to be even harder due to the damage Covid-19 did on my family. I lost my job for a while which means no saving for college. I am trying my best to open doors to good job opportunities in my future, but the door is quite heavy for me to carry all by myself. That is why I believe I would be a great fit for the Yuja Scholarship. If I receive this scholarship, I can easily promise it will be put to good use. My career comes first above all else. I want to be the best version I can be so I can truly make an impact. I have faith that with a little help, I can do just that. The future is at my fingertips, and I know in my heart I was put on this earth to help fix it. Life has definitely not been easy for me, but I will not let anything stop me from achieving my goals. I am doing all that I can to get a good education and a great career. I work really hard to put forth my best effort at all times, and I hope one day I will be able to show the world that. However, I need a little help to help change the world.  I am not going to write a sob story of my long, hard, and traumatizing past to earn this scholarship because I don’t believe that’s what it’s all about. I do not let my past define me. While the past has not been kind, I firmly believe I deserve this scholarship because I know it will take me one step further to accomplishing my goals. I want to be able to go to college and pursue my career as a lawyer. After all, the world could always use another miracle worker.

Henrietta Lacks and her Relevance in Technological Safety

By Crystal Gong

 Henrietta Lacks, a woman from the 40s, is someone who has contributed to medical development and research without our many people’s knowledge. She helped create the polio vaccine, tell us how various infections and diseases affect human cells, and build upon the general knowledge base in medical science. Henrietta Lacks was a woman with cervical cancer, and during her treatment at John Hopkins Hospital, her cells were harvested without permission. These cells became the first “immortalized cell line” that can be used indefinitely for conducting research. Despite the contribution to society, Henrietta Lacks’s cells are an ethical issue, violating our safety and rights. How do we create technology where one person is not harmed in order for the whole society to benefit?

In current times, there are security issues over biological information, such as dna for clone and stem cell research. To prevent an incidence similar to Henrietta Lacks, we have to focus on the very first step in technology development, testing, and research. The solution is to make stricter regulations with experimentation through reevaluation institutional review boards(IRB) or ethical review boards(ERB) guidelines. These review boards make sure that no human rights are being violated by rejecting experiment plans and outlines. The only problem is that these boards only evaluate experiments funded through the federal government in the US, therefore not everything is filtered.

In order to create technology that is beneficial to society without it being detrimental to people, the IRB should be expanded to encompass experiments funded through other channels. They should also be re-evaluated through the process and completion of the experiment, as prevention is a better strategy than fixing harmful effects of technology. While this may not be a foolproof method, as mistakes happen, people with malicious intent bypass the radar, and so on, if society as a whole can work on voting to create these safety nets, we can reduce risk and prevent tragedies.

I must mention how marginalized people are often the ones harmed for the sake of “society” and technological development. Other instances in the past, like Henrietta Lacks, occur without positive results, such as the forced sterilization Latin American women in the name of eugenics, the testing of birth control on Puerto Rican women, and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. These were all unnecessary, harmful experiments that targeted people of color and/or women specifically. As we create new technology, we have to consider from an institutional standpoint, social justice standpoint, and From these precedences in history, I have no doubt similar issues will occur, but what I hope to see is society to develop to deal and to adapt, because in the end, for technology to benefit society, we first have to ensure it doesn’t harm us in the first place.

Media Literacy

By Gillian Rosier

There is no doubt that we will see technology become more and more prominent in our society and every day lives. Steps are being taken for technology to do simple tasks around the house, to predict health problems, predict weather, protect our homes, drive our cars and so much more! Although these are seemingly great steps, what is going to happen if the internet fails or targeting electric outages becomes a war strategy? What is going to happen when our society can no longer function without technology? I think there are a few steps we can take in order to be prepared for these possible situations. First, teach children how to do things manually. They may not always have to do this but just the knowledge of how to do something without the aid of technology can make a world of difference in an unfortunate situation. Second, invest in your own generator or alternative power source. This is a great idea for many reasons. A generator could be used in the aftermath of a natural disaster, on camping trips, or in the event of a mass power outage. This is a great way to unsure some security in uncertain times or under shaky circumstances. Third, take advantage of the ever-improving cyber security technologies. Luckily, there are many options to choose form. Be proactive, protect your information and have backups.

It has already been established that technology will always be around. This ensures a stable and ever-growing industry. It is estimated that the technology industry will reach $5.2 trillion in 2020. Economies around the world rely heavily on the success and innovation of this industry. Hundreds of millions of jobs rely on this industry and it encourages minds around the world to think outside the box. This industry encourages people of all ages, genders, nationalities, and backgrounds to pursue careers in math and sciences. Generations are being raised to problem solve, trouble shoot, to achieve the impossible, and think the unthinkable. These characteristics will carry over into other areas such as medicine, entertainment, transportation, education, space travel, inventions, global warming, etc. continuing to benefit society.

I think governments should have some sort of restrictions on some aspects of technology. Keeping individual’s private information safe should be our top priority. When I think of taking precautions, the army of robots from the 2009 movie G-Force is the first thing that pops into mind. Close observation of production and intention of technologies should be set in order to ensure the safety for the users. Protocol tests in various settings can be arranged to unsure the safest product possible once it hits the market.

There is a world of possibility at our fingertips. It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of these new technologies. Whether we are in a position to do this directly or to hold other accountable, we can all make a difference in caring for the future of humanity.

Using Technology to Create a Better World

By Malachi Daniels

Technology is advancing more and more every day. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to how you can use it to your advantage. It is our job as a community the ensure that everyone is using the technology in a safe and proper manner. First, I believe it starts in schools. It is important to teach the youth of our communities to create a safe and positive atmosphere when online. Schools need to teach them the effects and consequences of using the technology provided to bully or harm someone emotionally. Students will be able to use what they learn for the rest of there lives as technology will continue to advance and evolve the world we see today. Secondly, we need to ensure that men and women are using the technology provided to them in the workplace in a respective manner. By eliminating harassment over the internet in the workplace, we can ensure that employees are doing their jobs to the best of their ability and positively representing the business as well. Businesses do not want people who are going to represent them negatively. The workplace will function much more effectively without the negative distractions in the way. Finally, it comes down to reporting problems in the community. The best way to ensure the safety of our communities is to be open to report a problem to either the police or other responsible organizations. This is something that everyone with access to the internet or social media can help with. By reporting a problem, we can stop cyberbullying, illegal activities, and so much more. People do not understand how much of an impact they can have on the community just by stopping these dark and harmful acts on the internet. When you report someone using the technology provided to them negatively you could be stopping a kid from being cyberbullied and that could very well have saved that child’s life. In a time where suicide is at an all-time high, it is important that we make every person using any form of technology or social media fell safe and welcomed. As you can see, there are several ways to make the technology developed in our communities safe. We can start by teaching all of our students how to use technology in a safe and positive manner. Then, by have employers focus on keeping the workplace safe, we can ensure that working community members are bettering our towns and cities. Finally, it is important for everyone to work together to keep a positive atmosphere online and report problems when we see them. By ensuring that we are using the technology in our own communities safely, we can make this world a better place.

Learning In The Future

By  Ashland Johnson

 In the future, I believe that students will learn virtually through apps or online. Technology is already prominent in society today, so in the future, technology will only become more efficient, more useful, and more advanced. Today, millions of students around the world use the internet as a source for learning and studying, but thousands still cannot comprehend the material. To combat this, apps and websites will be created in the future to fit every student’s personal learning needs.

In other words, if a student cannot grasp a Math lesson because they are a visual learner, the apps and website will create lessons specifically for a visual learner. Of course, the apps and websites will adjust based upon the student and learning topic.
These apps and websites modifying to a student’s educational needs will allow more students to succeed in school because the app and websites are a student’s personal teacher.   

In the future, students will be able to learn and network with different students around the world. For example, instead of students learning French in a classroom, they would be able to log into a computer and learn French from other teachers and students in France. This virtual learning would have students engaged because they would be learning about the language and culture from someone who currently lives in the country that they are studying.

For subjects such as History, Architecture, and Humanities, students would be able to learn about different structures through an app that produces holograms of people, places, and objects. These holograms would range from the Ancient Times to the present. Since the holograms would be so realistic, students would have the opportunity to travel to different places without having to leave the comfort of their home or school. These holograms will impact students learning in a positive war because instead of reading about places and objects in a textbook, students would be able to go to an exact place and hold artifacts from a certain time period. Students would more likely retain the information better because they are learning through hands-on activities.

The possibilities for the technology are endless in the future, especially technology that would enhance a person’s learning. Using updated apps and websites, students around the world will have technology at their fingertips and be ahead of their time.

My Mission

By Noah Weaver

I have grand goals for my life, each one coming together to achieve my main mission — making the world a better place. Through each of my leadership positions, I have strived to create an inclusive environment, one that allows everyone to express their views on a variety of issues. There are a plethora of issues that face our world today, problems that will only be solved if everyone feels confident in sharing their voice. Although many issues pique my intellectual interest, the one that drives me the most is the current standing of health care and its relationship with AI. 

My ultimate goal is to connect my passions in medicine with my great interest in AI, understanding the role that technology will play in the future. Through majoring in Physiology and Medical Sciences, I will develop skills that educate me the importance of technology and treatment methods.  I have multiple ideas in mind to connect these two fields, ideas that will enhance medical care throughout the world. One idea is using AI to efficiently diagnose and reduce error among patients. The plan hinges on the ability of a robot to listen to the symptoms of the patients, and then diagnose the specific illness based on those symptoms. This idea demands the relationship of the physician and robot, as the relationship must be symbiotic if real change will happen. With this relationship, I am confident that we can decrease overall death rates and prevalent diseases like cancer. As a human race, we must not understand what steps must be taken to make sure technology enhances society as a whole.

I believe this boils down to two facets, components that are crucial if technology is to benefit society in the near future: communication and dedication to the end goal. Healthcare workers and technological workers must work together to see plans come to fruition. When ideas are disagreed upon, both sides must be unafraid to bring their unique voice to the table. It is vital that everyone feels comfortable and confident to share their voice on the specific issue. Additionally, individuals must keep their eye on the prize, not shying away from making mistakes. Failures must be looked at as positive things, as these events lead to personal growth on a variety of levels. When life presents me with struggles, I will take each one on without fear of failure and become stronger because of each of them.

I believe I deserve to win this scholarship due to my unequivocal dedication to excellence, always striving to enhance the world as a result. Our differences, not our similarities, are what makes positive change happen on a macro scale. Throughout my collegiate and professional career, I hope to grow as an individual and use my experiences to change the world for the better. Each of these experiences will provide me with unique lessons, each one aiding me in future success. I am beyond ecstatic for the next chapter of my life, as it will present me with building blocks to enhance the lives of many.

“My dream College”

By Aniyah Milton

For many years now my family has pushed me into going the college route.  “Go to college! Go to college!” was their favorite mantra.  Now I know you have heard this a thousand times: boring reasons as to why people want to attend college; but me, I am different, I like to think of my future as money.  The thought of college brings up money. I mean who doesn’t want to further their education to make more money? My success is what gives me the courage to say I can do it. There was a time when I considered the thought of not attending college – my junior year in high school. This year my life took a turn in a very tremendous way: I got pregnant and I was discouraged about having to deal with this and trying to keep my academics.

I started to get discouraged. I thought that the only way out was to give up. After months of thinking, I realized that I  wanted  to become something more in life. I started to reclaim my confidence again. In my reconsidering stage, I started to say that my life was over and that I had no one to turn to in order to make sure I was mentally stable.  I felt that I was all alone.  I felt as though college was overrated that I could attend a trade school or attend community college and get the same education. But I finally realized that it’s so much more greatness that has not been found. Now I know that I want to attend college! I have gotten accepted into 4 colleges already.

I am looking forward to double majoring in Criminal Justice and Nursing. I am interested in these two majors because I want to help people in need of care. Criminal Justice has always been my passion because I want to help others get out of trouble if they find themselves in it. I find it very satisfying to solve crimes and see others win especially our black culture because there are a lot of hate crimes related to racism in our current society. My success is in my hands; I am hungry.  I want to be the first to say I have earned a degree. I will be the very first to attend college in my family. This is my ticket to win!

I am proud that I can say I turned myself around and found what can help me contribute to my success. I am a magnificent student that is capable of doing anything that I put my mind to.  I am coming for you Central Penn: the home of the Tigers . I claim Trinity Washington university to become my new home for the next four years of my life. I have also gotten accepted into Bowie State University, Livingston State University and Prince George’s Community College. Grateful students are happy students; no matter what situation you’re in, there is always something to be thankful for! I am thankful for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship.


By  Francheska Quing

Ensuring that the technology we develop benefits our society is a difficult task, but definitely not impossible. The key thing to be successful on this particular task, is “cooperation.”  Not all of us have access on the newest technology, some have no access at all in any kind of modern technology. So to the some of us that are lucky enough to be able to use the convenience of technology, we should always let the big guys hear our voices. It is easier to have our voices be heard today compared to a decade ago or so. We should use that power to ensure that technology not only benefits the greedy people who wants to control everything. We should ensure that it benefits the society as whole. And if we cooperate with each other, rather than posting hateful things to each other online, we, as a society, can do a lot of wonderful things. If we watch each others back, we can help each other in ways we never thought we can.

While ensuring is a rather difficult task to tackle it is not impossible and with the cooperation of many we can ensure that our technology is evolving with in mind of helping the society as a whole rather than just that 1% of our population.

Class of 2020- Quarantine Resilience

By Oonagh Odom

My senior year has taught me a lot about adapting to a new way of life and finding balance in challenging circumstances. As a well-rounded student, I have always been involved in extracurricular activities, and finding balance through perseverance and channeling them into something positive like art have been my keys to a bright future. Something not reflected in my academic and leadership success record is how I have persevered with anxiety after the death of a parent. Dealing with unease forces me to focus harder as I strive to always improve patience and attention to detail. I am most proud of the hard work I put in to get great grades and improve my artistic skills. So it is frustrating when anxiety tries to stop me from my goal of becoming an artist. Ironically, anxiety has helped me grow as an artist and storyteller.

I value education at school or independently, I am an honors student, an artist, and musician. Recently I auditioned for section leader and brass captain and was honored to receive those positions. Just a month ago I was offered a contract with the Phenom Drum and Bugle Corp in the mellophone section continuing my competitive marching band dreams. I realize that there always room to improve, and the knowledge I gained from leadership and performance experiences like those helped me grow. I have anxiety,  yet I refuse to be defined by it or let it stop me from succeeding.

A few weeks ago I was dreaming of all the ways I expected my routine and life to change when I went off to college, how I would grow as a person and student facing new challenges. Daydreams of simple questions like what will my dorm roommate be like to how does campus food taste, to the excitement for new classes and academic expectations.

Then the year took an unprecedented turn with the outbreak of COVID-19.  Navigating senior year for the Class of 2020 has become completely unexpected, devastating many hopes and dreams. My high school canceled the rest of the year’s events, sports, prom, honors testing, even graduation is uncertain at this time. Everything I have worked the past 12 years towards from studying, projects, internships, extracurriculars, and AP class projects, all cumulating in walking across a stage to accept my high school diploma with honors…all uncertain. We had many more adventures planned, all have been postponed due to the need to socially distance to protect everyone which has taken precedence. Our routines and lives have been impossibly uprooted. I realize that my grades and transcripts remain and are the least of my worries while the world fights this pandemic. I am scared for those fighting for their lives, for those treating them, and worried about how our entire world will be adapting in the months and years to come. It is understandable that we all make sure to protect the students and community by keeping them safe and following CDC guidelines, it’s still heartbreaking after we have worked so hard to see it all gone in an instant. It is difficult not to mourn what has been lost in what was supposed to be one of the most significant years of my life.

This is a momentous time in history- it will be talked about for generations. My generation, my fellow classmates are feeling broken-hearted. So much has already changed- from the sudden closures and goodbyes to our friends we did not have a chance for, to realizing the last time we would be together on campus has already happened- that is the new normal for the Class of 2020. It’s ok to feel grief, to mourn that loss. Logically we know that like these hard times, that sadness and grief will not last. Like my classmates, I do what I can to be positive from online learning to personal enrichment, to taking care of myself or even just reaching out to friends via technology to reconnect. We find ways to have peace and serenity. I am encouraged to journal these moments in writing, video, or art because they will be looked back on as we try to make sense of all that has happened. We still have the power to make positive memories. While I navigate the five stages of grief for a year full of unexpected and unwelcome changes I wonder how I have dealt with this will affect my perceptions going into college. I have pivoted from classes on campus to online learning while maintaining my focus and grades- will that make my work ethic even stronger as I pursue higher learning? I have had to persevere through adversity in an ever-changing landscape where the old normal is not guaranteed- will that make me better able to face what changes will come in the next four years at University? How will I overcome this disappointment or obstacles in the future to thrive and shine in the years to come? I realize now that everything can change in a moment, a life can be at risk from a cough or lack of social distancing, a career can be completely altered by a business collapsing from drastic economic change.

Starting my college education in a few short months will be a big step, a transition in life that I have never faced before. This year has taught me that I am resilient. While not every moment or event from my senior year can be rescheduled, no one can cancel what I have already achieved. My dreams will not be on hold forever. I am more confident than ever before after navigating the current pandemic crisis that I have the skills to adjust, determination to persevere, and patience to succeed whatever changes come my way in college and beyond.

My life

By Darrell Branch

Football has been a big part of life. My dad was a blue chip prospect back in the day and his dream got messed up from the neighborhood he was in. He had nobody to look up to and nobody to get him the right direction. This just increase my Drive to the max cause I know his dreams didn’t come through because of his decision he made.So I didn’t start out playing football at all basketball was my dream I thought it was my everything and football wasn’t I mean I still played but never really organized football. My life has been a roller coaster I have some very ups and downs in my life my mom always kept a roof off my head regardless doesn’t matter at all she always found a way to keep food on the table and a roof over my head. I’m from Philadelphia PA my mom had several houses in PA and she would just get scammed over and over and over it was just bad for us it kept happening. Then we kept moving around and around.

Then my second older sister  moved with the oldest one then my mother thought she couldn’t have her house under control. This month’s go on I’m living at my Grandma’s house for now I was barely going to school in the 7th grade I might have missed over 50 days of school. I just hated going there I really did it was the worst every. Then months go and go my mom says she’s moving to Arizona. My grandmother and my nephew came to Arizona with just two bags I had left with my clothes in it that’s all I had was 2 Bags of clothes to move to Arizona with. Then we get to Arizona he have to stay with my Aunt for a little till we found our place then we do then my mom comes down my older brother my sisters my dad everyone does we all down there then we lose the house we are all homeless again my older brother got Incarcerated

Then my sister move back to philly both of them and my grandma. We were homeless for about 6 months living from hotel to hotel going to school cooking meals in a hotel with 6 people in two bedrooms with a pull out couch. Then we get it together then my mom been looking everyday to found a place she does we move back to Apache Junction we found a 3 bedroom apartment we been there till this day. But the moral of my story is that I don’t give up my family we are warriors we are fighters this drives me to the max I grind everyday for my family frfr I will grind for them always doesn’t matter when I get on that field I know what I gotta do my mind is on lock I get the job done regardless. I might have to walk on to a D1 college to prove myself and show them what I’m about cause I will for real I know that I got to make my family proud they look at me like they ticket I take that roll for real cause I know that been through a lot I got then to.

Detroit: Become Reality?

By Natalie Tachikabe

This prompt reminds me a lot of a video game called Detroit: Become Human. The premise of the game is that society has developed androids that are meant to be as similar to real human beings as possible, while still being under our control so that we can make them do anything we want. They are integrated into society as housekeepers, police detectives, and other common employment positions. However, these robots that were once made to simply serve us become self-aware and rebel against their human owners, eventually leading to a full-scale revolution. While this may not be the most realistic scenario, it poses a daunting question; as technology continues to grow more advanced, how can we ensure that its benefits outweigh its setbacks?

Technology, from its very beginnings, has been made for the benefit of its creators and the general public. However, Detroit: Become Human demonstrates, albeit a highly unlikely scenario, in which society has improved technology so much to the point that it is no longer beneficial to us and instead poses a threat. This idea can also be seen today, for example, in the overuse of social media. Social media was created to keep us connected even when we are apart, but it has become a platform where many of us spend hours upon hours looking at people who seem to lead much better lives than us. This constant exposure to such unrealistic lifestyles leads us to look down on our own lives, and make us feel as if we are not successful enough. As such, something like social media, which was made to improve our lives, has had the opposite effect and has caused us to feel as if our lifestyles are not enough in comparison to others.

But how can we stop this when technology has already become so integrated into our society? The answer is not to stop using our phones and retreat into some nature resort, rather it is to remember what the true purpose of our current, and future technology is. Nearly all technological advances are made with the greater good in mind. Improving cures for previously fatal diseases, new cars that can better protect its passengers in the case of an accident, more efficient laptops that increase productivity are all examples of how we are constantly trying to improve our technology to benefit others besides ourselves. The answer to this prompt is simple; technology should always be improved upon under the idea that it will be for the greater good. While this may be a hard principle to enforce, doing so would allow us to ensure that as society advances, our technology parallels our growth and continues to benefit both the individual and the community.

Steps To Success With Technology In Society

By Terry Si

In this day and era technology has taken over the world. No more kids outside on bikes , playing tag, meeting up with friends on bikes at a chosen location. Adults rather order off a screen then to socialize with workers, Were more focused on our cellular devices then life itself around us. I want to bring this new generation of kids and adults back to the way it was in the early 2000’s where technology did not have this tight of a grip on us. The steps we can take to ensure that technology we develop benefits the society is to think and be creative with ideas and to also consider what the people really need to make there daily lives are easier. We can gather data recorded from past years to see where the problem with technology is then we can have the people suggest ideas in a poll form but with certain rules regarding ideas that would benefit themselves and not society, Then we would take those votes from the poll and tally them up which would then help us “the inventors” a lot because then by taking the data from the poll we can then create something that the creators know would satisfy society because it is what they voted for and they had a voice in the invention, therefore society opinions matter because without the approval from society within, Then there would be no success due to others already judging the idea or they just don’t like it. This is why I suggested a poll form for technology ideas from the people because without them , success would be impossible.

Typical day in life in 2025

By Neha Pal

My day in 2025 starts with the automatic alarm that calculates my required sleep time and wakes me up. The environment has been deteriorated, so my alarm generates the natural sounds of birds and nature. Due to the scarcity of fresh water, there are automated machines to brush your teeth and take bath so that the limit of water consumption can be maintained. I can only consume a certain amount of water so; the food is prepared accordingly which includes vegetables to provide me with water content.

The sustainable usage of resources, which we should have started practising earlier when we had the option, is now enforced upon all the living creatures on the earth. Fifty percent of all the research taking place is dedicated to finding ways to increase the life span of human survival on the planet.

The uses of normal cell phones are long gone. Now we have a Virtual Reality phone display that we control from our wristwatches. Through this, we can cut down the usage of precious metals and the labour it takes to mine them. Also, there is a negligible amount of pollution due to toxic mine spills which makes the ecosystem stay in balance while saving wildlife and marine life. Furthermore, it has become easier than ever to communicate with your family and friends because through augmented reality it seems like we are sitting together.

Since the climate has changed so drastically, scientists have developed clothes which can keep you cold and warm according to the weather. We don’t need to layer ourselves in the winter which has resulted in less wastage of energy on clothes production.

We have also successfully stopped the usage of plastic by 100% and have found out its substitutes which are equally cost-effective and easy to use.

My idea of ‘changing lives through public engagement’ resonates with the Open Hand Monument designed by the French Architect Le Corbusier in my hometown Chandigarh. It symbolizes “the hand to give and the hand to take, peace and prosperity, and the unity of mankind”. This city has shaped me as a person and has given me beautiful memories and important values to hold on to, just like the hand symbolizes. This city has enabled me to become an active volunteer of the National Service Scheme and take part in campaigns for women and girl empowerment. I have also founded the unique idea of a website called “iDAAN” –I Donate And Alleviate the Needy (https://iDAAN.in). It is aimed at providing a web-based interface platform to donors and volunteers.

By 2025, I would have passed out Purdue’s notable mechanical engineering program and would be capable to make start-ups and make scientific breakthroughs.

I am sure in the next 5 years; artificial intelligence would have matured due to continuous neural network-based learning and would have become a highly intelligent expert system with virtual reality for meeting the challenges of the world.

London After Dark

By Aubree Slade

The cool, wet air of London brushed through her hair as her feet padded across the cobblestone streets of London. The rain had just cleared, exposing the vast sky above. The moon shone through the passing clouds as Rosie wandered through the over pass. London was a magical city full of life and diversity. Not a day passed when Rosie didn’t hear a mired of languages uttered in passing. The excitement of this city surpassed that of any thing she had conjured in her dreams. She glanced to the left and saw buildings full of color and wonder, and full of stories. Stories of those who once called this city their home, stories of people lost in the crowds of the hustle and bustle, stories of children’s laughter and love of their childhood. As Rosie neared the end of the road, she paused at the bright red door, whose paint had begun to cracker, showing the weathered wood underneath. As she watched the weathered door, all her memories began to flood her mind, and it was as if she was five years old again, waiting at that bright red door in her school uniform. She felt such longing to be that little girl with the red door, how much she would give to feel her mother’s soft hand in hers as she guided her across the busy London streets. What she would give to taste the cold rain on her tongue as she danced in the rain, without a care in the world. Rosie felt her heart sigh as she cherished these fond London memories, with no other purpose but to remember, remember that life she once knew. She slowly turned to walk away from that bright red door for the last time, when she heard the familiar creak, accompanied by that familiar voice although now weathered as had the door been. Rosie turned and without even thinking, she ran to her mother, who with open arms embraced her. The familiar peace and warmth washed over Rosie as tears streamed down her hot face. This was home, this was where love and laughter never seemed to cease. This is the place she belonged. How she had longed to feel those soft, yet strong arms engulf her in pure love and sincere longing again. She felt her mom’s soft and delicate hand gently wipe the tears from her cheeks, as she had many years ago, and in a familiar manor say, “I’ve been waiting for you to come.” Her sweet, soothing voice caused an immediate rush of relief and joy as she walked through that big, red door. She was home, and she knew she was safe, she knew she was where she belonged. Behind that red door, down that crooked cobblestone street, in that rainy, magical city of London. She took a deep breath and filled her lungs with the cold, refreshing London air and closed the red door behind her.

The Regulation and Acceptance of Technology

By Philip Truong

        Technology has always been a hallmark of humanity. Tools used to help advance our goals and to sate our needs. As society advances, so does technology, but that technology could start to counter the interests of the average person in that society. The english proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” is not for naught, however the needs of one could contradict the needs of many. For these reasons, the most essential steps to prevent harmful technology will become the acceptance of progress, then in turn the regulation of that progress.

        Accepting that technology will inevitably progress is an important step as preventing it will only damage our society. The problems in our current world are very obvious and advancements in technology will open up more solutions to these problems. For example, more efficient renewable energy in order to cease the irreversible harm fossil fuels are causing to the planet. Technology opens up doors that we’ve never had before and it would be detrimental to our needs if that process is ever disrupted. A problem arises when we act incorrectly in reaction to new technology.

        This phenomenon could be witnessed in the ever looming threat of automation. Inherently automation should benefit humanity as a whole, automatically doing specific jobs and opening up more labor towards other places of development. However, that is not what is happening in the current situation. Automation is displacing an incredible amount of jobs, jobs that will never be recovered back. To further that problem is the fact that these jobs are usually done by uneducated and low-income people, which harms the chances of them being able to find another job without having some sort of skill. This new technology is only benefiting the leaders of the companies as they are able to significantly cut the costs in labor without damaging their efficiency. As a democracy, the people have voices in government, so instead of acting towards technology, we need to start actions to prevent this inequality.

        Hence the call for government action towards these problems. There are solutions where everyone can benefit instead of just the higher-ups of these businesses. For example, a method that has become more popular thanks to a former democratic candidate, Andrew Yang, is to develop a universal basic income to provide for the people being displaced by automation. We need to recognize why some technology is hurting society and work to solve those problems. Enacting solutions similar to a universal basic income will help solve this imbalance of benefits. This way we accept advancing innovations and everyone benefits as well.

        Our problem with technology doesn’t stem from the technology itself, but from the fact that the average person isn’t benefiting from it anymore. First we have to accept that stopping the advancing process is damaging, then we need to recognize the inequality leading to technology harming society, and lastly enact methods to prevent an imbalance in benefits from technology. Ensuring we as a whole can benefit from the technology advancing our society.

The Unraveling of technocratic Humanity

By Natalie Nunn

     As our society continues to develop and our knowledge continues to grow, I believe that it is important that technology remains a relatively minor part of our lives. I know this might seem controversial, but I would like to begin this argument on the premise that humans can provide so much more wisdom than technology can. Sure, technology can help us care for the sick, build feats of architecture, or just make every day chores easier. But I think that a heavy reliance on technology in the future could be what potentially lead to a future where humans do not think, or feel, or react as we do now. I believe that no matter how far we develop technology, it is important that we never perfect it. I understand that this point of view is very controversial but I have 2 main reasons for this argument. Firstly, nothing can ever be absolutely perfect…it is impossible. Secondly, if society perfects technology, then what would be the purpose for humans? Technology could arrive at a point where humans need to do absolutely nothing. All we would do is sit on the couch and be fed, bathed, transported and medicated by pieces of technology. Understanding that technology is not what defines a society is crucial to comprehending that machines do not think like us, nor make decisions or feel emotions like we do.

    As technology develops, I think that it is important that society does not lose its humanity. Perhaps limit the usage of technology, or again, do not perfect it. Society would benefit from a future lack of technology because it is a fact that there will always be conflict in this world. Wars will still be fought, people will still starve and families will still be together on the holidays Technology can help with preventing things such as war or famine; but concerning face to face interaction and thought processes, technology should not be included. Society needs to always have a driving force of emotions, compassion and bravery to keep our species alive. Technology could compromise our humanity. And that is something that as a collective society we can not allow to happen.

    I would again like to reiterate that I am not against the advancement of technology. It is very evident that without it, it will be very difficult for people to move forward without it. As the Earth changes around us, technology will be our saving grace when resources become scarce. I just wish to emphasize that humans should not become  too dependent on technology. We could lose sight of ourselves and not hold ourselves accountable to mistakes we have made and just blame it on technology. Technology should be slightly limited in the future and perhaps only be restricted to desperate situations, so people can realize the strength within themselves and the wonderful consequences of being human.

The Better Technology

By Andrea Markovich

I believe technology should be used to educate people, bring people together, and help people communicate. In reality our world is not filled with perfect people but, we should still be able to make sure technology is being used for the better. Steps to keep technology in line should be fairly basic. I feel we should have a stronger system to decide which technology would be good for us and which would cause more harm than good. Technology can mean so many things from medical technology to social media so we should have different branches of this system. Along with a system we should have people give input on these ideas. There may be extremes but, they will be able to cancel each other out. The input from the public is always nice because these are the people living in the moment dealing with technology of all sorts all the time. An average person is able to not consider the money factors that a typical company would be considering. Their opinion is less bias in the long run. When it comes to being curious about something you pull up Google, when you need to plan a party you can pull up Facebook, you can text, you can set up appointments. I see all these things as being great for an everyday life. This is what the average population uses technology for. Our government and big businesses use technology for good things as well like advertisements, health of the population, safety of the population. They also use technology for destruction of others. They have made weapons big enough to destroy the planet with our technology. I feel most of our country would disagree with the weapons that have been made. These weapons do not benefit society and there are plenty other things technology has brought us that does not help our society.

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