Monday, September 24, 2012

Tiffany Named National Merit Semifinalist

Tiffany was among six Lindbergh High School seniors named 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program semi-finalists. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Lindbergh High School seniors (front row, from left) Vidhan Srivastava, RJ Mohr, (back row, from left) Tiffany Lee, Ananya Benegal, Becky Bavlsik and Allison Mather have been named semifinalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program.

According to Lindbergh High School online report published on Sept 17th, six Lindbergh seniors have been named semifinalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. Vidhan Srivastava, RJ Mohr, Tiffany Lee, Ananya Benegal, Becky Bavlsik and Allison Mather are six of approximately 16,000 semifinalists named nationwide. These academically talented seniors have the opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million, which will be awarded next spring.

About 1.5 million students in some 22,000 high schools enter the National Merit Scholarship competition annually when they take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). This serves as an initial screen of program entrants. Of these entrants, some 16,000 Semifinalists are designated on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the nation’s high school graduating seniors. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represent less than one percent of the state’s seniors.



To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists have to fulfill requirements to advance to Finalist standing. Each Semifinalist submits a detailed scholarship application, which includes writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also have to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a school official, and earn SAT scores that confirm their qualifying test performance. From the Semifinalist group, some 15,000 meet Finalist requirements. By the conclusion of the competition, about 7,800 Finalists are selected to receive prestigious National Merit Scholarships totaling nearly $35 million. Winners are the Finalist candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Scholarship winners represent less than 1% of the initial pool of student entrants (about 0.5% based on official statistics released by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tiffany in STARS


Tiffany joined 80 other highschool students from 33 highschool nationwide this summer in a six-week-long intensive research program. Her paper titled “Analysis of Cholesterol Effects on Surrounding Phospholipids in Cell Membranes using Molecular Dynamics Simulations”was selected as the recipients of the “LMI Aerospace Inc. Award for Excellence in Research”. UMSL Chancellor Tom George is hosting an awards banquet on Monday, October 8, 2012.

Below is news article from Lindbergh High School

Lindbergh High School students (L-R) Stephanie Fei, Shravan Dommaraju and Tiffany Lee were among more than 80 aspiring scientists who spent six weeks this summer conducting intensive research with St. Louis-area professionals and professors as part of the 2102 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists Program (STARS) at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The students were paired with top research mentors from UMSL, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Solae Company. Lindbergh students worked on research including:
  • Shravan Rama Dommaraju, “Hydrogen Bonding Energies in DNA Nearest Neighbors,” with Dr. Brent Znosko of Saint Louis University
  • Stephanie Yun Fei, “Segmentation in Perception and Reading,” with Dr. Jeff Zacks of Washington University
  • Tiffany Lee, “Analysis of Cholesterol Effects on Surrounding Phospholipids in Cell Membranes using Molecular Dynamics Simulations,” with Dr. Dan Ory of Washington University
“High school students interested in a science career get a big head start with their participation in the STARS program,” said UMSL Chancellor Tom George. “For six weeks, students interact with experts in their fields, work in labs and take away with them an invaluable real-life, hands-on experience.”

The program is funded partially through LMI Aerospace/D3 Technologies, Solae, the Office of the Chancellor at UMSL, Saint Louis University, Washington University and the Green Foundation.

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American's Mixed View of China

Americans are concerned over China's growing economic strength, but they view Chinese people positively,  according to a new survey reported by CNN.

A full 78% of Americans say the large amount of U.S. debt held by China represents a serious problem, while solid majorities cite the outsourcing of jobs and the trade deficit as worrisome issues.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, also indicates that Americans are much more likely to be concerned by China's growing economic might than even its military prowess.

The U.S. economy dwarfs that of China, which surpassed Japan in recent years to become the second largest in the world. But China is growing much more quickly than the United States. Even in a slowdown, China's economy still registers more than 7% annual growth, compared to 2% or 3% for the U.S.
At the same time, the U.S. trade gap with China widened to a record $280 billion last year, and is on pace to get even bigger this year.

Even though they regard China's economic rise as a threat, Americans ascribe some positive attributes to China's population. A majority of Americans describe the Chinese people as hardworking, competitive and inventive. Most Americans also believe economic growth will result in a more democratic China.
Still, only 26% of Americans say that China can be trusted a great deal or a fair amount.

Relations between the two countries, especially on issues of trade, have been in focus in recent days.
The Obama administration filed a complaint Monday with the World Trade Organization alleging that China has illegally subsidized automotive exports and undercut American suppliers.

Some observers characterized the complaint's timing as politically motivated. But Election Day could bring real changes to the U.S. relationship with China.

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has taken a combative stance toward China. The former Massachusetts governor has pledged to label China as a "currency manipulator" and hit the country's exports to the United States with tariffs.

Some observers worry that if Romney follows through with his plans, a trade war could erupt between the two economic mega-powers.

"Creative" Ways to Pay for College

The following is an online article from CNN Money on how parents and students are finding new ways to pay for the high tuition cost.

Paying for college with fertility clinics, sugar daddies

What do sugar daddies, medical studies and pawnshops have in common? They help some students afford a college education.

With the average family reporting that they are only on track to meet 30% of their college savings goals, every extra dollar counts -- and nothing is off limits.

John McKinley-Campbell had no job, $135,000 in student loan debt and he wanted to go back to school to get his Ph.D. at Florida International University. In order to afford to make it all happen he became a lab rat.
He has been participating in medical studies for pharmaceutical companies ever since his aunt saw an advertisement for one on TV. He lived in a medical facility for 14 days to test an arthritis medication and then signed up to receive injections of a breast cancer drug through an IV over the course of 8 days.

Those two studies alone will earn him about $8,500, which he plans to put toward an $1,800 GRE preparation course, the GRE test fee of $175 and the university's $100 application fee. The rest will go toward housing and tuition if he gets accepted. "If I can't find work [while in school], there's always a headache medicine I could test," he said.

Norah, who asked that her last name not be included for privacy reasons, has taken a slightly different route. She decided to become an egg donor at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Maryland this year, one of the largest fertility centers in the country.  The 24-year-old grad student earned $6,500 for her first egg donation, which almost covers her entire first year of school. A couple more egg donations will leave her with enough money to pay the full cost of the program -- around $15,000. "When I worked a second job [between college and graduate school], it took me almost a year working in retail to make this same amount I've already made from one egg donation," she said.

Along those lines, a sperm donor at California Cryobank, who requested to remain anonymous, said he has earned $2,600 from making sperm donations for the past year, helping him cover his college living expenses and lab fees.

California Cryobank, which has several locations around the country, said nearly half of its qualified donors are college students, and sperm donors can make up to $1,200 per month -- or $14,400 a year -- if they donate three times a week.

Other cash-strapped college students are using their looks and sex appeal to find "sugar daddies" who are willing to foot their tuition bills.

One 21-year-old student said she receives a monthly allowance from a 37-year-old "sugar daddy" she met through online dating site SeekingArrangement.com, which helps rich men find young women who are looking to be supported financially. In exchange for her company, she says her sugar daddy has been making her full tuition payments of $1,500 each month.

According to SeekingArrangement, that allowance is low compared to what most college students on the site receive. About 41%, or 350,000, of the sugar babies on SeekingArrangement.com are college students, and two-thirds of them say they are using their sugar daddy as a primary or secondary means of paying for college -- receiving an average of $4,200 a month for college expenses, according to the company.

Parents are also finding creative ways to cover their kids' college costs.

After coming up $4,000 short for his son's tuition, Dave McDougall, pawned 15 pens from his $40,000 collection of luxury and vintage pens as collateral for a $4,100 pawnshop loan. The loan came with a steep 6% monthly interest rate -- amounting to a 72% annualized rate (personal loans often come with annualized interest rates in the low teens). He plans on paying it off in September when he gets his bonus check from work.

Another parent, Carol Carlisle, hosts international students who come to the United States to learn English as a Second Language at a program called Intrax in San Francisco, which pays host families about $32 a night. She's using that money to pay back the home equity loan she and her husband took out to pay for their daughter's college tuition.

Carlisle began hosting students in June and has already made about $2,700 -- $1,800 of which she put toward the loan. She expects to be able to completely pay off the loan after hosting students for a few years.
"When our daughter graduated high school in 2005, we thought we would use our home equity to pay for college and would pay it back, but then 2008 came around and my husband is a builder and everything collapsed for him," said Carlisle. "Besides being a joy [to host ESL students], we get this check every month, and we can finally make payments on that home equity."

And if you thought it couldn't get any more unconventional, Wayne Perry has started saving early for his son's education by making money off of a YouTube video that unexpectedly went viral, featuring his newborn son holding the forceps used to cut his own umbilical cord. With more than one million views, Perry said he is raking in around $1,000 a month from Google AdSense, which places ads on YouTube videos and other online content and pays the publisher based on how often the ads are clicked on or viewed.

He says he's putting that money -- $8,000 so far -- into a college fund for his son, who is now two years old. If the payments continue, he thinks he could easily have more than $100,000 saved by the time his son is 18.
"We're middle class, where we make too much to get a lot of [college] grants and low-cost loans but don't make enough to foot the bill for a really great school -- and imagine when he's 18 what the cost of tuition will be," said Perry. "I could never have saved that kind of money for him without this -- never."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

College tuition continues to rise

Most people agree that in today's workplace, you'll need a college education to get a job that pays well and to have the best chance for career advancement. However, students and their families are paying higher prices to get that education.

According to FinAid, an online financial aid resource, college tuition has increased at about twice the general inflation rate. On average, tuition tends to rise about 8% per year, which means the cost of college doubles every nine years. For example, the same public college tuition that cost $8,000 in 2003 will set you back $16,000 this year.



Over the years, there have been many reasons for the increases in college tuition, but the most recent big hikes at public schools are due-at least in part-to state budget cuts. As state and local higher-education funding decreases, colleges are forced to raise tuition to make up the difference. Families that aren't prepared to cover these costs often turn to student loans in order to afford college.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Top 10 U.S. National Universities

The highly-acclaimed and highly-anticipated “best college” rankings according to U.S. News & World Report have been released for the “national universities” and “national liberal arts colleges” categories.

Top honors for the “Best National Universities” list is still a tie between Harvard University and Princeton University. In terms of “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges”, Williams College still tops that list of educational institutions.

Of the movement near the top of the “Universities” list, the University of Chicago moved up. It now ties with Columbia University at number 4 on the list.

The Top 10 National Universities

1 tie: Harvard University
1 tie: Princeton University
3 Yale University
4 tie: Columbia University
4 tie: University of Chicago
6 tie: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6 tie: Stanford University
8 tie: Duke University
8 tie: University of Pennsylvania
10 tie: California Institute of Technology
10 tie: Dartmouth College

Update:
  • 2012.09.13 - original post

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Great Day in the Park

After the remnant of Hurricane Issac finally left town and headed northeast back towards the ocean, the rain stopped and the sun started to peak out of the cloud.

The Labor Day today saw about ten families of GraceGarden Fellowship gathered at Castlewood State Park to mark the end of summer with fun, food and fellowship. We also welcomed fellow members of SLCCC who bumped into our gathering totally by accident!

The party first took a hiking along the Meramec River, then started the charcoal grill for BBQ'ing pork, hot dog and sweat potato. If the delicious BBQ wasn't enough, there were also many yummy dishes of noodle, pancakes to complement.

The boys didn't miss a minute to play team baseball with Jonathan bringing his bats and glove to show how to swing, run and catch. The girls collected clay around the wet land and also had fun in the nature.

After song singing to praise Christ, we took turn sharing about the grace and gift each family experienced with or received from Him in the summer. The sun rays shined through the trees, mixing with smiles and laughter in the air.

What a great day in the park, when we could share the happiness and joy as one family in Him.