FIU’s Graduate School: Just Another Two Year Undergrad Education?

Some FIU graduating seniors are refusing to apply to FIU’s graduate school due to lack of “true graduate classes”. In some majors’ departments, the “graduate classes” are simple undergraduate classes with a graduate course number shared with undergraduates/underclassmen. This makes prospective graduate students feel unchallenged and more determined to find other universities that will give them the education they believe they deserve.

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Lost Passion Rediscovered

I have a box. I can neither touch it or see it, but I know it’s there. Why? Because I can feel it and I also created it myself. It’s a box with one of my greatest fears inside. The fear of not knowing where I’m going to end up in my life. I keep this box hidden far back in my mind because I’m determined to believe that it doesn’t exist.

I’m a confused individual when it comes to my future. I may not be the only one, but I definitely feel like it. I have so many interests and I went with one that I felt I could use later. It took me two years and four undergraduate major change forms for me to settle in the Asian Studies major.  I was accepted into the University of California: Santa Barbara (my dream school) while I was living in L.A. and decided that I wanted to double degree not only in Global Studies but Journalism or Creative Writing. I had some short stories I could show, I was so excited. And then my Father decided he didn’t want me to stay in California, so he told me he wouldn’t help me with school and I ended up at FIU in the Asian Studies department. Members of my family and friends also told me that journalism wasn’t a secure career. That it would be hard and near impossible to get a job especially in this economy and that it would be best to stay in Asian Studies and minor in Business. At least I would be able to get a job with an international business and/or with the government.  All I wanted to do in my life was see new places and try new things, so I listened and stayed with only Asian Studies. I was secure and confident in my decision.

At least until today.

Jasmine Kripalani , a guest speaker in my journalism class and a reporter for CBS, was a dose of medicine I wasn’t ready for. A heavy dose that left me with a bitter taste in my mouth that I know for a long time won’t go away. Here was a girl smiling and speaking about her passion for journalism. She was so happy with what she was doing, her face glowed and throughout that hour I began to envy her. That nasty green eyed monster called Jealousy started oozing out of me, I couldn’t help myself. Why, you ask? Why, Diandra, are you envious of a girl who has a passion for journalism? Because the passion that she has for journalism, I don’t have for my major. Somewhere within the last year and a semester away from graduatioin, my major began to seem more like a chore to me and I don’t have that passion anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Asian Studies. I love learning about culture and language. I watch Korean television for literally six hours out the day. But I’ve always had a passion for writing. As much as I tried to walk away from creative writing and journalism, there’s always been something that told me don’t turn your back to it. That’s when I realized this was the reason why I put myself in this class. I could have taken a Chinese language class, I could have taken Asian film, but I ended up picking Intro to Journalism because I wanted to see if words, my passion for words, was still there or not. And though I hate to admit it, it’s still there in that box I began to forget about. By listening to Jasmine speak about internships, stories, and her research methods I kept wishing it was me. That I had written in the local newspapers, that I was out there asking questions, that I was seeing the world for what it was: a place filled with memories, experiences, and stories that need to be shared.

So when she said “who will try and get published at the end of the week?”, when my professor said ” who wants to write for our school newspaper The Beacon?”, I thought I can do this. I can really do this. But then I heard my family’s voice and I began to fill myself with doubts. I wasn’t a journalism major, I have never had anything published, and truly I don’t know anything about how to write an story or even how to find one. Even though I had blogs, I had no idea about how to write for a newspaper. All I knew was how to write my thoughts. That type of thing wouldn’t make me last in the journalism world. But inside, I feel that this is something I can do. Jasmine Kripalini taught me that what you are happy to be doing is probably what you should be doing for the rest of your life.

So I’ve made a decision. It may be far-fetched but I want to write about culture and travel. I want to write about what other countries and lifestyles not like our own have to offer. I want to write about cultural anthropology, languages, intercultural communication, and international problems. I feel that my road to happiness is to blend my two loves and do something with it. By using my Asian Studies degree for this, it makes me feel that sparkle Asian studies first gave me. It surprises me that all it took was one girl to smile while she spoke about her career and challenge me. And I don’t think I going to back down for this one.

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Can’t Speak Spanish? Sucks For You.

I was so happy to move to Miami. Ecstatic might actually be a more fitting word. Coming from Los Angeles to Miami, I was so excited about going from one diverse city to another. I’m studying Asian Studies, which is Asian Culture and Languages. Even though Miami’s Asian population wasn’t as high as I wanted, I still loved the thought of learning the Spanish and Creole culture. Going to Miami was a new adventure for me.

I moved here in January of 2010, moved into my house with 3 male roommates, and decided to look for a job. I went to malls, restaurants, businesses that needed a secretary and was basically told I couldn’t be hired nor did I stand a chance because I didn’t speak Spanish. The Spanish population here is so large that any Non-Spanish speaker trying to get a simple job like retail or waitress will have to go through obstacles to find a job willing to hire them. It took me 4 months to find a job, and my last job didn’t really want to hire me because I lacked in the language.

There’s seems to be discrimination between the Non-Spanish speakers and the Spanish speakers due to the fact that some on both sides lack the patience to try and communicate.  People here automatically start speaking to me in Spanish and most days I’m okay with it. But I do get to the point where it irks me to see that when I go to a restaurant or grocery store or to the mall some people don’t take time to speak English. Then they try and make you feel stupid because you don’t speak Spanish. It was either that or avoid me all together. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that most of the people who immigrate here are long past their twenties. Which means that in their country they are already set in their ways and feel that trying to learn another culture and language is a waste of time, especially here in Miami where they don’t need to learn English to get by.

You also get people who have a sense of patriotism in the US, whether it’s slight or large. They feel that this is America and these people stepping foot on “our land” should learn our culture and assimilate. But here we are bending backwards to get on the level of newcomers who refuse to pick up some kind of culture and/or language of the new land. So naturally borders are being put up between different ethnicities and races and patience is running low.

But with this generation, Generation Y, we tend be more accepting to minorities and different cultures and hopefully the country will follow these footsteps. Especially with education boards that put culture and language requirements in schools. The world is large and there are many different people here that live their own way, and we can’t force them to change it just because we as Americans want to feel comfortable. No matter what we feel, in our history we are all immigrants. Though it might not be so recent in your family history (like my mom’s side who immigrated here in the 70s from Belize, making me 2nd generation) , knowing that will show you that there really isn’t a true American culture because we’ve always been a country that’s full of many types of people.

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The Loud Silence of Non-existent Optimism

Pic Credit: Basic India

“Nothing” is my enemy. It’s a dark little monster that seems to creep in the night when silence decided to become my friend. Lying in my bed in the dark, I stared at the ceiling while my eyes adjusted.  Trying to get used to the blackness around me displayed little lights of green and blue all over, though when I tried to focus on one dot the light would disappear.

Everything seemed to make my senses a little sharper. I could hear my heart pounding, the flutter of the curtain in the wind created by my fan. The fan seemed to have this faint clicking sound whenever it did a full rotation. I never noticed that.  The silence made my ears ring. Almost like a high pitch squeal that didn’t seem to exist. I always wondered in the dark if this ringing was real or if I was imagining it. How can silence make a sound? How can silence ring?

Just lying there forcing thought out of my brain, my body seemed to become heavy. I felt myself slowly sinking into my bed. My fingers started to become little rocks i couldn’t move. I became as still as calm waters, all I could focus on was my inhaling and exhaling. Or so I thought?  Soon enough, I couldn’t push thoughts out of my head anymore and a rush of past actions and experiences made its way into my mind. I thought about my mom and how she had surgery and I wasn’t there. I thought about how I haven’t been able to see my family since Christmas because I couldn’t afford it. I thought of how i’m stuck at FIU for another semester because my Advisor couldn’t read a SASS report correctly and didn’t notice I was missing ONE upper division credit.  I thought of how my mom wants me to return to Jacksonville because she hasn’t seen me forever when all I want to do is runaway from there.

Runaway…I just wanted to start a new life. I’m soon going to be holding a Bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and i’m stuck in a state where that population isn’t even large. I want to go back to Los Angeles! I want to get a job in my field where it will take me to East Asia constantly. I don’t understand why everyone wants me to settle. I can’t settle yet. There’s so much more to see.  My thoughts were such a rush and by the end of my “Do Nothing” experience, I felt sad because I didn’t realize how clueless I was.  All that I wanted I don’t know how to start and this experience has showed me a deep problem within myself.  I don’t know where to start after I graduate. I have absolutely no idea and I saw my biggest fear by doing nothing. Realizing that I’m lost…

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Use Your Voice: HIV Awareness


In a beige-colored office with flourescent lighting, a woman sits in a chair, clutching her child. Inside she was praying for the health of her baby, praying that it didn’t carry her life-changing disease. HIV had taken over her home like the plague it was and the only one she wanted to help escape it was the life she created in her arms.  When the doctor steps in, she sits down behind the desk and the praying woman’s breath gets caught. The doctor looks at her, her mouth moving but nothing registering because all she wanted to hear was one word.  “Negative.”

That word from the lips of the doctor echoed off the walls like an empty home, but it filled her heart to the point she screamed out of joy and cried tears of relief. This scene in the documentary “Lessons From South Africa” was the one scene that made an impact on me. When one shows so much dedication for a life, trying to guide it in the right direction, that changes the future whether it’s one person at a time or a whole nation. And that’s what the media in South Africa is trying to do.

According to 2009 statistics, there was a estimated total of 33.3 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, a shocking 22.5 million living in Subsaharan Africa. That part of Africa is known as the capital for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. That’s almost a full 68 percent. But the mindblowing numbers aren’t stopping the fight in South Africa.  Through television, they are not only trying to inform adults and children through facts and statistics, but showing the actual lives of people suffering from this disease.

Through reality television, they are making the private lives of HIV-infected people open for all to see. Their hardships, their relationships, their everyday lives and how they have modify it because of HIV. This type of show is not only informative, but it makes the individuals on the show more relatable to where the watcher can apply that person’s journey into their own lives and/or talk about it with friends. Just by feeling like “you’re not the only one” can change the outlook of someone’s life. It can give them the push that they really need towards the right direction.


Television isn’t the only way they are using media in their outreach program, but also with radio shows or HIV testing tent setups sponsored by brands and other companies.  By using these modern tools, they are marketing themselves towards a generation of young adults.  Nowadays, teens and people from their 20s and 30s are brand name and social networking junkies. By using anything that can connect that type of mindset with an organization like HIV Awareness will generate the feedback that they need and deserve.

The world could learn a few things from South Africa when it comes to teaching people about HIV. There are many people in the world who are shunning the epidemic, not talking about it or trying to pretend it’s not even there, but treating like so won’t make it disappear. Nor is it bringing anyone closer to a cure. This disease has the ability to destroy towns and cities, maybe nations. We now have the technology to make people aware, to bring them together and make them fight for one goal.  We need to become dedicated to saving lives, not just reducing numbers in statistics.  Once we become selfless instead of selfish, only then will we see true progress.

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To See Is To Feel: Television’s Impact on Journalism


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Through an image, we can see every detail. Through an emotion on a person’s face or the  chaos in surroundings, a picture is a story and a memory forever preserved in history. And when the genre of journalism decided to take advantage of it, not through just still pictures but through moving ones, they opened up a door to events for the whole world to see.

Television not only let people know about things happening around the world and within America, but it gave them an up close and personal view of it. It helped them relate and see the truth about situations being played at that moment, and through that of being able to see, we begin to feel. We feel the sadness of deaths, the rage of the oppressed, through seeing we are feeling.

It’s always been hard to read about 1960s Civil Rights Movement, due to the fact that I am African American. I was born 20 odd years after it, but by seeing segments of 1960s news I am able to feel as if this misfortune is happening as I speak. This was during a time when broadcast journalism was so fresh and new, that capturing the empathy and reality of a story was the most important thing. And this new sense of direction is what helped this nation change.

Through broadcast journalism an ignorant nation was able to see how unequal their “equal” country really was. Through television screens, American citizens outside the South were catching the lives of a minorities being abused and disrespected as they fought for what every American was supposed to have: Rights. News stations all over were tuned into the goings on of this side of the country, documenting the daily lives of the oppressed and how it was evolving for the best, but majority of the time for the worst.

Credit: Socialite Life

Television played such a role to where people not involved were able to become involved emotionally and physically. People were able to relate to the situation, to feel for the African American society, and want to do something through that. It made the voice of what Southern segregationists thought were small into something booming and earthshaking, and it continued to grow. Soon people were getting involved, making journeys to these towns to march along others side by side towards a future they knew existed. Television helped change a nation.

Families were able to sit down together and listen to the speeches of rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and become inspired to apply that to their own lives and to tell it to others. Without television, I believe that the fight for civil rights would have taken so much longer because they wouldn’t have made such an impact. Strength sometimes does come in numbers and with numbers people were brought together to fight one cause and break down walls that had been up for centuries.

Advocacy journalism is strong in this world because everyone wants to prove a point. The world tends to think in a black or white manner, occasionally having grey be an option. We tend to understand more when there are sides to pick, and through that we tend to feel more passionate about where we stand. The more people one can collect who supports that same idea his side, the more influence he has on others. This played beautifully in the case of the civil rights movement and with Martin Luther King, a strong advocate. With words, he was able to convince a country of a future that was possible which was full of peace between races, equality among all. With words about a dream he embedded himself on people’s hearts and minds and brought them together. Through screens in every home, individuals were captivated by this man who spoke with passion and hope. And the fact that they could see him speak this dream is what made a difference in the lives of Americans. They were able to feel and that is our strongest (and most life-changing) emotion.

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Personal or Factual? Blogger or Journalist?

A nice cup of Earl Grey if you please, sir...

Now,  I know how absurd it might sound by putting “Samuel Adams” and “Blogger” in the same sentence. I’m not here to say that Sam Adams has all of sudden rose from the grave and now has a popular blog with 10,000 followers. Now that is absurd. But after reading the Journal of Occurrences and the first chapter of Mightier Than The Sword, I came to wonder if Sam Adams was truly a journalist or if he was what we would call a “blogger”.

Some could argue that he was a journalist. He wrote about events that had happened and what he had observed. Does that make one a journalist? Bloggers do the same thing as well. Is it an issue of being paid?  As of lately, LOTS of bloggers are getting paid to post entries. Ethics? Moral? Training? Who knows! It could all come down to blogging is strictly for internet purposes and journalists are in the papers. But this is Sam Adams we’re talking about and last time I checked internet wasn’t invented in the 1770s.  So it all boiled to what I think truly distinguishes blogger from journalist.

Is it personal or factual? Biased or unbiased?

Bloggers are known to write about anything and everything, but only write in their POV. They are biased. It’s not about facts, but what they believe is right and wrong, their likes and dislikes. Blogs are like journals or diaries you used to keep under your pillow when you were 12 to document things that happened that day. Journalists,on the other hand,  are writers who are supposed to be unbiased. They state the facts (proven facts), they investigate, they try and get the whole picture and then serve it up to a mass audience. It’s not about what they think, it’s about a story that is important and people need to see it.

Sam Adams was an important writer during the time of British occupation, writing about rapes of women by British soldiers, muggings, violence.  He was a great writer who wanted to show the colonies what was going on around them in their homes and towns. But after reading some articles from the Journal of Occurrences, I have came to the decision that Adams is a blogger. Why?  Once he wrote that the British were “bloody-backed rascals”, it showed that he was biased and he was making it personal. Also, an example in Mightier Than The Sword showed that most of the stories in the Journals were rather suspicious due to delay and exaggeration, which could mean that it wasn’t true. Evidence was either made up or not shown at all, which doesn’t follow the journalist trait of being investigative and fact-checking.

There is a “Code of Ethics” that the Society of Professional Journalists has that journalists are supposed to follow. The code was developed WAY after Adams’ days, but it’s mostly a way that journalists have always followed. It states that theys should:

  • Seek out the truth and report it.
  • Minimize harm.
  • Act Independently.
  • Be Accountable.

By looking at these rules, I can tell you that Adams really didn’t follow most of them. Though he did write of events that happened, he wasn’t truthful on some of them, nor did he report it on time. He didn’t “minimize harm” because he wrote to start riots and/or get people on his side.  Though that wasn’t a bad thing, especially during that time, it wasn’t enough to make him a “Journalist”. It just made him a man with a very strong opinion.

pic credit: Liberty Maniacs

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