SpotlightYouth Spotlight

We met Kaitlyn Chana because we all did the same program, The Congressional Award, and we reached out to talk to her more about what she did to earn her Gold Medal from Congress. Little did we know at the time how ambitious and accomplished Kaitlyn is. She currently works as a Multimedia Journalist at the NBC affiliate WLBZ in Bangor, Maine. Kaitlyn covers a range of stories, develops sources, delivers news to an online audience, and provides dynamic live coverage, among many other duties.

Kaitlyn has also run her own non-profit organization, so she knows very well how important time management and being organized is for success. Kaitlyn is generous with her time and advice, and it is clear how passionate she is about helping others. Read on to learn more about what it means to be a multimedia journalist, what it was like running a non-profit, and what advice she would give to her younger self.

*Fun fact about Kaitlyn – she is profiled in our book, Youth’s Highest Honor!

Name: Kaitlyn Chana
B.A. Radio-Television from the University of Central Florida
@KaitlynChana /

Kaitlyn Chana: For me, it means taking advantage of the opportunities around you. Be a go-getter; go after your dreams by putting yourself out there so you can learn and prosper. As a teen, stretch your resources, push your personal boundaries, and challenge yourself daily. No one can teach you about yourself, except you.

CJ: You studied Broadcast Journalism and Radio/Television at University of Central Florida. How did you determine what to study?

KC: Since 6th grade, I’ve wanted to be a storyteller. As a reporter, you need to build rapport and trust while informing the public and providing objective standpoints surrounding the community. I’ve always wanted to tell stories for a living. Journalism fuels my curiosity of wanting to know more, so in college I couldn’t get enough of it. I’ve always known that journalism is my calling. Everyone in life has a personal story of excitement, love, desperation, hurt or a driven message. I want to be the journalist who strives for purpose, bringing truth, and helping others to open their hearts.

CJ: You have held many internships in journalism at places such as TODAY Show in New York City and WKMG in Orlando, Florida. What were these experiences like?

KC: Internships are key. I gained so much insight by observing and making mistakes. Yes, mistakes will happen, and that’s normal. But it’s important you learn from these mistakes so it doesn’t become a repeat offence. Interning at the TODAY Show was remarkable. I was involved in the news gathering process, setting up interviews, researching and working with the talent. Local markets, like WKMG in Orlando, taught me how to write short and concise stories. TV is all about sound, video, and images. Creativity is important in the news industry.

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CJ: You earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal in 2010. How did you get involved with the Congressional Award and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

KC: I found this program intriguing because it allowed me to set and achieve goals that build character, foster community service, personal development and citizenship. This three-year commitment propelled me to become a motivated goal setter while being an interactive team player. I learned how to sculpt my schedule so I could juggle all my responsibilities. My greatest takeaway is balancing my activities and managing my time.

CJ: You are the Founder and President of Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness. What inspired you to start this international non-profit organization, and what does your role entail?

KC: My inspiration came from an extraordinary woman named Linda Bremner, who founded Love Letters Inc., when her son, Andy, battled cancer. Having participated in a Girl Scout activity for Love Letters, Inc. years earlier, I revisited it when I needed to complete a community service project in eighth grade. After contacting Linda through email and phone conversations we formed a very meaningful friendship. At the close of one of our phone conversations she told me, “It only takes one person to move a mountain and then others will follow.” While I didn’t know exactly what she meant at the time, I wrote her beautiful quote in my book to always remember. Shortly after that, I received word that Linda had passed away and at her request the national organization, Love Letters Inc., was closed. My hands gravitated to Linda’s quote and I instantly realized that it was my turn to be the one to move the mountain to help children with medical challenges. It then became my passion to carry on Linda’s legacy by encouraging others to create inspiring homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses.

So, in high school I became the Founder and President of Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc. which was a 501 (c) (3) non-profit national organization whose mission was to create positive and inspirational homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses. Each card was unique because it was created by hand using stamps, stickers, scrapbook paper, and art supplies. Inside each one an uplifting message such as “Sending You a Great Big Hug” or “You Shine like a Star” was written to give children faith, courage and the will to survive.

Once the cards were created, I’d examine each card and hand deliver some to individual children going through the difficult times of treatments and surgeries and others to hospitals and organizations such as Give Kids the World, the Ronald McDonald House, and Keiki Cards so they could distribute the sincere messages. The remaining cards were sent with love through the mail to help lift children’s spirits. Doctors can’t prescribe love; it’s typically left to a volunteer to fill this prescription by restoring the patient’s dreams. Through Love Letters cards we were able to touch the lives of 120,000 children with life-threatening illnesses. I had to close the organization because I couldn’t continue the success of our mission and my full-time reporting job. My passion is in telling stories and I want to inspire people with my pieces, so all my energy is devoted to reporting.

CJ: How did you go about starting a non-profit organization, and what do you wish you had known before launching?

KC: Starting a non-profit is truly like running a small enterprise business. It’s a lot of work, yet with the right tender, love and care the imaginable is possible. I took a non-profit course during my high school years so I could have a strong understanding of the legal documents associated with my organization. My responsibility not only centered around the actual volunteering, but also the finances, management, recruiting of volunteers, working on grants, marketing my mission, and being an active presence with the organization’s brand. It was a 24/7 job.

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CJ: In addition to running Love Letters, you are a multimedia journalist. What does it mean to be a multimedia journalist?

KC: A multimedia journalist or ‘one-man-band’ means you do the job of four people as one person. I have to enterprise my own story ideas, interview my subjects, write, edit, anchor that portion, write a web story, and have a strong social media presence. That’s all in a day’s work. It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination because there are many deadlines. Deadlines can be your best friend or worst enemy. You always want to stay ahead of the clock. You need to be tech savvy; sometimes I edit my stories in remote places and feed the content back to the station. Also, I set up my own live shots and lights for when I’m going live in the field.

CJ: What advice do you have for youth who are interested in being journalists, or who are interested in starting their own non-profit organization?

KC: Never give up! Always follow your dreams and passion. Don’t let negative comments steer you into a direction you disagree with. There will be days when you feel like you’ve been run over by a semi-truck. That’s when you are going to be tested the most. So, pick yourself up, get back on track and keep going.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on school and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

KC: Currently, I work as a reporter for an NBC affiliate in Bangor, Maine. There is no general day! Every day is different depending on the story. Sometimes it’s an early morning live shoot covering breaking news or staying late to interview someone. The only thing that is constant is that we are live in our news shows from 5PM to 6:30PM. And I need to be ‘camera ready’ and look well-rested… news never stops and neither does my job. Every Monday is different. Once I go to bed, I get up the next day and get ready for another unpredictable day.

CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

KC: Organization is key. If I wasn’t organized then I wouldn’t be effective or efficient, and I’d be left behind in my job. I’m very meticulous, to the point that everything in my office is color-coded and in similar binders and folders. My life revolves around calendars and sticky notes.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

KC: At heart, I’m a perfectionist. I want everything to be perfect. But, how do we define perfection? I remind myself daily that being perfect all the time dampers the beauty of life. In reality, I want to be imperfectly perfect.

CJ: What is a book you read in school that has positively shaped you?

KC: In third grade, I read The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto, and it was almost as if the words on the page were speaking to me. The frigid temperatures, walloping snow, and miserable wind kept hounding lead dog, Balto, as he carried medicine to sick children miles away in Nome, Alaska. These incredible athletes were inspiring and moved me to want to be a musher in the Iditarod. For years, I studied the race, the remarkable dogs, and their mushers. As a reporter, I covered the Can-Am Crown 250 this year, which is a qualifier race for the Iditarod. I was beside myself as I got to see the sport in its entirety right before my eyes. A surreal experience; it started because of this book.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

KC: Each day I allot time for me; to work out, read a compelling story, spend time with family/friends, or do something life-affirming. Structure is fantastic, but you have to have a little ‘wiggle room’ to breath and let lose. On those sour days, it’s important for me to break down my walls and do something physical. I reflect on my actions best when working out on the Stairmaster.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

KC: Don’t rush yourself into growing up. Appreciate the ‘present’ and be in the ‘present.’ Learn to enjoy developing into the woman you’d like to see. It won’t happen overnight, so as you take detours and back roads reflect and appreciate all the avenues you’ve been given.

Kaitlyn Chana Qs

Images by Kaitlyn Chana

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

In today’s competitive academic climate, attending classes isn’t always enough to give you the boost you need to land that dream job. Interning is an extremely popular way to beef up your résumé and gain valuable skills in the process. One person in particular has made the most of her college experience by constantly staying engaged in work and internships.

Esther Katro is the Queen of Interning. Seriously. With over 10 internships under her belt, Esther knows a thing or two (or three!) about working hard and building her portfolio. Having recently graduated from college, she now works as a TV News Reporter for 5NEWS in Arkansas. During college Esther would commute several hours each day for internships in New York City from Philadelphia, all while maintaining a big smile. Esther’s upbeat and go-getter attitude is contagious, and she undoubtedly seizes her youth and makes the most of each day.

Name: Esther Katro
Broadcast Journalism from Temple University

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Esther Katro: Waking up early! College gives you the convenience to schedule your classes late in the afternoon, but take advantage of the all the hours in the day! I’ve completed six internships that were not in Philadelphia, where I went to college. I had five in New York City, and one in Washington D.C. In order to complete these internships, I had to wake up at 5AM to catch the Megabus to get to work in the morning. I didn’t think I could do wake up that early and still be productive the entire day, but I learned that I have so much energy as a young twentysomething, and it’s important to take advantage of all the energy you have at this age!

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CJ: You majored in Broadcast Journalism at Temple University. How did you decide what to study?

EK: I grew up with parents who were Christian missionaries, so as a baby I grew up sleeping on airplane floors and was constantly being exposed to different people and cultures around me. I always knew I wanted a job where I interacted with different people everyday to tell their stories. My family watched the evening news each night, and when I saw the reporters sitting down and interviewing people, or chasing people down the street, I thought that’s what I want to do! I want to be a television reporter.

I chose to go to Temple University because I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and wanted to stay in the 4th media market and be able to give back to my community by covering stories in the area. I wanted to concentrate my studies in international relations after traveling to China and filming a documentary called “Esther Goes to China.” I believe that the more places people go and expose themselves to, the better they can understand how the world works to then make a difference in it and help solve problems. I hope I can do a lot of international work as a working journalist.

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CJ: What cause or issue do you care greatly about and why?

EK: I’m a water advocate, along with Matt Damon! In high school I got involved with the group H2O for Life, which educates Americans on conserving water and then helps build wells and provide water to people in developing countries, where water is limited. Within this topic, I’m most passionate about women in these developing countries whose job it is to fetch water daily. This activity takes up to six hours of their day, and so they can’t get an education because they’re spending so much of their day traveling to get water from the well and bring it back to their families.

I’m very passionate about women getting an education, and hope that my platform as a journalist can also serve as a women’s rights advocate. I believe that every woman should have the right to a good education all over the world.

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CJ: You earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal in 2013. How did you get involved with the Congressional Award and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

EK: When I joined H20 for Life, as mentioned above, the woman running the program also ran the Congressional Award program at my high school. I was already doing a ton of community service, and through this organization I was going to be doing a ton more!

The Congressional Award seemed like the perfect place for me to log my hours, and also meet like minded people who share my desire for community service and outreach. I’ve made friends at the community service events that I’ve attended or led that have become some of my best friends.

Through H2O for Life, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to speak and film about water issues in the country and overseas. Working with people who were just as passionate about the World Water Crisis as I am, but also inspiring people to get involved with the water crisis, was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

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CJ: You have had many internships over the years. Which ones stand out the most to you and what did you learn from those experiences?

EK: I knew I wanted to be a broadcast journalist after I watched the kids news show Nick News with Linda Ellerbee do a special on how girls who were my age didn’t have the opportunity to go to school where they lived in Afghanistan. At 11 years-old I wanted to make a difference.

As a sophomore in college I had the amazing opportunity to intern for Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, the show that inspired me to become a journalist, which is incredible! As an intern for her show, I was able to be on set when we interviewed Seth Myers, right in Linda’s home! I also got to act as a production assistant when we did a studio show at HBO Studios with Gloria Steinem called “Are We There Yet?” where we discussed if women have achieved equality to men yet, or if there’s still improvements to be made. This was my first internship in New York City, and it exposed me to so many successful people in the industry. The people who work at Nick News feel like my New York City family, and Linda Ellerbee has taught me some of the best interview techniques that I’ll carry with me for my entire life.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in pursuing a career in multimedia journalism?

EK: Intern everywhere. Seriously. I’ve had 15 media internships in both print, online, and broadcast journalism that all have been very different and have made me a well rounded journalist. I’ve taken sports internships, morning news internships (where I’ve had to be at the studio at 4 a.m.!!), and even wedding and food writing internships.

The more you expose yourself to as a journalist the better, and I think the most structured way to get that exposure is to intern. I think that traveling and opening up your eyes to as many people and cultures helps, but I strongly believe that interning in this industry is the best thing you can do for yourself. It’s important to know how to write clean copy quick and accurately, and to meet your deadlines, but it’s also important to know how to use a camera, to edit footage, and to talk in front of a camera. A multimedia journalist needs to be able to effectively accomplish every job description in a newsroom, and the only way to get good at that is to intern.

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CJ: You’ve done a lot of commuting from school to your internships. What are your commuting tips and how do you stay productive during that time?

EK: I call the Megabus my mobile home, because I probably spend more time riding a bus than I do at my actual home in Philadelphia. I’ve had five internships in New York City and one in Washington D.C., and I took the Megabus to commute to all six of those places. It’s fun! You get to meet so many interesting people on the bus, and learn what they’re doing at these cities. But sometimes the person sitting next to you doesn’t want to talk, so in that case I try to get my homework done since the bus has Wi-Fi and power outlets.

I love to catch up on my reading with my Kindle which is great because the Kindle lights up so I don’t have to turn on the headlight above me and disturb the person sleeping next to me. I love to write on my iPad too. I love to write about my day. Barbara Walters once said that her greatest regret is not keeping a diary. When I read that quote, I thought, I’ve got to keep a diary of what I do everyday because as a journalist, commuting, everyday is so different and exciting!

My number one advice for commuting is to never ever sleep! Just look out the window and you’ll see the city lights lit up if you’re traveling at night, or you’ll see people just starting their day if it’s the morning. Or just people watch inside your bus or train. It’s really awesome to see how the world works and the many different people inside of it.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EK: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (because there are some days when I felt I lived her life).

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

EK: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on school, internships, and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EK: No two days are the same. Ever. Which is why I love commuting and why I’m a journalist. I love change. However, on a typical Monday I would get up at 5AM. Well, technically 4:58AM because I set three one minute alarms until 5AM. I pick out my clothes the night before so I get ready in about 10 minutes.

I drive to the train station which is about 10 minutes from my house and take a 40 minute train into Center City Philadelphia. From there, I hop on the Megabus, and take a 2-3 hour bus ride (depending on traffic) to New York City. I have a 30 minute walk to my building. I put in a full day of work at my internship, and then from there I do the same commute in reverse to come back home. So at least six hours of my day are spent commuting!

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

EK: My life is so fast-paced, so I often don’t have time to sit and think about what I should improve on except when I’m sitting in the bus commuting. I often think about my day too much in the bus or talk to the person next to me that I don’t get to write about everything that happened during the day. I regret that. I want to focus on writing more about my days, which requires a lot of discipline. I hope to one day compile my writing into a book of all my internship experiences…I just hope it won’t turn into a promotional ad about the Megabus.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EK: This is going to sound like I’m not human, but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad day and needed to unwind. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m a robot made in the bottom of a news basement somewhere. I just always have a very positive outlook on life, and it’s really hard for me to get bothered by something because I’m always looking ahead, and I never dwell on anything bad that happened. I’m always looking for the next story or the next internship.

But I will say that finding at least one person at your work or internship that can be a close friend is always very helpful, if you need to get something off your chest or just unwind. I’ve always been able to find other intern to become really great friends with, who I can share any dilemmas I’ve having with. Also, fro-yo always helps. Bad day = a big cup of frozen yogurt. It’s healthy right?!

CJ: What made you decide to go to Arkansas?

EK: I sacrificed a lot, if not all, of my college career for internships. I took internships at all hours of the day. I would drive to unpaid internship at 3am when I would see my college peers just leaving the bars. And while I learned a lot about journalism and the personalities in the business, I only saw the top of the field. I was only interning in top 10 markets. The opportunity in Arkansas, was my first on-air job offer. My gut told me not to take the job. I thought this was just the first of many offers. However, a big benefit to having so many internships is that I had so many different mentors and contacts in the business to go to for advice. And everyone told me to take the job.

One of my former internship bosses told me, “There’s only one New York, Philly and D.C.–the rest of the country is Arkansas.” Although it was scary to move so far away from home on the East Coast, the journalist in me knew I had to see this part of the country. I also didn’t want a break from college to entering the work force. I wanted to sit at graduation, knowing that after the ceremony I would hit the road with my parents, on my way to my first reporting job.

I guess you could say you need a crazy passion to work in television news, and I never wanted a day off.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

EK: Stop chewing gum! It’s going to get stuck in your braces and totally extend this whole metal inside your mouth process. Also, to stop wearing UGG boots, and to not pop your own zits because more will grow back! And I guess, I would tell myself to write everyday, be confident in myself, and to be nicer to my parents…they will be your best friends in your twenties and hopefully for the rest of your life!

Esther Katro Qs

Images by Esther Katro


Generation Y is the most digitally connected demographic to date, yet we often struggle to keep up with current affairs happening globally. It often surprises me how many people I meet on a daily basis who have no idea of what’s going on outside their bubble of personal existence. With more ways than ever of keeping up-to-date and informed, it amazes me how so many from my generation fail to take note, or have an interest in foreign current affairs.

I’ve always had a genuine interest in current affairs; not only the news coverage that make the global headlines, but also more niche stories that many often fail to pick up on. Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year, it sparked my revival of wanting to utilize my background in international affairs and politics, to start to purse my passion of journalism more seriously as a profession.

Currently, I am struggling to comprehend why more young people don’t make it a point to stay connected to world affairs that affect their lives in ways they may not even realize. I don’t find it relevant enough of an excuse saying ‘not enough time’ is the issue, as I see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn on far too many mobile phones, tablets, and desktops at offices on a daily occurrence. We pre-select what we wish to indulge our brains with when going on a media binge, and sites such as BBC, CNN, and Reuters News get avoided.

I find Londoners read print newspapers far more frequently than Americans, as it often makes the notion of personal space on the morning and evening tube commute home a bit difficult. Either way, print media is dying, and the way we consume news is becoming exclusively digital. Previously in times past, it was assumed that individuals in society keep themselves informed with politics and current affairs, as it generally affect their futures and well-being. Today, its appears to me too often that we have lost this approach of preserving the importance of keeping the culture of current affairs relevant in young people’s lives.

With so many news outlets in various languages, diverse viewpoints and political leanings, I don’t understand why more people don’t make it a point as part of the day to tune and learn what’s developing around the world. Social media does a good job of reaching out to audiences that would not necessarily have exposure to certain current affairs, but it often makes me laugh when I overhear discussions of young people asking what ‘ISIS’ is and wonder why it is trending on Twitter.

There’s a plethora of important events happening daily, and it’s a shame we don’t make it a point to tune in and analyze how they affect our direct lives. Believe it or not, in some indirect aspect, the conflict in Ukraine, continued rise of ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Ash-Sham) and Boko Haram’s continued havoc causing trouble in Africa pave the future landscape of Generation Y a great deal.

It’s easier than ever to start paying attention to current affairs. Whether it be on a local or global level, there are vast news outlets and mobile apps that make receiving and sharing news accessible. Checking the news shouldn’t be a chore, but rather, a part of our daily routines.

We as human beings should feel in sync with how events unfold, and how others’ actions affect our daily routines. Incorporating your social media existence into current affairs is a fantastic outlet to get started if you struggle to make it to the BBC’s or CNN’s homepage. Simply connecting with several of your favorite print or media news entities on sites like Facebook and Twitter can significantly add the most important and breaking stories into your world.

The means to get involved and have further immersion is easier and more convenient than ever before. The younger and earlier you start reading about current events and following what goes on around you, the more informed your life will become.

Image: Jon Ottosson


In a recent interview Oprah Winfrey spoke of when she realized that she could “use television as a service” to make the world a better place. Although the concept almost seems laughable since television can often be stigmatized, that does not mean the idea is untrue. The Oprah Winfrey Show show was famous for launching careers and inspiring people to be better. Is it really possible to change the world through television?

We first have to determine what it means to change the world. Is changing the world a contribution to the zeitgeist like Oprah’s Favorite Things? Is it if you learned something? (I learned how to check a pulse from a TV show.) The news informs masses everyday. Still, I feel that real change makes you really think.

We could find examples of these types of changes on television right now. Peter Norwalk, creator of the show How To Get Away With Murder, said that he wanted to normalize physical intimacy between men. His audience of millions is being exposed to gay characters which could force them to focus on this polarizing topic. It will not necessarily cause a universal change, however, because some will turn off the TV. Still, this awareness could spread and change the world however slightly.

If it is possible to change the world through television, we have to be careful. Last year, 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl. The images they see can be extremely influential. Though the Super Bowl is an extreme example, there are still millions of people watching television all year. This means that millions of people are reached all at once. American shows air in other countries and shows from other countries like England and France are airing in the United States, giving us an entirely different viewpoint than what we are used to. We, the viewers, need to realize that we are getting messages from television, whether we want to or not. It’s up to us to figure out what we want to learn from them. Just because Aria is dating her teacher on Pretty Little Liars, doesn’t mean it is exemplary behavior. It is a plot point. We have to learn what values work for us.

So, I do believe that television can change the world. It just won’t necessarily change everyone all at once or in the same way. That means that the next time we are watching our favorite show, be it Scandal or those Law & Order reruns that are always on somewhere, we need to think about what we are getting from it. There is a chance we are just getting some quality entertainment. Yet, every experience has the potential to shape how we see the world. Television might just change the world after all.

Image: Flickr


The end of every semester is riddled with exams and final projects that make your head ache and your heart race as you reach for your aspired grades. However, non-stop studying can prove to be detrimental to retaining information. So taking 10-15 minutes out of your studying session to catch up on the news and cat videos is perfectly fine. And just so you have a chance to take a break, here are the three wackiest, most ridiculous bits of news for you to peruse:

1. Murderer Charles Manson Is Getting Married and Most Of Us Are Still Single

According to the Associated Press, on November 7 Manson and his 26-year-old girlfriend Afton Elaine Burton were issued a marriage license. They will have to get before February or else the couple will have to reapply for another license. Burton professes to love Manson, who is convicted of multiple murders, and moved from her Midwestern hometown at the age of 19 to be closer to him. So while you are studying for your classes, the “Helter-Skelter,” conspiracy ridden Manson is planning his impending nuptials; it’s a strange world.

2. Beyoncé’s Sister Gives A Shout-Out To Benadryl

Now I put this on the list purely because I am surprised that this is even news, but apparently between Solange Knowles wedding ceremony and reception she broke out in hives. Benadryl seemed to cure this breakout and the festivities were back on. Knowles even posted an adorable picture of her and new husband dancing at the reception. Moral of the story: celebrities aren’t perfect and Benadryl is magic.

3. E-Smokers Rejoice As ‘Vape’ Is Chosen As the Word of 2014

Out of all the words in the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary chose ‘vape’ as the word of 2014. This spawned tons of tweets from e-smokers and vapor enthusiasts alike to tweet their delight in learning that their own movement of vaping has left a mark. This was a long time coming seeing that although ‘vape’ was added to the online site this year, electronic cigarettes have been around since the 1960’s and an estimated 4 million American’s now use the product.

Good luck studying!

Image: Aleksi Tappura


It is hard to believe that censorship is still a present norm in our world today. Living in a nation where the rare occurrence of revealed censorship can lead to intense uproar has sheltered most of us, and has also created a bubble in which whenever we hear of censorship in other nations it sounds foreign and almost unbelievable. For many other countries, censorship of news, social media, or even artwork in order to avoid political discourse among citizens is an everyday battle for freedom of expression.

This week, in a region of Essex, England known as Clacton-on-Sea, a council ordered the removal of graffiti art that opposed the conservative town’s view on immigration reform. Tying in the fact that this town is coming up on election time, the council wanted to avoid political discourse on their conservative values that could have been stirred up by this influential artwork. However, the council had no idea at the time that this graffiti art was done by the anonymous yet world-renowned artist called Banksy. Banksy’s painting showed five grey pigeons – most likely representing the members of the town – holding up picket signs that attempted to thwart a colorful, migratory swallow – an immigrant – from entering their domain. This is a clear jab at the towns desire to restrain immigration to Clacton-on-Sea.

The council attempted to avoid such political agendas from arousing the town, but by censoring what can be done and seen in the town via artwork, they inadvertently drew more attention to the situation. Not exactly going so far as to control their citizens every move, the council took on a very Big Brother-esque position by deciding what people in this area can and cannot see. If you are that afraid of your citizens being influenced enough to switch political affiliations, then try and keep their eye on your issues and viewpoints. Censorship such as this should never be utilized to keep political power; it contradicts democratic laws and ethics in general.

Another example of recent censorship comes with the current riots in Hong Kong. The riots stem from pro-democracy students and adults who are angry with Chinese legislation. Elections used to be controlled by a committee of 1,200 with many Beijing loyalists influencing the group’s decision. But recently ratified policy will now allow the city of 5 million the opportunity to vote for their own officials, so long as the vote is for one of the Beijing handpicked candidates. This new policy renders voting pointless and is why so many riots are occurring in the city. Moreover, the ruckus caused by the rioters has caused congestion in heavily populated regions of Hong Kong, sparking violence between pro-democracy protesters and those who want to get on with their careers and lives. In order to avoid uproar in mainland Chinese towns and cities, the government has censored social media. For example, certain hashtags on Twitter were banned and Instagram was shut down completely to avert any information that the government could not censor or control getting to mainlanders.

Many try to justify censorship as a way of preventing hysteria among citizens; a caveat of political responsibilities that is necessary for order. However, usually censorship just causes more chaos as citizens of that nation and outsiders fight to be able to understand what is happening in the news and in the world around them. Censorship is not protection. If anything, it hinders our awareness of what goes on in the world.

Image: Flickr


“State marriage bans, such as the one we have here in North Carolina, are living on borrowed time, it’s a matter of when– not if– they are struck down,” said Chris Brooks, a legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, after the news came down from the U.S. Appeals Court stating that the bans on same-sex marriage in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia were unconstitutional. For the avid supporters of marriage equality, they have found relief in this news, viewing it as years of arduous work pursuing the creation of equality and obtaining support for inclusive, positive media as a success.

For years the LGBT community and its advocates have tried to gain support for equality, and during that time most homosexual entertainers suffered through the frustration and personal agony of staying “in the closet.” Remember when Rupert Everett, a hugely popular British actor in films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and the second and third installments of Shrek, told other rising gay actors to stay in the closet because the truth would ruin their careers? But as time and progressive media has passed through culture, the LGBT image has been made palatable for the appetite of mainstream society and has helped to instill a need and desire for equality.

Early television shows like The Corner Bar and Hot I Baltimore produced some of the first gay characters shown in actual situations and relationships. This paved a path for shows like Friends, The O.C.,and Sex and The City to display gay and lesbian characters and storylines onscreen for millions of fans to see. However, the trend did not stop with small appearances on primetime shows; this trend has progressed to have entire story arc and shows centered on same-sex relationships.

For example, Ryan Murphy’s Glee was a big hit with audiences, and his character Kurt – who in the beginning was struggling with coming out – resonated with more than just LGBT youth. This is an excellent case of how media can be used to boost a worthy cause; by showing youth that a young gay man can deal with issues that parallel those of straight kids, Murphy helps teach tolerance and acceptance. Other shows that integrated same-sex relationships into modern society are HBO’s Girls and ABC’s Modern Family.

Our culture has also come very far in accepting gay and lesbian actors. As said earlier by Rupert Everett, there was a time when coming out meant absolute career suicide, but today there are many actors and actresses who have come out and maintained a successful career. A few examples are Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Although some say that not enough has been done to incorporate the LGBT image into the mainstream, we should all still be optimistic about this acceptance of everyone; we’ve come a long way. Yes, there have been, and still are, shows that stereotyped gay men – remember Queer Eye For the Straight Guy? – and there has been a persecution of the careers of gays who came out in the past, but to know that we are progressing out of this situation, that we are moving towards a state of equilibrium among acceptance of sexual orientation, should show that there is a lot to be hopeful for when looking towards the future.

Image: phillymag


Nothing seems to be more tragic than the suffering of an innocent in our culture. When watching the news, it is nearly impossible to restrain your frustration when hearing about the senseless murder of beautiful, little children. But what does that mean for innocent people who don’t necessarily look the part of the guiltless victim?

316 people have been exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing, and the reexamination of cases have shown that 1,304 wrongfully convicted inmates have spent time in prison- both on death row and on non-death row- as of 2013. Most cases that involve wrongful convictions surround the issues of rape and murder, which receive more attention, and are typically solved through plea bargains with little formal evidence presented. That means that those who are accused of these felonies usually have less time in trial to present evidence that could prove their innocence due to the impending sentence that could be much worse than the deal offered through plea bargaining.

And some of these humans who were wrongfully convicted were victims of civil rights issues. In recent news, after 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, Jabbar Collins made a $3 million settlement with the state of New York over his exoneration and currently has a suit pending about civil rights that were broken during his case. This settlement also comes on the heels of seven other Brooklyn men who had their convictions vacated due to civil rights issues or other mistakes made during their trials.

Collins was convicted in 1994 for the murder of a rabbi, and always expressed innocence, but was not able to prove his innocence until after a decade of requesting appeals and interviewing witnesses from behind bars. And although he was eventually vindicated, those years stuck in a six by eight foot cell were lost to him all because mistakes made by the prosecution.

Now obviously the prosecution cannot fully be blamed due to the fact that during the time that most of these wrongful convictions were made, the police forces did not have the resources utilized today (i.e. DNA testing or double-blind procedures in line-ups to avoid police coercion).  But it is important to note that most of the wrongful convictions are heavily rooted in the malicious habit known as bias.

And the film industry has tried to mend this through ventures such as The Shawshank Redemption, where a man wrongfully convicted spends years in prison culminating in an intense escape to freedom. However, the film is not true to reality as Tim Robbins looks the part of the innocent man sent to jail for another man’s indiscretions. In these actual cases, the intimidating appearance of the suspect could have played a part in their conviction. The reason this might be is because films and stories throughout history have painted an image of what a bad guy should look like. At one point or another, African Americans, tattooed, and scarred people were singled out as the antagonist, and these images can sometimes come into play when the police and the victim are trying to find the culprit. Sometimes it’s easier to remember the assailant as more frightening than they were to calm the conscience and let these media norms warp the mind.

In the non-fiction work Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson and Robert Cotton, Cotton and Thompson tell their story of how Thompson was so determined to catch her rapist that she wrongfully accused Cotton as her attacker. Cotton ended up spending eleven years in prison before DNA proved his innocence. In the end, however, the two became friends and even worked to protest wrongful imprisonment due to sloppy trials together; Thompson now works with the Innocence Project to help review cases of inmates who claim to be innocent. Nevertheless, their story gives the greatest example for how to deal with this situation. Obviously, forgiveness and atonement are two great factors to the tale, but above all else- and yes this is about to get corny- don’t judge a book by its cover, especially when that cover is painted on by socially incorrect norms.

Image: Excessive Bail


Recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech about India launching a very cost-effective piece of space technology. Last November, India was the first Asian country to launch a spacecraft to Mars, putting itself in first place in the red race. If that mission is successful, India will be a part of a small group of countries to have successfully reached and explored Mars.

Modi proudly says, “Our scientists have shown the world a new paradigm of frugal engineering and the power of imagination.” This spacecraft and the mission all come at an extremely cheap price: 4.5 billion rupees, or $75 million. Modi even claims that this project costs less than the budget of the Hollywood movie Gravity.

The new Indian Prime Minister wants to also hold a meeting with neighboring South Asian countries that are a part of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to discuss how the freshly launched satellite is “a gift from India,” as Modi claims it to be with quite the zeal. He hopes for the amelioration among the nations of South Asia, as he wants them to also be an integral part in the world’s limelight.

Along with many accolades, the Indian government has faced some rebuke. India is a country that is filled with problems: poverty, disease, lack of sanitation, etc. India also dangles on one of the longest economic slowdowns it has ever faced. Should the government really be focusing on improving its space program over trying to combat the domestic and social issues ostensibly present?

Despite the criticism, Modi claims that space technology can offer quite a few uses and can become “an integral part of our daily life today.” India celebrates its leap in space science and hopes for a bright future in the field. But what do you think about advances in space technology? Would you consider joining this innovative field? How do you feel about the exploration of Mars? We want to know what the youth’s view of space exploration and technology is, as this is a blossoming field with vast job opportunities.

Image: NASA


Yep, we’ve all heard about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s daughter, baby North. And most of us are pretty aware of who the current World Cup championship title holder is: Spain (and hopefully most of us know where it’s located on a map).

Moreover, just about anyone who’s anyone has heard of Miley Cyrus’s twerkfest at the VMAs this past year.

Don’t believe me? Three hundred and fifty-seven first and second-year students from popular universities on the East Coast (including, but not limited to, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Duke University, Elon University, and Brown University) anonymously answered these questions to test their general knowledge on news events. I even got a few answers from students living outside the country. Let’s take a look:

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Wow! What an overwhelming number of correct responses to each of these questions (especially the last one). As you can see, the results gathered from these questions indicate that we know quite a bit about what’s hot in pop culture and sports. But what about other types of news stories, such as those dealing with racism, discrimination, murder, and hate? How many of us have heard about the 2007 story of renowned Hindu priest Rajan Zed being discriminated against while opening a prayer for the US Senate? I didn’t even know about this event until recently— seven years after it happened— so I’m not exactly bereft of any ignorance to the event either. Let’s look at some additional poll results to see if anyone else knew about this:

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It’s astoundingly clear that many more people were unaware of this news event than the first three they were polled on (including myself). Here’s some background on what went down: Rajan Zed, a Hindu cleric, appeared as a guest Chaplain at the United States Senates, where he opened (or attempted to open) the day with a Hindu prayer. Sudden interjections with passages from the Bible were made by Ante and Kathy Pavkovic, two devout Christians. Theological outcries became rampant in the Senate, but Zed was eventually allowed to complete the prayer. After the event, many radical Christians openly rebuked the US Senate for even allowing a Hindu to open prayer before many pious Christians, a sin far too gruesome to ignore.

Amongst the religious hodgepodge and fervent defense for Christianity, Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt stated “…Zed committed the sin of idolatry, right there in public, violating the first of God’s Ten Commandments with full government permission.” However, Klingenschmitt and many other protestors did not acknowledge the fact that the United States of America runs one of its governmental principles on the freedom of speech, blatantly stated in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This means that people in the US are allowed to pray freely and practice any religion, be it Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Satanism.

There was also another question on my poll about a more recent event. A Muslim student in the United Kingdom was stabbed repeatedly because she wore a hijab. I asked students if they heard about this event. Here are the results:

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Once again, a vast number of those polled had not heard about this event either. A couple of students even refrained from answering. Here’s a bit about what happened: Muslim PhD student Nahid Almanea fell victim to a brutal attack in which she was stabbed sixteen times in the head and the back for wearing a religious outfit. Another attack of a similar nature occurred in the past three months, as well. This prompted Essex police to tell residents not to walk outside in private areas until the murderer is found.

I asked students one final question: Do you think Zed and Almanea’s stories contain instances of hate crime? Take a look at the results:

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That’s a pretty good consensus, one that’s almost hard to ignore. Hate crimes are defined as crimes directed at characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Crimes can range from hateful/discriminatory speech to murder. Insults thrown at Zed after the tiff at the Senate and the murder of Almanea could be possible examples of hate crime. So, why haven’t the majority of us heard about these unjust, important, and newsworthy stories?

Let’s take a detour and reexamine the title of this article: So, have you heard…? It’s evident that North is cooing in her crib, Spain is a winner, and Miley is twerking herself through her day, but do we really have any idea about what’s actually going on around the globe? I requested students to answer the following question on the same survey: “If you’re unaware of some of these events, why do you think you’re unaware?” Here are a few responses I found:

“The media is manipulated to air garbage news to keep the people unaware. Knowledge is power and our political leaders know that.”

A bit 1984-esque, if you ask me, but I received a lot of responses like this one. I cannot tell you if the government has some sort of role in this conspiracy theory, but perhaps a country’s government would cover up news like this so people don’t form a bad opinion upon the institution of government.

“Frankly, the news just does not care about real world events. It is a much bigger deal to talk about Miley Cyrus twerking than to discuss matters that really affect our society. Media shapes the way we think and lately, all the media cares about is celebrities and meaningless drama. It is a lot easier to discuss who is winning a soccer game than to report about the stabbing of a young student. And in the end, average Americans would rather hear about the soccer game. It reinforces the idea that we live in a perfect world, instead of the harsh reality that bad things everyday without any logical reason.”

Perfectly logical! We all want to live in a utopian society, or believe that our society is already utopic. In general, we would much rather hear about good or funny things, or perhaps even events that make us feel better about ourselves instead of the harsh and vitriolic reality we’re really surrounded by.

“The high school culture that I have been living in places more importance upon things of popular culture, such as the VMAs and Miley Cyrus. If I don’t know about twerking and the VMAs, I can be ostracized by my peers. But do they care about a Muslim student who was stabbed to death for wearing a hijab? No. There’s something about high school that makes it its own little world, where popularity and knowledge of pop culture are supposed to rank highest in our lives.”

It’s true. Veritably enough, the high school society we’ve all experienced found twerking amusing. If you were to say that you haven’t heard about Miley twerking at the VMAs, people would pause mid-conversion to demand you “Excuse me? HOW HAVE YOU NOT HEARD…LIKE OH MY GOSH.”  Unfortunately, it is normal for people to view others who aren’t exactly like us as “different” or “weird.” Whether she wears a hijab or a bindi or if he decides to wear a yamaka, certain people tend to veer away and associate with people they perceive to be more like them. Instead of acknowledging that different sorts of people exist, we’d rather learn about what type of drama is going on in a celebrity’s life…probably because it’s easier for us to read and digest.

Finally, I posed one more question: What do you think you can do to be more globally aware, instead of just having a limited awareness to pop culture? Here are some answers I received:

“Go to news sources like BBC, Aljazeera, Aaj Tak, and the New York Times. Go directly to the world news section, too. Oh yeah, stop reading celebrity gossip on Yahoo! News. That’s crap. Take 15 minutes out of your day and read some real, non-brain numbing stories.”

Great suggestions for finding news. International stations are worthy enough to be looked at by our young eyes. Also, that’s a good tip. A little bit of time invested each day can make you much more informed.

“Befriend foreign people to gain insight into events pertaining to other people around the world.”

Having a diverse group of friends is a great idea. You could learn a lot about other cultures and the daily lives of those around you. And besides…who wouldn’t want more friends?

 “Me? How about addressing the MEDIA’s focus on the inane? That’s where the problem is.”

I knew someone was going to say something like this. We endorse and support the media and their current stories through the amount of views they get. We control what we share on social media. Practically, without the youth, there is no media because we are the ones who shape it. If we find Miley twerking more entertaining than any global event…well, the media will broadcast that to get their ratings up. A change in our thinking can consolidate future knowledge about what actually matters.

It’s crazy to think that so much is happening in our small world, yet a lot of the youth remains unaware of what’s really happening. We focus on five percent of the world’s population when we read celebrity gossip and sports insiders, but what about the 95 percent of the average people out there? Do we know enough about other countries? Probably not.

I’m going to try to take some of the suggestions I’ve garnered from this survey and implement them into my daily routine. I’m going to attempt to seize all the opportunities I’m presented with, and make the most out of my youth with all the knowledge I collect in my six by six cranial reservoir. What about you?


Carpe Juvenis is always on the lookout for tools that will help simplify life. In a technological age where there are hundreds of thousands of different smart phone apps, finding the very best can be difficult. Here are some apps that we have used consistently and with ease! They have all been “Carpe Tested” for quality approval.

When it comes to:

To-Do Lists

This duo smart phone/computer application allows you to sort out daily, weekly, or monthly tasks in an easy to follow visual To-Do list. The color coded lists transfer between your computer and smart phone via wifi so you can save time! Just be sure to watch the dollar amount on this one – downloading the Mac computer version will cost you $9.99 but there is a Clear Free version on the iPhone app store. 

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When it comes to:

Staying informed

Circa keeps you up to date with the most critical information on the most important stories of the day. Less time is wasted and more information is digested. Being informed has never been so easy or fun. This app is free!

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When it comes to:

Easy “reading”

Although the Carpe team typically prefers reading books, Audible has a fantastic app that makes listening to an audiobook super easy. If you have an Amazon account you can download an audiobook through Audible for free!

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When it comes to:


Carpe does a lot of traveling so it is essential that we have the right tools to sort out public transportation wherever we may be. The “Embark” apps are amazing. There are 10 different transit systems available, all of which are free. From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., these apps have you covered.

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We hope that you love these helpful tools as much as we do! Which apps do YOU love?


According to a new survey of almost 9,000 teens, teenagers prefer Twitter over Facebook. The financial firm Piper Jaffray discovered that 26% of youth favored Twitter, while 23% preferred Facebook and Instagram. Reportedly, there are 218 million active Twitter users worldwide.

This new survey shows an interesting shift, as a survey of 8,600 teens earlier this year showed that Facebook was favored over Twitter by 33% to 30%. 

What is your favorite social media network?