Thursday, January 20, 2011

Personal Statement

If everything goes as planned, this fall I will be beginning a Master program in Social Work. I'm in the process of applying now. Filling out applications, reaching out to people to write me recommendation letters, ordering transcripts and submitting a personal statement. The statement is by far the hardest part of the process. It has to be perfect, as it is the largest tool I have to persuade admission councils to let me in to their program. I never imagined that describing why I want to be a social worker, what I bring to the profession and why I want to go to grad school now would be so hard but it has. I've been working on it since late October and only now is it complete, at least for the first school I applied to (Columbia School of Social Work). I'll say its largely completed, a few tweaks will be made per school. Anyway here is an excerpt of my statement to Columbia; two of my best paragraphs I think. The first is close to the beginning of the statement and the second is the closing paragraph.

As child, I never dreamed that I would be given the opportunity to apply to graduate school. My life and future were filled with uncertainty because my life was uncertain; I never knew how long I would be at a certain school or living in the neighborhood. I never knew if I would be able to stay with my siblings or if I would ever see my parents again. For nine turbulent years this was my life as a foster child, I worried that I would have to switch foster homes and start all over again. I wondered about my various social workers and if they even cared. This changed for me when I was 14 and met the couple who would eventually adopt me 2 years later. Adoption opened up a whole new world for me, a worry free one, filled with opportunities. This new found stability allowed me to think about the future, and I was faced with unlimited possibilities. Many children in foster care are not as fortunate, and become victims of the failures of the child welfare. When this happens those children are at risk for psychological problems, school drop-out, delinquency and risky living choices leading to uncertain futures likely to end in prison or with an untimely death. The failures of child welfare systems are not only detrimental to the children they are suppose to serve but to society as well. I was able to avoid this fate because I was granted the privilege of adoption. However, I firmly believe that adoption should not only be a privilege, but a viable option to dramatically change the life outcomes of foster children. As a social worker and administrator in the field, I want to be a champion for foster children and for adoption from foster care. The best way to do this is to reach a level in which I can influence this process and write effective policies and strategies in regards to foster care and adoption. This is no dream; this can be reality. I have an opportunity to manifest this reality, an opportunity I feel a personal responsibility to accept.

My preparation must continue at the graduate level and so I am seeking admittance to your program. A Masters in Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work would be the highest level of preparation to support these ambitions. The Policy Practice concentration is of particular interest as it incorporates policy and research, providing a training and  learning environment where I will develop the skills necessary to be able to become an agent of change for  foster children and to become a successful policy writer and, leader or Commissioner of ACS. Although an ambitious and challenging path, I continue to dream and imagine the possibilities, and I take my responsibility to play an active part in my society, seriously.  All dreams can be achieved with the proper preparation, and I firmly believe that the educational and training opportunities at Columbia University School of Social Work will provide me with the foundation and guidance necessary to pursue my career path and will serve as the first steps towards achieving my goals.

This has got to get me into Columbia right? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering the King

When I was 16 I went to Washington DC for a week as part of some High School convention for US History/Government students. It was an excellent trip, I learned a lot. Met some very cool, young smart people. Naturally we spent some time seeing historical sites, museums and the monuments. A few things stood out for me and are etched in my memory: Seeing the Declaration of Independence, sitting in on a Congressional sub committee meeting, walking through Congress and visiting my aunt who represented the 4th District of GA at the time.

The single most important experience was going to the Lincoln Memorial, but not for what you might think. Yea, Honest Abe played a big part in freeing slaves nationwide (he only did it to preserve the union) but it was all about the King for me.

I was looking for the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech. Luckily its marked out on the steps of the monument. When I stood in that spot something amazing happened. Everything went silent, my vision blurred a little and then refocused. All of a sudden I could see the sea of people who were there on that day and a giant chill went through my body. (I'm getting chills thinking about it now). For a brief moment I felt what Dr. King felt on that day.  It was so powerful that I cried (crying now). I emotionally called my mom to explain it all.

I felt that same power in late August 2005. I had just started my freshman year at Morehouse College, his alma mater. One night I sat at the foot of his statue and thought to myself "This man was here, walked these streets, sat in these classrooms and now I'm here." The same chill I had felt a few years earlier rushed through my body. With the same emotion I called my mother, this time also thanking her. During my time at Morehouse I would often reflect on that moment and rejoice in it. It often served as motivation, encouragement and guidance. I honestly don't think I could have joined him as an alum without him.

There is so much that I can say about Dr. King and how great he was. No matter what or how much I say I wouldn't come close to doing him justice. His life and the things he did in it were amazing. He was the most important person of the 20th Century. Life wouldn't be what it is now had it not been for him. For that he shall always be remembered. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The BCS Reflection

First things first let me congratulate the Auburn Tigers for winning the 2011 BCS National Championship game on Monday night. I have more to say but I'll get to it later. I planned to write my thoughts about the BCS before the games actually started, never turned out that way so now I reflect.

I have to say that this BCS season was a lot better than I thought it would be. Typically the BCS games are upsetting with only 2 games usually being good. It helps that the games moved to ESPN which did a gazillion times better than FOX had done past for years. This year 4 were good, yes I'm including Stanford's rout of VT  int he Orange Bowl (Strong 1st half and then Andrew Luck went surgical).

There has always been much banter about the BCS system, how teams get pick: automatic qualifiers, the computers and so on. People have argued for a playoff system (like every other sport on this world), a plus one system, more computers, just about everything under the sun, and rightfully so. 

The BCS has been a sham since its creation, a plot for conferences conference chairmen to make ridiculous amounts of money. I thought the schools who get BCS bids got the money directly, but it turns out it "goes" to their conference to be "split" amongst all teams in the conference. Playing in the game does get you some money, but not enough, ask UConn

Anyway, BCS creators, operators and supports will say this is the best way to ensure the best games and the proper national championship matchup but truthfully its all about $$$$$. You can tell by how teams are selected. The BCS loves storied programs, with dedicated fan bases. The automatic qualifiers conferences each had at least one of these programs when the BCS was created (Miami was in the Big East then) and aside from the Big Least East they still do now. 

No "Storied program" is loved more than Oklahoma, which has played in ever type of BCS game and played in 4 national championships. They got the nod over Auburn in '03, strictly of reputation if you asked me. We know how that turned out. And they routinely get "lighter" draws: Boise State, West Virginia and this year lowly Connecticut. Luckily they won this time and ended their 5 game BCS bowl losing streak. They couldn't keep losing, would be bad for business. easily my least favorite game this year.

Next least favorite was the Sugar Bowl. Yea, yea yea it was "good" game but it gets a giant c'mon man from me. Aight well maybe not that drastic but let me explain. First of all I hate Ohio State (#GoBlue) and Terrelle Pryor. He sucks. Point blank period. Their BCS entry can be accredited to him. The NCAA, with a lot of help from ESPN, pushes him into the spotlight because they want him to be/us to think he's good and more importantly; he sells. Add to it the fact that Ohio State might be the most loved "storied program" after Oklahoma (at least they have been the past few years). 

Their opponent, Arkansas, was a decent team that had a miraculously good season. They really aren't that good, especially for an SEC team. (Bama is better). They weren't the same caliber of team that dominated OSU in '07 and '08. Even when matched against an average SEC team OSU didn't play all that well, barely holding on to win and wouldn't have won without "The Auctioning 5." If Pryor and OSU were so great they woulda handled them easily. They didn't so they get the c'mon man.

The Rose Bowl is usually my favorite bowl, its the "Granddaddy of them all." It's probably because this was a common Michigan destination and the cite of their last Championship. Usually its a battle between the Big Ten and Pac Ten, but this year TCU crashed the party. I was certainly rooting for TCU, the "little guy" who consistently gets disrespected by the BCS and "Big Boy" lovers. (I truly like TCU, I once used them in dynasty mode in an NCAA and won mad championships).They had just completed a second consecutive undefeated regular season and were ranked #3 in the nation. Their opponent was a Big 10 representative, although not one of the traditional ones: Wisconsin. The Badgers had a great season, knocking off the "#1" ranked Buckeyes and were an offensive juggernaut putting up 201 points in their 3 previous games. TCU (the #1 defense in the nation) was up for the challenge though and shut the Badgers down and pulled out the tight victory 21-19.

The National Championship was the game we all (well I) couldn't wait for. 1st of all, Oregon did a damn good job using the 50 something days to pick a fly combination. The neon yellow on the grey and white was on point even though I think this would've been much doper. 

The game didn't disappoint, although it wasn't what we expected. Two of the highest scoring offenses in the nation (3rd and 4th). Two of the most electrifying players in the nation: LaMichael James and Cam Newton. Offensive Shootout for sure right? 50-49 score? Last team with the ball wins? #Wrong, #wrong and #yesbutsurpriseDefensive showdown, 22-19 and a last minute field goal to win. It was an excellent game though. Auburns defense shut down Oregon prolific offense thanks mainly because of Nick Fairley, who probably played himself into the #1 overall pick. He was beastly. The trademark SEC speed came to play for sure as Oregon receivers failed to breakaway on 2 long catches and were caught from behind. That same speed plus strength stopped Oregon on 4th down on the goal line. Oregon's defense was no slouch either, the prevented Cam from going #ham, held Auburn to 22 points and played well minus 2 big plays.

One thing I will say about this game was that it lacked the fan support of previous national championships. The bar we were at also hosted the Bama v Tex game the year before. It was packed out. This year it was literally empty. I think this was due to the fact that these two school aren't traditional "storied" programs. As a fan of the game I certainly appreciated the quality of the game, but I can see how non-storied teams can effect the viewing of the game, then again the game did set a cable ratings record so what do I know lol?

Anyway, BCS, you got it right this year (kinda) but you still need to go.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2010

Annually my boy Geoff delivers his top 10 Albums. there is always some controversy when he drops his lists because he always has a few joints that are unfamiliar to the general "fan" but his ear is strong. If it makes his list its definitely worth a listen. Nonetheless there will always be some people who question it (ME!). His response to everyone who might not like his list: "Make your own list!" I'll certainly have my own list (near future post) but until then enjoy his:

It’s that time again. On an annual basis I make a list of what I believe are the top albums of each year. I don’t do it by genre (because frankly I don’t have enough time lol) so basically I compile a list of my top 10 albums across the board based on what I’ve listened to. In all years that I’ve done this I can easily say this has been the most difficult year. In what some have labeled the greatest year of music ever (or as Mr West would say “Of all Time”) I found it extremely difficult to narrow down my list to 10 picks. Needless to say there were albums I was very passionate about that didn’t make the list..but it is what it is. So without further adieu here’s my top 10 picks of 2010. #lehgo

Top 10 (No Particular Order)

Bun B “Trill O.G”:  Bun Beata aka the King of the Trill came out into 2010 with two guns blazing. One of the most heralded MC’s in the history of southern music dropped arguably the hottest effort of his solo career, receiving 5 mics from The Source along the way. The bass heavy, Drake heavy, effort mixes the Underground King with some of the hottest talent in Hip-Hop who graciously return the favor for Bun B saving many of their albums and mixtapes. 5 mics worthy? No…Great Album? Yes! #sayitlikerawse

Top Joints:
Right Now
Put It Down
Just Like That

Cee-Lo “The Lady Killer”:  Outside of creating your favorite tune to whistle in front of your boss that they don’t know the words and/or derogatory meaning to, Cee-Lo toned down some of his weirdness to focus on making a phenomenal album. After his stint with DJ Danger Mouse forming the group Gnarls Barkley, Mr. Green became extremely comfortable experimenting with different sounds that fit his hi-pitched voice. In the process he developed into more of a singer, than the fast-spittin, syllable shiftin, rapper he was in the Goodie Mob days.  On “The Lady Killer” Cee-lo fully embraces his role as a singer creating a soul shifting masterpiece embarking Nas’s former protégé Salaam Remi & the legendary Philip Bailey from Earth, Wind, & Fire along for the ride.

Top Joints:
Fool For You
Bright Lights, Bigger City

Curren$y “Pilot Talk”:  To keep it simple Curren$y likes marijuana, beautiful women, and Air Jordans. On his Def Jam debut the hot spitta recycles these three topics alongside some smooth production to create the perfect soundtrack for any “late night session” Finding Ski Beatz was the best thing that could have ever happened to Curren$y’s  career and we all have Dame “Bottle Poppin” Dash to thank for that.

Top joints:

David Banner & 9th Wonder “Death of a Pop Star”:  Proving my theory that you should never make a top album list until the year is completely over, David Banner & 9th Wonder dropped some heat right in time to end the first decade of 2000. Banner has always struggled with whether he wants to be a conscious backpack rapper, or the “Like A Pimp” crunk maniac who encourages girls to “Get down on the floor.” 9th  Wonder’s soulful production provides the perfect backdrop for Banner to wear his preacher hat, as the duo collaborate for 10 tracks of excellence.

Top Joints:
Be With You

Foreign Exchange “Authenticity “: Gotta thank my brotha from anotha Sean Smith for putting me on to Foreign Exchange. The duo of Nicolay & Phonte from Little Brother make the ultimate “zone out music,” meaning you can put on this album & it takes you to another place. Authenticity is equally the weakest of Foreign Exchange’s trio of albums, but considering that it still made my list..what does that say about how talented they are?

Top Joints:
Eyes to the Sky
Fight For Love

Freeway & Jake One “Stimulus Package”: It’s not a list of mine if I don’t have a sleeper pick. The funniest part about this pick is I almost slept on the album myself. In a moment of laziness I almost scratched it off my list because I didn’t want to take an hour to relisten to the album. Needless to say I’m glad I revisited this album. Jake One provided 15 pieces of heat for Freeway to yell & rub his beard all over.

Top Joints:
Stimulus Intro
Follow My Moves
Stimulus Outro

Kings Of Leon “Come Around Sundown”: Despite producing one of my favorite songs of 2010 “Beach Side” the family band that has mastered mixing the sounds of heavy hitting choruses with haunting guitar bridges has done it again.  The band mixes upbeat jams with melancholy ballads seamlessly to form an album that even someone who doesn't regularly listen to rock music can enjoy.

Top Joints:
The End
The Immortals
Beach Side

The Roots “How I Got Over”:  Who ever knew that late night TV would be the best thing that could happen to a rap groups career? The truth is the Roots have been doing this for a while now, and their affiliation with Jimmy Fallon has taken them to a level of superstardom that they have never seen before. Thus, providing the perfect launching pad for yet another solid album that arguably should have taken the 5 mic spot from Bun B.

Top Joints:
Doin It Again
The Fire
Radio Daze

Drake “Thank Me Later” : This album just made the list..yes as I am typing this. The spot was reserved for Cudi’s Man on the Moon 2. Then I asked a lot of my friends which album they preferred since I couldn’t decide. Well the people have spoken…Jimmy Brooks  > Scott Mescudi. Hope Cudi doesn’t jump off a roof once he hears the awful news.

Top Joints:
The Resistance
Miss Me
Light Up

(By the way..has anyone discovered who Cece is and why she has an interlude?)

Now for the moment you've been waiting for. My album of the year is.......

 Damn Ye..can I finish?

Well anyway you guessed it: Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

I’ve got to say..this was the easiest part of  my top 10 album journey. The moment I was welcomed by my baby mother Nicki Minaj’s voice I knew I was in for a ride (get it?) Anyway, Kanye as outdone himself with this album.  Blurring the lines of Hip-Hop, Pop, Gospel, African, and various other music genres, Mr. West has truly set an exciting precedent for the sounds hip-hop artists will be able to experiment with in the future.  Pardon the interruption..but Kanye may have just made one of the greatest albums of all time!

Top Joints:
Dark Fantasy
Devil in a New Dress
All of the Lights

Honorable Mentions:

Eminem “Recovery”: In what was easily the second biggest comeback of the year, Eminem came back with his best piece of work since the critically acclaimed “Marshall Mathers LP”. This actually might be my favorite Eminem album since I enjoy listening to him over a variety of production rather than just Dr. Dre, or heaven forbid his own beats. Album started off strong, he lyrically slays pretty much every track but I felt it trailed off near the end.

Kid Cudi “Man on the Moon 2”: As stated before it was between this album and Drizzy’s for my top 10. I really like what Cudi did with this album and it’s one of those albums where it gets better with each listen, unlike his debut which sticks with you after the first time you hear it. Mr. Rager produces an album that is rockin from start to finish although it’s quite unfortunate that “everything he needs hates him”

Rick Ross “Teflon Don”: I’m quite upset with Rick Ross. The bawse and self-proclaimed fat mutha**** would have easily made my top 10 if he didn’t decide to release half the album on his Albert Anastasia mixtape. To make matters worst he let the rest of the tracks leak before the album dropped so I had pretty much heard all of Teflon Don before I sat down and listened to it in its entirety. Nonetheless this is the same album that produced Free Mason, Maybach Music III, and the summers anthem “Live Fast, Die Young” Hats off to the fat man.

Well people it’s been real. Until I drop my list of 2010’s top mixtapes, keep listening to that good music.

And if you mad….tell me why you mad:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Las Vegas

On December 28th 2010, I boarded a plane headed to Las Vegas, and even though I had planned the trip months in advance I still couldn't believe it. As soon as I got off the plane I was greeted with slot machines which wasn't weird at all. I mean who doesn't want a final chance to gamble their life away before they fly home? As I walked through the airport I saw billboards for all the shows, a liquor vending machine and various gift shops. At one shop I saw something I couldn't resist buy, a Las Vegas Icon:

After getting my bag and linking up with @ThePuddingLied and getting a lil In N Out Burger (a must everything you're on the West Coast) we went to his crib to chill and get ready for the evening's festivities. Before we hit the strip we had to get a FatBurger (another must since I was out west) and then finally it all became real once I saw the lights of the Strip. We went to Caesars Palace. I was a little upset because "I wasnt getting a sig on my beeper." We eventually got to Fat Tuesdays where I started operation: #5daysoffade:

First night in LV wasn't nothing to spectacular. We walked the strip for a while where I saw so many young children out (it was 1am). I was so shocked, but hey its not the kids faults its the parents which is why I made a pledge to piss on minivans: 

Just pissed on a minivan...if someone has their faimly on the strip @ they deserve to get they van pissed on....

The next day is when all the fun really started...or at least when the rest of #TheTeam came in. @Nucky_HAMson and @Geoff_HAM_Gundy. First thing we did was pick up the essentials for the week:

The 29 and 30th weren't anything to spectacular honestly. Met some of @thePuddingLied's friends one night (#Shoutout to @haseenat@kianaabby@AyeLeiLei). We went to a local spot that was full of Asians in relationships dancing to techno (#TheJealous). On the 30th I rode the roller coaster at New York New York, walked the strip getting my tourist game on and found a 32 ounce cup to bring #TheFade on the road with me. @Nucky_HAMson conquered a 35 ounce burrito challenge. That night we hit this spot called Jet @ the Mirage which unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy because I stepped out to wait for someone (#TheGuy) who was drunk, high and lost to get there. When they finally arrived I wasn't able to get back in (#TheJealous). I heard it was dope tho.

So after 3 consecutive nights of #Jealo I was counting on the last day of the year to provide the #UltimateUNjealo...and it didn't disappoint. We got up, got dressed, made our magic potions, took a few shots and hit the strip. We linked up with @simpleb and her crew for a lil photoshoot. Then we ate at the best Cheeseburger place in history @ Planet Hollywood:
From there we made a quick stop at CVS to pick up some final things for the pregame, this was the list:

Cups, Gingerale, Bread, Gum, & Chapstick 

Essentials lol. Before we headed back to the room we linked up with @Just_Gyna and her crew. We went up to the room and had chilled for a bit, mentally preparing for greatness.

After about an hour or so of just relaxing we started getting calls, people were heading up to the room ready to party. What took place over the next 2 hours can only be described as the Greatest Pregame of ALLTIME *Kanye Voice*. Heres a clip:


That was only the beginning. We still had a party to go to. After some mass confusion with the party bus company (he wasn't where he was supposed to be, we all got separated looking for him) we finally boarded the bus and headed to the spot. We got there right before midnight, right on time for the fireworks.

When I walked in the spot the first thing I heard was "I used to be a pornstar." I though I was mistaken so I asked the young lady if I heard her correctly. Her response was "yea I'm Avena Lee!" Turns out she was hosting the party with another former pornstar Lexi Cruz (google that yourself, no safe photos lol). I decided to kick it with them  for a while and now I can honestly relate to Kanye on "Hell of A Life" because I literally almost fell in love with a pornstar, especially when Avena told me her twitter name was @AvenaLeeMVP because she has the Most Valuable P****

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Believe it or not hanging out with pornstars was the mildest part of my night and I cant say much more about what happened. I did lose my phone though. (If you have my number #hitmeup so I can re-save you lol).

The next day we woke up and took shots to #Recovery. Our last day in Vegas together was filled with Fade, Food and Laughs. We went out to @ThePuddingLied's house for a New Years Day's barbecue. When we got back to the strip we linked up with @sillsnumber2 finally and enjoyed a night at The Spearment Rhino.

All in all it was a great trip, minus a few #jealoused situations. We set out to finish out 150 shots and we got close, I'd say about 120. NYE was #Intrepid. #TheTeam did our thing. @ThePuddingLied and his folks were great hosts. Las Vegas was good to your boy, made some new friends and had a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who helped make it memorable.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

I know you're thinking: "Who say Happy New Year on January 5th?" I do, well at least this year I do. I have a #great reason why its taken me so long (Hint: its Sinful). 

Anyway, I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year and wish you well with you resolutions. No particular resolutions for me, but I do have a few things I want to work on this year, namely: Posting More lol. 

This should be easy for the next few days weeks because I can just recap a few things from last year. 

On deck: Vegas vacation, BCS, 2010 Albums and Mixtape recap, Personal Statement excerpt. That by itself will give me more posts than the last two months combined lol. 

It will be a good year!