Girls Life Mag: Newest Goal Getter Interview!!

Scientist-in-training Sydney Clark shows the boys how it’s done


Think science is only for nerdy boys? Think again! Meet Sydney Clark, the 12-year-old runner up in the National Middle School Science Competition, sponsored by 3M and Discovery Education.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, this home-schooled chick has always had an interest in science. After watching her favorite program, hit T.V. show Myth Busters, Sydney couldn’t wait to tackle the Young Scientist Challenge. The challenge was to create a video about everyday safety. She decided to focus on the public’s love for anti-bacterial products. “It’s important tostress that hospitals use anti-bacterial products,” she says, “but they make way for bigger germs.” The quirky and fun film took her about a month and a half to create with the help of her mother. With stop-and-go animated film clips and Barbie props, she made her point…and impressed the judges. Soon, she was making tracks through the competition. 

The judges chose a semi finalist from each state, and then the 10 semi-finalists were brought to New York City, where they are asked to conduct live experiments, compete in challenges and complete scientific analysis. 3M provided the finalists with the products that they must use. In one challenge called the Safety and Security Innovation, Sydney took on the task of ATM Security by creating a box made with the world’s most efficient translucent man-mad mirror. The thin reflective sheet not only provides the ATM customer with the ability to see through to the push pad to enter their pin, but it also reflects the image of anyone behind them, keeping their bank information completely safe. 

While Sydney did not snag the coveted first place prize, she says the laid-back atmosphere made the event an amazingly fun experience—“the best time I ever had in my life!” She re-calls the judges and coaching staff being “really helpful, really amazing being around and helping on other innovations.” 

Being a runner-up isn’t without its perks, however. “It’s almost as good as winning,” she says of her prize: Flying to San Francisco to be on the set of a live taping of Myth Busters at the end of June. While she’s not sure if she’ll actually get to be on the show, she’s got her fingers crossed! 

Sydney isn’t a 24/7 scientist-in-training—she’s part of the rock group Unsocialized and has dreams of a film or But she does admit that she’d love to incorporate science in the mix and create a show likeMyth Busters or Bill Nye the Science Guy. Why? She’s ready with an answer: “It’s important to get more girls into science,” she says. “I want to let girls know they can do more in the science world and it can be fun changing the world. We can learn more, do more and reach a lot more people.” 
BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 6/24/2011 8:00:00 AM

Girls Life Mag: One of my most touching interviews

An awe-inspiring prom for teen patients

This spring, 15-year-old Delaney Goodner is going to her second prom. While prom is everything to some teens, for this young woman, it’s a gift she treasures, a break from the medicines and treatment she endures thanks to her cancer diagnosis.

For the last six years, therapeutic child life specialist Tommi McHugh has been coordinating a prom in conjunction with the Teen and Young Adults (TaYA) group at the Children’s Hospital of Denver for the past six years. For the guests, guys ‘n’ girls ages 13 and up who battle cancer and blood disorders, it’s the opportunity to be normal for a night.
It’s not unusual for the hospital’s younger patients to miss out on typical teen activities because they don’t feel well enough. Half a dozen years ago, Tommi heard that one patient was going to miss his prom because of his illness. She wasn’t about to let that happen. With parents lending a helping hand, Tommi put together a small prom in only two weeks.
That year, only ten kids attended, wearing whatever made them feel comfortable, but they had a blast. The following year, Tommi was determined to make it bigger and better. When local businesses heard about what she was doing, they began sponsoring the decorations, food, transportation, venue, even the girls’ hair and nail appointments.
“You get to dress up and have a good time,” Delaney says. “It gives you a moment to take your mind off the fact that you’ve got cancer,” says Delaney.
Last year was Delaney’s first as a prom guest. She and a friend got their make-up, nails and hair done in a luxe hotel suite before donning gowns funded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Though she didn’t dance much, she remembers the delish food and the totally fab door prizes.
This year, the kids are drafting letters to celebrities that they would love to attend. Among the list are Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber. Delaney would like to  boogie with Taylor Swift. “I really like her,” she says.
The annual prom has become a bonding experience for the hospital’s patients, Tommi explains. They aren’t wallflowers any more. They mingle in the halls. One year, a young girl whose treatment left her bald triumphantly removed her wig and danced the night away. “It’s so moving,” says Tommi.
 “You can’t help but want to make it better every year,” she adds. “[The Prom] inspires them to remember there is life after and during cancer (and other blood disorders) and they can get out there and do the stuff they love.”
Want to make a difference? Call up a local hospital and ask if they’re planning any events for which they need volunteers. Go for it, girls!
Pictured above: Top – Delaney at prom with her friend Rosie. Bottom – Delaney having her nails done before the dance.

Girls Life Mag: Periods and Exercise —New article by MOI on GL!

Hello there darling friend!
I often thought that exercising can delay your period, and I’ve learned that there is some truth to this but only in extreme cases.
First, you must ask yourself how much you exercise. If you exercise moderately, then it will not harm your menstrual cycle. If you do light exercise during your period, it can actually help get rid of ouchy symptoms by keeping the blood pumping through your system, sending endorphins (‘happy’ hormones) shooting through your bod and kill some of the cramping and back pain too!
Now for the dark-side of exercising…
The only way that exercising can delay your period or make them irregular is if you are exercising excessively. If you’re working out every day for hours at a time and dropping significant weight, then you will exhibit amenorrhea, which is when your period says “bye bye!”
Because working out takes lots of energy, if you do it obsessively, your body has to turn off other functions that require energy, i.e. menstruation.  However, there is some good news: Amenorrhea is not a DISEASE but a symptom of a larger issue. If you are working out like crazy and have skipped a period or two, once you’ve cut down the workoutsand get your weight back up a bit, your periods should return.
But don’t always think that the crimson wave leaving is all about your weight. You should always check with your family doctor and/or gynecologist to make sure that there are no bigger problems involved.

BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 4/5/2011 1:33:00 PM

Girls Life Mag: My 2nd Interview for Girls Life Magazine Online!

Tweenager Brooke Bestul stars in a hit video blog

When Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet praised her blog, 12-year-old Brooke Bestul knew she had made it big.
The tween stars in a serialized video blog produced by her twin brother, Bailey. In just under two years, the pair’s YouTube videos have received over 60,000 views. What started out as a class project in the fifth grade spiraled into a video diary filled with skits, experiments and whimsy. Brooke says that doing the shows has given her a sense of freedom and allows her to be herself.

But that’s not the way things started. At first, Brooke didn’t want to be in front of the camera at all. When you meet her, you wouldn’t think she was shy at all, but despite being exposed to acting and theater by her mother, she was nervous about starring in the videos.
Nowadays, Brooke is at ease with her work. She enjoys incoporating her real-life experiences into the skits and personas she develops.  Her favorite character, for instance, is an old lady/grandma who she based on her time spent working in a retirement home.

“It’s lots of fun goofing off and doing skits,” admits the Minnesota native, who dreams of being a veterinarian when she grows up. Brooke and Bailey have been doing the shows for almost two years now with Bailey editing, directing and doing the majority of the behind-the-scenes work and Brooke taking on the role of breakthrough actress.

“It feels good to be seen online every day,” Brooke says. Supportive comments have been pouring in, including the one they received from Kate Winslet, whose children love the show. At first, Brooke didn’t understand how big a deal Kate was, but now she can’t believe her own notoriety. “It was awesome!” she says.

Brooke says that she feels some pressure to keep the show fresh and entertaining, especially with all the press that it’s been receiving, but she doesn’t sweat it. The duo tries to keep the show as updated as possible, with new skits, product reviews and kid-approved hi-jinks. Brooke loves that she and her bro are attracting so much attention. The two plan to continue the show, doing what comes naturally to them and what seems like “fun.”

Interested in seeing their show? Click here to catch their latest video.
Click here to see story on site!

Girls Life Mag: Black History Month Piece

Here’s my newest published piece on It’s on Black History Month and I’m quite happy that a lot of girls liked it! =)

GL celebrates the ah-mazing accomplishments of African-American women

February isn’t just about Pun Punxsutawney Phil predicting the change of season or sending your crush chocolates. Though we’re getting ready to bid February a fond farewell, we’re also taking one more chance to recognize the achievements and advances of African-Americans throughout history.

Since 1976, February (in the United States and Canada) has been deemed Black History Month. Though there have been great achievements made by men that are celebrated throughout this month, African-American women in particular have been powerful assets to the advancements of the world that we live in today.
I’m sure we all know about the pioneering efforts of Harriet Tubman, the renegade slave who freed others through her service conducting the Underground Railroad, but do you know of others like Lyda D. Newman, who at the turn of the century invented the soft synthetic brush that we use on our hair today; or Theora Stephens, who invented the pressing comb and curling iron? If it weren’t for these two ladies, along with the revolutionizing hair careproducts of Madam C. J. Walker, hair maintenance today would be a major drag!
But African-American women’s efforts weren’t only superficial. In times of war, they aided as much as they could. Take for instance famed spy Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who under the guise of an illiterate servant aided the Union in winningthe war against the Confederacy. Almost a decade later, famous actress and singer Josephine Baker aided in the French Resistance of World War II, and was the first American to receive the Croix de guerre honor by the French Military. Before Amelia Earhart was setting ground-breaking records for women of her time, Bessie Coleman took it one step further by being the first Black woman to obtain a pilot’s license and an international pilot’s license in 1921, after many schools in the United States rejected her based on her skin color and her gender.
On the intellectual front, there are women such as Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American poet to have poetry published as well as first African-American woman to be published in the 1700s. Wheatley opened doors for future writers like Maya Angelou, who is greatly revered as one of the greatest writers and poets of her time, as well as Toni Morrison (pictured above), who was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for writing in 1993.
Today—and every day—we honor the accomplishments of these women, and all women. After all, where would we be without them?

TALK BACK: What woman is most inspiring to you, girlies?

BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 2/23/2011 12:00:00 PM
click here to read it on the website