Friday, January 22, 2010

Will's Wisdom

Monday, January 18, 2010

13-year-old student wows Morehouse

As a 13-year-old, Lithonia resident Stephen Stafford II can usually be found sitting in front of the television playing video games or playing his drum set. But Stafford is no typical 13-year old – he’s a college student. The triple-major child prodigy is becoming a sensation at Morehouse College.

“I’ve never taught a student as young as Stephen, and it’s been amazing,” said computer science professor Sonya Dennis. “He’s motivating other students to do better and makes them want to step up their game.”

“When I saw how much knowledge Stephen has at such a young age, I wondered what I had been doing with my life,” laughed third-year student, Eric Crawford. A psychology major and computer science minor, Crawford wanted to step up his game so much that he got Stephen to tutor him. “Even though I’m older, Stephen is like a mentor and my elder in computer science,” said Crawford.

“Eric’s a really fun person to be around, and we have a good time together,” said Stafford.

Crawford added, “Stephen has a lot of patience with me. I got a 95 in the class because of Stephen.”

Even at age 11 when Stafford started at Morehouse, he got the highest score in his pre-calculus class. “He breezes through whatever I throw at him. If it’s an hour lab, he can do it in 20 or 30 minutes,” said Dennis.

Stafford said he isn’t nervous about studying with students much older than himself. “I just do what I always did. I show up, I do the work, and I go home,” he said.

When talking to Stafford, it’s easy to forget his age. But his age shows when he’s playing video games or even at dinner, where he eats while also trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Still, Stafford finds it hard to relate to teens his age. “I relate better to Eric…most kids my age don’t know when to stop playing around and when to be serious,” he said.

Stafford’s mother, Michelle Brown-Stafford, home-schooled both her children (Stephen has an older sister also in college) and believes that parental involvement is essential for students to excel. But when she realized her son was starting to teach her instead of being taught, she knew he needed to be in a college environment.

“It was surreal because on one hand he’s talking about technical things I didn’t even understand, and on the other hand he was asking me to come watch Sponge Bob with him. So it was bittersweet to let him go.”

Brown-Stafford wondered if there were other parents who shared her experiences with a gifted child, so she helped found a support group:

And the Morehouse family has become a support group for Stafford, personifying the African proverb about it taking a village to raise a child. Stafford is too young to stay on campus, so his mother picks him up and drops him off each day. The students protect him and make a point not to curse or discuss certain mature issues around him, according to his mother and Stafford. Even the staff of Jazzman’s CafĂ©, where Stafford tutors Crawford, helps nurture Stephen into becoming a “Morehouse Renaissance Man”–well-spoken, well-dressed, well-read, well-traveled, and well-balanced. The cafe’s general Manager, Darren Page, added an unofficial principle: well-fed. “A Morehouse Man cannot study on an empty stomach,” said Page. So whenever Stafford comes to Jazzman’s, Page gives up his own employee meal for the 13-year-old.

It seems that everyone wants to be a part of helping Stafford graduate in 2012, and go on to Morehouse School of Medicine. And because of a Georgia law that requires a student to be 16 to graduate high school, he’ll be getting his high school diploma the same year he receives his college degrees in math, computer science and pre-med.

“Kids will live up to your expectations. But I ultimately want Stephen to be happy,” said Stephen Stafford Sr. Brown-Stafford added, “I want him to be well-rounded and still connect with kids his own age, so we put him in DeKalb County’s 4-H Club and other programs.” She added that she’s thankful to the Morehouse family for embracing her son.

“I want to see what Stephen becomes 10 years from now,” said Crawford. Page added, “I want to be at his graduation. And then I want to walk by and touch the [campus] statue of Dr. Martin Luther King and recognize I had a role in [Stephen] walking in Martin Luther King’s footsteps.” And how fitting, since Dr. King entered Morehouse at age 15.

So to put a spin on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Stephen is being judged by the content of his character, not by his age.

Friday, January 15, 2010

389 Year Ago

"I created the initial concept of this poster on the night of November 4th. Inspired by Barack Obama's victory and struck with a sense of awe when realizing the amount of hard fought progress that has been achieved in this country, I wanted to pay homage to this centuries long journey. The original graphic which can be seen here, became very popular and spread all over the internet. Many people loved it and ask me to make a print. While I initially created it rather spur of the moment and with no desire to sell it as a poster, the graphic needed to be completely overhauled in order to make it practical for printing. The original would have been 12 feet long. So I took the opportunity to really refine the design and create a lasting piece. There were also many additions to the time line that people suggested. This poster is not a tally of African-American achievements, rather it is a record of progress and setbacks. While Obama's election is not the endgame of equality, it is a magnificent example of what is truly possible. I hope you enjoy it and that it reminds you of the shoulders we all stand upon and the stained greatness of this nation and its people who have indeed, overcome."


Donate: Yele Haiti

I spoke with Rev Yearwood this morning about the devastating destruction in Haiti; Hip Hop must act immediately with open hearts and loud voices.  We must do all that we can as individuals and collectively to help save the lives of our brothers and sisters in Haiti.      

Please make a donation today to Yele Haiti, Wyclef's organization, to support immediate relief to the people of Haiti.

You can use your cell phone to make a contribution.Text "Yele" to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill).

Or you can visit and click on DONATE.

The Hip Hop Caucus will be asking you to take additional action soon, as we gain better understanding of the needs in Haiti.  We know Haiti will need increased attention and resources from the international community to help it recover from this disaster, so let us ensure that our country does right.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people whose suffering I can only imagine, and the Haitian Americans who have lost their loved ones.

With great love all things are possible,

Russell Simmons
Founder of 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Damon Williams joined a stock investment club

Chicago — Like many Americans, Damon Williams joined a stock investment club to eventually put his children through college.

Unlike many of those Americans, Damon is just 11 years old.

After six years of investing, the ambitious Chicago seventh-grader has a portfolio of more than 30 companies worth more than $18,000 -- $4,000 of that profit. He is one of the estimated thousands of children in investment clubs nationwide who sacrifice an occasional Saturday to sharpen their financial strategies.

"I want to pay my own way through college, buy real estate and see my children graduate from college also," Damon said.

At the rate he's going, he just might do it.
Investment clubs, where members share research and invest as a group or individually, have been popular among adults for years. Many parents say the junior clubs can teach the same money-management skills to their children and help to ensure their futures.

Starting sooner
"I think a lot of parents are starting to realize that investing is not something you start when you're 30, 40 or 50," said Amy Rauch Neilson, teen newsletter editor for the National Association of Investors Corp., a nonprofit organization that supports investment clubs and investors. "They're particularly realizing what an advantage it would have been if someone had taught it to them when they were that age."
April Williams, Damon's mother and founder of the Ujamaa Junior Investment Club, wishes someone had taught her to manage her money earlier. At the age of 30, Williams was a single parent maxed out on all her credit cards and living paycheck to paycheck.
Damon Williams, center left, plays Monopoly with Amber Baker, left,
Ashley Baker and Brianna Jordan during a meeting of the Chicago
Ujamaa Junior Investment Club. After six years of investing, Damon,
11, has a portfolio of more than 30 companies worth more than
$18,000 -- $4,000 of that profit.
Damon Williams, center left, plays Monopoly with Amber Baker, left, Ashley Baker and Brianna Jordan during a meeting of the Chicago Ujamaa Junior Investment Club. After six years of investing, Damon, 11, has a portfolio of more than 30 companies worth more than $18,000 -- $4,000 of that profit.
"I felt it was an insane way to live and a terrible legacy for my children," she said.
So Williams taught herself how to invest and turned her life around. She started the adult Ujamaa investment club and later the children's group to teach others how to do the same. The children's club now has 20 members ages 11 to 18.

At meetings of Ujamaa -- Swahili for cooperative economics -- Williams and two other mentors lead the group in games of Monopoly, talks about smart investing and contests.
Williams encourages the children to pay attention to companies they and their families use in everyday life when choosing stocks. Damon used money he earned from modeling and gifts from his mother to buy stock in Marvel Comics and Nike.

"You get to be creative," said Ujamaa member Ashley Baker, 17.
Ashley's mother, Louise Baker, enrolled the teen and her sister Amber, 14, in the club four years ago to give them an early start on financial security. Ashley's portfolio is now worth about $2,000, and Amber's is just more than $1,000.

Children exposed to stock market games, where they invest fake money, have higher rates of financial literacy, according to a study Mandell conducted for the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a nonprofit group that seeks to educate young people about finances. Mandell suspects investment clubs have the same effect.

But not everyone thinks children should be sinking real money into real stocks.
Laura Levine, executive director of Jump$tart, says children can learn the same skills through stock market games. "They can certainly learn to make mistakes without any real risk," she said.
But Ashley Baker doesn't worry too much about losing money when she invests in companies such as AT&T, Nokia and Krispy Kreme.

"I'm still young and it's there for me, just to be, like, a little extra," she said.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year...Handbook 2010

1.       Drink plenty of water.
2.       Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3.       Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..
4.       Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5.       Make time to pray.
6.       Play more games
7.       Read more books than you did in 2009 .
8.       Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9.       Sleep for 7 hours.
10.    Take a 10-30 minutes’ walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11.    Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12.    Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13.    Don't overdo. Keep your limits.
14.    Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15.    Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16.    Dream more while you are awake
17.    Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18.    Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19.    Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20.    Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21.    No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22.    Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23.    Smile and laugh more.
24.    You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

25.    Call your family often.
26.    Each day give something good to others.
27.    Forgive everyone for everything.
28.    Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of  6.
29.    Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30.    What other people think of you is none of your business.
31.    Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32.    Do the right thing!
33.    Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34.    GOD heals everything.
35.    However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
36.    No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37.    The best is yet to come..
38.    When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39.    Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:
40.    Please Forward this to everyone you care about, I just did.  

I received this in an email and I thought it was really important to spread to everyone.