Blog Post, Written by Alé

My Biological Mother was a Domestic Worker: An Adoption Story

Title appears: My Biological Mother was a Domestic Worker, an Adoption Story.  Under appears the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo, on the right is a pregnant woman's stomach with her arms embracing it.  Alé tells the story of being her biological mother being a domestic worker to be then be raised by domestic workers.

Friends, this a tough one to write.

Being an overseas adoptee from Brazil is a huge part of my story and my identity, interwoven into the fiber of my being. Whenever I feel like I have my footing and a deep understanding of my adoption story, the universe never fails to provide a new lesson.

A few months ago, I received one of these messages, in the form of an Instagram Post from an educator on race and womanhood, Rachel Cargle. Rachel often challenges her followers to think critically on issues of race and feminism, she insists white women #dothework, and confront hard truths.

A photo of Rachel Cargle and Alé at Rachel's lecture, "Unpacking White Feminism."  On the right it says Allyship = Knowledge + Empathy + Action, a quote by Rachel Cargle.
Meeting Rachel at her “Unpacking White Feminism” Lecture in NYC

One post in particular asked us (white women), to think about the way we have interacted with and perceive domestic workers. I learned from Rachel, that second wave feminism was largely about encouraging women to get out of the house. Feminism was framed as a way for women have careers, and lives of their own. For black and brown women of color in this country, having to work was not some profound new wave concept. It was a means of survival. Droves of white women liberated themselves and began careers outside the home. Meanwhile, women of color were entering the homes of white families to clean and raise children. In turn, losing time to spend with their own children.

The Circumstances of My Adoption

As I read Rachel’s post, over and over, my mind was doing flips. I went twenty-eight years not knowing my birth story. I heard things like, “She (your biological mother) gave you up.” Even more harshly stated, “She didn’t want you.”

In 2016, my biological mother and I connected on Facebook. I heard my story, our story, for the first time. My biological mother took a job as a live-in domestic worker for a much wealthier family. If not for this job she would have no income, no place to live, she had no options. She was 21 at the time. She realized she was pregnant. Her boss said there was no way she could keep her job with a newborn.

My biological mother already had a daughter in the care of the child’s paternal grandmother. She turned to the father of her unborn child. As I understand it, quite literally had a door slammed in her face. She was given two options, live on the streets with her baby, or place the baby for adoption. Clearly, she chose the latter.

After my birth, she fell into a serious depression. She was ridden with guilt and uncertainty about the choice she made. My biological mother lived with that pain for twenty-eight years until that day we connected on Facebook.

Being Raised in Part by Brazilian Domestic Workers

The nuances of this story dig deeper. My adoptive family (I never refer to them that way but for the sake of avoiding confusion in this instance I will), were privileged enough to be able to hire help. I was raised by many strong, inspiring women, including my adoptive mother, grandmother, aunt, and two live-in Brazilian domestic workers. Both of those women had sons back in Brazil. In order for them to provide for their children, their best option was to come to United States and help take care of other people’s homes, and help raise other women’s children.

I am not sure irony is even the right word here, but the irony, of me, an adopted Brazilian child, being raised by Brazilian domestic workers, who are not even able to live in the same country as their children was lost on me. That is, until Rachel’s gut wrenching, thought provoking post. It is an incredibly painful thought to begin to comprehend.

I must admit I am still grappling with my feelings around this. However, I will tell you what I do know. My heart is filled with gratitude for my biological mother’s decision. She allowed herself to feel the trauma of loss for decades to put my needs before her own psychological safety. She is my hero, my angel. Every privilege and opportunity I have been given is all in thanks to her sacrifice.

Action Items

Title: Honoring the Sacrifice of my biological Mother: A critical look at our relationship to domestic workers.  In the background is a woman with a globe on her stomach.  Two hands hold it in place with their fingers in the shape of a heart.  On the bottom of the image is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

If you have the need and are privileged enough to be able to hire a domestic worker, the point is not to shame you here. I stand with Rachel Cargle in asking you to think critically about your relationship to the women you are bringing into your home. Are you considering they are people with full lives and families who love them? Do you compensate them fairly for the sacrifice they are making to help you clean your house and/or raise your children? Are you being considerate of their time? What do you know about their culture? Is what you expect fair and just? Do you know their long term goals?

I speak in depth about my experience of being an adoptee on Episode 6 of the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast.

In writing this vulnerable blog post, I ask you to sit with any feelings it may have stirred inside you. Feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page and share your thoughts in the comments.

Alé Cardinalle|LSW Candidate 2019 NYU

Blog Post, Info for HS Students/Parents, Written by Betty

30 Community Service Ideas for High School Students

Title of blog post: 30 Community Service Ideas for High School Students: Make Your College Application Stand Out.  Photo of High School Students sitting at a table. Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo to the right.

I did the math, and engaging in community service during high school earned me $67 an hour. Yes, you read that right. I earned a full scholarship to college, largely in part because of the hours I committed to giving back. No student loans for me!

Community service is so near and dear to me, not only because of the financial rewards but because I truly love every second I put into it. That is because I find causes that are meaningful and align with my values. In a previous post, I offered 3 steps explaining how to use your, or if you’re a parent, help out your college-bound teen use their time wisely to make the community service portion of your college application shine.

A lot of the ideas featured will also give you an opportunity to get involved with community service and require leadership, another important area to highlight on a college application. (Read more about the four areas I believe all college-bound high school students should pay attention to here.)

Community Service with Kids in School

Community service during high school.  Students tutoring.
  1. Contact your local elementary and offer free tutoring services after school.
  2. Love computers? Art? Music? Find the email addresses of those teachers on the local elementary school’s website and ask if there is any way you can get involved!
  3. Host a book drive or supplies drive! Many schools are underfunded and in desperate need of basic supplies. You can have a huge impact here.
  4. This one can be tricky but if you can work with your school and a partnering school to come in and help out during school hours as a classroom aid, or a book buddy, this would be a fantastic way to give back.
  5. STEM is a huge hot button topic right now. If you are able to organize a science fair at your school or a neighboring school, that shows interest in a specific area and leadership.

Love Animals? Plenty of Community Service Opportunities There!

Community service during high school with animals.  Young woman in yellow t-shirt pictured with a dog.
  1. Shelters often need blankets, towels, and other household items for the animals. Reach out to local shelters and help host a supplies drive!
  2. Have a special skill when it comes to training animals? Offer complimentary dog training classes, or see if you can help out in an agency that offers this service.
  3. Contact a local farm and see if you can help out! Maybe they need an extra hand caring for the animals, or perhaps could use your help collecting supplies.
  4. Shelters are always looking for a helping hand. Check out the websites of local shelters and see if there is a volunteering page.
  5. If there is a rehab clinic for rescued animals, give them a call or shoot them an email and see how you can help, whether that means giving your time to help directly, or collecting supplies they may lack.

Faith Based Organizations have Tons of Volunteering Opportunities

High school student doing community service in a church.
  1. Organize or volunteer with existing youth groups.
  2. Host yard sales or bake sales to raise money for your institution.
  3. Have a skill you’re really good at? Teach a class or offer services to members of your congregation.
  4. Raise money for an organization by hosting a car wash through your faith based institution.
  5. Organize a food or clothing drive for a less fortunate parish or nonprofit.

Make an Environmental Impact Doing Community Service

Community service during high school at the beach!  Image of a clean shoreline with trash in the proper receptacles!
  1. Live near a beach or visiting one during vacation? Organize or join a beach clean up!
  2. Maybe a local park or even your school could use some sprucing. Get permission to beautify the space with art or by planting.
  3. School go through a lot of paper! There could be a way that you could get involved making sure paper or plastic is properly recycled at school or in your neighborhood.
  4. Educate others about their environmental impact. If you get involved with an organization or program with children, teach a lesson surrounding the theme “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
  5. Do a quick google search and see if there are any nearby organizations that focus on the environment as see how you can get involved. Nonprofits are always looking for a helping hand!

Give Back to Those Who Serve Our Country

Community Service during high school with Veterans
  1. Contact your nearest VA hospital and ask if there are volunteer opportunities available to high school students.
  2. Collect items for the VA.
  3. Organize or participate in a letter and care package sending campaign for those currently on active duty.
  4. Many of our country’s veterans are currently homeless. Contact a local shelter and inquire about how you can get involved.
  5. Host a “prom” or some kind of event at your school for veterans (or senior citizens!)

Does the Issue of Homelessness Tug at Your Heartstrings?

Community Service with those that are homeless.  Photo of makeshift homes on a city sidewalk.
  1. Reach out to a nearby homeless shelter and ask what products they could use. Many places have plenty of clothing donations but need things like hygiene products or socks. Once you have this information organize a drive through your school or faith based organization.
  2. Help directly at a soup kitchen. A lot of times people are willing to give their time during the holidays, but shelters and soup kitchens could use a hand year round. Contact a local organization and find out how you can help directly!
  3. A lot of nonprofits, like shelters, could use money. Set up a fundraising event, such as a bake sale or car wash and donate the proceeds.
  4. Local food pantries often need nonperishable items. Reach out and see if a food drive could be helpful. Organize one through your school or faith based organization.
  5. Homelessness a systemic issue, do a little research and write to your local legislators about how life can be made better in your area for those that are homeless. A lot of laws and policies make life more difficult for people without secure housing.

Having a robust history of community service can really make a college application stand out. Taking initiative and organizing also displays leadership. Getting involved also make us feel good, especially if it is a cause that is meaningful to you!

Parents! We have something for you too. If you also want to give back but struggle to fit doing into your lifestyle, listen to episode 7 of the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast! We talk to Kristiana Tarnuzzer of The Cause Bar, an organization dedicated to integrating giving back into your life style.

Are you or your college-bound teen already engaging in community service during high school? Tell us about it in the comments and leave some more inspiration for our readers!

Betty Carricaburu | Ms.Ed

Blog Post, Mental Health, Written by Alé

I Must Confess, My Life is a Mess.

Chronic Disorganization - PTSD isn't always what you think.  A blog post by Dream Chasers and Change Makers.  Image is a messy desk.

In the name of brave and vulnerable truth telling, I have something to confess. My life is quite often a literal mess. While I can run a blog, produce a podcast, be a graduate student, and am a budding social worker, doing an internship providing psychotherapy to college students, my life is far from tidy. I have struggled with chronic disorganization my entire life. The explanation is far more complicated than, “I’m lazy.” Nor am I irresponsible, and my head is not in the clouds (for the most part.)

While I live out my big dreams, chores like picking up my medication, getting mail sent out on time, and putting away my laundry is asking a lot. I’ve had this issue from varying degrees since I was little kid. I talk about it in detail on the podcast during Episode 3. I want to share for the same reason I think storytelling is important. You are not alone, I am not alone, and our stories and our truth connects us. So, here is the dirty truth right here.

Since I was little, adults were pretty sure I had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I was carted off to be tested by my elementary school’s child study team, the people in a school who decide if students could benefit from special education services. But no, I was never diagnosed with any learning disability. So it was always curious that my papers were constantly disorganized because I never put my papers in the right folders. Finding my homework was a constant struggle. I remember shame and anxiety rising in my little body when a teacher asked us take out a worksheet from yesterday. My bedroom was a mess and I found it difficult to bathe when I was supposed to.

If I didn’t have ADD What the Heck Was Wrong with me?

I would like to say the answer came easily and I stopped staring out the window and was squeaky clean little girl. Not the case. Up to this writing I still struggle with completing tasks that seem like no brainers for others. My GPA is fantastic, I am growing the DC and CM community. I also have plates next to my bed that need to be thrown away.

In my mid-twenties, I went to see a therapist and explained my chronic disorganization. She had me fill an assessment for, you guessed it, adult ADD. I told her I had taken medication for it in the past, it triggered my anxiety and I just didn’t like it. We talked alternative treatments. She recommended something called neuro-feedback and explained it as going to the gym for your brain. She gave me the number for her guy.

I went, and the first session, the man did something called a brain map. He put all this goopy stuff in my hair and attached some wires to my head. It looked wild, but committed to “fixing” my ADD, I let him goop me up. The map was supposed to show how my brain works and how the treatment could help. Writing this out it sounds like a sci-fi movie, it felt that way too. I came back a second time to have him explain the results. The first thing he said to me was, “Did something happen to you?” I looked at him, confused. “Well, this brain map shows a PTSD brain, not an ADD brain.”

Me and My PTSD Brain

I returned to therapy dejected, and cried to my therapist. I had experienced partner violence in the past. After that incident, I was diagnosed with PTSD. However, I got a lot of help and a lot of therapy after that. It STILL changed the wiring of my brain? That thought pissed me the eff off. To think one person had the power to affect my brain was unacceptable. My therapist said, “But didn’t you have the issues of disorganization way before you were diagnosed?” Yeah, I did. I continued to feel like a failed science experiment that just could not be figured out.

The universe is beautiful and loves me, and did provide a framework in which I could better understand myself. Thank you universe, and thank you social work school. I learned two things that changed my relationship to my chronic disorganization. First, in a class studying children and attachment, I learned that being separated from your biological mother is trauma. It is traumatic even if you were adopted as a newborn baby, like I was. (You can hear all about that in Episode 6 of the podcast.) Odd as it sounds, I felt relief that the adoption was likely the root of my PTSD brain. That scummy ex just triggered it. However, it did not explain my chronic disorganization and struggle to complete menial tasks.

Then I got the second piece of the puzzle. My professor for human behavior is an expert in childhood trauma. She said, “In my opinion, I believe ADD is almost always misdiagnosed PTSD.” My jaw dropped. BINGO! My parents adopted me in the late 80s. The information about the affects of adoption was nothing like it is now. No one would have thought a girl adopted as a newborn would have any trauma. Little Alé, staring out the window while her teacher is talking, or frantically looking for last night’s homework, must have ADD.

The Cure for Chronic Disorganization: Letting Go of Shame

It would be lovely to say I made this self-discovery and my chronic disorganization problems lifted. Not so. With that said, this insight has changed my life. Being “messy” and having a hard time doing the boring stuff, like dishes, has been the source of a lot of shame for me. I was always afraid people would think I was lazy, heck, I even thought I was lazy.

My brain being a “PTSD brain” is no more my fault than my brown hair is my fault. I am not lazy or broken. This is not to say I accept life living in a chaotic mess, but when life does get messy (literally), I can be gentle with myself.

However, I know the areas that are difficult for me and I do my best to make my life a little easier. I know running errands is tough for me, so when I can I get things in bulk so I don’t have to run to the store as often. I get my anti-depressants in a few month supply. Paying bills on time and getting mail out was another point of struggle, so enrolling in auto-pay and emailing have been other beautiful gifts from the universe. Also, I ask for help. Often. When something is hanging over my head and really stealing my peace, I am not afraid to reach out to the people in my life that I know can help me handle it.

Alé Cardinalle | LSW Candidate 2019

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

Setting Intentions for My 31st Year

Setting intentions for my 31st year.  Alexandra lists 31 goals she has to make this year the best of her life!

Setting intentions has been at the forefront of my mind, thanks to Betty, my podcast co-host/personal law of attraction and manifestation guru! Also, I have learned that setting intentions allows us to know our values and leads to less procrastination and more overall self compassion. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and I have decided it will be the best year of my life, because like my toddler niece says, “Because I said so.” To celebrate this fresh, clean, shiny new year year of my life- I have written out 31 goals both big and small, I intend to accomplish in my 31st year on this planet.

31 Goals for my 31st Year

  1. Moisturize my face 
  2. Connect more and meet a ton of new people
  3. Grow the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Community- help me with this one and Like Our Facebook Page!
  4. Eat more vegetables
  5. Graduate NYU!
  6. Pass my social exam to get licensed
  7. Laugh a lot
  8. Read books by diverse authors
  9. Write hard personal stories
  10. Move my body in ways I look forward to
  11. Get a clinical social work job with great supervision
  12. Put my clothes away!
  13. Stand more and strengthen my sit muscles
  14. Practice lots of self-compassion and be really good friends with myself
  15. Find a mindfulness/mediation routine that works for me
  16. Invite friends and family to my home often
  17. Travel to at least 3 new places I have never been, domestic or otherwise
  18. Have my picture taken regularly
  19. Talk kindly to my body and my brain
  20. Tell my all my people how much I love them
  21. Stay in better touch with the Brazilian side of family[Listen to Episode 6 of the Podcast to hear more about that!]
  22. Find and engage in public speaking opportunities
  23. Make my bed when I get out of it
  24. Get a lot of plants and take good care of them
  25. Remember to be grateful and write gratitude lists when I forget
  26. Buy tickets and go to a bunch of events
  27. Take my piano skills to the next level
  28. Start using a planner!
  29. Use less single use plastic (keep better track of my reusable water bottles)
  30. Put my shoes away after I take them off
  31. Have a lot of orgasms!

Do you have any tips to help me to stay committed to my intentions? Do you have any birthday traditions that keep you focused on your dreams. Talk to me in the comments!

Alé Cardinalle | LSW Candidate NYU 2019

Blog Post, Info for HS Students/Parents, Information, Written by Betty

Community Service: The Hours Pay!

High school students about to partake in a community service activity.  They have their hands all in and it says volunteer on their shirts.

Community service is not giving your time up for free.  It is an investment in you and your future. Having so many community service hours opened a lot of doors for me. I was awarded several scholarships, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Because I was given that competitive scholarship, I graduated college with zero dollars of debt and not a penny came out of my pocket for college. I did the math one day of how much money I got in scholarship divided into how many community service hours I had. It came out to about $67.00 an hour!

My Community Service Experience

Because of my circumstances at the time, I was able to rack up an impressive amount of community service hours.  I didn’t know it at the time but that was a hidden blessing for me. When it came time to apply to college, that part of my application really stood out.

Teenage girl who is doing community service at summer camp for kids who have disabilities.  She is embracing a little girl with down syndrome.

Money was always tight for my family.  Sending all her kids to summer camp was not really an option for my mom.  So, every summer from 7th grade to entering my senior year I volunteered at my brother’s summer camp. He has Down Syndrome and went to a school that tailored to individuals with disabilities. Financially, It was the best option for my mom. Instead of paying for me to go to summer camp I went to volunteer my time. I did that every summer for six years.  If you know me, you know I love being around people with disabilities, so it was a really special way for me to get a ton of community service hours. There were campers I wouldn’t see all year, so, come summer I would get to see how much they’d grown and learned in a year. That is special memory for me!

3 Steps to Make the Most Out of Community Service

Step 1: Identify Your Passion

What are you very passionate about? Education, animals, your faith, homeless awareness, cancer awareness, veterans affairs, the environment, human rights, city beautification? Find what moves and shakes you and something you’ll love dedicating time to.

Step 2: Take Action!

Do a little research and find an organization doing community service at your school or where you live, that lights that passion. If you can’t find one that is exactly right, create your own.  (There’s leadership right there. Two birds, one stone!) Find a way to support a cause you are passionate about and think of ways to contribute. For example, collect blankets for your local animal shelter, conduct a book drive for a local school, host a canned food drive, etc. 

Picture of high schools students volunteering in a park with dogs.  They have the word volunteer printed on their shirts.

You can also do research and find out about what events or projects local organizations have in place that you may be able to be a part of and may be able to involve your school like an annual 5k or carnival or showcase. Click here for more ideas of places you can get involved!

Step Three: Manage and Use Your Time Wisely

Time management is an important part of making your community service hours count.  A diverse volunteering experience is an impressive component to a college application.

Determine how many hours you have to dedicate to community service, and while you are volunteering, log those hours.  If you have extra time, dedicate a few more hours. Reach out to local nonprofit organizations.  Many of those places would be overjoyed to have an extra pair of hands! There is always an opportunity to volunteer.

While you plan any of your events and activities ensure that there is an adult or member who can attest to the work you put in.  They may come in handy when you are looking for a college recommendation letter later.

In my last post I mentioned four areas to focus on for a superstar college application, including leadership, academics and grades, SAT/ACT scores, and community service.  I recommended really honing in on three out of those four categories, without completely neglecting the fourth, of course. Now that you have plenty of information about how to get started with community service, stay tuned to read more about how to make those other areas shine.

By Betty Carricaburu, Ms.Ed

Blog Post, The People Need to Know!, Written by Alé

Podcast Recommendation? Have Six!

Need a podcast recommendation that will inspire, uplift or make you laugh?
6 Podcast Recommendations: to uplift, inspire, or make you laugh.  Where Should We Begin, Conversations with People who Hate Me, Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, My Favorite Murder, Why Won't you Date me, and Transitional Wisdom

Looking for a podcast recommendation? There are 18 million podcasts currently available to stream! If you are just getting started out listening to podcasts, or are looking for something new to add to your library, read on. Having a three hour daily commute has given me the time to listen to a lot of podcasts. This collection of six podcasts will uplift and inspire you, or just make you laugh out loud. If you are enjoying the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Podcast, you’ll find another show you love here! (If you haven’t heard our show, stop reading and go listen!) Click any of the titles to get a direct link to my podcast recommendations.

1. Where Should We Begin: With Esther Perel

The logo for the podcast recommendation, Where Should we Begin with Esther Perel.  The title is printer over a couple's bed.
A Podcast for when you want a peek into the lives of others.

Esther Perel invites listeners into her office as she provides couples’ therapy to her clients. I love being a fly on the wall in other people’s therapy sessions! The clients reveal the strains in their relationships, ranging from infidelity, to substance use, to abuse. Esther’s skillful and direct approach, and her French accent make the show both educational (for a budding therapist like me) and entertaining.

2. Conversations with People Who Hate Me

The logo for the podcast recommendation, Conversations with People Who Hate Me.  The title in a speech bubble of host, Dylan Marron's head.  He is sitting at a desk in front of a computer holding a red telephone.
A podcast for when you want to hear a civil discussion with people who fundamentally disagree.

Something I am working on is open communication with people who think and believe differently than I do. That is why I love CWPHM. Dylan Marron started this podcast interviewing people who had sent him cruel and hateful messages and comments online. Now he often connects guests who have received online hate to their haters. The conversations are thoughtful and everyone is treated with respect and dignity. The show reminds us that, “There is a human on the other side of the screen.” Dylan’s approach to this topic is refreshing and fills me with hope!

3. Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

Podcast Recommendation: Oprah's Super Soul Conversations.  Text over a blue and green background.
A podcast for when you want to go deep and feed your soul.

I mean, obviously if it’s Oprah, it’s got to be good. At Dream Chasers and Change Makers, our whole “thing” is deep, brave, vulnerable conversations. Super Soul Conversations is exactly that, with some of the world’s brightest minds and spiritual teachers. This podcast goes deep! Oprah interviews guests about topics like spirituality, the afterlife, the human condition, and life’s hardest lessons.

4. My Favorite Murder

Podcast Recommendation: My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.  Cut out Magazine Letters over a black background.
A podcast for you’re in the mood for murder with a side of fun!

MFM is a true crime/comedy podcast, hosted by the hilarious and talented Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. Their comedic timing, impeccable storytelling skills, and chemistry makes this show a treat. Not only do they recount the stories of infamous murders, the hosts give us a glimpse into their lives, and are candid about their mental health battles. They are very conscious of respecting victims and tear down perpetrators in side-splitting ways. Their fandom is #goals. The My Favorite Murder community is enormous. Join in on the fun by subscribing to the fan cult or one of the hundreds of Facebook groups.

5. Why Won’t You Date Me?

Podcast Recommendation: Why Won't you Date Me?  With Nicole Byer.  A cartoon version of Nicole Byer with her arms stretched out, signaling "Why?"
A podcast for when you can’t figure out why the hell you’re so single, or need a belly laugh!

You know her, you love her, she is Nicole Byer, host of Netflix’s Nailed It! In her NSFW podcast she asks the question, “Why am I so single even though I will [insert wild sexual act here.]” Nicole has guests talk about their dating and sex lives, and has them review her multiple dating profiles. I have to say, almost nothing makes me laugh as hard as this delightful podcast. Not only does she make me pee my pants in laughter, she is all about embracing her body, sexuality, and bold personality. Even the ads are ridiculously funny. 10 out 10 recommend for podcast recommendation!

6. Transitional Wisdom

Podcast Recommendation: Transitional Wisdom.  Black and white sketch of the hosts' faces with the title printed below.
A podcast for when you want to learn what life is like for those in the trans* community!

We love supporting our friends and independently produced podcasts like ours! I proudly make this podcast recommendation. Hosts Nash and C talk all things trans*, including medical transitioning, dating while transgender, allyship, and more. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, love someone who is, or want to learn more about the life experiences of those in the trans* community. They also feature captivating interview from high profile people in the trans* community, parents of trans* children, and supporters of the LGBTQ. No matter how you identify, this podcast has something for you.

Hope you podcast recommendation that you love! What would add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Published by Alé Cardinalle |LMSW Candidate NYU 19’| Podcast Enthusiast

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

How Self Advocacy Led to Success After Rejection

Here is a photo with a screen shot of a rejection letter.  The title says "What I did after I received this rejection letter."  I promote self advocacy after rejection.

Story time, gather round! I am going to tell you a story about failure and how at first I was a hot effing mess before I was able to manifest success. I landed my dream position after being told no! Through self advocacy, I wound up exactly where I am meant to be. If you have areas of your life that could be improved if only you found the strength to speak up, then you’re going to want to read on.

I am in the last semester in getting my Masters in Social Work. (Woo-Woo–Class of 2019!) As part of our training we are placed in two internships for a year each. In the second year, your fields of interest are considered and there is a bit more say on our part of where we wind up. Social work is a big field, social workers are EVERYWHERE. The type of social work I entered the program wanting to do is psychotherapy, I want to be a therapist.

Envisioning My Path

When I spoke with my advisor, I made it clear that I wanted to be placed somewhere I’d work clinically and directly with clients. She told about an opportunity at a well known university to work in the counseling center. The catch was, unlike most internships for social workers, this one is highly competitive. I could be rejected. PSHHHH! I am a fantastic interviewer, a passionate student, and an asset to any team I work on.

I looked at the counseling center’s website and fell head over heels in love and knew that is exactly where I belong. The school was far from where I lived, but other than that it was exactly where I wanted to be. Their training program is unmatched. I would be co-facilitating groups and doing individual therapy with undergraduates and graduates. Being the manifester that I am, I was there. That position was mine.

I was actually visiting Betty in Miami when I got the call that they liked my resumé and they invited me for an interview. Betty, my lovely personal hype-man, amped me up even more, giving me all her good vibes and energy. A couple days later I flew home, and the next morning I woke up very early and made my way to my interview.

It went awesome! They gave me the position on the spot! Big JK here!

Grappling with Failure

So, that’s not what happened at all. Here is what really happened: I spent the next two weeks checking my email 5 million times a day. I was waiting in agony to hear back. Finally, an email from one of the people I interviewed with popped up on my phone, right as I was about to take a group of eighth grade students into state testing. I didn’t get the position. To prepare for testing, I had to lock my phone away. I was going to have silent and with my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time. Cool. 😒

rejection letter
Rejection Letter!

I tried so HARD to fight back tears. Especially, because I did not want to distract my students while they were taking their tests and have them wondering what has Ms. Cardinalle crying about in the middle of PARCC testing. (I LOATHE state testing but that’s another story for another time.) It was my responsibility to “circulate” the room while the students tested.

It isn’t easy for me to tell you this– but in the name of being vulnerable and truth telling, I bawled my eyes out while my students sat at their computers taking their tests. Turns out teachers are real people and sometimes when they get bad news circulating the room is just not a viable option. I tried to hide my face the best I could and let the tears pass, and eventually they did, and then they’d come up again.

After testing they asked my why I was crying and I told them. Some of them shared stories about not getting into the high schools where they applied. They offered words of encouragement to me and each other. They were so sweet, I miss them very much.

A screen shot of an email explaining why Alé was rejected from the position she applied for.
Only awesome supervisors take the time to explain why you’re rejected. This made me want to work with them EVEN MORE!

One of my interviewers sent me a kind follow up email. She said I was a “high caliber” candidate, however, she the team felt that my interests weren’t aligned with the agency. No! What they hell did I say to make her believe that?

Later on I spoke with my advisor and told her I would have to interview elsewhere. She said, “This barely ever happens, just a few times in my career.” Awesome.

My advisor sent me other placements and I looked at everything with disappointment. I turned down another position I offered to me. That original internship, that was my internship. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I can’t deal with being told no, maybe I just know exactly what is right for me, or maybe school is expensive and I want the most bang for my buck. I could not let go of the place that had rejected me.

Advocating for Myself After Rejection

I couldn’t get the words from that second email out of my head. I AM right for this position! It’s aligned with my I called my advisor and said, “Would you please ask them to reconsider?” She told me the spot still was available and she said she would call.

They granted me a second interview. I tried to remember all the questions they had asked the first time and how I answered them. Playing it all over in my head, I tried to prepare. I did not want to have to cope with rejection for the second time.

That second time I interviewed with a different team, and yes, I got it! I have been there six months. It has been one of the greatest learning and growing experiences of my life. This is the work I am meant to be doing.

A screenshot of a letter explaining why I was rejected from after my interview.  It says they believe I'd find success at a better suited agency.  They were wrong!
“I was very taken by your persistence…”

Self Advocacy May Open Doors to Success

Why do have I shared this with you? Great things can happen when you advocate for yourself. Doors open! Can’t promise it will turn out for me in this scenario, it will unlikely happen this way for me again. The point is we will never know unless we take a chance and SPEAK UP!

A few people said to me, “I knew it wasn’t really no.” I also knew it wasn’t really no. Asking for a second chance was really brave. Even if they didn’t give me a second interview, I think it was an important step in learning to empower myself. This time it worked out great.

My call to action for you is to look at your life and see if there are any areas you can be advocating for yourself. Are there areas of your life that are not living up to your vision? If you can speak up on your behalf and campaign for what you know in your heart is right, I highly suggest you do so. Your story may be different from mine. No matter the outcome, I can promise, if you are clear in your intentions, self advocacy will be an empowering experience.

I shared this story with a classmate of mine. He told me he wrote a letter to a college asked them to consider his rejection. They did reconsider and let him in! Persistence can go a long way!

Action Items:

Let us know in the comments areas of your life that could improve, if only you advocated for yourself!

Sometimes we can try self advocacy and still be disappointed. Perhaps, a rejection has led you into a tail spin and you could use some self compassion, click here for 5 Tips to Manifest Self Compassion.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019 |

Blog Post, Info for HS Students/Parents, Written by Betty

Transition to College: A Blog Series

Pictures of Alé and Betty on their graduation day, with the heading Episode 3: Bravely Vulnerable.  In this episode they shared about their difficult transition to college.  There is a quote on the picture that says, "There is a lot of research on how this happens, why this happens and all of it is true.  The gifts.  All of it."

The transition to college is a theme that has come up on our podcast again and again. It has been the source of the most difficult times for Alé and myself. On the third episode of Dream Chasers and Change Makers, we shared our stories of simultaneously transferring to the University of Miami . It was a serendipitous meeting of deep connection!  Our roads to applying and transferring to UM had been chock full of heart break, trauma, and mental health battles. Our transitions from high school to college were troublesome for the both of us. The obstacles we endured proved to be challenging for out mental well being.  In the episode we revealed the most difficult details to our listeners.

After Episode 3 began streaming, we received an out pouring of love. So many friends and people who I have not met in person reached out to thank me for my honesty. Also, they told me they related and shared their similar experiences. I heard from countless people who had a difficult transitions from high school to college. (Some who took other paths other than college too!) The years after high school graduation are such important rite-of-passage.

Screen grab of a text message from a listener explaining how having immigrant parents who did not understand the American education made her transition to college more difficult.

My Commitment to Those Transitioning to College

This time period is riddled with strife for so many. Learning this has inspired me to use our platform as a resource for those are about to transition to college. I have committed to writing a series of posts that deal with life during and after high school. This is all in hopes to inspire some college bound dream chasers and change makers. If you are a parents of a college bound teens, you are also in the right place!

Click here to learn my tips to make out of your high school experience so you college application shines! Make sure to stay tuned for more information!

By Betty Carricaburu Ms.Ed

Blog Post, Info for HS Students/Parents, Written by Betty

Four Areas for High School Students to Make a College Application Shine!

For those of you who are looking for tips on what to do in high school to get into college of your dreams – this post is for you! I have identified four areas that will make your college application shine.

Back in 2013, after my daughter was born, I had opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the Gates Millennium Scholarship. I spoke to students from several high schools in my area, and boy, did I love it!

In my experience, people working in admissions for these four areas to be strong.

Community Service

Academic Performance (AKA Grades!)

Leadership

SAT/ACT

I have great news! If three out of four of these areas pop, that is more than good enough to make you a highly qualified and high-caliber applicant.

I was accepted to several top tier universities. Guess what?  I did terrible on the SAT! Acceptance letters still rolled in because my application showcased my strong academic performance, involvement in community service, and leadership roles I took on.  A friend of mine had the minimum requirement for community service but was very strong in the other three categories and she got into MIT! The lesson is, do not stress about perfection.  If you are already strong in the four areas, that’s an amazing feat.  What is most important is to have a well-rounded high school experience!

Here I am volunteering! I was always up to something with school clubs, I’m still very much like that – always involved!

Now, although I am suggesting that three of the four be strong— I do not mean to abandon the fourth! Do try your best and work hard in all four areas. Your grades should always be as best as you can maintain them.  Join as many school activities and organizations as is enjoyable and comfortable for you.  What I do not suggest, is letting anything be all consuming.

Trying to perfect all four will almost certainly be a drain on your energy and may wind up making certain areas weaker.  For example, if I would have spent countless hours studying even more for the SAT, I would have never had the time to plan a 5k to raise money to support the Down Syndrome Association or had the time to enjoy a trip to New York with the photography club! 

So there you have it!  Lesson one— schools want a well-rounded student. My action item for you: Reflect on which of these three areas you can focus on.  Again, we don’t want to abandon any category! 

Stay tuned because my next post will be all about how to make the best in each area. 

A picture of Betty smiling with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.  She is at a University of Miami sporting event, and the backdrop of the stadium is behind her.
Here I am, smiling. It was joyous to be at UM, where I was truly meant to be!

My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in education, however, I do not work in an admissions. All suggestions given from my extensive experience!

By Betty Carricaburu, Ms.Ed

Blog Post, Change Makers, The People Need to Know!, Written by Alé

12 Black Change Makers You Didn’t Learn about in School

In this post we will give you bios of 11 black change makers you didn’t learn about in school. Learn the rich history from yesterday and today of some of the most influential, pioneering and badass black Americans who influence our history.


1. Alvin Ailey

Heading Says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the left the is a photo of Alvin Ailtey, wearing a red leotard, in a dance pose.  There is a bullet list of his accomplishments on this right.  It is says activist, founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recipient of Presidential Medal of Honor, and Choreographer, Below is his name, and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

Alvin Ailey was a child during racial segregation and lynchings and grew to have the nickname, “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” for having danced and toured all over the world. He had a strong sense of black pride that developed at an early age while attending a southern baptist church and juke joints. He found dance at Lester Horton’s dance school. Ailey went on to popularize modern dance and his show “Revelations,” is the best known modern dance performance in history. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later the Alvin Ailey school. Although the dancers were multi-racial, Ailey wanted to ensure black dancers were given opportunities because they were often turned away from other performances. He died in 1989, and after his death Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Honor. @alvinailey‘s dances theater continues on today.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/alvin-ailey-9177959

2. Mae Carol Jeminson

Title of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  Below on the left is a photo of Mae Carol Jeminson, smiling in a full space suit, with the helmet open.  To the left are bullet points of her accomplishments.  It says, first black woman in space, engineer, physician, college professor, holds nine honorary PHDs.  On the bottom of the photo is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo

 Dr. Jemison became the first black woman in space in 1992, going into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. She was selected to join the Astronaut Corps by @nasa while she was serving the @peacecorps in the 80’s. Currently she is the principal of the 100 Year Starship organization. Oh, and she’s been an actress too! She’s been featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 🚀 

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378

3. Keith Boykin

The heading of the photo says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the right is a photo of Keith Boykin wearing a suit.  He is standing in front of a brick wall.  On the right is a bullet list of his accomplishments, including, LGBTQ advocate, award winning author, political analyst and commentator, and Co-Founder of the National Black Justice Coalition.  His name is printed below.  On the bottom of the photo is the dream chasers and change makers logo.

This man’s resumé is more than impressive but here’s a little info: @keithboykin1 was the editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties law review, while attending Harvard Law. He later went on to be the highest ranking openly gay staffer in the Clinton White House, as special assistant to the president and Director of Specialty Media. He published his first book in 1996, “One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America.” He is often seen as progressive broadcaster and commentator on CNN, and he is the cohost of “My Two Cents,” a talk show on BET.

Learn More: https://www.keithboykin.com/bio

4. Anna J Cooper

Heading says celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the left is a black and white head shot of Anna Cooper.  To the write is a list of her accomplishments, including black liberation activist, author, educator, and one of the first black women to earn a phd.  Below is her name.  On the bottom is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

If you’re like me, you have never heard of Anna J Cooper despite her impressive contributions to society. Not only was she the first black woman to earn her PhD, she is often referred to as “The Mother of Black Feminism.” Ms. Cooper was born enslaved and at only 9 years old she was able to earn a scholarship and began her teacher training and road to academic excellence.

Learn More: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anna-Julia-Cooper

5. Angela Rye

The heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the left is a picture Angela Rye wearing white with her arms crossed.  On the right is a bullet list of her accomplishments including CEO of an advocacy firm, attorney, political analyst and commentator, and podcast host of On One with Angela Rye.  Below is her name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.


@angelarye
 is a change maker currently impacting history. She is an attorney and a liberal political commentator on @cnn and a political analyst for @npr. She is involved in several organizations– including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Angela also co-founded @impactstrategies which encourages young professionals to engage both civically and politically. 

Learn More: https://dodoodad.com/angela-rye-biography

6. Octavia E Butler

The heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the write is a headshot of Octavia Butler looking at the camera.  She is wearing a blazer with geometric patterns and glasses.  The Background appears to be a berry bush.  To the right is a list of her accomplishments, including award winning sci-fi writer, feminist, first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.  Below that is her name.  On the bottom of the picture is the dream chasers and change makers logo.

Rejecting the idea to become a secretary, Octavia E. Butler entered a field dominated by white men, and became an award winning science-fiction writer. Ms. Butler spread her success around by teaching several writing workshops as well. Furthermore, Octavia Butler’s stories explore far reaching issues of sex, power, and race. Her writing garnered her a diverse following, and she claimed black readers, sci-do fans, and feminists were her most loyal fans.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/octavia-e-butler-38207

7. Janet Mock

The header of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below is a head shot a curly-haired Janet Mock wearing ornate hoop earrings.  On the right is a list of her accomplishments, including transgender activist, author, tv host, and producer.  Below is her name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.


@janetmock
 is a transgender activist, a New York Times bestseller, a TV producer & host, an NYU grad (woo woo), and has been a magazine editor. She was assigned male at birth but affirms that she always been female. Her book Redefining is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned in their younger years. She’s also been a guest on Oprah’s (😍) #supersoulsunday. She stands as with other black and trans change makers, like Laverne Cox.

Learn More: https://janetmock.com/bio/

8. Edward Bouchet

Heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the right is a sepia tone headshot of Edward Bouchet.  On the right are a list of his accomplishments, including 1st Black Person in to receive a PhD in the US, Physicist, Yale Graduate, and educator.  Below is his name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

Despite his brilliant mind and his PhD in physics Edward Bouchet was unable to get a job as a college professor because he was black, even though he was one of the only people in country to have attained that academic achievement. Additionally, he taught at some of the only schools that offered rigorous curriculums of chemistry and physics offered to African Americans for 25 years. It was only after death that his work was given accolades with several awards and honors.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/edward-alexander-bouchet-21317497

9. Rachel Cargle

The header of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  Below to the right is a head shot of Rachel with curly hair with a headband.  She is wearing a black sweater.  On the right is a list of her accomplishments, including activist, creator and lecturer of "unpacking white feminism," writer, and entrepreneur. Below is her name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

 If you haven’t heard of her yet, @rachel.cargle is an educator and academic. She is one of the most influential black change makers of our time. Her work focuses on the intersection of womanhood and race. She has a large Instagram following where she asks her followers to #dothework and unlearn the racism that has been perpetuated throughout white culture. For black history month, Rachel has posted a prompt for people to google and learn about important black history. She also is a speaker and tours the country with her lecture, “Unpacking White Feminism.” Rachel writes for Harper’s Bazar. She is also a student at Columbia University, and an entrepreneur.

Learn More: https://www.rachelcargle.com/

10. Ella Baker

Header on the picture says "Celebrating Black Change Makers."  Below on the left is a black and white photo of Ella Baker wearing sunglasses and speaking into a microphone with her arm outstretched.  On the right is a bulleted list of her accomplishments, including civil rights activist, mentor, leader, and critic of sexism and classism in the united states.  Below is her name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo

Ella Baker is one of many black change makers who worked largely behind the scenes with famous civil rights leaders, like MLK. She was a mentor to many other activists. One of her mentees was Rosa Parks. Her work involved empowering the oppressed to advocate for their rights. She also called out racism and classism within the civil rights movement. Ms. Baker worked within the NAACP for 15 years. She started as a secretary and worked her way to becoming the highest ranking woman within the organization. However, she challenged hierarchies within organizations all together.

Learn More: https://ellabakercenter.org/about/who-was-ella-baker

11. Killer Mike

The title of the photo says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the right is Killer Mike, wearing a black t-shirt, he is making a serious face and holding a small kitten.  On the right to his picture is a list of his accomplishments, including, black activist, rapper, actor, and producer of trigger warning.  Below is his name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

Atlanta based rapper, Killer Mike is half of the Grammy award winning rap duo, Run the Jewels.  He is a political activist whose work leads to empower the black community.  In the 2016 election and now, he has been an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders. He invests in property and owns a barber shop. Killer Mike aims to show the black community how they can find financial security and success outside of sports and music.  He has recently produced and released a Netflix series, “Trigger Warning: with Killer Mike.”  It is enlightening and HILARIOUS, he is certainly one of the highest ranking entertaining black change makers.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/killer-mike-5102017

11. Angela Davis

The header of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  to the left is a photo of Angela Davis with gray curly hair wearing an #IMWITHKAP football jersey.  To the right is a list of her accomplishment, including LGBTQ advocate, radical black educator, author, and co-founder of Critical Resistance.

Angela Davis is a writer, activist, educator, and revolutionary. Her work is vast and spans decades. She is known for work in prison abolition, she herself was jailed, accused of participating in a prison outbreak but was later cleared. She has written several books, including a title called, “Women, Race, & Class.” Throughout recent history she has spoke out on major events like the Vietnam War, LGBT rights, the war on terror, and was a co-chair for the @womensmarch on Washington in 2017. 

Learn More: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/angela-davis

Are there more black change makers you are inspired by? Let us know in the comments below.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019