Transitioning Back To Work After A Baby

Just when you were getting the hang of having a baby at home, it’s time to go back to work. Beyond the expected changes such as picking work tasks back up and catching up on things you’ve missed, your priorities have most likely shifted now that you’re a parent.

It’s normal for parents to feel anxious about transitioning back to work after having a baby, but they don’t have to do it alone. Most new parents have built-in support systems of friends and family, but if their child will be attending daycare, that structure can provide additional help through the transition.

To help make the transition back to work as seamless as possible, consider these tips from infant teachers at KinderCare, which has been caring for children for almost 50 years.

Choose a daycare near work— A parent’s first instinct might be to choose a daycare that’s close to home, but once you return to work you may appreciate having your baby nearby— whether to breastfeed or just get some mid-day snuggles.

“We have an open-door policy,” said Regina Campisi, a nine-year KinderCare infant teacher. “Come in during your lunch break, feed your baby, have lunch with us and get to know your child’s teachers. Be a part of the educational process. It’s important to bridge that gap between work and school.”

Feel comfortable with your child care provider— Parents know their babies best. Most daycare centers are willing to work with parents to answer questions and create a positive experience for both parents and children.

Campisi recommends visiting your daycare of choice at least once before and once after your baby is born.

“Before you have your baby, you’re going to have all these questions,” Campisi said. “After you have your baby, you’re going to have different questions. You’re going to want to show your daycare provider what your baby needs.”

Above all else, parents should feel completely at ease when their baby is at daycare. If parents feel comfortable and safe and know that their baby is in the right hands, it can make going back to work easier.

Take care of yourself— When parents are on leave, sleepless nights are one thing. However, once parents have to get up at a certain time for work again and get their baby ready for daycare, they can find they’re operating on a whole new level of sleep deprivation.

“Going back to work is a very fast-paced time for working parents,” said infant teacher Megan Martina, who has worked with KinderCare for seven years. “That’s why it’s important to rest and take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating and that you have someone to help you.”

“I always say, ‘Don’t pour from an empty cup,’” Campisi said. “If you have a day off, let me take care of your baby. Go to the grocery store; take a long -shower; take a lunch break; get a new book; do something for you.”

Going back to work after having a baby is a huge step to take, but it’s not impossible. For more tips to make the transition easier, visit

Annual Basketball Showcase Continues To Boost Baltimore’s Sports Reputation

DTLR, one of the nation’s most prominent and emerging urban lifestyle brand retailers, kicked the year off with an event that galvanized and unified the sports community in Baltimore City with its third annual Charm City vs. Windy City High School Basketball Showcase at Saint Frances Academy on January 19, 2019.

Beginning in 2017, DTLR executives decided to present a highly anticipated sporting event in the city that not only showcases elite high school basketball talent, but provides an interactive cultural sphere where fashion enthusiasts and sports fans take part in a uniquely special experience.

The yearly event also brings together two towns known for having gritty, unique, dynamic and rich basketball heritages: Baltimore and Chicago. The two major cities also boast burgeoning fashion scenes and have considerably large consumer markets for DTLR.

“With Baltimore and Chicago being good cities about basketball, the thing is that I looked at through the years is Chicago and Baltimore high schools never played each other,” event co-founder Jeff Bowden said about of what prompted him to start the showcase.

Fans in the stands at Saint Frances Academy cheer during Game 1 of the High School Basketball Showcase presented by DTLR.

Fans in the stands at Saint Frances Academy cheer during Game 1 of the High School Basketball Showcase presented by DTLR.

Bowden, executive vice president of People and Culture with DTLR, said he and his colleague, Tremayne Lipscomb, traveled up to the Chicago Elite Classic to invite two storied basketball programs— Simeon Career Academy and Morgan Park High School—down to Baltimore to compete in an intense basketball clash, a function that is quickly becoming one of the biggest sporting spectacles in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“I think it just boosted the reputation and kind of solidified it so to speak,” said Lipscomb of the impact the Charm City vs. Windy City showcase has made on Baltimore’s sports culture.

“We have stores in Chicago and we have stores in Baltimore—pretty strong markets for the DTLR brand. And just with our core demographic being youth, basketball is real big in both of those cities, so we thought it would be a great thing for Chicago to come to Baltimore to play,” added Lipscomb, DTLR’s community outreach director and co-organizer of the annual event.

Game 1 of the showcase was a showdown between Baltimore’s Patterson High School and Chicago’s Morgan Park, which garnered much crowd excitement all throughout.

The game was physical and intense, with dozens of fouls being called by the officials. Morgan Park out rebounded its opponent by a wide margin to hold the lead and controlled the game most of the way by getting multiple second-chance buckets and tough lay-ins at the rim.

However, Patterson rallied back behind a superb performance by senior guard Gerard Mungo, who led the Clippers to a comeback rally as the game was tied, 69-69, at the end of regulation.

In overtime, Morgan Park guard Adam Miller knifed through the defense to make some crucial mid-range jumpers and knocked down consecutive free throws to help the Mustangs seal the win, 88-77.

“Baltimore is like Chicago. It’s crazy, you know. A Baltimore versus Chicago game is going to be crazy so you gotta come out here and keep your head on tight,” said Miller after the win. The 6-foot-4 left-handed, junior finished with a game-high 30 points. He said he enjoyed playing in the vibrant and high-energy atmosphere.

DTLR Radio featured guest appearances by local artists CZ Baby and StayTruDNice in between games and during halftime breaks.

Game 2 was between Simeon (Chicago), one of the most distinguished basketball programs in the nation, and Saint Frances Academy, the host school.

For most of the game, the score remained relatively close. But in the third quarter, St. Frances nailed several 3-pointers and pushed the ball in transition to create a 13-point lead. Simeon rallied back from a double-digit deficit and tied the game, 63-63, with 2:26 left in the fourth quarter.

Patterson Park High School guard Gerard Mungo (No. 5) goes in for a layup over Adam Miller of Chicago's Morgan Park Academy.

Patterson Park High School guard Gerard Mungo (No. 5) goes in for a layup over Adam Miller of Chicago’s Morgan Park Academy.

In the final two minutes, St. Frances clamped down on defense and Adrian Baldwin made some vital free throws to seal the 70-65 win for the Panthers. Baldwin, a junior, had 25 points and two assists in the win. Simeon’s Antonio Reeves scored a game-high 32 points.

“It gives us a big-time national platform to play in front of our local crowd, so the kids love playing big games,” said St. Frances head coach Mick Myles. “We play a national schedule but to be able to play this kind of game at home in front of your family and friends, it’s a great environment.”

Bowden says he and his partners with DTLR plan to expand the basketball showcase into featuring more teams, and possibly including girls’ teams in addition.

Baltimore City Public Schools Motivate, Educate, Inspire Dads At First Over Fatherhood Engagement Summit

Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) joined a host of partners to conduct the first-ever Fatherhood Engagement Summit at Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore on January 12, 2019. The power of black fatherhood was put on full display, as the function attracted dozens of dads from Baltimore City and surrounding vicinities.

“This is a priority of ours. Dads, you know, are an untapped resource in Baltimore City, specifically in our school system,” said Shana McIver, one of the lead coordinators of the fatherhood summit. “At the school level, we know dads want to be involved, we just have to show them how. We also have to help them remove any barriers they may have to being engaged in their children’s lives.”

Family engagement manager with Baltimore City Public Schools, Shana McIver said that she and her colleagues have always worked with a pointed focus on fatherhood engagement. She further said that about 30 partners, comprised of nonprofits and grassroots organizations, partnered with the public school system to shape the fatherhood event.

“So at City Schools we believe that if we offer opportunities to build trust and build relationships with dads, and we engage them, and allow them to have a voice in what’s happening with their child and their school communities, then it will yield authentic engagement and dads can help us support school improvement, but ultimately student success,” said McIver.

An abundance of vendors and resources were available for fathers— some of which were unconventional, such as the ‘silent yoga’ exhibit. Workshops and information sessions covered a wide array of topics, but mainly focused on how fathers could be more involved in their child’s education and academic pursuits.

“I really believe family engagement is a major strategy if we want to reduce a lot of the challenges that we’re having in this city,” said David Miller, the founder of the black-male focused Dare to Be King Project initiative. “Dads in the city of Baltimore are telling us that because of stress, the trauma, seeing all of the homicides and the other things going on in the city, that they need resources. So the Baltimore City Public Schools, my organization, the Center for Urban Families, and 25 to 30 other partners said, ‘Why don’t we create a day for dads to come out to get every conceivable thing that they need – whether it’s housing, whether it’s mental health, whether it’s substance abuse, whether it’s employment…’ We’ve got everything they need.”

Most importantly, a man of physical stature (he stands 6-feet-10-inches) and stature in the black community highlighted the event with words of enlightenment for the fathers and children in attendance.

Etan Thomas, an author, poet, social activist, motivational speaker and former NBA forward made his way to Baltimore to share insightful thoughts on the importance of black fatherly engagement.

“I came today because there’s so much that we as fathers, as men in the community, have to step up and be able to prepare our children for what they’re going to face throughout society. And that’s really the topic of what I’m talking about,” Thomas said. “There’s always a lot of work to be done and always a lot of things to talk about. So when I heard about this project that [David] Miller was putting together— it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.”

Thomas, a resident of Bowie in Prince George’s County, also gave away signed copies of his most recent book entitled “We Matter: Athletes And Activism,” (2018) free of charge. The literary work features interviews with numerous prominent sports figures, and serves as inspiration for sports enthusiasts, parents seeking positive messages for the children, and activists interested in hearing athletes use their voices to advocate for social justice.

About midway through the summit, Thomas and his cousin, William Thomas, led a discussion surrounding the importance of black leadership from a parental perspective. Etan Thomas, husband and father of three shared some personal experiences and offered advice to the men who sought counsel during the discussion.

Many fathers in the Baltimore community suffer in silence but with a connection to vital resources, local leaders feel that holding functions such as fatherhood engagement summits move black fathers and husbands one step closer to recognizing and their true value.

It is likely that Baltimore City Public Schools will hold fatherhood engagement events in the near future, according to McIver.

Don’t Let Predatory Tax Loans Take Your Refunds

For many consumers, the New Year brings an annual effort to file taxes early enough to help pay off big bills, replace major appliances or tuck away a few bucks for the proverbial ‘rainy day.’

With a continuing federal shutdown, this year there are also an estimated 800,000 federal workers who have not had a payday since December. For these consumers, an early tax refund could cover basic living needs like housing, food, childcare and utilities. And across the country, advertising, particularly on urban radio, tempts listeners with easy ways to get a loan against anticipated tax refunds. But just like other predatory lending products, what is advertised is not quite what consumers receive. Convenient tax-related loans almost always come with a price that takes a big bite out of consumers’ money.

The bigger the refund, the more attentive and helpful “tax preparers” will be in helping with e-filing, the electronic processing that typically results in refunds in two to three business days. Once the size of the refund is known, these preparers encourage unsuspecting consumers to take out a short-term loan like a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL). Depository institutions like banks sell a ‘service’ known as a Refund Anticipating Check (RAC) that is most appealing to consumers who lack a bank account.

Neither product is as helpful as they appear. RALs, are usually marketed as an “advance” instead of a loan. Instead of interest, many of these loans come with “fees” or a “finance charge.” Conversely, a Refund Anticipation Check or RAC is sold as a temporary bank account that exists exclusively to receive the IRS refund. Once the refund reaches the consumer’s bank account either a prepaid card, or a check is issued by the depository institution; and once again, fees taken out of the refund reduce the amount of monies that consumers actually receive.

The biggest target for both of these products are consumers with the largest refunds, especially those who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), one of the few tax break programs available to low-to-moderate income consumers, and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit.

To be eligible for EITC, earned income and adjusted gross income can be as low as $15,270 for a single filer or head of household to as high as $54,884 for a married couple with three dependent children. This year, eligible EITC consumers could receive as much as $6,431 for families with three or more qualifying children to $519 for single filers. Similarly, the Child Tax Credit is available to eligible filers with children under the age of 17. For each dependent child meeting the age requirement, filers receive a $2,000 credit that like EITC reduces the amount of taxes owed. In 2017, 1.7 million RALs were sold, and another 20.5 million RACs valued at a half billion dollars were also sold, according to the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC).

“Tax-time is hard enough for most Americans, but they also face consumer protection challenges,” noted Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “They need to avoid incompetent and abusive preparers and decide whether to choose financial products of varying costs.”

So how much financial sense does it make to purchase an ‘advance’ or open a temporary bank account when the Internal Revenue Service can deposit the full refund into a checking account within two to three business days?

Just because a refund-advance product isn’t called a loan, or doesn’t have an interest rate, doesn’t mean it’s free, said Scott Astrada, the Center for Responsible Lending’s Director of Federal Advocacy. “Carefully read the terms and conditions and ask plenty of questions.”

Everyone who works for a living should be entitled not only to a paycheck but 100 percent of their tax refunds.

Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Communications Deputy Director. She can be reached at

How Zip Codes Relate To Achievement Gaps

There is no question that education quality has an extraordinary impact on the future lives of students. As a parent of a new middle school student, I can personally attest to the importance of dedicated teachers, early childhood education and a focused, personalized approach to education. In numerous studies it has been shown that the quality of education, especially within the country’s public school system, varies widely by location.

There are several factors that contribute to success in adulthood. However, routinely we find that early childhood education and the empowerment of excellent teachers plays a pivotal role.

Students from economically-disadvantaged areas of inner-city school districts have a plethora of obstacles to overcome, including but not limited to: lack of economic mobility, reduced health care options, and exposure to crime.

Where schools should provide some relief from these challenges, they often serve as a grim reminder of how difficult it can be to escape difficult circumstances.

Harvard University Economist Raj Chetti has researched this topic extensively, compiling data from millions of Americans, he found that education quality relates to economic and social mobility. According to Mr. Chetti’s research, on average, “only about 7.5 percent of children from the bottom 1/5th of incomes will reach the top 1/5th of incomes nationwide. However, those odds tend to rise to 14-15 percent in rural areas and places with higher social capital. They sometimes decrease to below 5 percent in impoverished or socioeconomically-disadvantaged places.”

Children in lower income brackets disproportionately tend to be the recipients of sub-par educational resources. As Mr. Chetti points out on NPR’s ‘Hidden Brain’ Podcast, larger class sizes and less experienced teachers are all indicators that students are much less likely to obtain the cognitive and social skills necessary to advance themselves and their families.

The fact that these lower-performing public schools tend to be found in more impoverished or socially/culturally isolated areas is not a coincidence.

Prior to the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the 2017-2018 school year, education standards were largely determined by federal standards outlined in No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This structure did very little to address the specific needs of the most disadvantaged communities.

ESSA seeks to improve students’ chances at success by encouraging a more personalized approach to students’ needs, strengths and interests as well as improving and decreasing the emphasis on standardized testing. Much of the research suggests this approach will do more to advance specific, individual state school system goals and impact students’ lives.

It’s very important that parents, teachers, administrators and community members take strategic steps to address factors contributing to the educational shortcomings in some of our schools while working with policy makers to equitably utilize all the tools and resources available.

The future is now, and if our community ever hopes to eliminate the disparities that are at the root of many of the issues we are often confronted with (i.e. poverty, mass incarceration, chronic unemployment) we have to begin with education.

By requiring states to identify and intervene with their lowest-performing schools and take a more tailored approach to their improvement, ESSA is poised to have a significant and measurable impact on the state of public education in America.

There is a very real correlation between underperforming schools and generational poverty. If we wish to eliminate the latter, we must tackle education with a focus and energy that is specifically tailored to the needs of our communities.

Akil Wilson is a Washington, DC-based, podcaster, and parent. He is a contributing writer for the Washington Informer in addition to providing broadcast commentary for a variety of media outlets.

JHU Collaborates With Morgan, Coppin To Promote STEM Diversity

— With $2.46 million in support from the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins University is teaming up with two historically black Baltimore institutions, Morgan State and Coppin State universities, to cultivate a diverse group of highly trained biomedical researchers.

Johns Hopkins is one of 23 schools nationwide to receive funding from NIH’s Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards program. IRACDA promotes collaborations between research-intensive institutions like Johns Hopkins and partner universities that demonstrate a commitment to training underrepresented groups.

Supported by the grant, the three universities are establishing ASPIRE (Academic Success via Postdoctoral Independence in Research and Education), an intensive training program in translational research on challenges to human health. The goal is to provide new professional development opportunities for researchers who have completed their doctorates in bridges engineering, medicine and biology.

“The ASPIRE program represents an exciting partnership between Johns Hopkins, Morgan State, and Coppin State,” said Leslie Tung, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins and director of ASPIRE. “Our goal is to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and engineers, providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully pursue academic careers in research and teaching. By the end of their experience, ASPIRE scholars will be prepared to address the world’s most pressing health concerns through biomedical discovery, innovation and education.”

Through ASPIRE, participants will conduct research under Johns Hopkins faculty mentors and develop academic skills through pedagogy workshops, course development opportunities and teaching experiences under faculty members at Morgan State and Coppin State. The program will support two new postdoctoral scholars annually over the next five years, providing each trainee with a stipend and funds for research supplies, conference travel, and other educational expenses.

During their three years in the ASPIRE program, scholars will spend 75 percent of their time conducting biomedical research and the remaining 25 percent learning about teaching and working in the classroom. Research projects will focus on diverse topics in biomedical engineering, applying quantitative methods and technical innovations to the diagnosis and treatment of disease for the advancement of human health. To promote interdisciplinary training, each scholar will have a primary research mentor from the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering, as well as a clinical collaborator from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Currently, we’re seeing a significant lack of diversity in biology, medicine, and engineering, especially as you progress along the academic career trajectory, from college to graduate school to faculty,” Tung said. “That’s what we’re trying to change. Through these mentorship and training opportunities, ASPIRE will provide encouragement to underrepresented student groups and inspire them to pursue careers in biomedical research and engineering.”

Keeping John Harbaugh Beyond 2019 Right Decision For Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens reportedly agreed to a contract extension to keep head coach John Harbaugh around beyond the 2019 season. The decision to keep Harbaugh in place was a wise move by new General Manager Eric DeCosta.

After a mid-season turnaround that led to an AFC North division title, the arrow is pointing up for the Ravens. Harbaugh has a 104 – 72 record in the regular season in 11 years as the head coach. Baltimore has reached the playoffs in seven seasons under him.

Harbaugh is not only the most successful coach in team history but he is also the best man for the job moving forward. There were cries for Harbaugh to be relieved of his head coach duties when the Ravens were struggling through a three-game losing streak in October.

Often times, fans will call for a coach to be fired without having a valid candidate as a replacement. None of the prospects that landed head coaching jobs are of Harbaugh’s pedigree.

Harbaugh is a proven commodity ideally suited for Baltimore. It starts with his blue, collar mindset. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens forged an old school, smash mouth identity. They play stifling defense and look to pound the football on offense. Any team facing the Ravens know they’re in for a dogfight.

Team unity is another core value. Even when things are bad, the Ravens don’t point fingers at each other. You never hear any rumors of division coming from the locker room.

The most glaring example came in 2018 when the torch was passed from starting quarterback Joe Flacco to back up Lamar Jackson. As a first-round pick, it was only a matter of time before Jackson took over as the starter.

Jackson was rushed into action when Flacco injured his right hip and missed two games starting in November. The Ravens proceeded to win three games in a row with Jackson under center. Faced with a tough decision, Harbaugh decided to stick with Jackson when Flacco was healthy enough to return.

The decision signaled the end of Flacco’s reign in Baltimore. No one flinched or publicly questioned Harbaugh’s decision to move on from the former Super Bowl MVP. That’s a sign that the organization is on one page with Harbaugh in control of the locker room.

Making a move of that magnitude took guts but Harbaugh was convinced that Baltimore was better off with Jackson leading the way. He put himself at risk by going with Jackson.

Early returns paid off with Jackson playing a key role in the Ravens’ 6 – 1 record with him as the starter.

Harbaugh was faced with another tough decision when Baltimore was down 17 – 0 to the Los Angeles Chargers at home in the first round of the playoffs. Jackson was given the green light to finish the game and got the Ravens back to within a touchdown thanks to some fourth-quarter heroics.

Even though they lost the game, none of the Ravens players questioned Harbaugh’s decision not to put Flacco in the game. The same can’t be said for some of the fans that chanted Flacco’s name hoping he would be inserted into the game. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith even came to Jackson’s defense.

“I love Joe Flacco,” said Smith after the game. “But No. 8 [QB Lamar Jackson] got us here. So for the fact that you’re a fair-weather fan that quickly when things get rough, you turn your back on him, that got under my skin a little bit.”

Harbaugh’s decision to make tight ends coach/running game coordinator Greg Roman the offensive coordinator is a move that was made with Jackson’s future success in mind. For Harbaugh, all that matters is the team’s success. Taking play calling responsibilities away from Marty Mornhinweg and giving him a passing game coordinator role wasn’t an easy decision, especially considering that their time together dates back to when they were both assistant coaches for the Philadelphia Eagles under Andy Reid.

Harbaugh has made it a point to surround himself with the right coaches and not get in their way. He has earned the respect of everyone in the organization and in the Baltimore community. That in turn has earned him the opportunity to continue leading the Ravens.

New Year’s Resolutions Should Include Helping Those With Opioid Addiction

This article is part of the #STCPreventionMatters campaign from the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland. For more information about the campaign and the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy, visit:

Each new-year, many of us make a list of promises and resolutions to make changes to live longer, healthier lives. However, in 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people in the United States are not living as long as they used to. They said that one reason for this is the result of young people dying after taking too many opioids.

We see this problem right here in Baltimore: more than 700 Baltimore residents died in 2018 after taking too many opioids. The Maryland State Chief Medical Examiner’s Office and the Baltimore Health Department suggest that 19 out of every 20 overdose, deaths were caused by fentanyl, a lab-made pain killer that is often mixed with heroin. Sometimes, fentanyl is even passed off as heroin.

When people die after taking too many opioids, it is just the end-point of a wider range of illnesses like uncontrolled pain or depression. People become addicted for many reasons, and many people want to stop using but don’t know how. That means that nearly, every person reading this article knows someone, or may themselves be having trouble with opioid use. So, in the spirit of making resolutions, we should resolve to help ourselves and our neighbors make healthier choices by doing the following:

If you are worried that someone may be misusing opioids, encourage them to get help. The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Downtown and Midtown campuses were recognized by Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Baltimore City Health Department as providing the best level of care for those that need help with substance abuse. Both campuses have peer counselors that can connect patients to substance abuse programs directly from the emergency department, often within hours. If you or a loved one is having problems with opioid abuse, think about bringing them to one of the emergency departments to be checked out and treated.

-Carry naloxone, the drug that can undo the effects of opioid overdose. You do not need a doctor’s prescription to buy or carry naloxone. The pharmacists at the drug store will teach you how and when to give naloxone. Remember to call 911 after you give the naloxone. Many patients who abuse opioids, are saved every year by a family member or passerby that gave them naloxone.

-Throw away old medications. This means all old medications, and it is even more important for opioids. Experts say that a number of people with opioid use disorders started by using prescription drugs the wrong way. Get rid of this danger by throwing out all old medications from your cabinets. Your local drug store can help you get rid of the drugs safely. Do not flush the pills down the toilet since this can hurt animals and other wildlife.

The problem of opioids has affected all of us in one-way or another. Let us all promise to use that connection to save a life in the coming year.

Zachary Dezman, MD, MS, MS, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology. He works as an Attending Physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus where he also serves as Vice Chair of their Research Committee. Dr. Dezman is Deputy Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Informatics Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Rambling Rose: Music Entertains The Soul

Hello everyone! Yes, it is cold outside, but what do you expect, it’s winter— enjoy it, embrace it, go out and have fun, and listen to some good music. It will warm up your body and soul.

To start off, you must check out one of my favorite artists, B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco. Honey Child! Let me tell you, this man will light up your soul for real on that B-3 organ! I promise you if you have to wrap up in your long johns, sweat shirt, fur coat, wool scarf, hat with ear muffs, gloves and snow boots, go see this man at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. on February 28, 2019. You will leave the show with nothing on but your drawers. He will set your soul on fire! He has a lot of soul that pours out the tip of his fingers and his footsteps on the floor bass. This artist entertains the soul.

Sitting here listening to Baltimore’s own, John Lamkin’s new ten-track CD named, “Transitions,” is truly designed for the die-heart jazz lovers. All of the compositions are composed and arranged by John Lamkin, II except for the track, “God Bless the Child,” which was composed by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. The packaging for the CD is exquisite! For a non-down-heart jazz lover, my favorite track on the CD is the arrangement of “Down by the Riverside”; “Get on Up and Get on Down”; and track #10, “Swingin’ at the Castle.” You can see him and hear all of his CD live at Twins Jazz Club, 134 U Street in Washington, DC on Friday, January 25 and Saturday, January 26, 2019 for 2 shows per night, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Enoch Pratt Free Library also provides free live entertainment for the community. On Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3 p.m. at the Light Street branch located 1251 Light Street will feature the Tom Larsen Blues Band and on Friday, February 1 at 1 p.m., a Baltimore School for the Arts Musical Performance will be held at the Orleans Street branch, located 1303 Orleans Street; “Jazz in the Stacks with Wayne Johnson will perform at the Herring Run branch, located 3801 Erdman Avenue on Monday, February 4 starting at 6 p.m.

The SideStreet Duo featuring Jeff Wilson on piano and Terry Battle on bass is back performing live at Cured 18th & 21st, 10980 Grantchester Way, Columbia, Maryland, next to the Merriweather Post Pavillion on Sunday, January 27 5-8 p.m.

The Andie Musik Live! Located 409 N. Charles Street will feature Leo Maxey Quartet with special guest Gary Thomas on Friday, January 25th.

Well, my dear friends enjoy your week and stay safe. I hope to see you somewhere, some place. If you see me, Say hello! Remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474, or email me at Also, I am available for book signings for Black History Month. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Master organist Joey DeFrancesco releases adventurous new album, “In the Key of the Universe” March 1, 2019 on Mack Avenue Records. Pharoah Sanders, Troy Roberts, Billy Hart and Sammy Figueroa are featured on the album. It is awesome!

Master organist Joey DeFrancesco releases adventurous new album, “In the Key of the Universe” March 1, 2019 on Mack Avenue Records. Pharoah Sanders, Troy Roberts, Billy Hart and Sammy Figueroa are featured on the album. It is awesome!

Renowned local recording artist just released a new CD with John Lamkin Favorites Jazz Quintet/Sextet featuring John III, Phillip Thomas, Kris Funn, Herman Bernie, Craig Alston Todd Simon and Eartha Lamkin named, “Transitions,” a neo-soul jazz ballad he created and sang by Eartha. Come see and hear for yourself live on Friday, January 25 and Saturday, January 26 at Twins Jazz, 134 U Street, top Floor, in NW Washington D.C.

Renowned local recording artist just released a new CD with John Lamkin Favorites Jazz Quintet/Sextet featuring John III, Phillip Thomas, Kris Funn, Herman Bernie, Craig Alston Todd Simon and Eartha Lamkin named, “Transitions,” a neo-soul jazz ballad he created and sang by Eartha. Come see and hear for yourself live on Friday, January 25 and Saturday, January 26 at Twins Jazz, 134 U Street, top Floor, in NW Washington D.C.

“Party Animal” Victor Green and DJ Mike Jones light up the dance floor at City View Bar & Grill, 6700 Security Blvd. Gwynn Oak, Maryland every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Everyone is welcome, no cover. They call it “Thirsty Thursday “We will see you there!

“Party Animal” Victor Green and DJ Mike Jones light up the dance floor at City View Bar & Grill, 6700 Security Blvd. Gwynn Oak, Maryland every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Everyone is welcome, no cover. They call it “Thirsty Thursday “We will see you there!

Overcoming Tragedy And Celebrating Life Again

Born in Norfolk, Va., and raised by a single mother, I felt a special responsibility to go to college but, at first, I failed at it – quite literally. But I turned my life around and saw a pathway to success.

Studying in London as a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow was instrumental in healing my wounds and making me whole again.

First enrolled as a college student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., I left school my freshman year because it wasn’t a good fit for me. A year later, I transferred near home to a historically Black college, Norfolk State University, but I abruptly left during my second semester when tragedy struck in a way that I could have never imagined.

In a scuffle on campus, one of my friends, Sean Williams, was tragically stabbed to death. Like me, Sean was a classically trained vocalist. I was in such shock from his murder, I left school and didn’t even tell my teachers why.

I moved to Florida, where I fell in love and was blessed to have a son. I wanted to make a positive future for my son, but I really didn’t know how. I thought about it long and hard and decided I wanted to be a lawyer in arts and entertainment. I knew I needed to be in New York City. I knew I had to go back to school.

I got my transcripts. I put myself in a suit and put myself on a bus and, transcripts in hand, I went to the headquarters of City University of New York, CUNY.

The admissions counselor opened up my transcripts and said, “Uhhhh…”

I said, “I know.”

I had a 1.0 GPA.

“These are the grades I have,” I told him.

“I’m willing to start completely over.”

He said, “It’s going to be competitive,” but handed me a list of schools and I returned to Florida.

But I came back and wanted to attend the first school on the list, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y.

I met with a counselor. She said, “These grades…”

I told her, “If I had known when I was just young what I know now, I would have done things differently. I just didn’t know.

Unfortunately, this is what happened. I plan on being a lawyer.”

She asked: “You want to be a lawyer?” I responded, “I will be a lawyer.”

She arched her eyebrows and said, “I like the way that you said that.”

She told me what I needed to do to be admitted: take a math and English entrance exam. I passed English, but failed math by two points. I took a remedial math course, passed and was admitted. I learned I loved math and started tutoring other students. I earned my associate’s degree in legal studies and received an invitation to join the President’s Society for students with excellent academic records. That’s right, I was invited. When I received the Frederick Douglass Fellowship, I called my mother to share the good news.

In London, though, as a Frederick Douglass Fellow, I felt like an outsider. I was older than the other students. I was a father. I came from a single-family household. But I realized something profound in London. During a workshop, a videographer asked us, “Tell us a time when you had to face your privilege?”

The image of my friend, Sean, came to me. He was the motivating factor in my life. When my turn to speak arrived, I told the Fellows around me, “I lost a friend who never got to see his full potential. The biggest privilege I have is just being alive. My friend died when he was 18.”

I broke down in tears. That was one of the first moments that my friend’s murder hit me. I told the Fellows: “You all just need to appreciate just being here. Just having breath in your lungs.”

We were all crying together. We were all celebrating life together. In that moment, I realized something beautiful and profound: our common humanity.

Of the more than 330,000 U.S. students studying abroad, only 6.1 percent are African American and 10.1 percent are Latino. This is one in a series of articles by students of color who are breaking down barriers by studying abroad thanks to the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows program, which awards 10 full scholarships a year to students at Minority Serving Institutions. These students will periodically share their stories, hopefully inspiring others to apply. Join our social media campaign, #CIEEmpowered #MSInspirational #FrederickDouglassGlobalFellows that is celebrating these extraordinary students and thier experiences studying abroad. Please view and share Peire’s video story at This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.