Senemeht Olatunji Receives Inaugural First Star Brilliance Award

Senemeht Olatunji, First Star CSI Academy Director, has been awarded the national office’s inaugural First Star Brilliance Award, honoring those who have gone above and beyond to serve our scholars.

First Star has worked, since 2011, to ensure that the foster students in their programs are involved in higher education, with the goal of mitigating the jarring statistic that fewer than three percent of foster youth receive a bachelor’s degree. It also collaborates with colleges and universities to create programs and curricula for foster children to familiarize them with the college environment to strengthen their social, academic, and life skills.

Some of Olatunji’s latest achievements include:

-A 100-percent graduation rate among their seniors in 2020 (22 students). 

-First Star CSI alumni have been accepted to more than 50 colleges and universities, the Marines, and National Guard. Some colleges included CSI, NYU, Delaware State University, FIT, UAlbany, RIT, and many more. 

-Three scholars were accepted as nsoro Scholars and were awarded four-year fully funded scholarships. The mission of the nsoro Educational Foundation is to provide access to and attainment of post-secondary education for all youth aging out of foster care.

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Jennifer Borrero, “Participating in this [First Star]program, being afforded the opportunity to get outside of their comfort zones, including living in Dolphin Cove during the summer, has changed lives. First Star National recognizes the work, passion, and compassion Senemeht put into this program, which is why she was selected for this award.”

Olatunji will receive the award at the virtual First Star Celebration on Sunday, October 11 at 7:00pm EST.

By Terry Mares

Abortion in Bolivia: An Open Secret

SUM – CUNY: Abortion in Bolivia is prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, and saving the mother’s life. But even with those allowances, the procedure is rarely greenlighted. Just 126 abortions were legally permitted in Bolivia between 1973 and 2016. 

And yet, abortion in Bolivia is ubiquitous, according to Professor Natalie Kimball (College of Staten Island). While researching a book on the topic, Kimball heard the phrase “secreto a voces”—an open secret—used so often that it became the book’s title: An Open Secret: The History of Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion in Modern Bolivia. Read more at SUM-CUNY.


It’s Time to Put Energy in the Hands of Communities — Not Corporations

SUM-CUNY – “The great task of our times is to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructures. All of our other efforts to fight climate change will be useless if the world does not transition away from fossil fuels in the next decade or so.”

So declares Professor Ashley Dawson (of The Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island) in his new book People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons, a sharp rebuke of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and power monopolies. He argues that not only must the world stop using fossil fuels, but the transition to renewable energy also must not prioritize profit over people’s needs. Read more at SUM-CUNY.