May is the time of year that welcomes summer as well as graduates from schools all over the country. Otis College of Art and Design is no exception, producing yet another annual class of accomplishments, ready to hit the world with new talent, lots of zeal and a boatload of student loan debt. However, for one class this year from Otis, they will be able to hit the job market without a major, familiar burden on their backs. Instead, this year’s class was able to graduate with a huge advantage versus their peers.
Otis College is an anomaly in the higher education world. Unlike many of the universities that it competes with, the art and design school has a student body that is 77 percent color. And, also, unlike other schools, 9 out of 10 students at the College depend on financing to help pay their way through to a degree. While the College is proud of its curriculum, even President Charles Hirschhorn, the school’s top executive, notes that the financial aid burden can’t be ignored. He said as much in the commencement speech this year, acknowledging that the financial burden of debts needing to be repaid limits graduates from what they can fully achieve saddled with the need to pay bills.
As a result, 2022 was going to be different. Instead of the usual graduation, where everyone marches in formal caps and gowns, receives their symbolic degree folder, and then buckles down a week later to find a job as soon as possible, this year’s class received one more educational gift: not outstanding financial aid debt. That obligation for each of the graduates that was eligible was paid off by the CEOs of Snap Inc. and KORA Organics. Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr donated their funds to help out the graduating class and give the departing students the ability to hit the work world debt-free.
The gift was not out of the blue; Spiegel had attended Otis for a number of classes prior to transferring to Stanford University. From there, he jumped into starting Snapchat and turned himself into a billionaire. At age 31, his estimated worth is something over $5 billion. Spiegel and his wife, Miranda Kerr, chose to make the donation back to the school, in effect paying off the student debt of 285 graduates, essentially the class of 2022 from Otis College.
No surprise, the graduates were floored. Even President Hirschhorn was emotional, trying to keep his composure to continue the speech after hitting the zenith announcement during the commencement. The gift was no small measure; per the U.S. Department of Education, the average graduate from Otis College typically carried $27,000 in student loan debt.
One student summed up the impact of the gift, “If it is really gone, it puts me so much ahead,” said Farhan Fallahifiroozi.
Safe Haven for Pets Who’s Owners Enter Rehab
No pet owner likes to leave their pets for extended periods, no matter the reason for leaving. It’s no different for people who may have drug or alcohol issues and might need to go for rehabilitation.
Not knowing who to leave the pet with or the level of care it will receive can lead to anxiety. However, there’s a new resolve for people faced with that situation. Read on…
Bella was skeptical as she put her head up from inside the carrier she was being transported on to the boarding house.
A volunteer massaged the little black-and-white cat’s hair to calm her fear of the dogs barking at the boarding facility’s back.
The cat goes by the alias Bella since her owner, who’s dealing with a tough time at home, wants to keep her cat’s real name a secret. Pets in need of emergency shelter can stay with a foster family at Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, which provides short-term, no-cost accommodation for animals whose owners are homeless or fleeing domestic abuse.
Odyssey House, Utah’s largest integrated addiction treatment center, and the foundation have just teamed up to offer three months of no-fee pet lodging to those who need it most.
“This is truly person-based, like person-led,” said Beth Henry, Ruff Haven’s foster coordinator. Pets are returned to their owners once treatment is complete and they have achieved a sense of security and well-being.
Enrollment and documenting of the owner’s present status, followed by a brief examination of the pet (weight and overall health), immunizations, and ensuring that the animal is either fixed or is scheduled to be treated, are the first steps in the process of adoption.
The pet then gets connected with a foster home, and the owner receives weekly SMS updates on the progress of their animal. When a client and their pet are apart, Ruff Haven’s fosters send videos and pictures of the pet to the client.
Several clients have the option of having their dogs dropped off for the Dogs All Day program by their foster parents, and their owners can come to meet them.
Henry stated, “It’s a terrific confidence boost for them.” In some cases, dogs are kept at the Dogs All Day center since their owners prefer to be able to visit them every day… It’s rare for them to be greeted by their loved ones every single day. The stress of living with a cat is very hard on them.
In a press release, Adam Cohen, CEO of Odyssey, stated that pets can be a motivation for people to stay in difficult situations because they are worried about how their animals will be cared for if they are not there.
However, Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, which launched in June 2020, has already aided 320 families and almost hundreds of animals since then.
Owners often worry that they’ll forget their pets during this time, but “the pets don’t ever forget their owner,” according to Kristina Pulsipher, the executive director at Ruff Havens. We do this for the reunions. And many of our former clients are now either volunteers or foster parents for us.
Twins Create a Breakthrough Brain Injury App
Twins have been known to achieve amazing things together, which is why research oftentimes tends to be focused on longitudinal studies of twins and how they go through life. In the case of Ellis and Luke Perry, both were on the path to achieving great things. They had already achieved big accomplishments in engineering and were studying the discipline at Oxford. However, during their time at University, Luke fell off a balcony, hitting his head in the fall. That resulted in a serious brain injury that was expected to be fatal within days. The pressure from the damage and swelling resulted in a part of Luke’s skull being removed temporarily until the swelling had been reduced. Ultimately, Luke was physically repaired, but his nervous system had been shattered. The doctor’s prognosis was grim.
However, amazingly, Luke survived. Even more impressive, he recovered enough that he now expects a decade later to be an athlete in the Paralympic Games. The credit to Luke’s recovery is clearly rooted in his tenacity and willingness to live. And, what has also helped quite a bit has been a company named Neumind.
Ellis was able to develop his app enough that it gained the attention of the British government, and that turned into seed money to get started further to the tune of 250,000 British pounds. From that launching point, Ellis was able to fully develop a working prototype, expanding his testing base to 450 working testers. Luke was one of them. The success of the app and work continues to be recognized; Ellis won yet another award for an additional 50,000 in funding via the Young Innovators Next Step program.
While Luke and Ellis obviously would change how life has dealt them their cards, there is no question that Luke’s fall was a critical turning point in both their lives. Luke’s persistence at recovery drove Ellis to do more himself, and that became the catalyst for Neumind’s establishment and growth as a company as well.
Ellis’ focus became targeted on using technology to help Luke recover. This was in response to the reality that most brain injury patients get little in the way of long-term support for a life of rehabilitation. Instead, they get about 10 weeks of response, and then patients are left to family, spouse, friends’ or last resort care facilities. Neumind became a dedicated project to do more for Luke and others suffering from acquired brain injury, or ABI. Neumind’s app, Alfred, which is named after the butler in Batman lore, became the key product focused on helping neurological healing and training.
The latest funding award will allow Ellis and Neumind to go further with their development, pushing the boundaries of what the Alfred app can provide. And that means an amazing frontier of cognitive processing, machine learning and healing assistance.
Paramedics Can Now Arrive To Scene on JetPacks!
Back in the 1970s, there was a kids’ cartoon called The Jetsons. It was a comical glimpse into the modern future, particularly with what technology would be available. Along with space travel, robotic housekeeping and space travel, jet packs were a dime a dozen for the characters in the cartoons. Today, jet packs are still in prototype and testing when it comes to consumer use. Not to mention, someone will probably need to spell out where the public can fly to avoid accidents like what happens with drones. However, in one location, Lake District, a jet pack has become a useful tool for emergency response.
As most who fly know, bad weather and helicopters don’t mix. So, while the Great North Air Ambulance Service, or GNAAS, is quite responsive to remote pickup needs, when the weather goes foul their aircraft are essentially grounded. Instead, a different company named Gravity Industries has put a solution to the test in real-time practice. A paramedic was chosen/volunteered to be trained with Gravity’s Jet Suits for quick elevation hops that would otherwise have been done with a helicopter on a good weather day. The speed at which transit was achieved was eye-popping. A ground team would easily have taken almost an hour and a half to get to the rescue location; the trained paramedic took three and a half minutes.
For immediate health emergencies, the time difference could literally be life-saving. 90 minutes before the arrival of EMTs would probably mean likely death for severe heart attack victims. However, cutting down that response time to less than five minutes is a game-changer for the paramedic service. The speed in which help can be delivered clearly gives the GNAAS an expanded ability to get into remote locations or move faster than a ground team when the helicopters are unavailable.
The suit provided by Gravity Industries thrusts a person into the air with at least 1,000 horsepower, far more than a powerful truck and more than capable of overcoming earth’s gravity. The miniature jet engines under the arms balance out the primary thruster behind the back, which helps avoid instability while traveling in the air. Given the bracing design, the user doesn’t have to “carry” himself in the suit, a former problem, and instead the user leans forward to stay in place while traveling. The training curve is extremely low, with many able to learn fluent control with a day of training and practice. Even better, the units use multiple types of fuel, depending on what’s available.
GNAAS and Gravity will continue to test and research the unit in practice, but they are already thinking about applications where victims are stuck in crevasses or avalanche areas and places where a helicopter cannot reach. The jetpack suit opens up big possibilities in these situations for immediate emergency response and victim stabilization. And, no surprise, GNAAS’ application in the field is likely to be studied by hundreds of agencies for years to come.
22 Asiatic Black Bears Saved from a Bile Harvesting Farm
For anyone who has ever had to travel with a pet across borders, folks know how difficult it can be to transport an animal. Most times, the pet has to be quarantined on arrival, and that’s after it has been cleared with all the necessary paperwork. In the case of 22 Moon bears being rescued and transported to Los Angeles from Asia, the task was monumental.
The project was part of a rescue mission being managed and operated by the Wild Animal Refuge located in Springfield, CO. The bears, 22 of them in total, were being rescued from what had been a harvest facility in South Korea. All of the animals were Moon bears, better known technically as Asiatic Black bears. Once they were delivered to the shelter, they would go through a transition window for de-stress from the trip as well as be fully examined and treated by the facility’s veterinary teams as well.
However, the big task was getting them out of Korea in the first place. The 22 animals were first identified when found in a breeding farm. The bears were essentially being stocked and slaughtered for the purposes of harvesting their gallbladders as well as bile. Both organ products have been considered for centuries as resources for Asian medicinal practices and treatment. It is estimated that harvesting is still continuing with another 300 bears in South Korea, although they have, via a government program, been sterilized to eventually phase out the practice entirely.
In 2020, a Korean animal protection group connected with the Wild Animal Refuge to at least try to save some of the bears identified. 22 were decided on, which would be flown overseas and relocated into the U.S. for rescue and recovery as well as permanent relocation to a sanctuary. The project was critically delayed by the COVID pandemic, and it was only in 2022 that the transport could be restarted again. Coordinating with multiple air cargo flights out, all 22 bears were escorted by veterinarians, both American and Korean, tracking every movement of the animals and their care.
Amazingly, the bears adapted very quickly to their new sanctuary environment after essentially spending their lives in cages and walking on bars. The effort is the latest in a string of accomplishments the Wild Animal Refuge has been able to pull off successfully in coordination with partners, saving over 700 rescued wild animals since 1980.
Giraffe Happily Hops Around After Getting Suited With A Brace
Ara Mirzaian has been given lots of titles, including miracle worker. However, Mirzaian probably never expected to also gain the title of “giraffe bracemaker” as well, at least not until Mirzaian answered the call for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The Zoo was celebrating the birth of a newborn giraffe until it was realized there was something wrong; the newborn couldn’t stand properly. This was a huge issue for a giraffe; if the newborn couldn’t stand up properly, it would not be able to nurse and feed. And that could result in certain death for the animal before it had a chance to grow. The problem was the giraffe’s front limb not bending correctly. Instead, due to a genetic defect, the leg was bending improperly, making it impossible for the giraffe to stand correctly or for any length of time. So it was Mirzaian’s task to solve the problem via a leg brace for stability.
The specialist was perplexed. While there was no question about how to fit all types of people, Mirzaian had no prior experience working with animals, much less a baby giraffe. Already at 5 feet 10 inches and growing dramatically each day, Mirzaian had to think quickly. So, while in transit, the brace expert literally absorbed everything possible about giraffe motion mechanics and related animal behavior.
Similar to other unique brace systems, Mirzaian started with a casting of the giraffe’s leg. This gave the correct dimensions so that the custom-made brace would fit exactly, providing key support for the giraffe as it moved and put weight on the leg. Had the problem been unaddressed, the animal’s increasing weight and over-stress on other joints as it compensated for the bad leg would have created a cascading effect, eventually hobbling the animal entirely. Instead, the custom-made brace provided strength that allowed the baby giraffe to use its leg as normal, taking the stress off the other joints and instead healing faster.
Mirzaian’s work proved to only be necessary for one leg as the giraffe’s other legs adapted and healed quickly. Within a few days, the baby animal was moving around its pen easily and growing correctly. And, among other things, Mirzaian got the unique chance of being able to hug a giraffe, something not everyone can claim as their own experience. Ultimately, it took about 40 days in specialized braces for the baby giraffe to recover. While the mother never acknowledged the child giraffe on return, the rest of the zoo herd did and adopted her.
For Mirzaian, the experience was a unique one, and he keeps a photograph of the giraffe in his office as a reminder. Even better, he knows he had a direct role in saving the baby giraffe’s life as well.
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