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Stanford Wins First NCAA Women’s Title Since 1992

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The Stanford Cardinal Women’s Basketball Team won against the University of Arizona’s Wildcats. This was also the first time the Pac-12 teams were playing each other.

What We Know:

  • Stanford University played the University of Arizona at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Sunday night. The team has not won any championship since 1992. The title ties them with Baylor University for the third-most wins in women’s basketball history. CNN reports that the two institutions are behind the University of Connecticut, which has 11, and the University of Tennessee, which has 8.
  • The team was spearheaded by coach Tara VanDerveer, who has been with Stanford since 1985. She is the one who has overseen each of the Stanford Cardinal’s wins. These include 27 Sweet Sixteens, 21 Elite Eights, and 14 Final Fours. After a 29-year hiatus, they returned to the winner’s circle this year.
  • They ensured this year nothing would stop them, not even a pandemic. From Nov. 29- Jan. 31, nine weeks of their season, they had to relocate due to California’s COVID-19 regulations. They faced tough games against teams like the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks in the Fina Four. However, they affirmed they were staying in the game.

“This is a dream come true for our team. I think it’ll probably hit me tomorrow,” exclaimed VanDerveer.

  • It was a very close game. According to NPR, there were times where the Wildcats had the upper ground, especially as Arizona attempted multiple times to steal the game from Stanford. Additionally, CBS Sports claimed the Wildcats had the best defense for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s tournament and forced the Cardinal into 21 turnovers. It wasn’t until almost the end that Stanford made a comeback.
  • Haley Jones, NCAA’s most outstanding player, ensured that the Cardinal would finish with 17 points and eight rebounds. Lexie Hull made an input with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double. Cameron Brink brought in 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.
  • The Wildcats did have a chance to win the championship. In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Aari McDonald, Arizona’s star player, made three of four free throws needed to reduce Stanford’s lead to one point. The Wildcats also received a ball off a shot clock violation from the Cardinal. However, McDonald missed the last-second shot. Stanford won the game 54-53. McDonald stated she was proud of her teammates. They accomplished a lot that many didn’t believe they could, despite losing.
  • The game was also a memorable one for the University of Arizona. It had been their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005. It was also their first time playing in Final Four and championship games. The rancor between the teams remained friendly, although the Wildcats lost to Stanford 0-3 this season. Cardinal senior guard Kiana Williams said the team was great to play.
  • Stanford’s win comes after a year of bombshells for the NCAA. Last month, they were criticized by Cardinal performance coach Ali Kershner. She pointed out on Instagram the disparities between the men’s and women’s March Madness facilities. Additionally, the Supreme Court had a hearing last week in which they had to determine if the organization was illegally “fixing” Athlete compensation. Players were upset that the association was attempting to impose restraints on education-related compensation. Currently, a majority of the justices agree with the students’ concerns, as they are skeptical about the NCAA’s claims that payments for things outside of the court will compromise the integrity of amateur competitions. A final decision on the trial, known as Shawne Alston v. NCAA, No. 20-512, will be made in June.

As expressed, the tournament and season were historic ones. This year alone, teams either ended their season early or opted to cancel it due to the pandemic. However, Stanford stayed and won the first NCAA Women’s tournament in two years; the NCAA canceled the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Education

Furman University Unveils Statue of its First Black Student

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Joseph Vaughn attended Furman University back in 1965.

What We Know:

  • A statue of Vaughn, the school’s first African-American student, was revealed on Friday, April 16th, 2021, in Greenville, SC. The statue was modeled after a photo of Vaughn walking up to the school’s library. Vaughn died in 1991 and served as president of the Greenville and Southeast NAACP student chapters. He graduated Cum Laude in 1968 before becoming a teacher in Greenville County.
  • He also served as the president of both the Greenville County Association of Teachers and the South Carolina Education Association. Qwameek Bethea, a senior student and president of Furman’s NAACP chapter was the one who convinced the university to build the statue. Vaughn was not originally welcomed by everyone on campus when he became a student. Vaughn allegedly found a noose hanging from his doorknob one morning shortly after he arrived.
  • The Vaughn statue was two years in the making and is part of a larger movement the University began in 2017. The Task Force on Slavery and Justice was created out of inspiration from an op-ed written in 2016. The piece was written by a student of the school and notably questioned the University’s legacy. Vaughn’s statue is one of a dozen recommendations the group proposed to the University for approval.
  • The school expanded its Joseph Vaughn scholarship for students in 2018 and renamed one of its dormitories after Clark Murphy, a black groundskeeper at the school, in 2020. Vaughn is the first person of color whose likeness is featured prominently on the Furman campus. The original unveiling of the statue was planned to be in January but was rescheduled due to high rates of coronavirus around the community at the time.

Members of Vaughn’s family showed up for the occasion as well, noting that Vaughn stood for “an instrument of change.”

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College Student, 12, To Major In Astronomical Science To Become NASA Engineer

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A gifted 12-year-old is now a soon-to-be college student

What We Know:

  • Alena Wicker will be virtually attending Arizona State University this May after she graduates high school. The young Texas native plans to dual major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry to further her dream of working as an engineer at NASA. 
  • Her mother, Daphne McQuarter, told Good Morning America that her daughter’s natural talent first garnered her attention when she started playing with Legos. Her passion for building, rearranging, and creating new lego projects began when she was 4-years-old. 
  • Aside from continuing to create Lego masterpieces, like the Taj Mahal, Alena has also created a number of programs to help other young women of color. Her website Brown Stem Girl acknowledges the racial and gender disparities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and provides resources for girls of color interested in STEM. Among other projects, Alena plans to debut a children’s book soon called “Brainiac World” to discourage kids from teasing and also has her own podcast about featuring women in STEM
  • Despite being a child prodigy, Alena insists she’s just like other kids. She loves hanging out with her friends, going to the movies, watching TV, singing, and running track and field. She knows her journey through college might be challenging, but Alena is not one to be discouraged. “All my life, people are trying to hold me down because of my age,” she stated.  

We’re excited to see what Alena’s future will hold!

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Texas Students Disciplined for ‘Slave-Trading Game’ That Auctioned off Classmates

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A group of students at a Texas school was disciplined for setting up an online slave-trading forum where they pretended to auction off their classmates of a different race.

What We Know:

  • A student at the Aledo Independent School District posted a screenshot of the game on the social media site Snapchat. In the photo, a group chat with the name “Slave Trade” can be seen. One student indicated they would pay $1 for a classmate, who “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • In a statement issued Monday, the school district said it discovered that students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus had engaged in cyberbullying and racial harassment over two weeks ago. The school district stated they began an “immediate and thorough investigation” with authorities into the matter.
  • The district held conversations with the student body at once and communicated with the students and parents of those involved. The Aledo ISD wanted to make it clear that “statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”
  • Tony Crawford, a local activist, says the situation is another example of an ever-growing list of incidents that get swept under the rug. In March, a Mississippi teacher drew criticism for a homework assignment that asked students to “pretend they’re slaves.” Many called the assignment “tone-deaf” for asking students to write letters to their families back in Africa.

The district did not specify what discipline the students received, nor how many were involved in the incident.

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