Architect By Day and Performing Artist By Night

Architect By Day & Artist By Night … from Melissa Noel on Vimeo.

While completing a degree in Architecture in Washington D.C., Dwayne Smith made a decision.

He decided that he would not choose between pursuing a career in architecture and his goal of making it in the music industry as an R& B singer.  So he didn’t.

Now almost two years since Smith got his degree, he is an Architectural Draftsman at KOR architects, a leading New York City firm. He also making waves as unsigned hype performing self-written R&B songs all over NYC and Washington D.C.

Each day this 24-year-old Bronx native goes from making blue prints to writing music notes. He often goes straight from the firm to the stage.

Smith is in the process of trying to get signed to a record label. He is also lead designer of gallery for a new arts institution in Manhattan. This is something Smith says is usually reserved for older, more experienced architects.

“I will not lose, failure is not an option” is something Smith says to himself everyday.

He may not lose, but many around him think that the day will come when he will have to choose between one or the other because each is so demanding.

Smith’s family equally supports both of his ambitions.  His  two brothers help promote and produce  his  music and he  has  made his mother the  C.E.O of  his company Crow Productions. The company will feature music as well as  a clothing  line Smith recently started called Vello Apparel.

He was heavily influenced by the strict upbringing and lover’s rock reggae music in his Jamaican household.

Smith just made his first music video for his most successful single thus far, “Illustrious” and will complete the art gallery  at the start of 2012.

“At times I do feel like I have  to choose between  architecture and music , but I try to keep the  drive for both.”

Living With Loans: The Results

The 24 respondents that participated in the “How Are You Living With Loans ” survey explained how college loan debt has affected their everyday lives.
The majority of respondents finished their undergraduate college degrees just two years ago.

The survey respondents work in variation of professions with different pay ranges. These professions include :

Also more than half of the respondents either had a job before graduating or found one within six months following graduation, but most will spend five years or more repaying that debt.

While getting a job in that time frame is a good, even great thing especially in this economy, for many of the survey respondents the amount that has to be paid in loan payments each month takes away much more away them financially then they would like. For a few respondents it is the main culprit of their stress while a few look at it as just another bill.

Here are some of the things they said :

“Quality of life is less than desired due to student loan debt, nearly could afford necessary investments like a home due to student loan debts, having a hard time keeping up with payments even with a decent salary.”

“I know that I have to pay a certain amount on time, every month, so I just look at it a another bill. It’s no different, for me, than my light or water bill. Of course, life would probably be better if I didn’t have to pay it because those funds could more effectly be used elsewhere. However, it was an investment in my education in which I do not regret.”

“It hasn’t affected my life yet. But as soon as I graduate, if I don’t have a job, it will definitely have a huge impact on my life.”

“It is a constant stressor. I have pretty much been trying to keep my head above water since graduating. I am stressed about taking on even more debt for graduate school, and I’m feeling a lot of pressure to get a well-paying job after school. I think it will be several years before I feel financially secure enough to take on more normal adult responsibilities like a mortgage and having children…my school loans are a mortgage in themselves!! As stressful as it is, though, I don’t regret for a moment investing money in my schooling–it’s worth it.”

While 79 % of respondents did not have to defer their loan repayment period, 46 % will spend up five or more years paying it off.

This is how respondents described their experiences when looking for work and how long it took before getting that first job.


What asked how many years it will take to pay off undergraduate student loans most respondents will spend 5 or more years doing so.

Barbering In The Blood Of Bronx Stylist

After 44 years as a barber/ stylist, Iraida Reyes has not intentions of retiring and leaving the customers she not only cuts hair for, but also counsels.

She knew since the age of seven that what was considered a traditional career for a woman would not be for her after spending one day in her father’s barber shop in Puerto Rico.

A bloodline of Barbers is what Reyes comes from. Not only was Reyes’s father a barber, but her great grandfather, uncles and three older brothers were too.

“ I call it hair spray in the blood,” she said.

After that one day in the late 1950’s, Reyes spent everyday in her father’s barbershop.  Instead of learning how to sew and cook, she learned how to cut hair.

At just 10 years old she did her first cut for a friend. From then Reyes cut the hair of friends and family members until graduating from Paris Beauty School in the Bronx at 17 as a professional in 1967.

She has cut hair for three and our generations of some families in the Melrose section of the Bronx, often helping couples through marriage problems and others with drug addiction.

The 63-year-old known commonly says she wants to cut hair until she now longer can.



When I went about creating a jobs related survey for the blog I wanted to get a variation of responses from a cross-section of people on something that not only interested me about jobs, but that many people can relate to as well. I came up with a survey I named  “ How are you living with Loans”. My six-question survey included multiple choices, open-ended and yes or no format. I wanted it to take just   five to seven minutes for a respondent to complete the survey so I tested it out and it was fine. Making up the survey   was the easy part. Getting people to take the survey was harder than I thought it would be.  It was like some people did not even believe that the survey would take only   a few minutes.

Some felt like it may have been a gimmick in order to make them sit through a longer, more detailed survey. I found it a bit funny at first then it was a bit frustrating. I posted it on social networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn and found that I was more successful when I reached out to people individually by posting on their walls or sending a personal message instead of just making a general post. In all 24 people completed my survey, which I thought was   pretty good for the time it was posted.

I did try and target particular groups of people on these sites, but was not any more successful.  54% of the respondents had completed college within the last two years and  26% had been out of  college six years or more. More than half of the respondents   either had a job before graduating or found one within six months following graduation. While 79 % of respondents did not have to defer their loan repayment period, but 46 % will spend up to five years paying off that debt. In response to the question how has loan debt affected your quality of life all but five respondents have been affected negatively with many having to spend a large portion of monthly income on loan payments or not being sure what will happen once more than the minimum payment has to be made.

If doing a survey like this in the future I would add another question of two that would give me more data, remember to ask for contact information the first time around and send   out links for the survey individually. I have realized how much people like personalized messages.


Nonito Donaire Delivers In and Out of the Boxing Ring

The Philippine Consulate honored World Bantaweight Champion Donito Donaire Wednesday ahead of his first and only title defending match-up against undefeated Omar Narvaez of Argentina. The matchup-taking place at Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday is the first time a reigning Filipino boxing champ will fight in the famous theater since 1965.

Donaire, 28, is a Filipino- American born in Talibon, Bohol, Philippines. He has spent the week leading up to the main event engaging with fans and the Filipino Community in the New York City area.

He held a public workout at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn where and spoke to students at the Filipino School of New York and New Jersey in Jersey City.

Donaire also held auditions for Filipinos living in the tri-state area to compete for a chance to sing the Philippine National Anthem as well as the United States National Anthem.

New Jersey singers Tiffany Viray, 14 and Lianah St. Ana, 12 were chosen to sing the Philippine and United States national anthems.

Donaire, a top five pound-for-pound fighter talked more about historic fighters who paved the way for him than himself.

One thing Donaire did say when asked how he feels about fighting an undefeated champ is “There is greater challenge in giving them their first defeat”.

With those words he seems to be ready to show the crowd what he says will be  “ the true heart of a true Filipino fighter.”

Donaire describes  the events , including auditions for  Filipinos living in the Tri-state to sing the Philippine  as well as American National Anthem in the  weeks leading up to the fight. This is his first time coming to New York City for a boxing match.

Donaire answers  how he rates himself to other legendary Filipino Boxers.

Nonito Donaire tells fans what they can expect from him at the fight on Saturday in Madison Square Garden Theater.

Words of pride and good luck in Filipino, the sound of cameras flashing and the crowd clapping as Boxer Nonito Donaire enters the room for reception


Bomba in the Bronx


Bronx Dancer Milteri Tucker has brought a fusion of the traditional Puerto Rican dance Bomba with a modern twist back to the borough she calls home.

Tucker is currently teaching a Bomba workshop at the BAAD Theater in the Bronx where she says the goal of her six-week class is to do more than teach the moves of the dance. She wants the students to learn the culture and history of the people through dance in its purest form of folkloric dance.

“Dance is power. It is the canvas and we are the paint so we have to embody the form in order to take someone to another world for the duration of a performance,” she said.

The workshop began just months following her sold out performance at the Pregones Theater this past summer at the request of many women in the community.

The Bomba Bombazo Fall Workshop starts by teaching the three elements of the Afro- Puerto-Rican folkloric art form: song, rhythms and dance. Bomba is characterized by the communication between dancer and drummer. The dancer makes a series of movements that the drummer responds to with a synchronized beat.  It is the drummer that tries to follow the movement of the dancer, not the other way around.

The workshop will conclude with a performance by the students of the workshop for the community at the end of October.




Black Males and Mayor Bloomberg : A solution to the unemployment disparity?


The latest unemployment rates reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show virtually no change in the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent or 14 million people.

For blacks that percentage is even higher at 16.7 percent and for the black male population it is almost 18 percent, which is almost double that of their white counterparts.

The future for black males as a group looks grim as a June 2011 study by the College Board’s Advocacy and Policy   found that 51 percent of Hispanic males and 45 percent of African American males ages 15-24 will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.

In August New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $127 million plan to reduce the disparities among Black and Latino men, including $30 million of his own money.

Now while the effort being made by the mayor deserves it accolades, will it really make it a difference or will the money be dispersed to programs and never actually reach whom it is intended to help.

Mayor Bloomberg has not made the best choices in selection of officials lately.

In January he hired former chairman of Hearst Magazines, Cathie Black to head the largest school system in America . Black had no clue how to run a school system with no education or government experience. Three months after her appointment she was out. Not only was it an embarrassment for Bloomberg, but also it called into question his judgment.

Facebook users had no problem letting Bloomberg know exactly how they felt using statements like:

 Kev Sa My God, do you not know that cash flooding solves very little. Another misdirected attempt to social engineer something you and your elitist doctorate-heavy friends think you can fix. You enable and create the very problem you are trying to solve. August 4 at 8:46am ·  2 people

Krissy Jones Wow I’m extremely impressed by this move! You’re doing the right thing Mayor. Thank you. August 4 at 8:47am ·  2 people

One cannot help, but be curious as to what the provisions of this $127 million initiative will be. Who will oversee the money?   How exactly will these proposed  “job recruitment centers” help get employment for young men who may have criminal records or not have completed school?

Should we feel confident in the initiative because the mayor  “put his money where his mouth is” and is using some of his personal funds?

Or is this a political stunt that is seen all too often?

Bloomberg’s heart may be in the right place, but it will take more than a press conference and checkbook to begin to make real change on a decades old issue.

To read the full Young Men’s Initiative, click here.



Five Careers That Exist in The New Age of Technology and Social Media

The following list of jobs shows a definite sign of the times where the advancement of technology and the internet have created the need for full-time positions in companies to be dedicated to what they do. These careers are showing no signs of decline in these tough economic times.

1.Search Engine Optimization Specialist

The biggest thing for companies who have websites is to come up #1 in Google and other search engine results. The person responsible for getting sites those clicks is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist. An SEO specialist knows how to code a website, what keywords are needed on the site and how to get the most from other online content. A company’s SEO specialist makes use of this to so that a page will show up higher in the search results.

2.Mobile Application Developer

There’s an app for that and the reason why is because a Mobile Application Developer made it. These techies have programming, HTML, Flash and many other computer technology skills that allow them to be able to create the easy-to-use apps we enjoy on our phones each.

3. Online Advertising Manager

Do you want your next ad to have maximum page views online? Well an Online ad manager is the person who does this job. They may work for Web sites, selling ad programs and working with clients or for advertisers, running the online side of an advertiser’s business and tracking each ad’s performance.

4. Social Media Strategist

To navigate the ever expanding world of social media and have a presence the  position of Social Media Strategist  has become a necessity for many companies to have and brand an online presence. In this role a person would comes up particular ways to maintain a strategy and market that in efforts to drive traffic to and across all company platforms.

5.  Blogger

To navigate the ever expanding world of social media and have a presence the  position of Social Media Strategist  has become a necessity for many companies to have and brand an online presence. In this role a person would comes up particular ways to maintain a strategy and market that in efforts to drive traffic to and across all company platforms.