Monthly Archives: March 2016

Meet Lilly Singh, the YouTube millionaire

The Indo-Canadian vlogger’s channel, ‘Superwoman’, is aptly named

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Time Magazine recently named her among the “30 most influential people on the Internet”, making her rub shoulders with the likes of Indian PM Narendra Modi. Earlier this year, she made it to the Forbes’ top-10 list of “top-earning YouTube stars”. In September 2015, the 26-year-old also won the “best first-person series”, beating four other stars, at VH1’s “5th Annual Streamy Awards” in Los Angeles.

We are talking about Lilly Singh, a Canadian of Indian origin who is popularly known by ‘Superwoman’, her channel on YouTube. Time Magazine noted that “Indo-Canadian vlogger is rapidly becoming one of the biggest stars on YouTube, both on and off-screen”. It added that as her “alter ego Superwoman, she is equal parts funny and motivational, which has helped her amass more than 8 million subscribers and over 1.1 billion total views”.

The YouTube personality acknowledged the honour in an Instagram post stating: “What an honor! Thank you! Hopefully people are influenced to also wear sweat pants all day like me. Then I wouldn’t be considered lazy. I would be trendy. GOALS.”

Singh, who saw a meteoric rise in the virtual world through her self-produced comedic YouTube sketches, eventually became popular enough to go on a 30-city world tour, ‘A Trip to Unicorn Island’, in 2015. The tour, which took off from India, travelled to several countries, including Australia and Singapore. A feature film of the same name chronicling the tour, made possible through her successful ‘Superwoman’ YouTube channel, premiered on YouTube Red in February.

Since launching her channel on YouTube in October 20101, Singh has amassed more than 8 million subscribers and over 1 billion views on the video-sharing platform. Last year, she raked in a cool $2.5 million, making her one of the world’s highest-earning YouTube stars.

Although being a YouTube star seems like a glamorous new media career, Singh’s steps to success are steeped in classic methods that could be applied to any other industry. Her No. 1 piece of advice is that entrepreneurs shouldn’t wait for something to fall into their lap.

“There’s no escalators, there’s only staircases to success,” she told CNBC recently. “There is no substitute for hard work.”

Like other YouTube stars, Singh essentially operates as a one-woman production company.

“I’m my own boss, my own editor, my own shooter, my own writer, everything,” Singh told CNBC, adding that she didn’t even know how to use a camera when she started.

“This is all stuff I learned through trial and error … failing at a lot of things has taught me how to succeed at them eventually … you roll with the punches,” she said.

Before she was a YouTube success story, Singh was working on an undergraduate degree in psychology from York University and planning to apply for a masters programme in counseling, despite her lack of enthusiasm for the subject. After discovering YouTube, she uploaded a video on a whim and loved it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Singh, whose parents are originally from Punjab, currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Her apartment includes two bedrooms, a walk-in closet, floor-to-ceiling windows and second floor exclusively dedicated to her workplace. This location is where she is spotted most of the time in her vlogs. Through her childhood experience, she decided to use it as a motivation to keep others happy. She is most recognised for having many young followers who help her to continue making YouTube videos.

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The teen who became PM for a day

Punjabi-origin Brampton resident Prabjote Lakhanpal sat on the biggest decision-making chair of Canada, courtesy Make-A-Wish Foundation

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Prabjote ‘PJ’ Lakhanpal, 19, had to pinch himself to see if it was true. Who wouldn’t have, considering he got to be PM for a day? In fact, that was just the first surprise planned for him as part of a “VIP itinerary” that includes a tour of Parliament, a swearing-in ceremony, a media scrum following question period, and — in true prime ministerial fashion — getting his own security detail.

The Brampton teen of Punjabi origin is currently in remission following a battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. The disease made him a candidate for Make-A-Wish, a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“It was amazing to go to Parliament Hill in Ottawa as Prime Minister for a day. No one in any other country can even envisage something like this. I never expected all this even in my wildest dreams,” he told The Times of India.

When Lakhanpal learned that he was eligible to be granted a wish, the politics, economics and law buff knew right away he wanted to be the nation’s leader. “I wanted to come up with a wish that was extraordinary that nobody else has ever done and a wish that you can never buy with money, that is priceless essentially,” the York University student told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway recently. “This is not like going to Disney World.”

Talking to The Times of India, PJ says, “I want to pursue law at Osgood Hall Law School. My ultimate goal is to be a politician, my nation’s leader, so that I may serve the people in a better way.” He said he was thankful to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada which made his dream come true. “You know, I’ve battled cancer. There’s nothing worse than that. So, I’m ready to take this on in the future,” he added.

PJ Lakhanpal’s parents and grandparents had migrated from India to Canada from a small town of Punjab, Mandi Ahmedgarh. His father Surinder Mohan Singh Lakhanpal said he came to Canada in 1988 and now runs an auto mechanic shop there.

PJ was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. About two and a half years ago, when he was in the hospital, The Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, made him a candidate for the foundation.

“Prime Minister PJ met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon in his office to discuss politics, future goals and to share special gifts. They also practiced their official ‘PJ Pose’. Thank you, Prime Minister Trudeau, for granting this magical wish and for helping spread hope, strength and joy! What an exciting day this has been! ‪#‎PjsPMwish‬,” Make-A-Wish Canada was quoted as saying on social media soon after PJ’s wish was fulfilled.

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Move over Barbie, check out Willowbrook Girls

Indian-American Harvard grad Neha Chauhan Woodward is the creator of a new series of dolls that represent ‘common’ girls with a diverse array of ethnicities and backgrounds

Neha-Chauhan-Woodward.jpg

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Each of Neha Chauhan Woodward’s seven dolls has a different story to tell. While Cara, the first doll produced in full, is half-Latina and wants to be a CEO when she grows up; Rory taught herself how to code and finds a similar solace in choreographing dances for her friends.

In addition, Chauhan Woodward has made a concerted effort to create a friend group with a diverse array of ethnicities and backgrounds: Anjali is Indian-American, Maya is Colombian, Mackenzie is African-American, and Perry is Asian-American.

These dolls are providing more than entertainment; they are fighting against stereotypes, and providing girls the tools to shatter glass ceilings. They represent common girls with ethnic diversity and are celebrated for their brains, talents and leadership.

Chauhan Woodward is the founder of Willowbrook Girls, the toy start-up that’s behind the new doll series. Prior to Willowbrook Girls, the Staten Island native built her career in e-commerce, working at companies like Blue Apron, Diapers.com (Amazon), and DANNIJO. She named Willowbrook Girls after her elementary school, Public School 54, which was located on Willowbrook Road in New York.

“The toys I played with had such an impact on me, but they weren’t a great reflection of me or my friends, who were so smart and so diverse in their interests and backgrounds. I knew we needed to do better,” Chauhan Woodward, who now lives in Manhattan with her husband, told SILive.com.

Chauhan Woodward, 29, said the idea came to her while she was a Stanford MBA student — a degree she pursued after studying economics at Harvard and then working as an investment banking analyst at JPMorgan.

“Next door to the coffee shop I studied in was a very popular doll store,” she was quoted as saying, declining to name names. “The emphasis on appearances, with these doll hair salons and doll tea parties that parents were expected to bring their kids to really upset me. If anything, this company had a huge opportunity to empower girls,” she added.

When fully funded, each doll will have a corresponding book about their endeavours. The first one is about the Willowbrook girls starting a business at their school. The stories will give further depth to the characters, Chauhan Woodward said.

Growing up Indian-American, Chauhan Woodward also wanted to make sure the dolls appeared diverse. It was something lacking in the toys she grew up with, and hasn’t gone unnoticed by young people of color, she told SILive.com.

“A lot of girls I spoke to said that they wanted dolls that looked like them,” she said. “They wanted characters that were relatable. You have to see something to know that you can be it.”

Though Willowbrook Girls dolls aren’t for sale yet, Chauhan Woodward is nearing the end of her Kickstarter Campaign to raise money for the first doll, Cara. After that, Cara will be sold online. Chauhan Woodward hopes that sales from that and other sources will enable her to release more of the dolls.

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Can’t wait to watch this little Mowgli in action, he’s simply adorable

12-year-old New York resident Neel Sethi, who plays the lead character in the upcoming Disney flick The Jungle Book, has his roots in Gujarat

neel-sethi-IMDB

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For many Indians, mere mention of this movie will bring back fond memories of the 1990s when one would wait in front of TV sets for the adorable long-haired boy Mowgli and his ilk to pep up one’s Sunday mornings. Who doesn’t remember the catchy title track, Jungle jungle baat chali hai, pata chala hai, chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai, phool khila ha?

The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, is all set to scorch the silver screen on April 8 in India (it will release in the US a week later). The lead character Mowgli, an orphan raised by jungle animals, is being played by 12-year-old Neel Sethi of New York in the upcoming Disney flick of the same name.

Director Jon Favreau of Iron Man fame picked up Sethi, a bubbly 10-year-old then, in the summer of 2014 after having seen more than 2,000 children from across the globe, including the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, in search for an actor who would play Mogwli.

Obviously, none fit the bill until Favreau met with the Indian-American boy in New York. “Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” Favreau was quoted as saying then. “Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it.”

Although Sethi does not have any professional acting experience, his natural charisma and instincts stood out during auditions.

In The Jungle Book, the child actor – the only living being in a cast full of animated characters — found himself a part of Favreau’s re-imagined world of an enchanting Indian jungle, the story of which was first told via Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 timeless classic and then brought alive in the eponymous 1967 animated movie.

The live-action epic adventure will showcase Mowgli’s journey of self-discovery when he is forced to abandon his home in the forest and all the creatures he meets during his journey.

In a recent interview, Sethi says he is fond of Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra.

The Quantico actress has voiced the character of ‘Kaa’, a snake who is one of Mowgli’s mentors and friends, in the Hindi version of the film. “I love Priyanka Chopra because she plays ‘Kaa’ in the Hindi version. She is now in Hollywood too. I would love to act with her, and everybody in Bollywood. I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” Neel told PTI. “

Besides Priyanka, the 12-year-old youngster also looks up to Captain America star Chris Evans and Matthew Perry, known for his role as Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom Friends. “I really like Chris Evans, because he is Captain America and is a really nice guy. I like Mathew Perry because of Friends. I love the show.” Even though he is based in New York, Neel watches Hindi films and was impressed with the critically acclaimed Irrfan Khan starrer Talvar, which he found “very cool.”

The actor is open to do Bollywood films in the future as they have a “different acting style”. “I like everybody in Bollywood. There is a different acting style (in Bollywood). May be, in future, I would like to do a film here. It will be every exciting,” he says.

Asked what he liked best about his role in The Jungle Book, Neel says: “The stunts were really fun because I actually got to show my energy a lot more than usual, and that’s what Mowgli’s character is: Energetic, stubborn and really awesome – and funny,” Sethi says. “The stunts were one of my favourite highlights of filming,” Neel told Zap2it.

Pics courtesy: IMDB

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Benhur Samson used to get a lot of requests from his gay clients regarding prospective life partners. Thus was born ArrangeGayMarriage.com, a matrimony portal for homosexuals

The Indian-born Chicago resident, who owns and operates Surrogacy Abroad – an international surrogacy agency for ‘intended parents’ – has roped in Manvendrasingh Gohil to help sort out immigration issues

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Indian-born Benhur Samson moved to Chicago in 1987, and has been on the business side of the medical field for the past 20 years. During these years, Samson saw an opportunity in the industry to bridge the gap between ‘intended parents’ of all lifestyles and surrogacy in India.

So he started Surrogacy Abroad, a company whose main focus was to guide ‘intended parents’ through every detail of the process for surrogacy. His goal was to make each parent feel confident that every aspect of the process was being managed for them, and the overwhelming stress usually associated with surrogacy in general was removed from the experience.

During the course of his work, Samson realised that several gay people of Indian origin wanted an arranged marriage and were looking for partners from India. “The reason seems to that arranged marriages are common in India. Also, Indians are known for their commitment, their loyalty to partners and hard-working nature,” he was quoted as saying in some media reports.

Also, in June when US President Barack Obama declared marriage equality rights, Samson realised that while so many heterosexuals were visiting India to get married, “then why not do the same for homosexuals”, Samson told PTI.

Thus was born ArrangeGayMarriage.com. Samson says his customised marriage agency for gay couples is different from numerous dating sites that cater to gays, as on his portal, they familiarise themselves with the clients for nearly a year before finding their partner, based on their requirements.

Samson claims he has already received nearly 250 enquiries from gays, mostly Indians, and his agency has already helped 29 couples tie the knot through the portal. The agency conducts background checks as well as counselling.

Enrolment costs $5,000, although the fee is refundable if no match is found. The agency conducts background checks, visits prospective partners at home and at work and provides counselling, Samson says.

Rajpipla’s gay prince Manvendrasingh Gohil has been roped in as a consultant for the gay marriage bureau. The agency has also hired lawyers to look into the legal aspects of the marriages, including immigration if an Indian marries a person abroad.

Pic courtesy: Facebook

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Meet the ‘Masala King’ of Dubai

51-year-old Maharashtrian Dhananjay Datar’s journey to the top is a typical rag- to-riches story

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In 1984, Dhananjay Datar arrived in Dubai from Mumbai with nothing more than dreams in his eyes. He opened a small kirana shop with his late father in Bur Dubai with just about 5,000 dirhams in hand. Dubai was developing fast and the small store kept pace with it, evolving into a specialist supermarket chain.

Today, the 51-year-old grocery store magnate is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil, a trading company that has become a household name in the UAE, selling everything from masalas to chutneys, from rice to tea and coffee. Its clientele includes leading five- star hotels, catering companies and some of the most recognised names in the business firmament, such as Dubai Duty Free, Emirates in- Flight Catering, Jumeirah Hospitality, Sheraton Group, Al Habtoor Group, and so on. Al Adil opened its 30th outlet in the UAE recently.

Christened ‘Masala King’ by the Sultan of Dubai, Datar is ranked 45th on the Forbes Middle-East rich list.

datar

“Initially, it was to be just a grocery store but we soon realised that Indian expats were pining for the flavours and tastes of things they had enjoyed as kids – poppadoms, liquorice, herbal shampoos, sundried mango candy, hair oils, and spice mixes. Gradually we established our name as being the grocery store that stocked authentic Indian foodstuff,” Datar told Gulf News.

The business tycoon likes to be in the news. In 2009, he made public relations history when he held a press conference 40,000 feet above sea level on board a Royal Jet Airways Boeing 737 to celebrate his company’s 25th anniversary. A few years ago, he held his younger son Rohan’s thread ceremony too, 40,000 feet in the air.

At the special press conference, Datar was accompanied by his wife, Vandana, whom he had gifted a customised Rolls Royce Phantom that cost Rs 8 crore to toast the occasion, and 50 mediapersons and business associates. The Rolls Royce that he gifted to his wife, he said, was the 18th ‘special edition’ Phantom in the world and the first in Dubai.

According to reports, guests were taken in three stretch limousines from the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, Bur Dubai, to the airport, where the chartered jet awaited them. Datar did the cake- cutting midair and popped champagne as the guests were taken on a three-hour tour over the UAE.

But he doesn’t forget his humble beginnings in a small village in Maharashtra. Datar ensures that he extends his support to the Indian community through various CSR activities, making notable contributions towards his community and the Marathi language. All of Al Adil’s super markets employ an 100% Indian workforce. He actively helps to provide an overseas platform for programmes like ‘Marathi Vishwa Sahitya Sammelan’ and ‘Gaurav Maharashtracha’. Datar says sustainable and rapid growth is the mantra for the Al Adil Group.

“Never forget your humility, even when you are very rich. Learn every day from your employees, customers and your children and be open-minded to receive those lessons when they come your way. Your client gave you the profits you enjoy, never forget that. Try and be modest about your achievements and never be ashamed of doing any kind of work, whatever it may be,” Datar told Gulf News.

So what is his mantra for success? “Business has no caste or religion. If you have the determination to face a challenge, you must take a plunge. A new business is like a newborn where you have to continuously nurture it without expecting a return. Be patient and continue to build it with love and sweat and eventually it will yield profits,” he told Gulf News.

Pics courtesy: Gulf News

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How Reshma Saujani made it to Fortune’s ‘50 Greatest World Leaders’

The Indian American founder of the non-profit, Girls Who Code, has helped place 10,000 high school girls into the tech world

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Today, Saujani is best known as the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to initiate young women into the tech world. So far, the nonprofit has helped place 10,000 high school girls into programmes where they learn how to code, develop mobile apps, and receive mentoring from women in engineering at companies like Facebook and Goldman Sachs. She has also managed to raise $16 million from corporations to support her mission.

She was recently named one of the ‘50 Greatest World Leaders’ by Fortune magazine, an annual list that included the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis and Apple chief executive Tim Cook in the top five this year. She came in at No. 20.

Fortune explained that at a TED talk in February 2015, the 40-year-old Saujani stressed teaching girls to be brave rather than perfect. The video of the talk she gave has accrued just shy of 1 million views. “She’s well-qualified to preach that message: It took the former Wall Street attorney three tries to get into Yale Law School,” Fortune wrote in its piece of the New York-based founder of Girls Who Code.

Born in Illinois, US, Saujani is of Gujarati descent. Her parents lived in Uganda, prior to being expelled along with other persons of Indian descent in the early 1970s by Idi Amin. They settled in Chicago.

Saujani attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she graduated in 1997 with majors in Political Science and Speech Communication. She attended the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she received a Master of Public Policy in 1999, and Yale Law School, where she received her Juris Doctor in 2002.

Saujani is married to entrepreneur Nihal Mehta, who is a co-founder of ad tech startup LocalResponse. The two have a son named Shaan who was born in February 2015.

Saujani worked at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she defended securities fraud cases, and on a pro bono basis handled asylum cases. In 2005, she joined the investment firm Carret Asset Management. After Saujani left Carret, its principal owner, financier Hassan Nemazee, was convicted on felony charges relating to bank fraud carried out over the course of several years at Carret, including during Saujani’s time at Carret; she later told the news media that she had had no knowledge of any illicit conduct at Carret.

Subsequently, she joined Blue Wave Partners Management, a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, the global alternative asset management firm specialising in private equity. She was an associate general counsel at Blue Wave, an equity multi-strategy hedge fund; it was closed in the aftermath of the 2008 market collapse.

By most measures, Saujani is a huge success. But at the same time, as she admits in an interview with Fortune, she is a “walking failure of not being able to accomplish [her] dream.”

Saujani is referring to her two failed attempts to run for public office: first for the House of Representatives, then for the office of New York City Public Advocate.

Yet the former financier didn’t let her failure determine her future, and she now wants other women to do the same: “I want women to be comfortable with being imperfect,” she was quoted as saying by Fortune. “I immediately see how girls are afraid to try things that they won’t be good in. And women stay with the things they’re good at even if that’s not what they’re put on this earth to do.”

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A burger in honour of Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Sajjan

The snack has been named ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’

harjit-sajjan-burger

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Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan now has a chicken burger named after him and it is called ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’.

Sajjan tasted the burger for the first time at the Cannibal Cafe in Vancouver recently. Sajjan, who represents the riding of Vancouver-South, was in town for his government’s first ministers’ meeting. The politician decided to stop by the eatery to try out his namesake burger.

He later tweeted, “National Deliciousness indeed! Tried my namesake burger at Vancouver’s The Cannibal Cafe and was not disappointed.”

The master chef behind the burger, Zai Kitagawa, said that he started thinking of the burger right after Sajjan’s appointment. “If there’s a man that a Canadian can be proud of, it’s definitely Mr Sajjan,” he said.

The ‘Minister of National Deliciousness’ burger features a tandoori-spiced chicken patty smothered in butter chicken sauce, jalapeno and pressed yogurt with mint, cilantro, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. Kitagawa even included onion pakodas to give the burger a Punjabi flavour.

The 45-year-old Sajjan was named Canada’s defence minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 30-member Liberal cabinet in November last year.

Before politics, Sajjan was a detective investigating gangs for the Vancouver Police Department and a regimental commander in the Canadian Armed Forces decorated for his service in Afghanistan. Sajjan was also the first Sikh-Canadian to command a Canadian army reserve regiment.

Sajjan was born in Bombeli, a village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. He along with his mother and older sister immigrated to Canada in 1976 when he was five years old to rejoin their father who had left for British Columbia two years prior to work in a sawmill.

While his family was getting established in their new life in Canada, his mother worked on berry farms in BC’s Lower Mainland during the summer, and Sajjan and his sister would frequently join her. Sajjan grew up in a neighbourhood in South Vancouver. Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan was a police officer in India, and is a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), a Sikh advocacy group.

He married Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family doctor, in 1996, and has a son and a daughter with her.

Pics courtesy: Twitter

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Here comes ‘the Uber for tutors’, courtesy two Indian American students

University of California, Riverside’s Sultan Khan and Haasith Sanka’s ‘Scholarly’ app connects students with nearby tutors; available as free download on Google Play and Apple App Store

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Say hello to the ‘Uber for tutors’ – Scholarly – an on-demand tutoring service that connects students with nearby tutors. Created by two computer science students at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) – Sultan Khan and Haasith Sanka – the app had won first place at the world’s largest education ‘Hackathon’ in October. It is now available as a free download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

The service is simple: tutors create profiles, which can be viewed by students looking for help in a particular subject. Users can view tutor profiles, set meeting locations, and get help with their studies at the click of a button. Most of the app’s current activity is generated by the UCR community, but the creators plan to grow their tutor network and expand the service to K-12 students and their parents in the coming months.

The team developed the android version of Scholarly at HackingEDU, which was held in San Mateo, California, in October last year and drew more than 1,000 hackers from universities around the world. The competition challenged students to turn their ideas into functional software that would improve the education system—and they had just 36 hours to do it.

For Khan and Sanka, that meant working through the night to create their app. After placing in the top 10, the Highlanders were invited to present Scholarly to a panel of judges, which landed them in first place. Khan, a senior in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, said courses in software engineering and technical writing prepared them to develop professional software and pitch it to a wide audience. Since winning the competition, the students have been working to improve the android app and create the iOS version.

“One of the challenges about developing apps is that even when you’ve done a good job there is always room for improvement. That’s one of the things I love about creating apps and the reason I want to work in the field of software development when I graduate,” Khan told UCR Today.

For Sanka, a freshman, the reward will be seeing how the app helps other students.

“We both believe that one-on-one tutoring is beneficial, so we are proud to have created something that will contribute to students’ success,” he told UCR Today.

Khan and Sanka developed the iOS version of the app with Amanda Berryhill, a senior in computer science.

Pic courtesy: UCR Today

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Now, Yoga sessions to be part of Easter celebrations at White House

beach-yoga

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Professional Yoga instructors will have sessions with thousands of Americans who are expected to throng the sprawling White House lawns in Washington on Monday for Easter Egg celebrations, the final Easter for the Obama administration. A “Yoga Garden” is one of the 10 different zones that has

been created for the event for which some 35,000 tickets have been issued for the people to come and enjoy the festivities, reports PTI.

On Friday the White House announced the full programme, activities, and talent line-up for the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition in its 138th year and the largest annual public event at the White House.

In honour of the final Easter Egg Roll of the Obama Administration, this year’s theme is “Let’s Celebrate”. The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling.

In support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative, this year’s event will also include the first-ever White House Fun Run, where Michelle Obama will join 250 children on a short run to promote active and healthy lifestyles for kids.

This year’s special guest is Tony Award Winning, Multi-Platinum Recording Artist, Idina Menzel. Menzel will sing the National Anthem as well as perform on the Rock ‘n’ Egg Roll Stage.

In the Eggtivity Zone, the President’s Council on Fitness Sports & Nutrition as well as players and coaches from professional sports teams will teach kids how to play sports.

First Lady Michelle Obama has chosen the winning artwork from this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll Design Contest. Elementary and middle school students from 19 states and two foreign countries have submitted artwork related to this year’s “Let’s Celebrate” theme.

Posters will be handed out as a prize to children who win the Easter Egg Roll and Egg Hunt.

The eggs first became part of the tradition in 1981 when President and Mrs Ronald Reagan hosted a hunt for wooden eggs that bore the signatures of actors, actresses, famous politicians and athletes.

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