Author Archives: Derrian Douglas

8 school shootings this year in US: London students react

Only five months into 2019, there have already been 8 school shootings in the states, killing four people and injuring 17.

In one week, two students just days away from graduation – Riley Howell and Kendrick Costello – died protecting their classmates from gunfire in shootings in North Carolina and Colorado.

After the Dunblane Primary School shooting in 1996 – 16 students and one teacher were killed before the shooter killed himself – the UK banned handguns. The UK has not has a school shooting incident since.

School shootings for UK students are luckily not a worry or concern, due to shootings being extremely rare within the UK. Most incidents involving two or more deaths within the UK have been due to organised crime, such as feuds between drug dealers or gangs.

Emotions and fear always sweeps the nation when a school shooting story breaks, especially in the US but do these specific issues have a similar effect on UK students?

Sam, 21, has never been to the states but described the shootings as “dreadful”. “It’s pretty awful when you’re hearing about them pretty much every other day”.”

113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the US in 2018, BBC reports.  The number of school shootings in 2019 are predicted to rise.

Neriah, 20, has become discouraged and disheartened by rising number of mass deaths and injuries in the US, “it makes me feel like there’s not going to be any progress, which is sad”. 

As outsiders, Brits understand that it’s not the American people who don’t want a resolution, it’s the government. Many political campaigns are funded by the NRA , – in 2016, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – and are therefore less inclined to break that partnership, go against the organisation’s beliefs and lose the money.

Clemence, 26, suggests the US government “looked at their policies and laws, maybe it wouldn’t happened as much”. 

Neriah believes government effort should be coupled with a concrete safety plan in schools, “not just giving them the draws of what to do if there’s a shooting, but having other forms of security and protection…so no kids have to risk their lives to save their classmates or teachers.”

Sam has a simpler resolution, “stop glorifying guns”. He owes the non-issue of gun violence in Britain to the fact that guns aren’t romanticised in the country, but he “gets the impression” that the US does.

It’s wishful optimism to say that the US will eventually listen to the pleas of its citizens, but we’re left with the question of how many more children will have to die before the US government makes a change.






Love at first swipe: the age of online dating

Before Millennials and Generation Z’s made swiping left and right niche, conversations of online dating would only be spoken about in hushed tones in loud bars all across the world.

So when did online dating become so popular? And more importantly, does it even work?

According to a study published in September 2018, online dating is completely reinventing what it means to date in the 21st century.

But don’t expect a You’ve Got Mail romance immediately.

The start of most interactions online nowadays is seldom without a short gallery of each person’s best photos and a short biography incorporating witty taglines or relatable likes and dislikes.

The addictive nature of apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Grindr are making it easy for the younger generation to take advantage of this dating method – often referring to it as a dating version of Pokémon GO.

Finding love is possible. It might have been easier for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but there’s a lesson here – don’t let your jealousy of other people overshadow your own journey.

Speaking with university students from all over the world, the balance between successful relationships and people still looking was about equal.

The online dating industry is quickly becoming a massive market. Research firm IBISWorld predicted that dating services would be a $3 billion (approximately £2.3 billion) industry in 2018.

In the age of laborious “swiping”, surviving the highs and lows is your sole initiation into the dating game.

We all get through it, usually with lots of great stories to tell.  

U.K. versus U.S. student loans; what’s the difference?

U.K. loans

Although some people might consider New York the melting pot of the world – a city full of different nationalities and cultures – it could be said that London is one as well.

In the 2015/16 school year, there were 107,200 international students – EU and Non-EU – studying just in London.  London Higher reports that the city remains a top choice for international students to study in.

Study London reports that 6,000 American students earn their degrees in London, while 30,000 choose to study abroad here.

While loans are available in both countries, the methods of dispersion and repayment, and types of loans offered vary between the US and UK.

American students studying in the UK don’t benefit from the UK loan system – an extremely forgiving system – and are meant to use private loan companies to pay for their tuition housing and living costs.


So what are the key differences?


Types of loans and tuition costs

For starters, the UK has two loan types – tuition fee and maintenance fee. This is different than the US where loans essentially cover both tuition and living costs, but also other additional expenses for the student.  

Tuitions fees only cover the cost of one’s tuition, which the UK government has capped at £9,000 a year (approximately $11,000 a year). No matter if you need a loan or not, you’ll never end up paying more than £9,000 a year.

While American universities charge more based on government funding, location, an overemphasis on sports, and the additives and aesthetic of their campus, even top-rate British universities like Oxford University and Cambridge University cap off tuition at £9,000.

Maintenance fee loans cover the student’s living expenses for the year. The maximum you can receive for 2018-2019 is £11,354 per year.

So, if you take out tuition and maintenance fee loans for a three-year course, you’ll never be more than £62,000 in debt. This is different in America where students are not given a loan limit.

US student Kaetlyn Scarpa shares that her student loans will have long-term effects. Both herself and her mother took out loans so that she could attend a school only 30 minutes from her home in New Jersey, “it’s going to hurt both me and my mom because I will have to pay my loans back and also pay my mom back.”

Repayment methods

Both countries require loans to be paid back, but while the US requires students to begin repayment six months after graduation, the UK is known for its lenient repayment approach.

Currently in the UK, you only make payments if your income is over £25,725 per year. If your income exceeds that, there is a capped interest rate of 9% added to your loan balance.

UK resident Annie McKay graduated Cardiff University in 2015 and claims “our loans come out before tax and it’s barely noticeable.” Right now, Annie is paying £8 a month towards her student loans, “it’s not even a thought.”

Interestingly, the UK government treats your repayment amount as any payroll tax and takes it out of your paycheck each month. This feature makes the repayment process duty-free.

Whereas in the US, you mail out payments to the correct company or in some cases, make payments online.

The saving grace of the UK loan system is that they will disappear either after 30 years or if the borrower dies or becomes disabled.

In the US, loans will only disappear once they are paid off or if the borrower dies.

In 2018, Forbes reported that in the US, student loan debt is now the “second highest consumer debt category”, surpassing credit card and auto loan debt.

According to Make Lemonade, 44 million Americans collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.


There are many things the US could take from the UK school system, and it’s way of handling loans is definitely at the top of the list.


Seventeen again: an interview with Kelsey Stiegman

Seventeen Magazine’s Senior Style Editor Kelsey Stiegman is living her childhood dream, sharing “Fashion is in the pit of my soul.”

In the age of Instagram ponzi schemes and weight loss teas, not many people would respond to an arguably too-kind “Hey girl! Please check your DMs!” comment on one of their Instagram photos. But Kelsey is one of a kind, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Corresponding via email, Kelsey gave me an inside look into her pure devotion to everything fashion and how it drove her to leave the midwest and head to the east coast to accomplish a lifelong dream.

Born and raised on a farm in Gilman, Illinois, Stiegman’s upbringing was in her words the “polar opposite” of what her life is now – styling outfits at video shoots and attending NYC Fashion Week nine seasons in a row.

After graduating Illinois State University with a degree in apparel merchandising, she moved to Brooklyn in 2015 after telling her professor and peers that she’d one day move to New York and work for Seventeen, “and that’s exactly what I did.”

Starting as an editorial intern, she made her way up the ladder until being promoted to Senior Style Editor this past January.

I can’t remember how I began following Kelsey on Instagram all those years ago, but if fashion, travel and quirky nail designs are your thing, following her is a must. With an enviable, cohesive neutral-toned Instagram feed and an obsession with Harry Potter that many of us could vibe with (she did a whole Harry Potter vacation in London), it’s a toss up between wanting to be her and wanting to be friends with her. 

As more studies are proving that social media is harmful to your wellbeing, Stiegman showcases a healthy relationship with the app, thinking of it as a hobby, “I really love it and love creating content for it.”

We’ve entered the age where what we post online does matter, especially when it could make or break our chances of getting a job at our dream company. For fashion students looking to get into the industry, Kelsey suggests, “Instagram is a great way to show your personal style, writing style, and understanding of social media to a future employer.”

A typical day for Stiegman begins at 7:30. Out the door by 8:45, she hops on a train to Midtown Manhattan to start her day at Seventeen, a publication under Hearst Publications. She fills her day with meetings, video editing and writing articles focusing on entertainment, beauty and style – most recently stories involving A-list celebrities like Justin Bieber and makeup mogul Jeffree Star.

She still has time for the occasional after-work happy hour.   

“I love it”, admits the self-proclaimed Ravenclaw, “Working at Seventeen is more than a job, it’s really become part of my identity.”

To unwind on weekends, she explores NYC, “I’ve got a long New York bucket list I’ve been working to complete for years.”

The road to Senior Style Editor wasn’t an easy one. Work experience was Stiegman’s saving grace and what ultimately scored her her in at Seventeen. “Degrees are important, but work experience is what sets you apart.”

Her advice? “Internships are what you make of them. Just being vocal and asking for new responsibilities can give you great opportunities that could relate to your future career.”

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Getting lost in Peñíscola, wbu?

A post shared by Kelsey Stiegman (@klstieg) on

While being an editor has its perks – including free clothes from many of our favourite brands – Kelsey “lives in jeans and sneakers” and enjoys going crazy at vintage shops throughout the city, usually leaving with a bag of clothes from L Train in Park Slope Brooklyn” where “nothing is over $35.”

The editor owes much of her 20s and 70s style to her great aunts – who left her many of their best pieces, “I think they’d really get a kick out of knowing that their clothes are now being worn to fashion week.”

However, her go-to outfit, “it’s my extra-long Teigan jeans from Reformation, a turtleneck, and a vintage blazer, with pointed-toe boots.” Currently Kelsey’s favourite piece is her vintage leather blazer.

Although the life of a fashion editor is anything but normal, Kelsey exudes humility and relatability. On the weekends, she’s clad in sweatpants. When she’s not re-reading the Harry Potter series, she enjoys books on serial killers and ghosts, and spending time with her husband.

With an Instagram boasting over 17,000 followers, a CV recounting experience from top publications like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, Kelsey Stiegman lives and breathes fashion, calling it her “art”.

So, if you pass a girl donning cowboy boots and cateye sunglasses, that’s Kelsey. And she’s probably looking fabulous.