Intern Spotlight: Saniya Chitale

Special thanks to Learning Life Content Writer Craig Gusmann for drafting Saniya’s profile.

Born and raised in India, Saniya is now a student of the world. She began traveling at a young age with her family and her love of foreign cultures spurred her interest in analyzing international marketing trends.

Saniya ChitaleAfter completing high school in India, Saniya moved to Madison, Wisconsin to begin her undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin, receiving her bachelor’s in industrial engineering in 2013.  Upon graduating, Saniya moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue her passion for culture and marketing as a Master’s student in Communication, Culture & Technology at Georgetown University.  She is now in her second and final year as a CC&T Master’s student at Georgetown.

This past summer, Saniya helped Learning Life research and draft a review of research on the use of surfaces like posters and billboards for advertising to or educating publics.  She also assisted with social media promotion and research on competitors and potential partners.

Saniya was kind enough to answer some questions that shed light on her past, present and future.

Where were you born?  Pune, India

What are your hobbies?  My father has instilled a love of travel in me. I’ve been to Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and North America and hope to continue my travels after I graduate.  I am fascinated by diverse cultures and hope to experience and understand the influence of culture on marketing. I also love scuba diving, sky diving, tennis, and swimming.

What is your fondest childhood memory?  My fondest childhood memory was scuba diving through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef [the world’s largest coral reef system] was the most beautiful experience of my life. Sky diving, on the other hand, was the most thrilling experience of my life.

What does your future hold?  After I finish my Master’s Degree, I hope to merge the two things I’m most passionate about: engineering and marketing. I would like to utilize technical and statistical methodologies to analyze market segments across the globe.  I see marketing as an opportunity to study consumer behavior and how culture and technology influence the choices people make in terms of brand preference.

What drew you to Learning Life?  Given my strong belief in education’s power to enhance an individual’s life and enable him or her to reach their highest potential, I was drawn to Learning Life’s idea of spreading education in such an unconventional way, on everyday surfaces like napkins and placemats.

Five Facts on Unemployment in the USA

When the United States entered a recession in late 2007, unemployment rose to its highest levels in 20 years.  While the U.S. economy has slowly recovered, some questions remain ever important: How is unemployment measured?  What are the causes of unemployment?  Who is more likely to be unemployed?  Learning Life presents the following five facts to help answer these enduring questions, and inform public discussion about unemployment in the USA.


Unemployment11) 5.8% 

As of November 2014, this was the national unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts someone as unemployed if “they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.”  Thus, those people who are unemployed and available for work, but have not actively looked for work in the past four weeks are not counted as unemployed.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Economy at a Glance — United States.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey — Frequently Asked Questions.”


2) 11.0% vs. 5.1%

As of September 2014, the unemployment rate for African-Americans (11%) versus White Americans (5.1%).  Since 1954, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to keep detailed data on unemployment rates, White Americans have averaged an unemployment rate of 5%, while the average unemployment rate of African-Americans has been 9.9%.

The causes of this discrepancy are debated, but explanations include a skills gap between white and black Americans, their differing distribution or location in labor markets, and racial discrimination.  Racial discrimination explanations include the “last hired, first fired” theory that proposes that in a good economy African-American workers are the last to be hired while in a bad economy they are the first to be laid off.  According to the Pew Research Center, evidence does not support the idea that African-Americans are last hired, but there is “considerable support” for the idea that they are the first fired.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Economic News Release: Table A-2: Employment status of the civilian population by race, sex and age.”

Pew Research Center.  2013.  “Black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites.”


3) 33% vs. 8%

As of 2010, the percentage of young Americans without high school diplomas that were unemployed (33%) versus those with a bachelor’s degree (8%).  In all, the unemployment rate for youth 16-24 years old was 26% in 2010, more than double that of “prime age” workers.  The reasons for this discrepancy include levels of experience but also the types of industries in which young people often work.  Many young people work in retail, leisure and hospitality industries that are sensitive to business cycle fluctuations such as seasonal sales and economic downturns.


U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.  2010.  “Understanding the Economy: Unemployment among Young Workers.”


4) 500,000 vs. 900,000 Americans

The number of people in the USA who would potentially lose their jobs were there to be an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in 2016, and then an adjustment in the wage based on inflation every year thereafter.  However, if such a minimum wage increase were to take effect in 2016, low-wage workers would get an estimated $31 billion in increased earnings. This would move an estimated 900,000 people out of poverty.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour, up from $5.15/hour in 2009.  Some states have since enacted higher minimum wages.


Congressional Budget Office.  2014.  “The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income.”  Available at:


5) 4.0% to 9.6%

The lowest and highest rates of unemployment in the United States since 1984. The unemployment rate hit 4.0% in 2000, while it hit 9.6% in 2010.

Unemployment can be due to a variety of factors.  Economists organize unemployment causes into types, including the following:

  • Frictional unemployment: Unemployment caused by the time it takes someone to move between two events, such as moving from school graduation to a first job, or from layoff or firing to a new job.
  • Structural unemployment: When there is a discrepancy between the skills available workers have, and the skills employers need. Within structural unemployment, “occupational immobility” happens when workers face challenges learning the skills of a new industry.  “Geographic immobility” refers to the hurdles workers face to move to where jobs are available.  Technological change such as automation (i.e., when machines replace workers), and structural change such as the decline of an industry can also lead to higher unemployment rates.
  • Real wage unemployment: When workers’ wages become unsustainably high. This can happen in industries where there are too few available but necessary workers, or when employers and worker unions negotiate wages that are too high to sustain in the short or long-term.
  • Voluntary unemployment: When a person chooses to stay unemployed. For example, savings, spousal income, unemployment benefits, and/or the prospect of a better job may lead some to choose unemployment over a job with poor wages and/or working conditions.
  • Demand-deficient unemployment: When there is not enough consumer demand in an economy.  This often leads companies to produce less, and to layoff workers.  


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Overview of BLS Statistics on Employment.”  “Sources of Unemployment.



Five Updates on Our Activities

Learning Life has been busy in September!

First, as noted in previous posts, we are developing a for-profit partner that will pursue some of our work in Washington D.C. and eventually beyond. Specifically, that partner will use advertising-funded napkins distributed in restaurants, bars, cafes and other eateries in Washington D.C. to help inform and engage the public. You can learn more about this Napkin Education Initiative on our Metro D.C. page. We expect the initiative to launch in November or December.

Paul LachelierSecond, we have also been hard at work creating the content for our new Metro D.C. Weekly Learn. This new, free and local educational initiative will offer via email interesting facts and perspectives on the politics, economics, demographics and history of the Washington D.C. metro area. We expect to start disseminating the Weekly Learn in early October, so sign up now!

Third, we have just moved the Learning Life website to a new server to allow us more control. In this transition, we’re taking the opportunity to make a few changes to the homepage. Please be patient with us as we work to improve the homepage as well as reconnect our quizzes and photos on many of our pages.

Fourth, we are pleased to have a new fall intern, Shuo Wang (she goes by Gladys). A graduate student in information systems technology at George Washington University’s School of Business, Gladys brings considerable technical skills she is putting to use helping with the server transition, the Learning Life homepage changes, and soon, the development of our for-profit partner’s own website. Look for a profile of Gladys in an upcoming issue of our monthly newsletter.

Fifth and finally, we are pleased to announce several new educational releases on our website:

1) Five facts on food and genetic engineering

2) A new quiz on food and genetic engineering

3) Expert answers to a new Big Question: is there intelligent life beyond Earth?

Thanks to Learning Life volunteer Craig Gusmann for his excellent work researching and writing the above three new releases, and to Craig and Georgetown student Ehvyn McDaniels for drafting our latest profile, this one on summer intern, Nick Burton.

Stay tuned for more news in next month’s newsletter!

Paul Lachelier, Ph.D.


Intern Spotlight: Nick Burton

Special thanks to Learning Life intern Ehvyn McDaniels and volunteer Craig Gusmann for helping to draft Nick’s profile.


Virginia native Nick Burton enjoys a good challenge, especially if that challenge involves writing, sports, the internet, or business.

A graduate of W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, and Potomac State College of West Virginia, Nick served as the editor of The Pasquino, Potomac State’s student newspaper. While the majority of the articles he wrote focused on-campus news, Nick also covered broader issues, like the future of Apple, and the potential for world war in Syria.

Nick BurtonThis past summer, Nick helped Learning Life with a variety of work including increasing our following on our social media pages, researching funding sources, and gathering facts on varied topics from financial literacy to Washington D.C history, to violence against women worldwide.

Nick recently took the time to answer some further questions about him.

Where were you born? Fairfax, Virginia

What’s your current occupation?  I’m a student at Ohio University

What are your hobbies? I love sports. I love to root for all of the D.C. area sports teams – the Nationals, Redskins, and Capitals. I also like to play around with social media and website development in my spare time, honing my entrepreneur skills. I once created a website called “Rap Game Versace Flame” where I posted daily videos, links, and articles on hip hop culture.

Where would your dream vacation happen? Hawaii!

Are there talents or skills you wish you had, or hope to learn?  I want to develop the ability to dunk a basketball.

What do you want to become in life? A business owner and millionaire. This fall, I’ve started as a freshman at Ohio University. I am majoring in business, and hope to use what I learn to become an entrepreneur. I am interested in anything from online marketplaces to restaurant chains. I find the idea of being my own boss and paving my own path extremely appealing.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life? I chose to intern with Learning Life because working with a developing nonprofit can be a very fun and exciting experience. I also really wanted to do something that had some meaning to it, rather than just sitting in a cubicle doing paperwork that has barely any impact. With Learning Life, I got to help teach people in a unique way.

We at Learning Life thank Nick for his help this past summer, and wish him the best in his pursuits at Ohio University and beyond!

To learn more about interning or volunteering with Learning Life, contact us at