WUOMFM

Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx. 

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards, and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her master's in broadcast journalism from Fordham University in New York. When not working on a story, you can find Jen practicing her tap steps and hanging out with her husband and their two hilarious kids.

Ways to Connect

The middle class in America is no longer the majority, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Not only is the middle class shrinking, it's also falling behind financially. "In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013." Yikes.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

Nick Azzaro / Ypsilanti Community Schools

Alex Muraviou and Curtis Metheny are in third grade at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti, and they've been best buds for years. The two have gone to the same school since Kindergarten, but they say this year is different because they only have 21 kids in their class. We "usually have about 29 or 30," says Alex.

Mstyslav Chernov / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been lots of talk lately about refugees, mostly about whether to let them into the U.S. and how they’re being vetted. But there is a human side to this story about what it actually feels like to be a refugee. So today on State of Opportunity, we're going to spend some time with a refugee who's called Michigan his home for the past four years.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After last week's attacks in Paris, President Barack Obama condemned the terrorists and pledged support to France, saying: "We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the people of France need to respond." You can listen to his full remarks here:

user Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

Yesterday we heard from an ex-con about what it was like for him to transition from life behind bars to life on the outside. He says having a mentor helped a lot – someone to whom he felt a true sense of responsibility – and he didn't want to screw it up by doing something bad and winding up back in prison. 

I asked a handful of other former inmates to share their advice for those who are about to or are in the midst of transitioning back into society. Here are their answers:

What advice would you give to inmates who are about to re-enter society?

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

How do you navigate life on the outside after you’ve been locked up in prison for years? That’s a question more than 6,000 federal inmates recently faced when they were released early from prison due to changes in how the government sentences drug criminals.

So what does it take to successfully re-enter society?

We put that question to Tim Hurley, an ex-con who did two stints in prison. He says having a mentor once he got out helped him transition big time. 

user stockmonkeys.com / Flickr

 

 

Connections is a State of Opportunity documentary about the power of networks.

Some questions we tackle: How do you create a network when you live in poverty? What networking advice would you give to a teenager from a low-income family? In terms of mentoring someone you have no connection to: Why do it? When you're locked up in prison, away from everyone and everything you know and love, how do you build a new life for yourself when you get out? 

user Hans Poldoja / Flickr

If you don’t have a network, it can be very difficult to advance socially or in your career. One non-profit leader I spoke to called it a “crisis of relationships.” 

That’s exactly the kind of crisis Deondr’e Austin faced five years ago. He says as far as finding a legal job, it was hard. "As far as find anything else that was bad in the world, the network can find a lot of bad things."

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

In Part One of our Connections documentary, we heard from a young mother in poverty who’s struggling to build a network out of nothing. So I thought I’d switch things up for a bit and talk to someone who is a pro at networking. Has one of the best networks around, at least in my circle of friends.

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