• ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Amy Craton first enrolled to get her bachelor of arts degree in 1962, but had to leave school to raise her four children.More than 50 years later the 94-year-old finally earned her degree in Creative Writing and English thanks to Southern New Hampshire University's online program. Craton graduated late last year with a 4.0 GPA, the school said."It feels good to graduate, but in many ways I feel I am still on the road; I have more to learn," Craton said, according to the school's website.  Because she wasn't able to travel to New Hampshire for her graduation, the Waikiki, Hawaii, resident was surprised with her own private graduation ceremony Monday.Even SNHU President Paul LeBlanc flew out to attend. Craton was also feted by family, friends and SNHU alumni, living in Hawaii.  LeBlanc said in a statement, "Amy is the epitome of a lifelong learner, and my hope is that her story will remind others that it's never too late to follow their dreams or learn something new. The entire SNHU community could not be more proud of her accomplishment."Craton's academic adviser, who she had never met before in person, Chrisandra Bauer, also attended the ceremony, which featured a local band and even a cake.  "Amy has inspired so many people by finishing her degree and it has been an absolute pleasure working with her on her academic journey," Bauer said in a statement. "I am so happy that I was able to be here today to celebrate her success."According to the school, Craton now plans to pursue her Master's degree."If you're thinking about going back to school, do it. You'll open up a whole new life," the mother of four said.
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for the first time, President Donald Trump signed an executive order "minimizing the economic burden" of Obamacare, and signed commissions for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly.Standing at Trump's side were Vice President Mike Pence, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
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  • Courtesy Steve Smith (PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- The family of a young girl with terminal brain cancer is carrying out her wishes to "see the world.""She has talked about a lot of different vacation spots," mom Stacie Brill, 34, told ABC News. "She said, 'We can go anywhere, even Hawaii!' She's so undecided because she doesn't know what she wants to do. We are just trying to do little things to keep her happy and put a smile on her face from here on out."Ciara Brill, 9, had been having headaches and developed a lazy eye the day after Christmas, when her mother rushed her to the hospital. On Dec. 29, 2016. Ciara was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain tumor, her mother said."The doctor was very blunt about it ... came out and said terminal upon diagnosis," dad Harold Brill, 41, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, told ABC News. "It was completely unbelievable. Still, two-and-a-half weeks later we can't comprehend it. Being told you don't have a lot of time left with your daughter, a lot of thoughts race through your head. The baby in our family. It's unimaginable.""She's always bubbly, happy-go-lucky. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her dad," he added. "She has the biggest heart of gold."Ciara is a patient at Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, the hospital confirmed to ABC News.On Jan. 25, Ciara will begin radiation five times a week for six weeks, her parents said.To help create "joy" for Ciara, her aunt launched a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses -- and her wish to travel.So far, the family has booked a weekend getaway at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park and hotel, The Boston Aquarium and the Museum of Science in Boston. They hope to plan a trip to New York."We are keeping it fairly local for the next six weeks due to radiation therapy," Harold Brill said. "After that ... off to see the world, whatever she wants to go and see and do."Stacie Brill said she hopes her story raises awareness for DIPG. "There's no cure. There's a zero-percent survival rate," she said. "It's about how we need more research and funding to go to this."In the meantime, the parents are trying to make Ciara's time as positive as possible."She's still smiling and happy, [but] she gets nervous, so we try and explain it as best as possible," Stacie Brill said. "We try and keep smiles on our faces so she's not scared scared, but it's hard."
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Within hours of Donald Trump's becoming the 45th president of the United States, his administration announced its commitment to eliminate the Climate Action Plan, according to a posting on the White House's official website.The announcement, on WhiteHouse.gov, was made shortly after Trump's swearing-in."President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule," the website states. "Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years."It continues, "We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. The Trump administration is also committed to clean coal technology and to reviving America's coal industry, which has been hurting for too long."Trump has called climate change a "hoax" and vowed to cut U.S. funding to United Nations climate change programs.Other noticeable changes to the official White House website include a revised foreign policy plan, which promises to "work with international partners to cut off funding for terrorist groups, to expand intelligence sharing and to engage in cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting."Also, the site has a statement titled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community," which reads that the "dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it."Regarding his call to build a wall on the border with Mexico, "President Trump is committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities," the site says.Trump also vowed online to renegotiate NAFTA and pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Finally, the Trump administration announced its goals to "Make America strong again," pledging to "end the defense sequester and submit a new budget to Congress outlining a plan to rebuild our military."Also noteworthy: The first petition on WhiteHouse.gov calls for Trump to "immediately release" his "full tax returns. More than 2,700 people have signed it thus far.
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  • Courtesy Esmarlin Nunez(PLEASANTVILLE, N.J.) -- One preschooler stood tall this month thanks to a stranger's kind donation that helped him take his very first steps.Luis Tamarez, 4, a student at North Main Street Elementary School in Pleasantville, New Jersey, took his steps this month using an Upsee mobility device and again Friday with his mom and stepdad watching."I have no words to describe what I felt," Luis' stepfather, Argenis Borbon, told ABC News Friday. "It's phenomenal just by seeing my son's face. It's incredible. These people in the school, they've been so great to him.“He doesn't want to miss a day. Even on the weekends he wants to come back here and we are very grateful for that."Luis has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. His teacher, Amy Cutler, said Luis has an "incredible spirit" and is loved by his peers and educators alike.Cutler said she learned about the Upsee in December from a fellow teacher. It is a harness that attaches to another person and allows a child with motor impairment to stand upright and walk with assistance from that person.Cutler began researching crowdfunding pages to raise money for the $500 Upsee for Luis.Yorel Browne, a substitute teacher at North Main Street Elementary and former principal, was intrigued by Cutler's idea.Browne also works as an Uber driver and was chatting one day with a local businessman whom he was driving to Atlantic City. The two made small talk that led to a random act of kindness."I'm telling this story of how great this kid was ... who has a disability and is so enthused to help himself," Browne recalled. "He said, 'Wait a minute, you don't have to do a fundraiser, I will write a check to cover this device.' We brought the gentleman to the school. He wrote a check for $500."Jim Burke, 49, of Mays Landing, New Jersey, was the stranger riding in Browne's Uber that day. He is the owner of a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning company.Burke told said he donated the money for Luis' Upsee simply because he was in the "right place, at the right time.""It was a no-brainer. It touched me," he said. "It didn't even take a split second. It was a very easy decision."Burke was invited to the school Jan. 5 to witness Luis use his Upsee for the first time while attached to his one-on-one aid, Collins Days."He was just overjoyed and smiling. … I remember him saying, 'I'm walking,’" Burke said.Luis' mother, Esmarlin Nunez, said she cannot thank Burke enough for his generosity toward her son."It's something that doesn't have a price," she said. "I have no words to describe it."
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Republican lawmakers promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act under the new administration, researchers have been working to understand how people who gained coverage after the ACA's passage will be affected.Those most at risk for losing coverage are more likely to be poor, have a chronic illness or be unemployed, according to a study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.The groups more likely to lose coverage also visited their doctors more often, according to the study, which examined demographic data of people who had coverage or tax credits thanks to ACA provisions.Dr. Pinar Karaca-Mandic, lead author of the study, told ABC News that the goal was to get hard data on the people who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA."This is not a simulation exercise," Karaca-Mandic said. "We used data from the National Health Interview Survey."Approximately 20 million people have gained health care coverage after the ACA was passed in 2010, according to the study.Currently, 10.4 million individuals have private insurance policies acquired through an exchange. Of these individuals, 84 percent had incomes that were 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Individuals who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for tax credits to help pay for health insurance. The federal poverty level income is $11,880 for an individual and $24,300 for a family of four.It remains unclear if repealing the ACA and replacing it with an alternate plan will imperil these individuals' coverage in the future, the study authors said.The researchers from multiple institutions, including the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, examined federal data to understand who would be affected if the tax credits provided by the ACA were stopped and Medicaid expansion was repealed.To understand the demographics of the people who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA, researchers looked at three cohorts of financial status. These cohorts were adults who get tax credits because they made less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, childless adults who became eligible for Medicaid coverage after the ACA's passage, and parents or caretakers enrolled in Medicaid whose income was between 50 to 139 percent of the federal poverty level.The people most likely to be affected by an ACA repeal were minorities, the poor, unemployed people and people with chronic medical conditions, researchers found. They also found that these people were more likely to have been to an emergency room at least once or have seen a doctor 10 or more times in the previous year.Christine Eibner, an economist and professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, California, who has conducted other research on the ACA, said the new JAMA study echoes past predictions on who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA."It substantiates the model estimates," Eibner told ABC News. "This takes actual data and looks at who was enrolled."
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